Car Free 4 Months: Summery of the Car-Free as Possible Experiment

Me, My Bike and the trailer

It has been nearly 4 months since M and I went car free. I have to say that I am really liking it. I have lost 5 lbs and dropped one percent body fat. I do attribute some of this to us going Paleo 2 months ago. I am starting to have more energy than I have had in some time. Grad school and a full-time job really took a lot of energy out of me, which meant by the end of the day I ended up making far too many poor eating choices.  I must confess, I have never been a big guy and I doubt I ever will, so it is safe to assume I will never understand what it is like to battle with being overweight in my life time. I do however understand what poor food choices can do to the body. For me, my poor food choices manifests in high cholesterol. So while I may never be more than a few pounds overweight at any point in my life, the choices I made, even ones that I thought were healthy choices have made an impact on my health.

As I wrote my master’s thesis, I kept coming across so much information regarding the immense benefits that active transportation affords us. Active transportation is any form of transportation that requires the individual to get up and move. Biking, walking, skateboarding, even taking the bus. Yes, taking the bus. If you take the bus you have to walk to and from the stops as well as to any transfer points. I have talked about much of this before and you can read about it here and  here.

Here in the United States, and many other countries as well, our society has become so car-centric that it is hard for many of us to imagine what it would be like to give up our cars, even if it is just reducing how much time we turn to them. One of the benefits M and I have felt since giving up our car has been the increase in money that is no longer tied up into a car. Let me break it down for you. Now we already owned our own bikes and the car that we chose to give up. We had some upfront investments to make so that we could use our bikes to take care of all our transportation needs so the three-month total was about $750, but the car was in need of repairs that would have cost slightly over $2000, which means we would have spent close to $2800 on the car over the past 4 months.

1 Car

4 Bicycles

General Maintenance $100 2 oil changes $ 150 tune up for each bike
Fuel $200 NA
Insurance $ 200 NA
Repairs $2000 (engine rebuild) $200 1 new tire, slime, extra tubes and tools
Accessories $0 $ 400 Bike trailer and seat post rack
Registration $ 100 NA

Now we had decided that if the experiment had failed that we would purchases a newer used car instead of repairing the one we owned. To do this we would have still needed the $2000 for a down payment. Plus another $300-400 per month for a car payment. The insurance would very likely increase to say $100 a month. So how much would the annual cost be for owning a car versus being car free?

1 Car

4 Bicycles

General Maintenance $200 4 oil changes $ 200 Tune-up and tube replacements
Fuel $ 600 NA
Insurance $ 600 NA
Payments $ 4200 $200 Cost of two adult annual bus passes
Registration $ 100 NA

The annual costs of maintaining 4 bikes is the same as the cost of a years worth of oil changes. In reality the car will need a few unexpected repairs during the year and probably a new set of tires. So living car free costs the same as a set of new tires and an alignment and 4 oil changes. We would still need to spend another $5500 plus pay any other maintenance fees associated with the car. We could buy a brand new bike every time we had to get something repaired. Not that we would, that would just be down right ridiculous.

until tomorrow


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