Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I’ve written in the past of how my return to cycling after some 26 years came about. I was initially motivated by the fitness and return to health aspects of cycling. As I became more engrossed in the world of cycling and as I experienced it both in real time and virtually through the internet, I began to appreciate the many different aspects of cycling. I must admit that my fund of knowledge about cycling was very, very limited.

I like to think that my wife and I make our contributions to reducing the human carbon footprint. We’ve recycled for years and a motorcycle has been my personal primary mode of transportation for a number of years. For an abundance of that time, I was mostly motivated by the enjoyment of riding the motorcycle and not really invested in the concept of or even desire for reducing our carbon footprint. I do own a Ford F150 and it does get used quite often to pull a camper, cart trash to the dump, move the dogs from point A to point B, and to transport landscaping tools from site to site. A full sized truck is still an important part of my existence.

My thoughts today are rolling around on this subject because of a link I enjoyed on Ecovelo yesterday. Tammy Strobel has just e-published her book Simply Car-Free, which is an accounting of how she and her husband made the move from a 2 car, stressed-out, in debt lifestyle to simpler more “intentional living” sans cars. You can read the first 3 chapters on-line for free, which is exactly what I did. You can then purchase the book if you are so interested. (Full disclosure: I don’t know Tammy Strobel and she, of course, has no idea who I am. I receive no remunerations for this link.)


As I indicated, the topic got me to thinking about moving to a car free lifestyle vs. a car-lite lifestyle. Several of the early comments about her book yesterday were from people with children, who were pretty much indicating that going car free was out of the question. I would note that Strobel didn’t say, in the 3 chapters that I read, that going car free was the ultimate goal for everyone.

My “best half” and I had an interesting conversation about the concept over supper last night. The gas prices of last year really affected our use of our vehicles and we became much more aware of the economics of running two vehicles. We began carpooling whenever possible and taking the vehicle that gets the best miles per gallon. I would tote my bicycle in to work in the mornings and then ride home in the evening. We weren’t saving gasoline with the one vehicle because she was still making the same trip. I was, however, greatly improving my health and reducing health related costs.

I did my best to have one day per week where I used zero gasoline. I was fortunate in having a job situation that allowed me to stay at home and work. Simply going more car-lite last year made a significant impact on our household economics because I wasn’t spending as much on gas. I was literally using no more than 1 tank of gas PER MONTH in my truck. Using the motorcycle, I could get 46 mpg and could go a week or more on 5 gallons of gasoline.

We live in a rural environment with virtually no cycling infrastructure, which is vastly different from Strobel’s current living environment in Portland, Oregon where a serious commitment to cycling infrastructure seems to be the norm. In my mind, I think it must be easier to live a car-free lifestyle in an urban area. I could be wrong, of course, as I’ve never lived in an urban environment and have no plans to do so in this lifetime.

In my mind, I can see more ways to become more car-lite. The 16 mile round trip to the grocery store isn’t out of the question at all. Other shopping needs could easily be met by bicycle even within our existing lack of cycling infrastructure. I do have trouble conceptualizing full time commuting knowing that my wife is driving within 2 blocks of my office. It sure seems easier to ride along with her in the morning.

I started this post with a reference to having gained a better and broader understanding of the cycling world. I’m back to that point within the context of becoming more car-lite. One lesson that I’ve learned during this winter of southern snowstorms is that my skinny tire race bike is not the best particular version of a bicycle to use for commuting and transporting goods. Now I find myself contemplating a new addition to the Zeke stable. Rather than focusing on that new F150, I find myself looking for a touring/commuter bike.

Bro Dave may have led me to an answer today. He, too, is looking for an additional bike and sent me a link to the Salsa Fargo.



I’ve been considering a mountain bike since the snows drove the Fuji CCR3 inside and me to the trainer. I’ve liked the looks of the Fargo and have developed my own speculation about owning a 29’er. I told Bro Dave that I had even noticed this bike in advertising in one of the many bike mags that I read. The reviews are positive as a tourer/commuter/non-technical mountain bike and it is well built for adding racks/bags/panniers. Who knows, maybe one will find its way to my humble abode this year.  (Note to wife: I just saved us approximately $35,000.00 by going from a new truck to a new bike.  Aren’t you proud of me?)

So, will we ever become car free as Strobel and her husband have done? I don’t see it happening until we give up driving due to old age or other infirmities. I do see becoming more car-lite and I can only believe that it is a move in the right direction. Check out Strobel’s book. Maybe it will create for you some discourse and creative thinking as it did for me.


(Note: This is a late entry but I couldn’t keep from adding it. Thanks to Bro Dave for submitting this “going green” idea. Check it out HERE!)

Until later,

- Zeke


RowdyKittens said...

Hey there - thanks for the link love and taking the time to read a portion of my ebook.

I recognize the car-free lifestyle isn't for everyone. Especially if you have a disability, health problems, etc. I'm very privilege to lead this lifestyle and have good health.

However, I think going car-lite is a feasible option for many people and I think we'll see more and more people going car-free or car-lite in the coming years. Gas prices have gone down, but the energy crisis is here to stay. Energy prices have increased substantially in the past 20 years and analysts have said we will see energy prices continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

See: www.theoildrum.com and Peak Moment Televison

You are right - Biking in rural areas is definitely harder but not impossible. :) We've new to Portland and have intentionally structured our lives to live in cities with accessible and good public transportation.

Re: car-free with kids: You're readers might be interested in this link. It's about a family who has gone car-lite. :)


I also highly recommend reading http://carfreewithkids.blogspot.com/ - the blog has a wealth of information about living a car-free lifestyle with small children.

Jim Artis said...

...now, we await your decision on the Salsa Fargo. Car-lite is good, especially when you are saving $35K and being greener. The best...


Unknown said...

...in an pretty amazing piece of mathmatical calculation and deduction, my "best half" demonstrated to me, both in word and on paper, how I could improve that $35k savings to $37k in savings. Amazingly, if I don't buy eithr the new F150 OR the Salsa Fargo, I would see even greater savings! Who wudda thought!

Actually, that new bike or any new bike, will have to await the sale of some property we have on the market. I imagine the same is true for Bro Dave as well. I do hope we get to demo a ride on the Fargo during our visit with him in May.

I think that means that Bro Dave and I are having a shared, bi-coastal dream. It will be only when east meets west under a color of green that the Fargo shall become mine!

- Zeke

Jim Artis said...

Have you done your taxes yet? Might there be additional revenue [yours] lurking in the IRS coffers?

Unknown said...


No, we haven't done that yet. I have no hope that I will see anything coming back to me. Hasn't happened in years... :(


Tracy W said...

We're getting to the point where we're also pretty car-light. The vehicle that gets the mileage is the Prius, and that only costs us about $17 every couple of weeks to fill up. The Jeep mostly just sits around waiting for me to decide to drive it for fun. The longest I've gone without filling is about 6 weeks.

In the past two weeks, it's only been out of the garage three times. Twice to go to basketball games, and once to the carwash!

Unknown said...

That is pretty car-lite! I know that having the Prius also makes a big difference in keeping the gas consumption down. My brother has one where he lives in L.A. and he loves it. I think he is just passing 100k miles with no problems with the vehicle. This particular winter has had me driving my 4 wheel drive truck more than usual. Generally, we carpool in the Escape, which is all-wheel drive. Coming down the mountain on ice and snow doesn't work so well in the Escape because you can't lock it down in granny gear. My truck will pretty much walk down in the worst of conditions. The Escape comes down, even in lowest gear, at pretty much normal speed. It climbs well though and handles the open road quite nicely.

Our local weatherman just said a few moments ago that we've been below normal 72% of the days since December 1st and most of those days were at least 10 degrees colder than usual. As you well know, we've had an actual winter this year.

The weekend is looking promising. Sunny with highs in the upper 40's and low 50's. I'll hopefully get in a ride on Sunday. I'll hope you do as well this weekend.

Thanks for reading and your post!