On being (forced) car-free/car-less

On being (forced) car-free/car-less

Complete disclosure: I own/drive a mini van. Yes. I’m a mini van mom!

Most spring/summer/fall during not crap weather we’ll walk or bike where we can, and if I’m going downtown? Regardless of weather? I bus. Its easier, takes roughly 10 minutes more than a stress filled curse-laden drive. So…I bus. (When we bought our house we were a 1 child public transit family, it’s proximity -less than a 10 minute walk- to a semi-major transit station & incredibly near-ness to a downtown express route were HUGE selling points). Damien’s elementary school is exactly 1 km from our house so our plan was to walk/bike it as much as possible and then put him on the school bus (stop is on our corner) when the winter hits (I strongly strongly dislike winter driving).

Cue the weekend before Critical Lass: recovering from a cold I decide I need more vitamin C and make plans to meet with a friend, grab quick dinner, get errands done and get home all in time to put monster Lili to bed. After loading said Lili into her carseat, I get in, open the garage annnnd…the van won’t start. At all. It just makes a scary mechanical clicking noise, repeatedly. In tears I get out and walk to get fast food dinner, forget everything else and come home. Night does get better, but boo, seriously.

So…with nary a vehicle, we’ve now had 2 mornings where I’ve gotten rained on, quite heavily. Last week was worse. I chose to walk the kilometer to school thinking I’d keep more overall dry by not having my legs as exposed, avoiding puddles and splashes from cars, etc. WRONG! After the walk there and back I was SOAKED. Literally to the bone (if skin were that porous….)

Biked on the way to pick Damien, less soaked, less cold and kids happier. Since then unless I want to walk (ie it’s a nice warm morning) we’ve been biking. I can feel the difference now in my legs, and on days when my timing is a bit sooner than I’d like? Oh yes….I do indeed bike further, even in the rain πŸ™‚


Today was officially 10 days of walking or biking to school. I’ve gotten some crazy looks from parents and Damien’s teacher asked why I chose to bike, until I pointed out it’s faster and easier with 2 kids in tow.

Noticeable pros: classmates are totally interested in what the kids do while in the trailer. I was asked whether my legs were tired, how long it took, if it was hard to do, what colour Damien’s helmet was, etc etc etc.

I sadly haven’t noticed many other (read: any) bikes or even bike parking at the school, I plan to investigate further, but if we have no bike racks I might suddenly start harping to get them…I’d love for Damien to bike himself come warmer weather….supposed that can “wait” though.

(More disclosure: van should hopefully be getting repaired soon….at which point I plan on changing NOTHING. I like these rides, I don’t have to find parking, and the speed difference over walking totally justifies it for me. We’ll see how long the weather allows this (I’m not worried about the kids, they can have blankets and snow suits and layers) but my cold-resistance isn’t very good….I hold little hope for months more of biking, but another month would be nice!)

7 thoughts on “On being (forced) car-free/car-less

  1. That’s seriously awesome Angel! Much respect, lady, much respect. I’m trying to find more errands to do that are outside my walk-comfortable range (which, admittedly, is pretty big) so I can get on my bike more.

  2. Honestly I’m really glad we live where we do, within biking (with kids) distance are 3 grocery stores, at least 3 coffee options (probably more if I actually thought about it!), countless food options, parks, the Rec center, sharrows, major bus options, etc.

    I’m really hesitant to bike much with the trailer once the snow hits…I feel like I’d lose a lot of traction and risk bailing…but in the rain it’s been fine.

    Solution: win the lottery and get a Madsen πŸ˜€

  3. I know this is stupid, but my problem is that there are too many things that are too close! But I’m quite proud that I filled my car @ the beginning of July & I’ve still got half a tank.

  4. I miss cycling everywhere! πŸ™ We own a car but I actually don’t drive (have my license but haven’t driven since I passed my road test). So unless Dan is driving us, we’re on foot and transit. I can’t wait until Robert is big enough to be towed in a trailer.

    Like tricotmiss, we are lucky to live within walking distance of enough things that it’s not really an issue, and we’re close to a large number of ETS bus routes for when we want to make longer trips. But I miss my bike!

    @Angel – re: rain cycling…
    I biked in Vancouver downpours wearing a trenchcoat and rainboots, and always arrived at my destination pretty dry. So I recommend investing in a trench and some rubber boots! Also, skirts are better than pants because wet tights or leggings dry faster and are less uncomfortable than soaking wet jeans. πŸ™‚

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