103 comments

MMM Challenge: Anti-Automobile April

thevanSpring is finally here, and with it comes the opportunity to kick one’s own ass up to a new level of satisfying performance. Thus, I thought we Mustachians might work on our health and fitness this month, even while maintaining the usual focus on exceptional finances.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is to look where the fields of fitness and finance intersect, which is of course right in your driveway … in the Motorized Throne* of your automobile.

At an Intellectual level, we both know that the less time and money you spend driving yourself around, the richer and healthier your life will become. But down at the Excuse-making, Complainypants, and Emotional levels, you feel you need every tonne and horsepower of your car for daily life. Your entire world is based around that beautiful machine, and you’ll be damned if Mr. Money Mustache is going to rip it away from you using only the power of his keyboard.

So let’s just take it easy for starters. Let us agree that cars (and in the US, personal trucks) can be used for both good and evil.

When they are blasting you and your family along on the interstate, past the amber waves of grain of the Great Plains, or up across the glaciers and spires of the Continental Divide, while the stereo rocks and everyone sings, cars are undoubtedly a Force of Good.

On the other hand, while they are wedged into an overcrowded parking lot making six-point turns between pauses to wait for shopping carts to roll slowly past, cars are not quite as empowering. And when perched impotently on the lift, dripping strange fluids as your grim-faced mechanic explains the upcoming repair bill, they also fall short of their common role as a bodypart augmentation.

So how do we separate the Good from the Evil?

Well, Duh, we obviously just stop using them for local errands under 3-5 miles, when we should be using our feet or our bikes.

But since it’s only the first of the month, I’m going to make it even easier. For this month, why not just try to make yourself AWARE of when you are using your car, and when you are not.

Just start a little chart with five columns, and stick it on your fridge. “Day, Car, Bike, Feet, Comments”. Pre-fill the “Day” column with 1 through 30, the number of days in April.

DayCarBikeFeetComments
110005Drove to Las Vegas
2052Bike tour of park with friends
3
4

Then every day, just mark down the number of miles you traveled using each method of transportation. Write a comment, or a thought, or an excuse in your “Comments” column.

By becoming aware of what you do each day, you might just find yourself shifting your transportation habits. Especially since you’ll be showing all of us your chart at the end of the month. Awareness, after all, is the first stage of ass-kicking.

Happy April!

 

 

*”Motorized Throne stolen from D. Cain, Raptitude

  • Stephen @ SE April 1, 2013, 10:09 am

    I about to print it off and put in on the fridge! Last month we did the whole bike to work thing but I’m looking forward to taking it to the next level. We are still trying to figure out the whole biking thing with a new baby but so far it has been a pretty big adjustment.

    Anybody have suggestions for biking with a newborn? (< 4 months old?)

    Reply
    • Kyrie Robinson April 1, 2013, 11:16 am

      Biking before they can sit up is too hard- their heads get jostled around. At 6 months you can put them in a backpack though. Then later move up to the trailer.

      Reply
      • TOM April 1, 2013, 11:33 am

        I agree, trailer when they can support their heads.

        Even brand new trailers can be had for only $100. But if you biked to work all last month, I bet you can find a better deal than that ;)

        Reply
        • Nurse Frugal April 2, 2013, 9:33 am

          So this is why my husband told me we needed to buy a trailer for our bikes yesterday!
          You can definitely go walking with a baby under 4 months old! If it is in a radius that is under 5 miles, just allow proper time for it and you can transport that little guy in a variety of ways including the stroller.

          Reply
          • lurker April 2, 2013, 2:04 pm

            We have strapped an infant carrier (the kind with a handle) into our bike trailer to traipse our little guy around town. We did wait until he could sit up by himself and by this age kids can also hold their head up pretty well. Some trailer manufacturers offer infant accessories as well. He LOVES it

            Reply
    • gipsy queen April 1, 2013, 11:24 am

      Mine is ~3 month old, and we mostly walk with her. But try a trolly, or a carrier in your lap.

      Reply
    • Val April 1, 2013, 12:27 pm

      If you’re really rich/ really want to preserve your biking lifestyle, get a bakfiets. That is Dutch for boxbike. The one we bought cost us $3500, but we use it nearly every day, and it allows us to leave the car parked except for exceptional trips (visit grandparents, drive occasionally for work).

      Ours is the Bullitt, by Larry v. Harry. It is a pretty awesome machine (disc brakes, rides fast). We didn’t order a box, and just attached a carseat base to the platform. His carseat just clicks in securely, rear facing. We love love love it, even though it was a painful experience writing that check.

      http://www.splendidcycles.com/products/bullitt-cargo-bikes/

      However, you’re nearing the threshold of front seat riding with your baby. Our son was about 6 months old, when my mom first took him out on her old bike with the bike seat I and all my siblings rode in. You have to take it easy for a while. He didn’t wear a helmet, because it adds extra weight for little necks to bear. But now at 8 months I think we’ll get him a helmet, because he’s probably strong enough.

      Good luck and enjoy your baby and your bike!

      Reply
    • Kris April 1, 2013, 3:27 pm

      Some trailers have infant kits for them, which allow you to transport the wee ones that don’t yet have the ability to hold their head up. I think I remember seeing them for chariot trailers.

      Also, don’t be too price-sensitive on trailers if you’re going to be putting it to any regular use. My mom got a ~$150 trailer for my daughter shortly after she was born, and it was irreparably damaged within a year. We replaced it with a $500 trailer, and so far it’s lasted about 6 full years (with slushy/salty Toronto winters and all), including some overloading as a cargo trailer (and once or twice with too many kids in it), and having been schlepped down to Burning Man 3 times. I had to repair one of the tubes after 5 years (by sleeving in another thicker-walled tube whose outside diameter matched the inside diameter of the damaged tube), but that only required about $5 worth of tube stock from the scrapyard, and maybe 2h of quality time with a die grinder, a drill, and a screwdriver.

      Your local bike shop should be able to hook you up with a trailer that can do all the baby/kid-moving you need, not cost more than you need it to, and last until you resell it after your kid has outgrown riding in trailers (often for a substantial fraction of the original purchase price).

      Reply
    • Marcia April 1, 2013, 9:37 pm

      I got nothing. We didn’t bike with our son until he could pedal himself. It’s what the ped recommended.

      Reply
    • Jessie : Improved April 4, 2013, 8:14 am

      The recommendation is that children have full and strong head control before they ride with you on a bike, and be able to talk before the ride behind you (so they can tell you if something is wrong). There are child seats that mount in front of you though, so you might want to look into that.

      Reply
    • Joshua Spodek April 5, 2013, 6:11 pm

      “Anybody have suggestions for biking with a newborn? (< 4 months old?)"

      Most of the world rides bikes with newborns.

      For that matter, most of the world has men and women in their sixties and beyond riding their bikes in rain, with big loads, in the dead of winter, and so on.

      How did we get to this point that riding bikes became complicated?

      Reply
    • Ryan April 7, 2013, 10:52 pm

      I’m sure some people are going to send DFS at me for saying this, but:

      why not just figure out how to fasten the baby carrier that you take him everywhere else in to the bike trailer?

      That’s a real question, I’d like to hear the “omg, no! so dangerous, the public health safety department strongly recommends against it” arguments as well as if someone else does the same thing.

      Reply
  • Grayson @ Debt RoundUp April 1, 2013, 10:19 am

    I like this idea. I have been trying to figure out more ways to get around without my car, but I live quite a ways away from anything, so it would take me some time. They did just open up a greenway trail near us that is 27 miles long. This should be a good way to get warmed up and see how long it would take to get to places that I frequent.

    Reply
    • GregK April 2, 2013, 3:01 pm

      10mph is a pretty relaxed pace on flat roads. A bit faster if you’re athletic, a bit slower if there are lots of hills.

      I recommend getting a cyclocomputer to gauge your speed; it’s a fun toy, and totally mustachian-sanctioned (I would think!).

      Reply
  • Rahul April 1, 2013, 10:26 am

    Love it! Already started off the month right by biking to work. Toughest part is the weekends with the girlyfriend and plans. And groceries, but that I need to suck up and just buy less!

    Reply
  • Fletch April 1, 2013, 10:30 am

    Too easy, I don’t own a car :)
    I’ll play and add “subway”, “bus”, and “car” columns, because I can still benefit from a little hard data about my true habits of time spent in motorized thrones.

    Reply
  • Johnny Moneyseed April 1, 2013, 10:37 am

    I consider myself to be a thrift sonofabitch in every single category of life, except for transportation. I’ll take your challenge a step further and purchase a bike this month (off Craigslist of course). It feels dirty to admit that I don’t even own one right now.

    I’ll make a pledge to myself that whenever I don’t have to tote around my two Mini-seeds, I’ll have my ass parked on a nice bike seat for all local (3-5 mi.) travel.

    Reply
    • Mr. 1500 April 2, 2013, 11:23 am

      JM, just check the online Stolen Bike Registry before you make a purchase. Ask anyone from CL or eBay what the serial number is. If they won’t give it to you, tell them to get lost.

      Mrs. 1500 has her bike ripped off and we later learned that an awful lot of hot bikes make it on to CL or eBay.

      Reply
  • Fil April 1, 2013, 10:37 am

    It’s the first and I’ve already driven 117 kms for work (72 miles). No choice for me as I must drive from store to store as part of my business. Fortunately I make more than enough to compensate me for it. Now I just need the mindset that just because I need to drive that much for work I don’t need to run errands by car later because it’s only a few more miles. I need to either do them when I’m out already or use pedal power like you suggest. I won’t post that to my fridge but I will post it in my office. Thankfully the weather is just starting to get better up here. Time to get the bike ready. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kris April 1, 2013, 3:29 pm

      Or the mindset that driving is something that you only do because someone is paying you to do it. Seriously, after you get done a long day of driving all over the place for work, how can you even bear the thought of another minute spent in a car seat?

      Reply
      • Fil April 2, 2013, 8:20 pm

        Can’t argue with you. I need to work on that mindset.

        Reply
  • Sergey April 1, 2013, 10:40 am

    I moved closer to work and now I can just walk! Only 3 minutes.
    The downside – there is a very small grocery store here, so I still have to drive occasionally to Walmart 20 miles away. Would prefer Trader Joe’s, but it’s more than 60 miles away :(

    Reply
  • rjack (Mr. Asset Allocation) April 1, 2013, 10:41 am

    I definitely haven’t been riding my bike as much as I should. I’m one of those Complainypants, Whimpy people that make lamb excuses like it’s too cold, windy, dark, or rainy out. I’ll try harder this month.

    Since April Showers bring May flowers and this is April, what do others recommend for rainy weather while biking? Suck it up? Raingear?

    Reply
    • rod April 1, 2013, 1:07 pm

      Raingear, good glasses or goggles, and a dry towel tucked in your shirt. Try it it feels good like childhood, before we cared about weather. Ex, tra socks help too in a ziploc you already used once before, it feels liberating to rough it.

      Reply
      • rod April 1, 2013, 1:14 pm

        Ps I know you are not weak, read your posts here rjack! Cmon ride in the rain, you will like it. I wear a hat and safety glasses, and a nylon jacket for the water fling effect up the back. Ziplock socks can be our secret. Clammy wet feet aren’t good.

        Reply
    • Chris April 1, 2013, 1:32 pm

      When I bike it is usually a choice between getting wet with rain or putting on rain gear and end up getting wet by sweat.
      I choose rain all the time.
      I’ve heard legends of rain gear that doesn’t create a swamp next to your skin but I’ve never found these mythical creations. And the ones that claim to breathe usually have multi hundred dollar price tags.

      Reply
    • Edward Escobar April 1, 2013, 4:03 pm

      If it’s just rain, just any biking jacket/windbreaker/waterproof jacket is fine. If it’s a little cold, a sweater underneath the jacket keeps you pretty warm while biking. I do recommend some gloves and something to protect your face (I didn’t get a balaclava, just a cloth face guard that velcros in the back. It’s been more than enough.) You should be wearing a helmet anyway so I didn’t need a beanie or anything like that.

      My ride to/from work is 6 miles (12 miles total), so my jeans and lower half got super wet. I bring my work clothes in a backpack to change into, but I do that anyway because I get pretty sweaty after the ride. I did get some rain pants but it hasn’t rained since (I am actually disappointed!) so I can’t tell you how effective they are.

      Just do it, really. The biking/waterproof jacket should be plenty if it’s just raining and not too cold. But you never know unti you try!

      Reply
  • Sara April 1, 2013, 10:48 am

    Printed! I know it’s not your favorite form of transportation, but would you count bus miles towards car miles? The bus miles are at least amortized across a large group of patrons.

    Reply
  • writing2reality April 1, 2013, 10:50 am

    Awesome challenge MMM! Much like budgeting, or anything else, keeping track of your miles will only help people identify area’s of improvement, or in this case, situations where taking the bike is a very viable alternative!

    Reply
  • Mrs PoP @ Planting Our Pennies April 1, 2013, 11:08 am

    My bike has actually been on a semi-permanent loan to Mr. PoP’s parents for a while. Since they’re out of town until mother’s day, maybe this is the perfect time to borrow it back and see if I can use it more often than I was.
    MMM – what do you guys do in terms of grocery shopping on the bike? I have a basket, but can’t see myself being able to put a couple gallons of milk along with other stuff in the basket and being able to ride safely for the weekly grocery trip. So I end up driving the ridiculously short trip to the grocery store.

    Reply
    • Kyrie Robinson April 1, 2013, 11:37 am

      MMM wrote a post a while back about bike trailers for shopping. You can fit 4 bags or more, and they are stable on their own and don’t pull you off balance like baskets.

      Reply
    • Sergey April 1, 2013, 12:46 pm

      I sometimes use a backpack

      Reply
      • Naners April 2, 2013, 8:23 pm

        If you’re not ready for the trailer yet: panniers! They are special bags you attach to your back rack. They will change your life. In fact, if you’re shopping for just one or two they’re all you need. Easier to manage without a garage than a trailer too. Or, you can get folding wire baskets that are the perfect size for one grocery bag. The panniers hold more though.

        Reply
    • Carlos April 3, 2013, 10:04 am

      You can try to score a children’s cart that attaches to the back of the bike and carry your groceries like that. You can find a used one at Craig’s am sure.

      Reply
  • My Financial Independence Journey April 1, 2013, 11:13 am

    A few years ago, I could have killed that challenge since I only had to drive for my weekly shopping. I walked to grad school and back home every day. Now, I have to drive everywhere. Comes with living in this area. In case you’re wondering there are no bike lanes and sidewalks are sparse here.

    Reply
  • Thomas April 1, 2013, 11:14 am

    Great idea!
    (even though I dont even own a car because its expensive and mostly unneccessary)
    Keep up the inspiration!!

    Reply
  • ultrarunner April 1, 2013, 11:18 am

    Good timing on this, as I was just cleared by my PT to try riding a bike again. (I severely ruptured a lumbar disc last August and any sitting/flexion was strictly verboten since then). I was doing most of my commutes of less than 10 miles by bike before the injury, so driving has been driving me bat shit crazy.

    I need to grab a shorter and taller stem (the 140mm zero-rise stems on the road and mt bikes aren’t gonna cut it) to keep the strain off the low back and then I’m in.

    Reply
  • Bob L April 1, 2013, 11:18 am

    This will be easy since I’m putting my (only) car up on Craigslist this week and not getting a replacement one! I can’t wait to exchange that money-sucking scourge for a pile of cash and promptly invest it in low-cost index funds.

    I’ll still have my motorcycle, but of course I will continue to use that only for trips out of town, never as a wussypants tool for running errands or getting to work. Bring it on, Anti-Automobile April!!

    Reply
  • gipsy queen April 1, 2013, 11:26 am

    Don’t make me laugh. I’m celebrating 10 month car-free, and counting.

    Reply
  • Kyrie Robinson April 1, 2013, 11:27 am

    No fair! You are starting the challenge on the very day we are setting out on a spring break road trip from palo alto to Santa Barbara, LA, and San Diego! We are doomed! Count us in for 400 miles in the car today.

    Ah ha, but wait! I have FOUR bikes strapped to the back of the car for the trip. Ha ha ha! Of course, it’s pouring rain right now, so…

    Anyway, count us in. My latest mantra has been “cars are for inter-city, bikes are for intra-city.” All errands the last month have been on bike. My twin boys are even almost done whining about the change. “What?! I have to bike to soccer?” “Yep, you bet you do!” And it turns out you don’t need a trailer for groceries if you make your son bring a backpack too. ;-)

    Reply
    • TOM April 1, 2013, 11:40 am

      Me too, I fly to Florida on Thursday. But we’ll be staying with some Boston transplants who enjoy walking, public transportation, and car-pooling, so that must count for something.
      I biked to work twice last week, and will definitely will bike to work tomorrow

      Reply
    • Marcia April 1, 2013, 9:39 pm

      Well, I live in Santa Barbara, it was sunny here today! Hopefully you can ride your bikes while you are here.

      Reply
    • Miser Mom April 2, 2013, 5:05 am

      It was the concern about whiny kids that has kept me from biking more so far . . . I mainly use the car to take the boys to doctor’s appointments, etc. Turns out the concern was in *my* head more than theirs. I sweetened the pot by telling to them that cars cost 50 cents per mile, so to encourage a new bike habit I’ll pay them each 25 cents per mile to ride bikes instead of be driven around.

      They LOVE it. I got bike lights for night, and we tear around our tiny city in the dark, blazing down the streets together on our way home from drum lessons or the library. They’re even more jazzed than I am. They’re 12 and 14; I’m extra-happy that I’m building up bike-love a few years before they hit learners-permit-age. Woot!

      Reply
  • Jarett April 1, 2013, 11:28 am

    Already made a spreadsheet and printed it out. Here’s the file if anyone else doesn’t want to spend the time making one: https://dl.dropbox.com/u/3745575/april-challenge.xls

    Reply
    • lecodecivil April 1, 2013, 1:02 pm

      Thank you! Was just about to make one up myself.

      Reply
  • Mom @ Three is Plenty April 1, 2013, 11:29 am

    Anyone have suggestions on riding your bike around when it’s flat out dangerous? We unfortunately live in a ‘burb which isn’t bike friendly, and while I’ll ride myself to and from the store and work – hubby won’t let me do it with Daughter Person in tow, he’s too afraid for her – and I can’t really blame him, I’ve had a few close calls myself.

    Reply
    • Naners April 2, 2013, 8:26 pm

      Visibility, visibility, visibility. Good front and rear lights and maybe also a reflective vest. Also consider a compressed air horn (like the Air Zound) so drivers will actually hear you through their SUV windows.

      Reply
  • Aarchman10001 April 1, 2013, 11:38 am

    I spent a lot of years thinking of my bike as a recreational vehicle and my car as the go-to functional vehicle. I would use the car, for example, to drop off my laundry a few blocks away–just far enough that carrying the bag seemed too burdensome. The car was paid for, the garage is a fixed monthly cost–not increased by constant use of the car for short trips–and the fuel cost of these many, short trips is negligible, considered individually.

    Happily–and I say that without a trace of irony–a personal financial calamity brought on a period of intense financial self-scrutiny, during which I discovered the extent to which I had grown into a bloated, lazy SOB, guilty of betraying pretty much every one of my self-proclaimed virtues: thrift, intelligence and environmental awareness.

    A plastic milk crate and a bungee cord transformed my bike into an all-purpose vehicle. If the laundry bag is too big to fit in the milk crate, then I have waited too long to go to the cleaners. Or perhaps there are items in the bag which could actually be laundered at home? It turns out that the number of items that TRULY require professional dry-cleaning is pretty small.

    The knowledge that every item I put in my shopping cart will soon need to be carried home through my own effort has had an AMAZING impact on my editing skills–reducing not only my grocery budget but my consumption of processed foods and my use of environmentally toxic items like paper napkins and towels. A couple of used T-shirts ripped into a pile of soft, cotton rags has eliminated pretty much all paper goods from my grocery list (except for toilet paper).

    So–I encourage everyone to take Mr. Moneymoustache’s challenge. It is an opportunity to change something that can have a remarkable impact on areas of your life that you might not even anticipate!

    Reply
  • Chadnudj April 1, 2013, 11:47 am

    Random question, MMM, but I haven’t seen it addressed elsewhere — what are your thoughts on public transportation? I live in a big city with pretty great public transportation, and pay for that public transportation using pre-tax dollars (meaning it costs me even less), and then use my commuting time to work every morning to read, etc. (meaning the commute is more enjoyable than driving).

    I guess I could fully embrace the mustache lifestyle and bike it, but that (a) eliminates the leisure reading, (b) ignores the fickle and frequently terrible weather in my part of the country and the bad drivers I’d be sharing busy roads with, and (c) would mean having to figure out a way to avoid being gross/dirty/sweaty when I arrived at my job (I work as a lawyer, so I can’t show up looking too slovenly). Plus, my bus/train commute takes me right by a grocery store and drug store everyday, meaning I can pick up groceries/needed household goods as part of my daily trip with no hassle.

    So how does public transportation fit into the Mustache-lifestyle?

    Reply
    • Geek April 4, 2013, 12:29 pm

      It is probably ok to mentally replace bicycle with “public transit” if you love the bus that much…. but…

      Stop your hand wringing and attempts at validation, bus and train riders! If you are writing paragraphs of excuses about taking the bus, please check for Denial!

      Are you getting a bit tired of being beholden to Someone Else’s Schedule?
      Is it really That Much Fun to read in a moving vehicle?*
      Do you go to the gym and STILL not bike to work, telling yourself it’s valid multitasking time?
      Are there really no showers nearby?
      Tired of Smelly Dude sitting next to you? Or tired of standing when the bus is really full?

      I have a hunch that MMM may simply choose not to talk about public transit because 1. he doesn’t take it and 2. it’s easier to be schedule-independent when you are in a self-driven vehicle (most people who don’t take the bus offer up this reason early in their car-denial arguments).

      *FWIW I take a joint transit solution to work most days, so i feel your “reading in an erratically moving vehicle” pain*

      Reply
  • Heather April 1, 2013, 11:49 am

    I need this challenge. Just completed a move that allows me to have no excuse to walk to most everything and my financials and waistline could use some help as well.
    Looking forward to seeing how the results end up looking!

    Reply
  • KB April 1, 2013, 11:55 am

    When I read this article, I realize what a wussypants I might be and what kind of society we live in. I often walk to my friend’s house to drop off my kids for a play date – it’s about 5 minutes (with kids walking with me) and she always expresses surprise when I walk. She has never walked her girls to my house. Sometimes I’m doing it for the exercise, saving money and environment, other times because I don’t feel like wiping the snow off my car!
    When I first started reading MMM, I decided to buy a bike lock for my bike. I spent $20 and can’t figure the damn thing out. Also, there were no bike racks at the stores I frequent except the drug store which means I might have to lock my bike up there and actually have to walk across the big strip mall parking lot to get to the grocery store – what a deterrent – hahaha!!!

    Next, when I started riding my bike places, friends would see me and want to know why? Am I training for something? Is my car broken down? Call them any time if I need help! LOL!
    Now that it’s Spring, I’m going to really going to walk and bike more and not let tiny little minor obstacles get in my way!

    Reply
    • stellamarina April 2, 2013, 2:59 am

      May I suggest a writing campaign to the grocery store to get a bike rack outside. I am sure other bikers would be glad to have it there too. I have had to encourage the building of bike racks in our community in the past.

      Reply
  • Joe (yolfer) April 1, 2013, 11:57 am

    Just wanted to put in a plug for the commute challenge that a bunch of us blog readers do every month on the MMM forums:

    http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/throw-down-the-gauntlet/anti-automobile-april-biking-challenge!!/

    All you have to do is add your name to the spreadsheet and start logging your bike miles. We have a forum set up to encourage each other, etc.

    Reply
  • Joel April 1, 2013, 12:09 pm

    When we started reading MMM the automobile thing hit us hard. We were living in the part of town where driving your car on the highway to get places was the default and it sort of sucked for biking.

    So we moved to a better part of town and can now bike about everywhere! When we do have to drive (about once/wk to see our family), you can bet we’re hypermiling! Our gasoline budget went from $110/mo to $30/mo.

    Even better: the attitude of challenging ourselves “never use the gas pedal for a second more than you need to” and “never use the car for a single trip you don’t need it for” has begun to carry over to every other aspect of our finances.

    Reply
  • Alex April 1, 2013, 12:32 pm

    Great idea MMM.

    As a part of my own personal anti-auto April, I will be trying to start the first steps toward a semi-regular bike routine. I changed jobs in the winter, and though the job is by far a better career choice for me, it is 25km (15 miles) from home. My wife and I are seriously considering the truly mustachian answer to that problem and moving closer to work, but that’s a longer term issue. In the meantime, I’m going to commit myself to biking to work at least once per week, twice if possible. Is that second clause too wussypants?

    I’d love for some readers or MMM himself to hold me to this. Maybe I’ll mention it in the forums for even more accountability!

    Thanks as always for such a life changing blog MMM. I truly cannot thank you enough.

    Reply
  • jd April 1, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Already brought a load of groceries home in the bike trailer last week–uphill all the way back. Good workout! Can’t wait for the city to clear the gravel off the streets and reinstall the bike racks they removed for the winter.

    Reply
  • Debbie M April 1, 2013, 1:39 pm

    Sometimes I take a bus. Otherwise, sounds good.

    Unneeded support: http://grist.org/cities/studies-show-that-bike-commuting-is-one-of-the-best-ways-to-stay-healthy/

    Reply
  • Jeff April 1, 2013, 2:29 pm

    Well, MY next motoring challenge is to try and get 800 miles out of one tankful of fuel in the 15 year old Peugeot diesel. The current record is about 782 miles.

    Today, I did act on one brilliant piece of advice from your forum & started making my bicycle easier to get to.
    It’s now stored outside the garage and I’m designing a cheap roof to go over it.

    Reply
    • Chris Turner April 1, 2013, 9:18 pm

      800 miles! That’s amazing Jeff! I just hit 550 on a nearly empty tank in my Jetta TDI today. I could prolly get 650 if I pushed it. Have you considered kicking it up a notch and making your own Biodiesel? I’ve been doing it for about 6 months now and I’ve got my cost down to 1.38$/gallon. As another bonus, it’s Clean, Domestic and Carbon Neutral. Nice work on the Peugot!

      Reply
      • Jeff April 2, 2013, 12:52 pm

        Chris,
        I always get over 600 miles on a tank and quite often go over 700.
        Some of that is down to doing over 50 miles after the warning light comes on, some is due to an economical driving style.
        I’ve got an old fashioned indirect injection diesel, so figure you should be regularly getting much better economy than me. Assuming you have a “proper” manual transmission.
        I thought about biodiesel, but I only fill the tank up 7 times a year on average, so it might take some time to recoup the investment. The other option would be to fit a Bosch pump and just run it on vegetable oil.
        I googled Jetta TDi and the first link was talking about trying to get up to 900 miles on a tank.
        Jeff

        Reply
  • Scooze April 1, 2013, 3:10 pm

    This topic is a favorite of mine. I live in an urban center so I take the subway to work and have lots of stores within walking distance. Three years ago I got the idea that maybe I could live without a car. I made an experiment go as long as I could without driving. After 4 months, I knew I could do it! I sold it two years ago. There are so many options! Bike, walk, rollerblade, walk and use public transportation…. etc.

    Reply
  • Pretired Nick April 1, 2013, 3:28 pm

    We usually do our grocery shopping by walking (about 3 miles round-trip) and fill up either a little cart or the bottom of the stroller. I definitely prefer it to using the nightmarish parking lot at the grocery store.
    I’m not sure when the last time I used my car was, but it’s been a blissful while. Unfortunately the wife still commutes across town, though. We’re working on that part!

    Reply
  • Andrew Skotzko April 1, 2013, 3:44 pm

    Mr. MM, really like this idea. Since it always helps to make tracking as easy as possible, allow me to recommend an app I use for this (I have no affiliation w/ the company other than being a user of the app).

    If you have an iPhone, you can use the free “Moves” app (http://www.moves-app.com/), which passively tracks walking, cycling, or driving and spits its data out in terms of time, distance, or steps.

    I’m sure there’s something similar for Android but don’t know of it directly.

    Reply
  • Trish April 1, 2013, 4:44 pm

    Yay, I love a challenge. It’s the best way to get off my butt and just DO IT.

    I bought my bike about 2 months ago but much faffing around with setting it up has resulted in it being used about 3 times so far :(

    Now the car I was borrowing from my mother has been returned and my family is car-less (car-free?) so I have no choice but to bike EVERYWHERE.
    This includes at night up to about 9km (5.6miles) one way for my party plan business.

    This will be a great exercise in not over extending myself in my business.
    Any links to cheap cold weather biking tips would be appreciated :)

    Reply
  • Annamal April 1, 2013, 6:20 pm

    Not owning a car makes this a pretty easy challenge….(we do take a taxi home from the supermarket once a week but that’s the extent of our travel in cars and )

    However instead I’m goiing to attempt to avoid taking the bus home from work for an entire month. Walking to work is easy as it’s an hour downhilll, walking from work is an hour and a half uphill but it really does feel nice at the end…so (modified) challenge accepted.

    Reply
  • Bryallen April 1, 2013, 7:15 pm

    Your past posts really got me thinking about why we had a car at University (mainly for buying food and trips home or to visit friends a few towns over).

    I finally decided to sell it at the start of February and it’s been GREAT! No more worrying about whether it is being stolen / damaged, no more insurance, no more road tax! Even with groceries delivery every other week and extra train and bus journeys home or to a friend’s we are only spending half as much as we were on keeping the car, with the added bonus of not having to save for a replacement!

    I encourage everyone to go for a fortnight or all month and see how you’d fare without a car. It’s easier than you think!

    Reply
  • Sara April 1, 2013, 8:51 pm

    I’ve printed a spreadsheet off and have filled out today’s mileage! But where would you count bus travel?

    Reply
  • Lacy @EarnVerse April 1, 2013, 9:43 pm

    This one is easy…I live in NYC, so I don’t own a car. But I also refuse to take public transport or taxis whenever possible. I can count the number of taxi’s I’ve taken in the past few years on two hands with fingers to spare, and the train is only for when the schedule is really tight. Now that the weather is getting better, this means even more walking! This past weekend brunch with friends meant a 120 block stroll round trip in 55 degrees of sunshine and bliss. Can’t ask for much better!

    Reply
  • Marcia April 1, 2013, 9:46 pm

    Great idea. Well, I started today by thinking “I need to get a few things at the store.” I was nursing the baby to sleep and thought I could probably do the round trip before it got dark if I walked it. But then just decided to skip it altogether and just make do with what’s in my pantry.

    As far as biking to work goes…it’s not going to be a great month for that. I’m a single parent this week, so there’s not enough time to get work done, do dropoff and pickup for two kids. And the baby is having surgery in LA this month, so we will have to drive there. However, I will be off work for much of the recovery time, so we will be saving gas there.

    I use my friend as a great example for how I can do better. She’s in her 50s and doesn’t drive. Walks everywhere. One car family, walks her daughter to school every day.

    Reply
  • Rachel G April 1, 2013, 10:02 pm

    Anybody have any insight into panniers with mountain bikes? I am considering getting some to carry my stuff to work but it looks like I would have to install a rack?

    I am fairly new to biking and mostly have been mountain biking on the weekends does anyone know if installing a rack on a mountain bike will mess up my mountain biking experience? I tend to have some major wipe outs and worry about ripping a rack off my bike.

    I have looked at lots of biking blogs that specifically focus on commuting but can’t find much for newbies like me.

    Yes MMM and readers alike you have inspired me, for some reason I am ready to commute by bike now that I am moving farther away, you are kick in the butt I needed.

    Reply
    • Eliot April 4, 2013, 4:41 pm

      This rack is great, also good for off-road touring.

      http://www.thule.com/en/NZ/Products/Accessories/Keylocks/PP_100015

      Once set up, only about 4 minutes to fit, 1 minute to remove.

      Until recently known as “Freeload” rack if you’re looking for second hand one.

      Reply
      • Rachel G April 5, 2013, 4:50 pm

        Thanks Eliot!

        Reply
    • Vanessa April 5, 2013, 2:49 am

      Basically: yes, a rack is fine on an MTB, provided your bike has the correct mounts for one (look for threaded holes where the rear wheel clamps into the frame and on the top of the seat stays).

      BUT you want to take the rack off whenever you go MTBing. There are only four bolts to undo, so it’s a two-minute job.

      Reply
  • Happy April 2, 2013, 1:52 am

    Maybe we could add a column for public transport…bus, train, tram, ferry?

    Reply
  • Ole April 2, 2013, 6:31 am

    I find your anti-automobile challange a great idea – although I am not owning a car anymore, which makes this challange easy for me. I use my bike to get to work and to do the grocery shopping.

    Sorry for doublepost the following question (alrdy posted it on another blogpost), but I got no answer so far. So I hope to get some response to this concern in this discussion:

    Here in germany we have a lot of handmade high quality frames. 4000$+ are frequently met. I was wonderering if even those high-priced bikes fit into MMM-Conecepts? The problem is, that I need a custom frame because of my uncommon body proportions. They give you 15 year warranty on the frame and have best bike parts included (Rohloff gear shift, magura brakes, etc.) – although 4000$* are quite a lot. Low-maintanance and warranty worth the money? What do you think?

    *Under the condition that I don`t use a car and a bike is my only transportation (and my current bike is ten yr. old and don`t fit my special needs)

    Cheers!
    Ole

    Reply
  • Bella April 2, 2013, 7:51 am

    I find it very hard to believe that I’m the first to comment, I mean the post has been up for a day. No one is droolling over signing up for just monitoring their biking/walking/auto usage?
    Alright, I’m willing to track, and yesterday I talked to a coworker about biking to work (he currently bikes and lives close to me). I’m pretty sure his plan won’t work for me (I can’t keep funny hours) – but I’m working on it.
    Can I put in a request for resources for those wanting to find a bike safe path from point A to B. I only live 2.5 mi from work, but the roads are high speed and the drivers are CRAZY!
    Edit::
    As suspected, lots of people have replied. Can I say I’m not in love with the new server plan…. I did reload the page but didn’t see the comments until I submitted my own…

    Reply
  • Mr. Frugal Toque April 2, 2013, 7:53 am

    This game may be well-rigged for me.

    April is cold and May will be much warmer, encouraging more bicycle commuting.

    Reply
  • Luke April 2, 2013, 8:59 am

    This works out well for me since I just started run commuting this month!

    Reply
  • Joe April 2, 2013, 9:49 am

    Now that I’m not working anymore, I don’t drive much anymore. I usually only drive once a week to a discount grocery store to load up. We live in the city so we walk or take public transportation most of the time.
    My goal is to have another month without having to go to the gas station. We probably won’t make it in April though because we only have half a tank left. I’ll fill up at the end of the month and shoot for a no fill up month in May.

    Reply
  • Di April 2, 2013, 9:49 am

    Good challenge! I don’t have a car (or indeed a bike), but do too often end up taking the bus to work even though it is within walking distance, so hopefully this will keep me on the straight and narrow to walk in at least (and maybe even home now we are having lighter evenings – yay!). I’m lucky to live in a big city, so heavy groceries can be delivered** and cars and bikes can be hired, so I must admit it gives me a bit of a head start (/complete lack of excuses!!) on avoiding car use. I’m a member of a car club, but only use it once every 2-3 months – usually to borrow a van for a few hours if we need to pick up or deliver something large, or very occasionally a car for a weekend or day trip to somewhere the trains don’t run.

    What is the MMM view on public transport, by the way? Environmentally I guess it is pretty clear (better than car but worse than bike or foot where those are options). Financially it must be better than owning a car unless you are doing big mileage to cover the overheads … but then big mileage would be unmustachian anyway, so …? I realise public transport is probably a bigger deal for me as a European, but whenever I’ve been on holiday to the US the public transport seems OK: I’ve taken long distance trains between cities and buses and other public transit within cities, and it always seems to work pretty well – but it doesn’t figure very strongly in this community I think? Is it seen as expensive, or just not an option for most people?

    ** well of course this causes a van to be driven to my house, even if I am not the one driving it – though it is on its way to/from lots of other houses too… I wonder if technically this should go in the “public transport” column too then!?

    Reply
  • Fernando R April 2, 2013, 12:47 pm

    This is as much as a good idea as it is crazy. I would love to embark on this journey but given the distances between work school and home there is no way I will be able to continue a ”normal” life if I was to decide to walk or ride bike, even though I will be “richer” and healthier, which should excite anyone, the struggles will just be too much. I will probably use my car to go to the gym, and won’t eat out so much to save money.

    Reply
  • Ginger April 2, 2013, 12:54 pm

    My husband and I were considering getting bikes, but since our baby is only two months old and the drivers in our area are extremely bad, we decided to wait. We carpool to work (daycare is on campus) all together and we have a great gas mileage car. I am considering getting a used bike for quick trips to the local grocery store but I have not decided yet.

    Reply
  • win April 2, 2013, 1:24 pm

    An old man told me, “Indian say bicycle is white man’s way of running while sitting down.”

    Reply
  • Jeremy @ Go Curry Cracker April 2, 2013, 1:58 pm

    Most of the people I used to work with would say, “I could never get rid of my car.” It’s been a part of their life for so long they don’t know how to live without it. I especially enjoyed hearing the excuses of coworkers whose houses I biked past on the way to work

    I haven’t owned a car most of my adult life, and the few times in recent years when I borrowed or rented one, it was such a major hassle that I was glad to get rid of it. “What is this parking crap?!” “Why are we just sitting here in traffic, I could walk faster than this.” “WTF, gas is $4 a gallon?!?!”

    Once you get a taste for not using the car, you will realize just how sweet life is without it. Good luck everybody!

    Reply
  • Jacob @ iHeartBudgets April 2, 2013, 2:10 pm

    Does carpooling count? Starting next week I’m carpooling to work, saving me about $100 a month in gas :)

    Bummer, though, because I just bought my wife a 4runner, and it doesn’t get great gas mileage. She doesn’t drive much, though :)

    I love the idea of riding a bicycle everywhere, and am seriously considering a road bike, not sure if I can pull off the spandex suit, though.

    Reply
    • Willis Montgomery III April 4, 2013, 1:01 pm

      just ride in regular clothes. You don’t need special cycling clothes/shoes or anything. Sell the 4 runner, you don’t need it. I ride everyday rain/snow/sleet and hail and you can too.

      Check out
      http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/

      for some good tips.

      Reply
  • Bek April 2, 2013, 5:46 pm

    What wonderful timing! Yesterday I biked to work for the first time. It rained, but I cycled anyway dammit. I take that as a good omen. I previously took my scooter to save petrol and parking $, but cycling wins as it gives me exercise time too!

    Reply
  • Dividend Mantra April 2, 2013, 6:43 pm

    MMM,

    Great challenge! Although I will admit that I’ve already beaten the game since I live car-free and use either the bus or my 16 year-old 49cc scooter for all my transportation needs.

    I suppose I need to get a bike now, don’t I? :)

    Hope all is well!

    Best wishes.

    Reply
  • LoveMyCar April 2, 2013, 6:57 pm

    Not drive my car???? Pbfffffffff! Yeah right, April Fools! lol!

    Reply
  • Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce April 3, 2013, 5:20 am

    Great timing! I’m about to buy a bike (training for a triathlon). It’s all very exciting! I think I’ll be able to park 1 of my 2 cars (no payments on them!) for most of the month. I’ll be interested to see how the others do!

    Reply
  • catalana April 3, 2013, 7:05 am

    Oooo count me in! Not a good start, but in the space of 3 days it is already making me more aware of the miles and time I spend in the car!

    Good stuff MMM :)

    Reply
  • Sarah April 3, 2013, 1:52 pm

    I created my spreadsheet. I started filling it in. Already logged 4 miles on the bike. Thanks for the challenge, I respond very well to empty spreadsheets! :)

    Reply
  • Freeyourchains April 4, 2013, 7:57 am

    Can we face punch our Companies into letting us telecommute? I feel like they like watching their workers in the cubicles, just because of the Power authority they have over others willing to sit for 8 hours a day all their lives if they over consume so the company (aka CEO, Officers, Investors, then shareholders) can make huge quarterly profits off of the labors of others, while they decide to lay off or not give raises to the workers this year, though to make sure they continue to receive bonuses.

    This raises another question, if your boss told you to run for 1hr two times a day to get to work on time, though he isn’t paying you for your “commute”, would you keep working? Would it be worth it if only on minimum wage? You decide to move closer, but then the company doesn’t pay you to move closer, to help alleviate you of your “commute” to work for them.

    I know Power struggles with Managers and employees,and the low-ultra social classes, go back to the stone ages, but shouldn’t individuals continue to put up the fight against social worker norms, financial employer to employee abuse, and sometimes culture norms of worker mistreatment?

    Reply
  • Liz April 4, 2013, 9:47 am

    I assumed that we’d already beaten this challenge; we sold our car in August. The cash we made enabled us to move to a nicer (as in more walkable, less gunshots) neighborhood and an apartment within spitting distance of an El stop with amazing neighbors. I subsequently quit my (very stressful, soul-crushing) full-time job to take a part-time job three doors down from our apartment, which is enabling me the time and creative energy to finish up a personal/professional milestone. I’ll go full-time again sometime in the summer, and then my wife will downshift her freelance hours and return to school. Even though we took a pay cut and moved into a place that was slightly more expensive, our finances are in better shape than they were before we sold the car. If we’d held on to that albatross, there’s no way we could have afforded the move and the job shifts.

    That said, I — as the only driver in the household — frequently get an I-Go car (car sharing program here in Chicago) when I think it’s too much of a hassle to take public transportation, walk, or bike (A meeting in the suburbs that’s annoying to get to by transit, being to lazy to walk to one of the four grocery stores that are less than a mile away and rationalizing it with “Well, I’ll be able to buy in bulk and get a better price”). I think my challenge will be to go without IGo in April.

    Reply
  • @pfinMario April 4, 2013, 11:02 am

    As a New Yorker, I’m probably going to win this… just a heads up

    Reply
  • healthiswealth April 6, 2013, 5:52 am

    Thinking about the North American obsession with cars, especially SUV’s reminds me of this awesome video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0NfaKiPIMc ..

    Reply
  • PFgal April 12, 2013, 3:18 pm

    It’s posts like these that make me extra sad I can’t ride a bike. I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact for me, due to a health condition. But I want to point out that while there are legitimate reasons for not riding a bike, most of the complaints don’t fall into those categories. If you’re physically able to ride, you should! Think about how fortunate you are to have that ability and then go ride like the wind. I’d ditch my car in a second if I could ride a bike. It’s healthier, cheaper, and easier. Even dealing with cars on busy streets while biking is probably less stressful than trying to drive around the city. Similarly, don’t be lazy about stairs – be grateful you can climb them! I can only walk one flight at a time, but I’m excited to do it, because a year ago I couldn’t. So the next time you’re feeling lazy, the next time it seems “easier” to drive instead of bike, think about all the people who can’t do it, be grateful for your good health, and get on that bicycle!

    Reply
  • Samantha April 17, 2013, 11:21 am

    Alright it took me a bit but I finally got a bike that will work for triathlons in the future and biking to work now. I won’t be able to ride everyday since I live 17 miles outside of town, but a minimum of twice a week. So far I am loving it just getting used to the seat and carrying a backpack for a change of clothes and lunch is the hardest part, but I’ll get used to it all in time.

    Reply
  • Rad Dude April 21, 2013, 1:53 pm

    I would like to add something here. I know it is un-mustachian, but I rarely used to ride my bike because I live in a somewhat hilly area. I recently bought an “Ebike” kit that adds an electric motor to my bike. This solved my problem and made riding quite a bit more fun.

    I would be curious to know what MrMoneyMustache thinks of ebikes. At the very least, they save time and extend your biking range. I have been driving at least 20% less since I got mine.

    Reply
  • Ottawa April 30, 2013, 6:58 am

    The bad news is that I drove to work April 12 due to this: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/roads+high+winds+cause+school+cancellations+still+expected/8227019/story.html (since my only rule is that I don’t bike in freezing rain).

    The good news is that I biked the other 20 work days for a total of 320 km (200 miles). Since my car is about 9L/100km in the city; I saved around $40. However, this savings is minor compared to the gain in health, reduction in stress and increased awareness of Spring!

    Reply
  • Ryan May 1, 2013, 6:15 am

    I’ve got my chart for the month filled out! Where do I share it?

    Here are my totals:

    Bike: 313 miles
    Public transport (bus and metro): 20 miles
    Walking:18 miles
    Car: 23.5 miles

    Reply
    • Debbie M May 2, 2013, 6:10 pm

      Thought it would be here: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/throw-down-the-gauntlet/anti-automobile-april-biking-challenge!!/

      But I don’t see anything there. My numbers are:
      Bike: 0
      Public transport: 154 (mostly to work–includes walking)
      Feet: 5
      Car: 727 (including one 517-mile trip)

      I knew I wouldn’t be riding my bike–I just did this challenge for the learning experience. I learned that one of my favorite grocery stores is closer than I thought (1.9 miles)–good biking distance once we figure out a good way over the freeway. I learned that most of my trips are over 3 miles, and most of my non-work-commuting trips are over 5 miles. I learned there is a good bus between my new dentist and work but not home. And I learned that sometimes the recommended biking routes are shorter than the recommended driving routes (when there are no good driving roads that are direct).

      I already knew I don’t like biking to work because I prefer reading during the commute than exercising during it. And I already knew I wanted to own a car because I value locational independence as much as I value financial independence. I normally walk a bit more when I don’t have plantar fasciitis, but I seem to be able to walk fair distances non-destructively if I use a walking stick.

      Details here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AuE6mZZIL_MVdEhMOGZ0Y0wxSERPNDVLU2NJWlcwM1E#gid=2

      Reply

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