479 comments

Curing your Clown-Like Car Habit

A lineup of Clowns waiting to drive their kids a few blocks home from school, on a beautiful Hawaiian afternoon this January.

A lineup of Clowns waiting to drive their kids a few blocks home from school, on a beautiful Hawaiian afternoon during my vacation (January 2013).

One of the weirdest things about this country is the way people use their cars.

I mean, it takes some serious effort to find a spot in our Three Million Square Mile land area, where you will not see endless lines of seated humans trundling meaninglessly back and forth in these giant and stupendously inefficient machines. Whether you’re on a rocky rural road in the desert, in a deep blizzard high atop the Continental Divide, walking up to the elementary school on a Friday afternoon to retrieve your son, or sitting with your feet in the sand on the Windward shores of Oahu, those fuckin’ cars are right there with you – roaring, stinking, crashing, and impoverishing their owners.

All this would be excusable if all these cars were providing an essential service. If every car trip delivered great rewards to its driver, and by extension to society as a whole, I’d gladly toss down this keyboard and stand up so I could cheer on the heroic drivers as they passed by. Just as I solemnly accept that digging up a 27 kilometre tunnel of solid rock beneath Switzerland to build the Large Hadron Collider was a worthwhile wound to inflict on our planet because of the expected advancements to science, I could accept that paving over most of our cities to accommodate cars is Good.

But unfortunately, that’s not the case. After years of careful study, observations, and interviews with real car drivers, I have come to the conclusion that about 90% of the car use that occurs in the United States is Pure Bullshit. But don’t get out your boxing gloves and start knocking out motorists just yet, because the ridiculousness is baked right into our culture. Our people are victims rather than perpetrators, even if their suffering is rather comical and clown-like.

Luckily, today I’ll present a cure for the problem.

My home town of Longmont, Colorado represents the ultimate laboratory for studying Car Clown disease, as it is sufficiently small and bike-friendly that car trips within town are completely unnecessary. Since groceries and kids are easily handled by a bike trailer, the only reason to drive would be physical impairment, transporting items too large for a trailer, or driving to another city.

Yet these intra-city trips are commonplace. When I see a car ease into a parking spot, I always run to assist the driver with getting out into their wheelchair, but I am stunned to find that they usually have working legs after all! People drive to the school to pick up and drop off kids. To the grocery store. To the restaurants. To the gym. To each other’s houses. Back and forth on Main Street to show off. Every road sees plenty of cars and personal trucks, some of them in dangerous numbers. And inside, every vehicle is equipped with a La-Z-boy recliner, upon which a tragic clown sits, pushing the soft-touch pedals, turning the power-assisted wheel, and talking on some sort of Clownophone.

The clowns have to wait in line when the traffic light turns red. They have to bumble though the parking lots and wait for each other to back out of parking spaces, because their machines are so bulky that two cannot pass each other in a space less than 20 feet wide. They line up at special events and fight for places to park on the streets. Then they line up at the gas station and the car wash and the oil change shop. And the machines make them fatter and poorer every time they use them.

And we haven’t even addressed the most clown-like invention of them all: the drive-through (or ‘drive-thru’ as it they spell it here, which is suitable because “thru” is not even a word, just as drive-through services should not exist). The clowns actually sit for several minutes in a self-imposed traffic jam, engines idling, just so somebody can hand them some shit through the window of their car!

Mustachians like you and I view an idling engine like a bleeding wound or an overflowing toilet. It’s something to be alarmed at, and to correct immediately. But Car Clowns actually idle deliberately, sometimes to get something as ridiculous as a cup of expensive coffee in a disposable paper cup. When I see these lines of Drive-Thru Clowns, I find the urge to get off my bike and walk down the lineup systematically PUNCHING EACH DRIVER IN THE FACE through their open window to be almost overwhelming.

It sounds like a terrible fate when I describe it like that, but yet for almost everyone in the country, this is reality. Most Car Clowns will acknowledge that their lives are pretty inconvenient, but then claim that a car is necessary to prevent the even greater inconveniences of public transit, walking, or not going anywhere at all.

Well, here’s the good news: Car Clown Disease is not an unavoidable thing. It’s simply the product of bad habits. If you can reprogram the bad habits you’ve built around cars, you can slide into the cool camp of Conscious Car Users instead. It’s a land where traffic is sparse, the view out your window is breathtaking, and cost is negligible.

To cure the disease, you just need to change the way you feel about driving. Right now, you probably feel that it’s just something you do because it’s necessary. Maybe you even find it pleasant at times (hell, I sure do). You have the cozy seats, the climate control, the stereo, lights, knobs and buttons, and all that power. You can go anywhere with that thing.

But there’s more to it than that. When you use a 3500-pound car to transport your 150-pound self around, 96 percent of the weight of that clump of matter is the car. You’re moving 25 times more junk around than you need to, and thus using 25 times more energy to do it.

Imagine that you’re hungry for lunch, so you go to a restaurant. But you don’t just order yourself a blackened salmon salad for $15.00. You order twenty five salads for $375.00! Then, you eat one of them, and leave the other 24 blackened salmon salads, $360.00 worth of food, to get collected by the waiter and slopped unceremoniously into a big black garbage bag. All that fine wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, lovingly seasoned and grilled. All the fine crumbles of feta cheese, the mango salsa, diced green onion, shaved peppers, rich zingy dressing, and everything else the chef worked on for hours – plopped into the slimy garbage bag. This is exactly what you are doing, every time you drive!

And you’re not just wasting your own money, of course. You are wasting the gasoline that the rest of the world works so hard to produce, puncturing seabeds and spilling stadium-loads of oil into pristine wilderness areas as a necessary byproduct. Destroying coral reefs and flooding coastlines with your carbon emissions. Clogging roads and creating demand for roadway expansion, indirectly raising your own taxes. It’s a whole lot of badness we’re doing, every time we drive. It’s not just a matter of “Hey, it’ll only cost me ten bucks for the gas”. It’s a matter of choosing to be an asshole. I fully admit that I drive plenty of miles in cars too, and I too am being an asshole every time I do it. Other people think you’re being an asshole when you drive too, and you should be just a little bit embarrassed every time you are seen driving. I sure am.

The goal here is not to create negative stress in your life. Just acknowledge that whenever you turn the key, you need to say, “Here we go. I’m being an asshole again”. It’s a subtle change, but a powerful one once you embrace it. And of course, your assholism scales with the size and weight of the vehicle. If you’re considering driving a pickup truck or large SUV for personal transport, the asshole factor should be so overwhelming that you feel like running inside to cower in a closet every time you even look out at your driveway. Feel the pain. Embrace it. Over time, work to reduce it.

On top of that, every time you drive on a local trip that could be handled by bike, you are telling both the world and yourself, “I am already so physically fit and healthy, that I could not possibly benefit from an extra few miles of biking”. Occasionally this is true, like if you just returned from a mountain century ride and have raw butt cheeks, blistered hands, and absolutely no energy left to crank the pedals. In this situation, sure, go ahead and take the car out to get groceries. You deserve it. For the rest of us, what is your excuse? Unless you just rode 60 miles, you will probably benefit greatly by leaving the car at home.

So there you have it: 3 simple steps to automotive habit change. With every potential car trip, think of the 24 plates of wasted salmon. Ask yourself if it’s worth being a deliberate asshole, and ask yourself if you have any possible use for a bit more health and physical fitness. Do it every time, so it becomes a habit.

You may find your automobile travel being greatly reduced, which of course has massive financial benefits as well. And for those remaining trips that pass the Triple Anti-Car-Clown Gauntlet: well, those are probably some hella good car trips, so you will have such a good time that it will be worth the consequences.

 

Epilogue, 1 day later: As usual, this article has gathered its share of complaints from new readers. “Waah, Waah, don’t call me a clown”, “Biking is dangerous where I live”, etc.

Instead of continuing my usual bossy insensitive life coach routine, I’ll take a rare moment to remind those people what I’m really trying to accomplish with this article: It’s not to make you feel bad or to try to make myself feel good. It is just to raise awareness about how there really is an alternative to a nothing-but-cars lifestyle if you think about it when making future decisions.

Sure, you might have trapped yourself into a car-dependent lifestyle for now. But remember, you created that trap yourself. If you get in the habit of lightheartedly calling yourself a clown every time you drive, and imagining those 24 plates of wasted food, you’ll start thinking, “hey, maybe there’s another way”.

Then, you might try walking or biking (or hell, even taking the train) on a fair-weather basis. Just do it when it’s easy. Then, it will get easier, which means that soon enough, it will be easy most of the time.

Next time you move to a new house or a new job, suddenly the consideration of “I’d rather not be a car clown” will be in your mind. You will make more balanced decisions. The reason I took the job in Boulder instead of Petaluma way back in 1999 was because I could afford a house within biking distance of work here, but I couldn’t out there. Even if you live in the center of a NASCAR oval right now, and work 67 miles away, you don’t have to do that forever. You, too, have a choice of where you live and work in the future. I’m just planting a seed in your mind.

Only once this seed grows into the fruit of independence, can you wean yourself from the Poisonous Teat of the Automobile.

  • totoro April 24, 2013, 10:50 am

    I don’t enjoy biking in the city. I really don’t. It seems dangerous and I don’t like the feeling of cars next to me. If I could ride on the sidewalks it would be fine. I have no problem with it in smaller towns (ie. 30 000 and not 300 000).

    I also dislike being in crowds of people so public transit is okay but not pleasant for me. I do prefer it to driving and parking and used to get to work this way.

    My solution was to start working from home and move to a very walkable neighbourhood. I even bought a little ol’ lady cart for groceries and just tell people I’m ahead of my time. Walking works for us all – schools, banks, library, rec centre… only the dr., costco and some travel for work are a drive away.

    My day is really made much better by all this walking with a purpose. And I do walk every day because I need to get thing done like shopping or banking.

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    • Paula @ Afford Anything April 29, 2013, 1:09 pm

      @Totoro — Hey, walking is also a fantastic way to get around — so I think you found a great alternative solution!

      I’m a HUGE fan of walking, which is great exercise, a way to enjoy the outdoors, and free (you only need shoes!). Some people don’t like it because it’s slower, but I actually appreciate that aspect of it — it forces me to slow down and take a break from my day.

      I work from home and live in a very walkable neighborhood. I intentionally choose to live in this area for the express purpose of being able to walk anywhere I need to go — grocery stores, parks, libraries, hardware store, etc.

      Lots of people in my neighborhood walk, as well, so it’s common to see people pushing around the “little old lady carts” filled with groceries or whatever else they need to transport. Those push-carts are great.

      Working from home is fantastic — it’s a huge money-saver. No transit costs, no expensive “work clothes,” no lunches with co-workers.

      Last week my car had a flat tire and I didn’t even notice for several days. When I did notice, I didn’t get around to fixing it for several more days because it just wasn’t a high priority.

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      • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2013, 2:01 pm

        Sounds great, Paula! .. and I should point out that this is in Atlanta too, where many people insist there are no walking or bike-friendly areas, right?

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  • win April 24, 2013, 11:35 am

    Put this on your clown car — Carstache.

    http://www.carstache.com/

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    • Sarah April 24, 2013, 11:49 am

      this is about as un-mustachian as you can get…but also hilarious!!!!!

      Reply
    • Lorin April 24, 2013, 1:44 pm

      Here in SF, the cars the with pink mustaches are part of a car share/cab program called Lyft. Is that just here? It’s kind of controversial, with regular cabs claiming they are gypsys and illegal. Plus the mustaches are super ugly.

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      • Matt (Semper Fi) October 1, 2016, 8:40 am

        And they block part of the airflow that helps cool the engine overall.

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  • John Iskra April 24, 2013, 1:19 pm

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  • Jeremy @ Go Curry Cracker! April 24, 2013, 3:16 pm

    I love the idea of a bike challenge, with MMM riding bikes in the towns that others say are too dangerous. I’ll bet big $ that others in the same town are happily biking away.

    The statistics don’t lie. Some people die while biking, while others die by being overweight as a result of lack of exercise. By being cautious, it is possible to have the statistics be in your favor on the bike but never in the case of unhealthful living.

    If the “it isn’t safe where I live” perspective is indeed true, the math is pretty easy to figure out how many years of extra working is required to overcome that limitation. Moving is probably cheaper and faster

    A big part of the reason we are retired now is due to overcoming all of the limitations, including the mental and self-imposed ones

    Great post

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  • Brian April 24, 2013, 3:29 pm

    How long should I expect a bike trailer to last? I occassionally look on Craigslist for used ones for sale in my area, and I’ve noticed an inverse correlation between the asking price and the distance I’d have to travel to pick it up. In general — including driving costs for distances greater than, say, 12 miles from my house — the cost of buying a new bike trailer for the asking price is between $125-$250. At those costs, it just doesn’t pencil out. I drive 4 miles round trip to the grocery store once per week (I do bike to work). Assuming 50 cents per mile, I’d have to make between 63 and 125 grocery trips to break even (I can’t think of too many other applications for a trailer, we don’t have kids or do a lot of other shopping). And that’s assuming the used trailer lasts that long — hence my original question. I may eventually find a trailer at the right price, but it certainly doesn’t feel like a financial emergency to me to wait for a deal.

    FWIW I’m kind of interested in a diy project based on some bike trailer designs I found on the internet, but that implies a certain aspect of “fun” I might have making my own. Anyone here have experience with this?

    EDIT: this looks interesting, and a little closer to what I would consider a good break-even cost point. http://www.amazon.com/Aosom-Elite-Luggage-Trailer-Removable/dp/B0029KBA26/ref=sr_1_10?s=cycling&ie=UTF8&qid=1366839993&sr=1-10

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  • Quest April 24, 2013, 5:20 pm

    Hi. My name is Quest, I have an SUV in the driveway and I’m an asshole!! LOL I would really love to get rid of that vehicle …. was talking about it just yesterday. That’s because I want to live a different kind of life, one with less stuff to maintain. Unfortunately, I really do need a car to get around here seeing as how I’m out in the middle of the Mojave and all. But as you say, one day I won’t have to live here anymore and you can bet that when I leave, I will not be taking that SUV with me. I’ll sell it on Craigslist to some other asshole! then I will find myself a place to live that allows me to ditch the car so that I can walk/ride/take public transit. :P

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  • Marcia April 24, 2013, 8:52 pm

    Okay, I can’t speak for how bikeable or unbikeable the 5 miles is – depends on how much traffic there is at 3 am.

    But I am with you on the ruralness. The ability to bike in rural areas is really going to depend on the area. I grew up in rural PA. It is not uncommon for my family members to drive 20-40 miles to work. It’s absolutely not bikeable. No shoulders and cars driving 55 mph. When I was a kid my family and I would walk along some of these roads, but then we could walk in the grass/weeds a few feed off the road.

    However there are a lot of back roads and dirt roads off the main roads…that are bikeable. So there are likely a few jobs that you could have where you could safely bike. Like the road I grew up on…not friendly per se, but we biked on it as kids and that’s with the dump trucks too.

    On the other hand, my family tends to limit their trips. Grocery trips are monthly or every other week. Well, some of my family members anyway. Other ones get so used to their hour commute each way that they drive 1.5 hours (one way) to go shopping on their days off. Love the outlet malls! (ugh)

    Reply
    • Liz May 3, 2013, 1:52 pm

      The real question is, why would you live in a place where you have to drive 20-40 miles just to get to work?

      Reply
      • Nancy Jones May 21, 2013, 3:47 pm

        quality of life at the home, but the job isn’t there. job I love in a city, but I can’t live in a city.

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  • bayrider April 25, 2013, 12:55 am

    Dude, I LOVE my F150 Lariat. Hauls us, our 2 large dogs and all our gear in infinite comfort for roaming the NORCAL countryside. And that is a small truck here in the rural lands, most neighbors have Superduty diesel rigs. We have hay to haul and horses to pull and all kinds of satisfying truck type things to do. I have to tell you it’s pretty awesome. The country is different and you are not going to ride your bicycle anywhere here for practical purposes although I ride mine for exercise almost every day. I do use my motorcycle for appropriate errands.

    Of course I wouldn’t dream of commuting in this rig, I swore off commuting in 1989, walked or rode the bus to work in San Francisco for 15 years then moved out here to the country and telecommuted thereafter. But a lot of folks need trucks out here and can’t afford multiple vehicles.

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    • Mr. Money Mustache April 25, 2013, 8:01 am

      Yeah, but you could do the same thing in a Subaru Forester (and a trailer for hay hauling days) with half the gasoline!

      The idea of a pickup truck or little cargo van is great in principle – you should see the ones they sell in every country other than the US – 10 foot cargo beds, 35 MPG diesel engine, manual transmission, better handling… We just get shitty ones here in the US because nobody has been teaching us that you don’t have to settle for 17MPG in order to be able to haul a few hundred pounds of stuff.

      Our US trucks are dumb because the frame is too heavy, engine is too big and has a terrible power-to-weight ratio, frontal area is big just to “look tough” without increasing functionality, cargo bed is tiny, and the automatic transmissions are heavy and super-lossy. Believe me, I have major appreciation for utility in a vehicle because I still use them for construction materials, which are much bigger than dogs!

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      • squashroll May 2, 2013, 11:31 am

        Spot-on, mmm. The most important feature of a U.S. truck is to look cool. Ford sells their (new) 2.2L diesel stick Ranger long bed all over the world.
        How ironic that the wearer of one of the baddest ‘staches of all time is the voice of Dodge trucks…

        Imagine if your scion had a 1L turbo diesel.
        I’m with you on the car/trailer combo–

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  • Schmidty April 25, 2013, 1:13 am

    I understand the resistance to cycling that a lot of complainypantses put up because I used to be one of them. I was from a small town and too scared to cycle around the “big city” that I had moved to. But one day I sucked it up and tried it, and found that, like so many things in life that seem harder until you actually try, it was a piece of cake and more fun than I would have imagined. Now every time I get on my bike I experience the freedom and thrill that I used to get when I was a kid. So much so, that sometimes a fly makes its way into my mouth because I cannot contain my ear-to-ear face-splitting grin. I actually have to check myself and remember to keep my mouth shut (still smiling like a fool, of course) to keep flies out.

    Biking is bliss! I never drive to work anymore, but years ago on the occasions that I did drive, a bad day at the office would follow me home. Not so with biking. No sirree, getting on a bike at the beginning and end of the day gives me energy and shoots my mood through the roof, rain or shine, both up- and downhill. And it’s not just great for your mind: it improves your physical health and makes your legs gorgeous too! What more could you want?

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  • Rob Gusky April 25, 2013, 7:30 am

    Thanks for the blog. I joined the free Natiinal Bike Challenge at http://www.nationalbikechallenge.org. Timing is perfect as the official start is next Wed May 1!

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  • Kath1213 April 25, 2013, 8:54 am

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  • Executioner April 25, 2013, 9:43 am

    I enjoyed this article and agree with it wholeheartedly.

    What struck me was the parallels between frequent car usage and regular consumption of meat:

    – Neither provides an essential service (there are other transportation and dietary options)
    – Both can contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle (car:less fitness; meat: carcinogenic properties of animal-sourced proteins, cholesterol, animal antibiotics, increased risk of pathogens and parasites, etc)
    – Both are horribly inefficient to produce and have negative environmental impact when compared with other options
    – Financial benefits can be realized by minimizing consumption of each and adopting lower-cost options

    Of course, I expect the reaction of most meat-lovers to an article of this type would be the same as the reaction of most car-lovers. It’s hard to change attitudes when people have become accustomed to certain habits, preferences, and tastes, even when presented with compelling evidence to the contrary.

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    • squashroll May 2, 2013, 12:58 pm

      I’m surprised nobody replied to your comment. Its a good point; I believe Fisker may have addressed this in his book/blog.

      Reply
  • Heather April 25, 2013, 11:39 am

    I caught this a couple of days late for the comment parade, but I have to say, I have been reading your blog for a few months now and this is one of my favorite articles so far. Our current life transition involves living as exiles in suburbia, but even here, I’ve realized that biking pretty much anywhere is very doable. The only thing holding me back right now is my 3-month-old munchkin who is too small to go in a trailer just yet.

    Whenever I bike to the grocery store, I actually feel bad for the people in their cars. There’s nothing like the wind (or sometimes rain) on your face and feeling like you earned those groceries.

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    • Christof May 22, 2013, 3:50 pm

      Croozer and Chariot have a baby seat suitable for babies between 1 and 10 months. We take our 4-months boy everywhere with the trailer. Usually he falls asleep pretty quickly.

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  • Nick April 25, 2013, 2:53 pm

    I’ve become less and less of a fan of driving over the years. I’ve moved closer to work so I can walk or bike and I avoid long drives. I think the car culture you describe is a by-product of both economic success of the past century and the geographic expanse of our country that allows people to live in single-family homes rather than crowded cities.

    While I share your disdain for the negative aspects of car culture, I don’t think it’s a major problem and the arguments you make are used by environmental zealots who want to force people to live in “transit villages” and the like. Here in the SF Bay Area we have a program called “One Bay Area” which seeks to demolish our car infrastructure in favor of high-density housing. Far more corrupting than car culture, large cities are cesspools of decadence and easily manipulated fools. More people are beginning to realize that environmentalism is the new vehicle for communism, here is an article that comments on Earth Day being on the same date as Lenin’s birthday:http://spectator.org/archives/2013/04/22/happy-earth-day-and-lenin-day Communists joined the green movement in droves after the Soviet Union fell.

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    • Mr. Money Mustache April 25, 2013, 9:29 pm

      The Greenies are Commies, eh?.. except for me, I guess, being one of the most market-loving capitalists around, yet with the Earth as my mother and my best friend too ;-)

      Remember, the Earth IS our economy. It provides all the wealth we will ever have, and if we fuck it up much more than we already have, it’s gone. Smart capitalism and environmentalism are one and the same: preserve our ability to maintain rich and fulfilling lifestyles – forever. But obviously you can’t do it ideologically like a Marx follower. Scientists and engineers and economists have got most of it figured out already – only the politicians and the voters who put them there need to be educated.

      That’s inspiration for another good article – thanks!

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      • bayrider April 25, 2013, 11:13 pm

        Dude, you absolutely do look like Lenin:>!

        I am with you for the most part but the automobile is the last measure of true individual freedom, essential for road trips and an active and independent lifestyle. But I hate the tyranny and insanity and waste of commuting into metro areas. My way out of that was vowing to never live in a suburb again back in 1987. But even living in San Francisco although I could walk to work every day and get around the neighborhoods on foot or public trans and did, I still needed my Trooper with all my windsurf gear loaded on it to hit the beach at Crissy Field or down to the coast every afternoon during the sailing season, also for trips to Tahoe every weekend for ski season. Did I squander a tremendous amount of money all those years? Hell yeah, but it was worth it, spent it on my passions and an active lifestyle. I moved to CA to windsurf and ski and spend loads of outdoor time on the road in the western states. I consider those sports at one with the natural world. But you still need personal transportation to get there in almost all cases.

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  • Jen April 25, 2013, 6:47 pm

    Our family falls short in many areas of living a frugal and earth-friendly lifestyle, but car usage is not one of them. We have been car-less for 15 months now and cannot be happier about it.

    When we had a car, it was costing us $1,000 a month ($12,000 a year), as we live in a country with likely the highest car ownership costs in the world. When we had this idea to get rid of it (as we moved to a walking distance from work, school, groceries etc), I was a bit scared – are we going to inconvenience ourselves too much? Maybe we should still keep it? That was purely the power of habit! Once we sold it after all, I’ve been enjoying the car-less lifestyle enormously – no more sitting in traffic, no more fighting for parking spaces, no more oil changes, no more insurances and gas bills, no more washing the bloody thing. Honestly, I can sleep better now!

    Now the habit of NOT having a car is so ingrained, that I do not picture ourselves ever wanting it again. When we’ll have to move somewhere, we will be looking for areas that eliminate the need to have a car.

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  • ultrarunner April 26, 2013, 12:06 am

    I ran across this blog post tonight about the 9 reasons you can’t bike to work and couldn’t stop laughing.

    He nails the complainypants arguments pretty darn well.

    http://semi-rad.com/2011/06/9-reasons-why-you-should-never-bike-to-work/

    Reply
  • Mitch April 27, 2013, 12:23 pm

    People in their cars always look so angry and unhappy, yet everyone wants one.

    A big part of why I keep my cab driving job, and what keeps it worth doing on days of low call volume, is the ability to use the cab for errands and be able to purchase things too bulky or from stores too far from my house for practical shopping by bicycle. I even used it to haul a big roll of concrete reinforcing mesh for tomato trellises to my garden, although that was pushing the limits of what should be transported in a passenger car.

    Now there are situations where using my work vehicle for errands is impractical or inappropriate.

    When I buy two more rolls of concrete reinforcing mesh from Menard’s and a bunch of fence posts to make more tomato trellises I’ll rent a truck from Menard’s to haul that stuff to my garden for $20 per hour.

    I’ll take about a $15 cab ride to haul my four trays of plants, and my bike to get home, to my gardens.

    And finally the Burley trailer comes into play hauling water to the gardens and hauling my produce home.

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  • Florence April 27, 2013, 5:09 pm

    I truly wish I could walk or bike but I have a neuromuscular condition that makes it impossible. I have a van that is used to transport me and my electric scooter. If it weren’t for my van I would be totally housebound. Have some compassion for those with limitations.

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    • Matt (Semper Fi) October 1, 2016, 2:07 pm

      I guess you missed this part of MMM’s post: “I have come to the conclusion that about 90% of the car use that occurs in the United States is Pure Bullshit.”

      You clearly fall within the other 10%, though you still need a face punch (or at least a slap) for not reading the post in its entirety. ;^]

      Reply
  • Steve April 28, 2013, 3:27 pm

    Two and a half years ago I had seven motorized land vehicles, Race cars, street cars, a truck, an RV, trailers, on and on. Now I have none. I’ve rented a car a couple times since we started this journey and guess what? Cars are a pain in the ass!
    If you include all the effort required to pay for the car, pay for the fuel, pay for the insurance, wash it, fix it, and drive it, it really is easier to just walk and ride the bus. Now before you tell me sure, it’s easy for you, let me point out that both my wife and my son are disabled. How easy is it now?

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  • Sue April 28, 2013, 9:21 pm

    Awesome post!! Glad I’m not the only one who feels rage when I see cars idling at drive-thrus. haha, that was hilarious. I live in Vancouver BC so quite bike friendly, relatively mild (though wet) climate. Still far too many cars and car-centric culture.

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  • Mo April 29, 2013, 3:34 am

    This is a fun but tricky one. I’ve been a bike man for a year now, living in Los Angeles. It gets quite frustrating often, to be honest, but I stick with my principles. I think a car in a city like this is particularly advantageous if you’re involved with many community groups, as they tend to be very spread out geographically.

    However, your point is, minimize car use when you can, and it is a good point indeed.

    Reply
  • Steve April 29, 2013, 10:43 am

    Thank you thank you thank you. Thank you. For the last 8 years I have biked to and from work daily, now 15 miles each way. I’ve lost a total of about 6 days in those 8 years to weather. i’m 48 and in great shape. It takes me anywhere from 15 minutes longer to ride than drive and up to 3 hours less time, depending on the particular smorgasbord of traffic hell that day. Oh, northern Virginia to DC, I should add. I figure I save $370 a month! Please contemplate that. And that’s not even close to the reason I love it so. But it’s a big one. Another one? DC and NoVA are such crowded traffic areas that when something goes wrong (earthquake, snowstorm, terrorist attack), and something often goes wrong, and you’re in DC with a car trying to get to NoVA, count on about 8 hours or more. On a bike? Same amount of time as it would take on any other day.

    Reply
  • Island Dave April 29, 2013, 3:47 pm

    This is brilliant. I Love It. Two years ago I went from car light to car free. Only driving at most 2,000 miles a year I gave up the car. What a relief, what a bonus, what an incredible savings. Went grocery shopping just the other day with my two teenage daughters on our bicycle built for three filling up four huge pannier bags to the max.

    My solo bike is a human powered vehicle. A three wheel vehicle fully enclosed providing protection from the elements. Capable of cruising at 30 mph on level ground with head lights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, I have over 23,000 miles on this machine in just over 41 months.

    Life Is Good.

    Could no longer rationalize driving a car any longer.

    Reply
  • Neil Gussman April 29, 2013, 4:25 pm

    MMM,
    First, congrats on the WaPo article. You deserve to be famous!!!

    But WTF Dude!!! Not everyone in every place can ride a bike. I am saying this as a someone who ride 10,000 miles a year for five years. I ride everywhere. I grew up in Boston and think my monthly rides in New York City are a blast. But I am a 6-foot 185-pound Army Sergeant who rode a single speed bike 5,000 miles on an airbase in Iraq in 2009.

    Not all of your readers respond to angry drivers by challenging them to get their fat asses out of the car. In the southern part of Lancaster County PA where I live, drivers have spit at me, thrown cans at me, thrown their drink at me, swerved their pickup truck at me, and yelled things that indicated their view that I am a passive homosexual and have an unwholesome relationship with my mother.

    If the only place I could ride was southern Lancaster County, I would not ride. I prefer nice places like 7th Avenue in Manhattan or Commonwealth Ave in Boston. Some of your readers could legitimately decide that life threats from fat rednecks in pickup trucks are not how they want to live.

    Ride your bike and trailer in Orlando FL or Dallas TX or anywhere in Louisiana before you condemn readers who think a bicycle is a big risk. Although I only have one broken rib from collisions with cars, 17 of the 32 broken bones I have had are from the bicycle. And it was a bike crash in which I broke ten bones at once and got MEDEVACed from the scene. I am still riding and racing, but I respect those who think bicycling is dangerous.

    Reply
    • willis montgomery May 1, 2013, 5:58 am

      I have family in orlando. I keep an old bike there so when I visit I don’t have to drive everywhere. Orlando is an easy place to bike. I’ve never had a problem and I don’ t need my gortex rain gear or wool hat or gloves riding in orlando. plus, it’s flat and no too windy.

      Reply
      • Neil Gussman May 1, 2013, 10:10 am

        Willis–I have ridden in Orlando also on about seven occasions–I go to business conferences at the convention center there about every other year. But in Orlando I have had several experiences of pickup trucks buzzing me or people yelling at me to get off the road.
        I ride in spandex which can provoke the dumpy dipshits who hate bicyclists. As I said above, I can handle the cowards who would harass a guy on a bike with their 2.5 ton pickup since they are by definition cowards. But not everyone wants to ride in a place that is hostile.
        Neil

        Reply
  • Rachel April 30, 2013, 7:03 pm

    I found this to be highly entertaining and eerily relatable. I am a clown. I am an asshole. An assclown, if you will. I work about 2 blocks from my house and I drive to work.

    I have a lot of bumper stickers on my car, I mean a lot, many of which reference the environment and our need to protect it. I’m a hypocrite. Also, I know my car is recognizable, and since I know that I’m being a turd, I’ve recently started acknowledging this fact and confessing to some my clients and co-workers that I drive to work, even though I live only a couple blocks away, knowing that eventually I will be found out.

    Speaking of hypocrite, I even participated in petitioning and campaigning for the recent fracking ban that our town passed. I didn’t mention that we live in the same town. That’s part of the reason this is all so timely. It is such a bike friendly town! I love that about it. I love the family bike rides we take in the spring, summer and fall…sometimes even in the winter. But it isn’t enough. We go to the grocery store by bike a few times a year. That’s definitely not enough.

    I feel very strongly about this, yet here I am, driving my car to work. Gross.

    I recently decided to ride my bike to work. Particularly after reading an article about the dangers and toxicity of the chemicals use in the gulf oil spill. My work commute has been eating at me for some time. I’ve found bullshit excuses not to walk. I’m not even going to bother to share them.

    I’m taking this opportunity to vow to walk or ride my bike to work from here on out.

    My boyfriend posted a link to your blog on Facebook today. I’d never heard of it, and am very happy that I’ve been made aware. These are great ideas and reminders of the power we have over our own lives. I’m pretty poor, and live really comfortably (too comfortably, actually) on what I make so I think the complaints are pretty entertaining. There are surprising ways that we can save and conserve.

    As for myself, this has inspired me to work and try a little harder in life and to stop being an assclown and start walking and biking to work. That is literally the least I can do.

    Reply
  • cv May 2, 2013, 12:41 pm

    I saw a women this morning getting out of a huge SUV with yoga clothes and mat- I thought to myself, what a waste! She just tensed up all her relaxed muscle from yoga while driving her car.

    Reply
  • Zimmy May 2, 2013, 6:06 pm

    I love this article. I have always been one to park in the back of the parking lot rather than driving around the lot for 15 minutes looking for the perfect parking space. It has also been my observation that people who always look to park in the front could stand to get a little exercise. It might be possible that walking from the back of the lot isn’t such a bad thing.

    Reply
  • QiCultivator May 2, 2013, 6:59 pm

    Thank you, MMM…loved this post!

    My wife and I share a 2011 Toyota Camry and we work different hours (I work until anywhere from 10pm to 2am and she works an 8-4 job). I usually walk to work (3 miles), which I usually enjoy and we have been doing this “car swap” thing at night, where she comes and picks me up, drives me home, I drive back to work and then return home at the end of the night.

    12 miles altogether, no big deal, right (or so I thought)? Wrong! I’m an asshole! Even if we use the highway mpg (32), then at our current gas price (about $3.65/gal) it costs us just a little under $350 per year. If I use city mpg (probably more realistic) it costs over $500 per year.

    Doesn’t seem very Mustachian, especially given the limited benefit I get from it.

    Just wanted to thank you for opening my eyes and probably saving me hundreds of dollars per year!

    Reply
  • Trudy May 3, 2013, 2:07 pm

    The key is to feel like an idiot every time you drive and question your need to do so – instead of feeling like an ‘entitled’ non-thinking addicted to convenience “American”. And for heavens sake if you aren’t truly handicapped, don’t circle looking for the closest spot. I, too, want to punch people in the Drive Thru lane and thank MMM dearly for making me feel warm about that.

    Reply
  • Shaun Somers May 4, 2013, 9:16 am

    So last year I bought a bike (in response to the ‘What do mean you don’t have a bike!’ post). Then it got cold here in Ontario, and I wasn’t badass enough to ride my bike all winter. Today I finally forced myself to get out and bike myself downtown to a breakfast meeting.
    My legs are tired, but I’m on my way to being a clown a lot less often. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Kevin H May 8, 2013, 6:22 pm

    Well, it seems I fell away from reading these financial blogs over the past few weeks. Time to get back in gear!

    While I haven’t done it quite as much as I’d like, thanks to this site I’ve started making the 2km trek from home to our dairy farm. So here I was the farmer donning a bike helmet and full farmer gear (coveralls and rubber boots) biking along the road. Oh I must have been quite the sight. ;)

    I say I’m getting in to the swing of it now. To help keep my self motivated I have a paper pinned to the fridge where I keep a tally of round trips. It’ll be interesting to see how many ticks I have on there by the time winter rolls in again (I’m all ready considering walking when the snow hits).

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 9, 2013, 6:51 am

      Nice move, Kevin!

      If it’s any consolation, I’m sure I look strange too, riding around the neighborhood in my carpenter’s gear. Over the past year, neighbors have seen me biking by while holding 2x4s, buckets, nailguns, drills, tarps, and bags of insulation. Or towing the bike trailer which may contain any combination of toolboxes, PEX pipe, children, groceries, or beer. The only thing I hope to change about this is to eventually get a bigger bike trailer so I can carry more stuff (like the 2ft x 8ft model from Bikes at Work).

      Reply
      • Kevin May 9, 2013, 8:23 am

        One of the side effects of attempting to build my general self confidence over the years is you begin to care less and less about “looking strange”. ;)

        I’ll just have to be sure to be careful, with summer coming this road is going to get busier. There’s not a lot of room in places before you land in the ditch. There’s no shortage of people who like going 110km/h in an 80 (I know I’ve been guilty of it, you just get in a groove).

        Now, sticking around this community I may just do something about my plain jane Chevy Silverado. ;) There are times I need it, yet many times I don’t.

        Reply
      • squshroll May 10, 2013, 4:26 pm

        Wow, Bikes at Work: awesome product!!

        Reply
  • Tariq May 13, 2013, 11:35 pm

    How about mass transit? Trains or buses? Smart or still dumb?
    I think mass transit is completely unreasonable but some distances with a bike may be as well.
    Then again a commute with mass transit can oftentimes be longer than it would with a bike.

    Reply
  • Tania May 15, 2013, 1:51 pm

    I smirked when I saw Oahu in there. I’m a former resident of Honolulu of 20 years and the traffic is truly horrendous. I do miss it though because of the awesome bus system and city walking. I’ve been working on my spendy ways lately and if I ever move again, I’ll definitely go somewhere I can walk more (I suck on two wheels). Now on Maui I do drive almost twenty miles to work but there’s no traffic here, takes me about 20 minutes tops. I use that time to listen to audiobooks/podcasts, try to learn something. I came home to be closer to my aging parents and live next to them on the family property. Maui has a ton of open rural land but with that things are farther apart then in an urban environment. You walk a hell of a lot less in the country. There is a bus system but I work in a location significantly off the bus line. The bus system is expanding each day and I’m keeping an eye on that opportunity.

    So, how I minimize my car clown behavior is to be more conscious about the amount I drive. I don’t drive out for lunch as many of my co-workers do (we’re in the middle of agricultural land so there is no dining near by so I brown bag it). I also track my errands by area so that I can consolidate several errands into one trip. I don’t go out much on the weekends or after work, am pretty happy staying on the homefront or sticking to activities close to or on the way home. I try to exercise at home but for the occassional spinning or other class I go to a center right down the road from my house.

    Reply
  • Nancy Jones May 21, 2013, 3:45 pm

    If we ever get a commuter service to take me the 38 miles from where I live to where I work, I’ll use it. My husband and I work in the same named city but he works across the river and the way across the river is under it–no pedestrians. And we work different shifts and I never know what time he’ll be finished. We tried to look at how we could ride together, but he leaves an hour before I do and we have kids to get on the school bus, then I could be waiting for him for hours to finish or he could be left there. And even within the town where we live, there is no commuter service. We don’t live within the town, we live 12 miles outside of it. I agree that way too many people are driving simply out of avoiding having to wait for the bus, but be careful you don’t generalize ALL drivers that way.

    Reply
  • Sarah May 22, 2013, 7:03 am

    http://wtop.com/1339/3329207/Commuter-Idle-A-3-hour-trek-through-4-states

    http://www.wtop.com/1339/3331537/Commuter-Idle-Hagerstown-to-DC

    I live in the Washington DC suburbs, our local news radio station is running a contest to see who has the worst commute. I find these people to be amazing and not in a good way…thought y’all would enjoy!

    Reply
  • Dave May 24, 2013, 11:43 am

    Car ownership on the decline?

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/100762511

    Reply
  • David Ausman June 2, 2013, 1:25 pm

    I love this article, especially the part about how it takes 25 times as much energy to move a car as our own bodyweight. It does seem strange to have to move 4,000 pounds to, say, go to the store and purchase an 8 ounce shirt and then move that same 4,000 pounds back to the house.

    Reply
  • David June 3, 2013, 12:16 am

    Hi MM,
    belief it or not but there was an article about you on a big german news website (spiegel.de), that’s how I came across your blog this morning. Pretty cool actually. I live in Zurich, Switzerland and I must say that here it is quite normal that you choose the place where you live such that your workplace is within a reasonable biking distance, actually most of my friends and colleagues do so. In fact many people in the city do not even have a car, but instead they use a car sharing system (I also do) run by the swiss railway, say if you have to transport heavy stuff. And otherwise: bike, walk, take the train. And, yea, this city can be steep and it’s raining a lot :-)

    Reply
    • Christof June 3, 2013, 10:53 am

      To put this in perspective… spiegel.de is – in terms of unique visitors – the number two news site in Germany. The same position in the US is held by cnn.com.

      Reply
  • Nadia Lewis July 8, 2013, 9:36 pm

    To the great confusion of EVERY FUCKING BOOMER I HAVE EVER MET, I have never ever driven a car. Born in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, currently living in East Van, I have never even needed a car. For anything. Ever.

    FYI: I’m 30 and my three brothers (21, 30 and 32) don’t drive either. The only license we have between us is one license to practice civil engineering (from the brother who just finished the Ride To Conquer Cancer TWICE this month).

    Reply
  • midwest girlstache July 17, 2013, 1:46 pm

    This is my first time posting. I have been a MMM lurker for a few months now and already made several lifestyle changes. Paying myself first now, recently bought 4 bikes for the family, walking to shopping, shopping local, and really looking at how much gas we waste. Stopped running air while driving. Training to bike commute once my job moves to a building much closer to my home this fall. Saving to buy a car with cash to dump my MONSTEROUS upside-down 2012 (6-year) car note. My husband hails from a clown car family with a car for every member. They regularly take multiple cars to the same place from the same house – so my work is cut out for me on changing our own home. I get the concept above, but would like more CONCRETE advice on curing the clown car habit. (Yes, I checked the forums!) Thinking about surrendering or selling the car, but have to save for the balance first — no bank that has doors will give me a loan. Thinking about parking it to at least save on gas, plates, maintenance & insurance while I keep slugging away at the note. Love this blog, it is changing me. Can you do an article that is the equivalent of a nicotine patch to wean my clown car habit? Can’t quite go cold turkey just yet. . . but getting there! :) The face punches are working. Thank you and Mrs. MM for sharing your lives!

    Reply
  • anonymouse August 17, 2013, 11:45 pm

    How do you feel about Scooters MMM? I love mine. It has all the convenience of a car, but it’s VERY cheap to run. Not quite as cheap as a bicycle, but a lot faster (around 50MPH). And of course it’s about as much fun as you can legally have anywhere.

    EDIT: Also, the one thing that *drives* me crazy is all those people that insist that they’ll bike or use transit to reduce the amount of miles on the car, but they’ll keep the car in the driveway, paying insurance, registration, depreciation, etc, etc… in the event that it’ll somehow become useful and all those thousands of dollars will somehow be less than a $200 car rental…

    Reply
  • Cujo August 20, 2013, 8:18 am

    I love this post; I come back here and re-read it every so often. One thing you might have mentioned is how much easier it gets as you keep doing it. I started a couple of years ago riding to work once in a while. 7.5 miles, pretty hilly. It was hard work and I had to allow a lot of extra time for it. I never ran any errands by bike; the nearest stores are 6 miles from my house, and back then a 12-mile round trip by bike to buy milk or whatever seemed ridiculous. Now I bike to work almost every day, and run many errands by bike as well. We still have two cars, and do plenty of Car Clown stupid crap, but the radius that I consider bikeable, and the roads I consider safe enough to bike on, are ever expanding. Eventually we’ll move, which is what’s necessary to really fix our Car Clown habit.

    Reply
  • Neil Gussman September 1, 2013, 5:11 pm

    Ha Ha. Just read latest comment about heat. I rode 5100 miles on Ali Air Base Iraq in 2009. I went everywhere on the bike. Ali has the heat record for Iraq, set in 2009: 125 degrees. I was 56 years old when I deployed, so it was not youth. Bikes are great everywhere. Though during a missile attack I did not ride!

    Reply
  • AJDZee September 3, 2013, 9:26 pm

    LOL!! “Here we go. I’m being an asshole again” Laughed so hard at this part. Next time I start a car I’ll be sure to think this!

    Reply
  • Terri B September 18, 2013, 5:02 pm

    I am guilty, I use my car for short trips. I’m handicapped, so walking is not really too much of an option, especially in the 100F+ heat of the summer here in Tucson. Although, I’m planning to get adult sized training wheels on my bike as soon as riding weather starts.

    What I have done, however, is having moved to where a grocery store and a pharmacy are 0.25 miles away. The post office is 0.25 miles away. The doctors’ offices and hospital are 0.8 miles away. We live one block to a major bus line for the day we can no longer drive.

    We have two paid for cars, a 2005 Subaru Forester for day to day transportation and a 2010 Honda Element, which doubles as our pickup truck (the 2 back seats have been pulled out) and camping vehicle. Both cars are in excellent delivery, because we drive probably less than 5000 miles a year, and that includes road trips/vacations.

    Since Hubby is 57 and I, 54, we should be able to keep at least one of these vehicles until death do us part. Oh, and our USAA insurance for the two vehicles is about $100 a month.

    Oh, and my better half is definitely not a clown: he rode his bike from the Atlantic coast to San Francisco Bay is 69 days. He rides 30-50miles a week for his main source of entertainment and errands outside the home and home maintenance

    So, yes, we are semi-clowns, but by buying a home (free and clear) in such a well situated area, with two paid off recently manufactured autos and given my handicap, I’m pretty happy with our “expensive” car habits.

    Reply
  • Julie September 21, 2013, 8:03 pm

    Just stumbled on your website – this is good stuff! I love your writing style. Decided after I read a dozen of your posts to comment on a different perspective. I am someone who chose to live somewhere that truly isn’t conducive to biking. The nearest grocery store is 30 minutes away – this is rural Indiana – and I’m a single mom to three kids, two of which are still in carseats. Biking for anything besides leisure (or chasing errant turkeys two farms away) is out. BUT – you can still be smart with a car. You don’t have to have a gas sucking van just because you are toting kids in carseats around. You don’t have to buy a new car or even a fairly new car that continues to depreciate even as you sleep. I drive a 1996 little Subaru wagon that is done depreciating and costs me so little in gas and maintenance, comparatively, and I paid for it in cash. The tradeoffs to my choice to live here were too great to pass up. I chose to live in the middle of nowhere and accept the detestable cars because I could buy 15 acres for the price of less than one in town. I spend nothing in heat because my woods provide enough firewood, and sustainably at that. I can grow enough food for 65% of our needs. I never shop for fun because it’s too damn far away and the land provides our entertainment, along with netflix. I designed a custom house with the bedrooms in the basement to eliminate the need for a/c, and contracted it out using salvaged materials. As much as I hate cars, this choice is a viable alternative and I never regret it. I live well on $1200 month (seriously) even with a mortgage and small children and still manage to save. Kudos to you on finding the way that works for you – just putting out there another option. Now if I could only get brave enough to drive a horse & buggy like my Amish neighbors, maybe I can ditch the car one day too.

    Reply
  • Eldred September 26, 2013, 7:36 am

    This was a VERY entertaining read – thanks! Yes, I drive my car a lot. For 21 of the last 23 years my daily commute has been at least 40 miles one way. 40 miles for 18 years, 63 miles for 3 years. Currently my commute is about 13 miles, but I’m running into three main problems. One, I’m near Detroit, which means there isn’t really a safe biking route(traffic, not crime). Two, it would be difficult to deal with being sweaty once I got to the office. No shower facilities, and the bathrooms aren’t well suited for a good cleanup. Three, there’s no place to park my bike at work. No racks, no space in my cubicle for a bike. I was talking to a co-worker about this a few weeks ago, and we both had the same objections, except HE had a nicer bike route since he’s coming from a different direction. If I could solve two out of those three issues, I might seriously consider riding on good weather days. But since I’m in Michigan, the weather SUCKS much of the time. Any suggestions on the problems I listed? I really *do* need more exercise, since I’m about 40 lbs overweight…
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache September 26, 2013, 9:00 pm

      Yes! Moving houses or jobs will fix these problems instantly!

      Reply
      • Eldred September 26, 2013, 9:55 pm

        Can’t do either right now. I’m about $30K underwater on the house, so I can’t sell it. And I was unemployed for 13 months before I got *this* job. AND had to take a $19K pay cut to get THAT. Unemployment isn’t fun – I don’t recommend it…

        Reply
      • Eldred September 28, 2013, 10:13 am

        And sadly, I just realized *another* problem while driving to work yesterday. I work in a fairly wealthy city. The houses are 2-4 times the cost of my current house. Which means I couldn’t even *afford* a property in that area. I hadn’t thought of that before, darnit. Back to the drawing board…

        Reply
        • plam September 28, 2013, 4:55 pm

          Better to think of how something can be possible, not why it’s impossible. You save significant money by selling cars. You can enable that by renting out your current place and renting a (smaller but better) place near your work.

          Reply
          • Eldred September 28, 2013, 8:47 pm

            Let me understand this. You’re suggesting that I sell my *paid-for* car(that I still need for many other things in life), pack up all my stuff, rent out this house, and find a smaller place to rent closer to work(and pay for storage on the stuff that won’t fit there)? Respectfully, that seems like an AWFUL lot of work and stress just to be able to bike to work for 5 months out of the year…
            I’m all for riding more, because there definitely are benefits to it. However, your suggestion is a ‘bit’ too extreme for where I am in life now. But thank you – I appreciate the help! Seriously…

            Edit: my other post doesn’t seem to have gone through, so I’ll piggyback here. Have any of you been able to get your workplace to be more ‘bike friendly’? If so, how were you able to do it and what changes did they make for you?

            Reply
            • plam September 28, 2013, 9:54 pm

              Well, not quite. Even a paid-for car is still an expensive money sink, and not having a car saves a lot of money. Plus, you get money back from selling the car. MMM has written about that.

              No need to store stuff in a storage unit when you can ‘store’ it on Craigslist and potentially get something better later back from CL when you actually need it.

              How to make things more bike friendly? Me, I joined the Health and Safety Committee to advocate for better policies. Make change happen. Figure out what it takes.

              Reply
  • Eldred September 28, 2013, 8:49 pm

    Have any of you had any luck getting your workplace to be more ‘bike-friendly’? If so, how did you do it and what did they change?

    Reply
  • Stephen October 1, 2013, 5:03 am

    “Occasionally this is true, like if you just returned from a mountain century ride and have raw butt cheeks, blistered hands, and absolutely no energy left to crank the pedals. In this situation, sure, go ahead and take the car out to get groceries. You deserve it.”

    I feel vindicated and not so bad for driving to the supermarket to get fresh bread after my rides. Although I do partly wish the shop had something outside to lock my bike to so I could cycle there too. It really is the only location I know without even a lightpole.

    Reply
  • Eldred October 2, 2013, 8:25 am

    What would be considered a ‘reasonable’ distance for a bike commute? Granted, some of you are so fit that 20 miles wouldn’t even cause you to break a sweat. But for the average overweight couch potato like me, what’s a good goal?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache October 2, 2013, 8:44 am

      Try it out and see! For your first ride, 1 mile might seem like enough. For everyday errands on short notice, 3 miles is my rule for no cars right now. For a work commute, 8 miles each way is the level where I find it becomes time consuming if you do it every single day, and thus it is the farthest I would personally want to live from a job.

      Reply
      • Cujo October 2, 2013, 8:51 am

        Nice. I can draw a circle with my house at the center and a radius of 3 miles, and that circle contains exactly zero businesses. (Yes, I recognize that this is a problem I need to solve, but I’m not moving just yet.) My bike-errand limit is about 6 miles.

        My work commute is 7.5 miles each way. That was quite a workout when I first started doing it, but now most days I wish it was longer. Indeed, if I have the time, often on pretty days I make it artificially longer in the morning.

        Reply
      • Eldred October 2, 2013, 2:15 pm

        I’ve always said that if I worked within 5 miles of my house, I’d bike to work on every good-weather day. Trouble is, I haven’t had a job within 5 miles of my house for the past 27 YEARS. Of course, I was only making about $800 per month then, so THAT sucked. But I’ll have to look more at ways to get more biking in. It’s getting cold around here now(Michigan) and I *hate* the cold, so I may not be doing much riding until next year. But it’s something to think about.

        Reply

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