The Chainlink

Quite a few threads have me wondering what your lifestyle is like that it doesn’t necessitate owning a car.   I think it is great that you are able to live car free, but I am wondering how this is. Many people have expressed the feeling of freedom that comes with not owning car, but for me it feels like a lack of.

Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs? Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis?  Is your family local and how often do you see them?  Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic?  This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought.  When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot.  How is that possible on a bike?  Do you use car-sharing services?  How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance?  Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?  

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Q: Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs?
A: I'm doing grad school in Evanston, which I commute to on CTA or by bike. I live in Uptown.

Q:Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis?
A: Not required, for the most part. But my partner commutes to Highland Park twice a week and takes the Metra. She can get from Ravenswood to HP in 25 min (I don't even think that's possible by car).

Q: Is your family local and how often do you see them?
A: All out of state. Having rail access to both airports is beautiful.

Q: Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic?
A: Not really. Cars are bad investment (don't they lose 25% of their value when you drive them off the lot), and not driving leaves you with a lot of extra cash (and mental energy) to be spent on other things.

Q: This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought.
A: I've brought IKEA furniture on CTA no problem. But you could have it delivered or take cab if necessary. Moving and buying big things isn't a good reason to own a car.

Q: When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot. How is that possible on a bike?
A: I live less than a mile from the following things: bank, post office, multiple grocery stores, staples, specialty liquor stores, middle-eastern and mexican groceries, hardware store, Target. These are all basically walking distance. But for things that aren't- uptown is extremely well served by CTA (i can choose between 4 good N/S bus routes, the Redline, or multiple E/W routes). And, of course, biking is always an easy way to get around a 5 mile radius fast. Think about it: you NEVER have to worry about parking or traffic.

Q: Do you use car-sharing services?
A: Haven't yet. But would consider.

Q: How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance?
A: I can't say I've ever wished I had a car in Chicago and I've been here for 3 yrs. Except for the rare moving/purchasing furniture cases, it just never crosses my mind. The few times, however, that I've ridden with friends in the city I've been bothered by the stop/go/stop/go and the inevitable struggle to find a parking spot. I much prefer the spaciousness of a bus or a train car where I can read until my stop and walk where I need to go. ALSO- in the winter, when I'm walking to the L (1 block a way) I see people in coats scraping the ice off their freezing car and I think "why do that?". When you step onto a bus or a cta car, it's always already warm. And when you bike in the cold, your heart-rate gets up and it can be exhilarating.

Q: Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?
A: I'm not sure what you mean "lose" time. Don't car drivers "lose" time in traffic, pumping gas, finding a parking spot, doing maintenance on car, etc.? CTA is great because you can read and relax; you aren't the one navigating through the nerve-wrecking traffic. Also- biking is great because you don't get bogged down in traffic (and you feel alive and more connected to your surroundings--- you notice different things and get a different view of the city). CTA is actually really great, and most of the time pretty quick- can you get from the loop to Ohare in 30 min by car at rush hour? The blueline can.
Q: Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs?
A: Work from home, more or less.
Q:Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis?
A: Required no, but I make a living selling books online and alas most estate and library sales or in the suburbs. Although in my opinion the best estate sales are in the bungalow belt. I either make do with what is within biking distance or else use public transport. When I think the cost will justify it I'll use I-Go.
Q: Is your family local and how often do you see them?
A: Nope, in Buffalo. Probably wouldn't want to drive that distance anyways.

Q: Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic?
A: Nope. I'm a bit of a pack rat.
Q: This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought.
A: Bought a new printer a month ago and after realizing it wouldn't fit in my milk crate I took the bus.

Q: When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot. How is that possible on a bike?
A: I guess I really don't do "weekly errands" but it does help that the grocery store is 2 blocks away.

Q: Do you use car-sharing services?
A: Yep, but I've only used it form business purposes thus far. At least primarily, though sometimes I'll do a few errands while I have it.

Q: How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance?
A: As I said before most estate sales tend to be in the suburbs so sometimes I do have to pass up promising sales that would be just too time consuming to travel to on bike. I'm usually hesitant to use I-Go for these things given the cost and the fact that there is no guarantee I'll actually find anything to buy.

Q: Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?
A: Sure I spend more time getting places sometimes, but for the most part biking time is competitive with car travel at least in the denser neighborhoods. Other times I know I'm significantly increasing my travel time but then again I'd obviously being expending quite a few hours of labor to pay for a car.
I live and work in the city. My work is 9 miles from home...sometimes I bike, sometimes I take the el. My work requires me to visit various businesses. Usually I can get there easily without a car but I occasionally use Zipcar. My family is not local. Planes or car rental to travel back east makes sense. I would never own a car just for the occasional travel to see family.
I have 2 children. The teen has his own bike and enjoys the freedom it has given him. The other is only 4 and gets to ride with me. We are not minimalistic - I am not sure of how you are connecting "minimalistic" to not owning a car - what is the context you are expressing here? I have known car owners who are very minimalist.
I am curious as to all your errands? I have not found the absense of a car to interfere with errands. So many things are on the way to/from work or are in the local neighborhood that biking or walking is a breeze.
I did have a struggle with how to have my son on the bike with me AND transport things. Some folks use trailers and that works great. Others rent a car or have items shipped. I chose to purchase a cargo bike.
I believe I save time by NOT owning a car. Taking the el or riding my bike is just as fast as most car trips. Also, on the el I get to read or take a breather from the day without the stress of traffic...definite time saver as I don't need to create that space at home where my time is beeter served attending to family. On my bike I am getting in regular exercise....also a time saver! No need for going to the gym. I incorporate fitness into my daily lifestyle. For bad weather I have the choice of public trans or my bike. I am prepared for either and both have advantages.
I notice more of what is going on around me when I am on bike, walking, or taking public trans. This has expanded my world in so many ways. If I want to get away for the weekend...say a few hours of travel for some camping...I find it quite easy to rent a car. And this is still cheaper than owning a car. The idea of things being a "hassle" does not really make sense to me. I know that once I committed to not using a car for everything I started seeing other options and ways of getting around and living my life. My perspective changed and this opened up new ways of looking at how I live and why I do what I do.


And this is a small load for this bike. I can load the other side and can also load on top of the rear deck/rack. All with my son beign transported too.
Q: Do you work in the city or commute to the suburbs?
A: I am basically a stay-at-home mom right now to my two year old daughter, so no, I don't have to commute.

Q:Are you otherwise required to commute to areas outside the city on a frequent basis?
A: Not required.

Q: Is your family local and how often do you see them?
A: My family lives in Wisconsin, primarily. I see them two or three times a year at best. We take Amtrak and someone picks us up from the station.

Q: Would you describe your lifestyle as minimalistic?
A: We don't own a car and live in a very small apartment with a child. We've worked hard to not be materialistic. I am sure that there are other things we could do to become more minimalistic than we are, though.

Q: This is the part of me wondering how I would have gotten that all-in-one printer home the other day or the cans of paint and bbq I just bought.
A: Strap it to the back of your bike on a rack or use a bike trailer.

Q: When I run my weekly errands, I get everything done in one shot. How is that possible on a bike?
A: Our errands are often daily. Living within a reasonable distance of many grocery stores, a co op and farmer's market, and stores like Target make this easy to work into our daily routine.

Q: Do you use car-sharing services?
A: No. We have not tried this yet.

Q: How often would you say not owning a car creates a hindrance?
A: Not often now, but it was difficult the last two winters. I have a feeling it will be much easier this coming winter, though.

The first winter was spent trying to navigate a stroller and newborn throughout the snow covered sidewalks to get groceries. Last winter was spent learning to navigate a bike and trailer through snow and slush and frigid temperatures. Now that I have experience with both, I think it will be much easier.

Q: Do you ever feel like you are losing time in your day due to a reliance on public transportation or that it is more of a hassle?
A: If I rely on public transportation, yes. Buses and trains are often late. But we mainly bike now, so I don't feel like I am losing time in my day.

Commentary: Adjusting to life without a car can be really hard, especially when you go from being completely dependent to not having one at all. We moved to Chicago in 2007, and we immediately sold our car. Being thrown into the car-free lifestyle after having lived in a rural area for all of my life was quite interesting and, at times, very difficult. But I adjusted, slowly but surely. My husband adjusted much faster than I did, but he began cycling soon after we moved there. I did not start cycling until last summer, after our daughter turned a year old. I find it much more preferable than relying on public transit, which is more often than not an extremely frustrating process.

My daughter loves her trailer and asks to go for a ride often throughout the day, and I am more than happy to comply with her request! She treats riding in a car like a special occasion, and I have to say, I like the way she thinks. If only more people could treat it as such..


I think it's cute and funny that your son has "Cars" shoes on!

Liz W. Durham said:
I live and work in the city. My work is 9 miles from home...sometimes I bike, sometimes I take the el. My work requires me to visit various businesses. Usually I can get there easily without a car but I occasionally use Zipcar. My family is not local. Planes or car rental to travel back east makes sense. I would never own a car just for the occasional travel to see family.
I have 2 children. The teen has his own bike and enjoys the freedom it has given him. The other is only 4 and gets to ride with me. We are not minimalistic - I am not sure of how you are connecting "minimalistic" to not owning a car - what is the context you are expressing here? I have known car owners who are very minimalist.
I am curious as to all your errands? I have not found the absense of a car to interfere with errands. So many things are on the way to/from work or are in the local neighborhood that biking or walking is a breeze.
I did have a struggle with how to have my son on the bike with me AND transport things. Some folks use trailers and that works great. Others rent a car or have items shipped. I chose to purchase a cargo bike.
I believe I save time by NOT owning a car. Taking the el or riding my bike is just as fast as most car trips. Also, on the el I get to read or take a breather from the day without the stress of traffic...definite time saver as I don't need to create that space at home where my time is beeter served attending to family. On my bike I am getting in regular exercise....also a time saver! No need for going to the gym. I incorporate fitness into my daily lifestyle. For bad weather I have the choice of public trans or my bike. I am prepared for either and both have advantages.
I notice more of what is going on around me when I am on bike, walking, or taking public trans. This has expanded my world in so many ways. If I want to get away for the weekend...say a few hours of travel for some camping...I find it quite easy to rent a car. And this is still cheaper than owning a car. The idea of things being a "hassle" does not really make sense to me. I know that once I committed to not using a car for everything I started seeing other options and ways of getting around and living my life. My perspective changed and this opened up new ways of looking at how I live and why I do what I do.


And this is a small load for this bike. I can load the other side and can also load on top of the rear deck/rack. All with my son beign transported too.
Thank you to everyone for all of the responses. I never imagined so many people would respond nor at such length too! This is so encouraging. I have a special appreciation for the parents who make it work as well. I am surprised by how many of you there are. And I love the pictures of you kids. So cute! Liz, is your son wearing a cape?

Some people asked me what I meant about leading a minimalist life style and about losing time and the hassles of public transportation. I was wondering if you make do with less given that you don't have a car to haul things around. As far as public transportation being a hassle and taking longer, that has been my experience with it in the past. It's often quicker for me to get in a car and do what I need to do than rely to on public transportation, especially when driving to the suburbs. I guess the traffic doesn't bother me as much. Locally, I would agree that biking is faster than driving and parking though.
I'm not sure I understand the "make do with less" question. I have many ways to transport stuff, and have much more stuff than I did when I had a car (carfree 8 years now). And you can get pretty much anything delivered. A few times a year I line up help to haul large loads, e.g. a tree I had to get home from the north side last fall, or 2,000 lbs. of compost I needed earlier this spring.
Is there something specific you think you would have to make do without?

Regarding transit times-- I think you're comparing apples to oranges asking city dwellers for an opinion on something that's much much less of a viable option where you've chosen to live.

milesperhour said:
Thank you to everyone for all of the responses. I never imagined so many people would respond nor at such length too! This is so encouraging. I have a special appreciation for the parents who make it work as well. I am surprised by how many of you there are. And I love the pictures of you kids. So cute! Liz, is your son wearing a cape?
Some people asked me what I meant about leading a minimalist life style and about losing time and the hassles of public transportation. I was wondering if you make do with less given that you don't have a car to haul things around. As far as public transportation being a hassle and taking longer, that has been my experience with it in the past. It's often quicker for me to get in a car and do what I need to do than rely to on public transportation, especially when driving to the suburbs. I guess the traffic doesn't bother me as much. Locally, I would agree that biking is faster than driving and parking though.
I was just wondering if there was any correlation between being car free and living with less. It turns out there's not.

I have access to public transportation. Someone mentioned getting to O'Hare as being quick on the blue line. When I lived off of the blue line, that was not my experience, especially when it was under construction (are they done with that yet)? I can drive to the airport, in rush hour, park and get to to the terminal faster than taking public transportation.

Trips to the suburbs are without a doubt faster for me. Today, I went from the city > Hinsdale > O'Hare area > back to the city. Each trip took 25 min, 20 min, and 20 minutes, respectively. I'm not even sure if there is a way to get from Hinsdale to O'Hare area via public transportation, but if there was none of those trips would have been that fast.

So for now, I will bike as much as possible in the city and use the car for suburban stuff. My transition will not be overnight.


H3N3 said:
I'm not sure I understand the "make do with less" question. I have many ways to transport stuff, and have much more stuff than I did when I had a car (carfree 8 years now). And you can get pretty much anything delivered. A few times a year I line up help to haul large loads, e.g. a tree I had to get home from the north side last fall, or 2,000 lbs. of compost I needed earlier this spring.
Is there something specific you think you would have to make do without?

Regarding transit times-- I think you're comparing apples to oranges asking city dwellers for an opinion on something that's much much less of a viable option where you've chosen to live.

milesperhour said:
Thank you to everyone for all of the responses. I never imagined so many people would respond nor at such length too! This is so encouraging. I have a special appreciation for the parents who make it work as well. I am surprised by how many of you there are. And I love the pictures of you kids. So cute! Liz, is your son wearing a cape?
Some people asked me what I meant about leading a minimalist life style and about losing time and the hassles of public transportation. I was wondering if you make do with less given that you don't have a car to haul things around. As far as public transportation being a hassle and taking longer, that has been my experience with it in the past. It's often quicker for me to get in a car and do what I need to do than rely to on public transportation, especially when driving to the suburbs. I guess the traffic doesn't bother me as much. Locally, I would agree that biking is faster than driving and parking though.
Well, I wish I could beam my perspective into your head . . . there may be times when driving is faster, but just feels so good to not have a car . . . before I got rid if it I thought having it meant freedom, and the times I've had one since (inherited one via unfortunate circumstances last fall, for example) it's been like a ball and chain I couldn't wait to be free of.
I'll let someone else split hairs about the time you spend getting your car serviced, looking for parking in congested areas, renewing registrations and such, and how your time in the car is time you can't use for other things . . . hopefully you're not one of those folks that drives to a health club to run on a treadmill . . .



milesperhour said:
I was just wondering if there was any correlation between being car free and living with less. It turns out there's not.

I have access to public transportation. Someone mentioned getting to O'Hare as being quick on the blue line. When I lived off of the blue line, that was not my experience, especially when it was under construction (are they done with that yet)? I can drive to the airport, in rush hour, park and get to to the terminal faster than taking public transportation.

Trips to the suburbs are without a doubt faster for me. Today, I went from the city > Hinsdale > O'Hare area > back to the city. Each trip took 25 min, 20 min, and 20 minutes, respectively. I'm not even sure if there is a way to get from Hinsdale to O'Hare area via public transportation, but if there was none of those trips would have been that fast.

So for now, I will bike as much as possible in the city and use the car for suburban stuff. My transition will not be overnight.


H3N3 said:
I'm not sure I understand the "make do with less" question. I have many ways to transport stuff, and have much more stuff than I did when I had a car (carfree 8 years now). And you can get pretty much anything delivered. A few times a year I line up help to haul large loads, e.g. a tree I had to get home from the north side last fall, or 2,000 lbs. of compost I needed earlier this spring.
Is there something specific you think you would have to make do without?

Regarding transit times-- I think you're comparing apples to oranges asking city dwellers for an opinion on something that's much much less of a viable option where you've chosen to live.

milesperhour said:
Thank you to everyone for all of the responses. I never imagined so many people would respond nor at such length too! This is so encouraging. I have a special appreciation for the parents who make it work as well. I am surprised by how many of you there are. And I love the pictures of you kids. So cute! Liz, is your son wearing a cape?
Some people asked me what I meant about leading a minimalist life style and about losing time and the hassles of public transportation. I was wondering if you make do with less given that you don't have a car to haul things around. As far as public transportation being a hassle and taking longer, that has been my experience with it in the past. It's often quicker for me to get in a car and do what I need to do than rely to on public transportation, especially when driving to the suburbs. I guess the traffic doesn't bother me as much. Locally, I would agree that biking is faster than driving and parking though.
I'm new to biking, so there is hope. I can't say I'll ever give up my car completely, but I do like the idea of not using it in the city as long as the temps are above 30 degrees.

I've never felt bogged down by owning a car, but maybe that will change when I start biking more. Yes, there are the occasional annoyances with owning one, but that happens with anything in life. Although a flat tire on a bike is definitely better on the wallet than with a car.


H3N3 said:
Well, I wish I could beam my perspective into your head . . . there may be times when driving is faster, but just feels so good to not have a car . . . before I got rid if it I thought having it meant freedom, and the times I've had one since (inherited one via unfortunate circumstances last fall, for example) it's been like a ball and chain I couldn't wait to be free of.
I'll let someone else split hairs about the time you spend getting your car serviced, looking for parking in congested areas, renewing registrations and such, and how your time in the car is time you can't use for other things . . . hopefully you're not one of those folks that drives to a health club to run on a treadmill . .
I don't see the bicycle as the automatic solution to all transportation problems (although I personally prefer to bike when it's 30 degrees and under over summer temps)-- is there any chance at all you could move to a place that's easier to get around in by walking, bus or train, and where the things you need aren't so spread out?

milesperhour said:
I'm new to biking, so there is hope. I can't say I'll ever give up my car completely, but I do like the idea of not using it in the city as long as the temps are above 30 degrees.

I've never felt bogged down by owning a car, but maybe that will change when I start biking more. Yes, there are the occasional annoyances with owning one, but that happens with anything in life. Although a flat tire on a bike is definitely better on the wallet than with a car.


H3N3 said:
Well, I wish I could beam my perspective into your head . . . there may be times when driving is faster, but just feels so good to not have a car . . . before I got rid if it I thought having it meant freedom, and the times I've had one since (inherited one via unfortunate circumstances last fall, for example) it's been like a ball and chain I couldn't wait to be free of.
I'll let someone else split hairs about the time you spend getting your car serviced, looking for parking in congested areas, renewing registrations and such, and how your time in the car is time you can't use for other things . . . hopefully you're not one of those folks that drives to a health club to run on a treadmill . .
I cheerfully and unapologetically own a car (which I park in a garage). I also own a 1985 Vespa PX 150E and 5 bikes. Sometimes I need to be in a courtroom in Waukegan or Geneva (today), or Joliet, or Wheaton, or Ottawa, Illinois at 9:00 am. I play somewhere between 25-45 rounds of golf a year. My regular tee time is 8:05 am Sunday mornings in Romeoville. Sometimes I have a 200K or 300K or 400K bike ride in Delavan, Wisconsin that starts at 7:00 am. Sometimes I shoot trap at a gun club in Hainesville, IL. My parents, both 84 years old, live in Park Ridge. My only sibling lives in Prospect Heights with her family. Every year, I fish in Hazelhurst, WI and snowmobile in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I almost always take public transportation to the airport. Most of my errands in the city are done by bicycle. I commuted by bike to my office in the Loop 228 days last year. Last year's aggregate bicycle mileage was ~3500; car ~4000; scooter ~800. Sometimes its not political, it's all about choosing the right tool for the job.

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