i hate cars

Two days ago, the tire on our car went flat. The nature of the flat was such that the tire could not be patched, so I had to replace it with a new one. It cost $125. Unlike bicycles, cars almost always require you to replace two tires at a time, even if it means ridding yourself of a perfectly good tire in the process. So the two tires together cost $250, plus tax, disposal fees, etc. As is commonly the case, the car’s spare tire is not full-size, which means I couldn’t keep the better of the two tires I was replacing to use as the spare. If that weren’t enough, the battery on the truck I drive less than once-a-month is also shot. Replacing that will be another $100, plus tax and all the rest. So in the space of a few hours, I’m out $350, and I don’t really have much to show for it. Anyone reading this knows very well how far that same amount of money would go were it spent on bicycle-related merchandise (e.g., nearly 100 tubes, or roughly 15 tires, or about 35 chains, or enough Teflon lube to last more than 30 years).

I’ve wanted for some time now to get rid of the truck (even before I got back into bicycling, but even more so now). Part of what’s been keeping us from doing so is that it’s paid for and it isn’t costing us much (on the surface) to own it. The argument, in part, is this: what if, after we move, we realize we actually do need two vehicles? Won’t it cost us far more to replace it?

On one hand, I can certainly see the logic in this. On the other hand, I am constantly questioning when something is a legitimate (and smart) reason versus when something is an excuse, a rationalization, or even a pretense to keep doing what you’ve grown accustomed to doing. I read once that we don’t all have to ride bicycles or buy hybrid vehicles; we just need to drive the vehicles we have less. There is a lot of truth in that, to be sure. But the question is not whether I’m doing better or more than the next guy, but whether or to what extent I’m doing what I can and should be doing. It seems that there is something to be said for forcing one’s own hand. In other words, selling the truck relieves me of the option to drive it. That idea appeals to me greatly. But then I often have a tendency to be naive, idealistic, and romantic. I have a penchant for getting carried away a bit too quickly with ideas. It’s funny; I have a hard time pulling the trigger on something like this. But if a tree suddenly fell on the truck, I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it, and I certainly wouldn’t replace it.

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Today: currently 15-degrees with a high of 28-degrees in the forecast. Nearly a foot of snow on the ground, and the residential streets in my neighborhood have not been cleared. But the sun is shining brilliantly. I rode my bicycle to the local drugstore for shoe strings. I had to walk my bike up the hill next to my house because my tires couldn’t get traction.

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5 responses to “i hate cars

  1. Where are you moving to? I would say sell it (but then, of course, you just poured $350 dollars into it, so you should at least get some use out of it, right?). I wish I was more of a biker!

  2. Yeah, if it’s already paid for, there’s less incentive to get rid of it. Unless you could make a good profit and buy more bikes 🙂

  3. the village scribe

    KHey: I’m moving to a smaller town that where it will be even easier to commute-by-bike. Of the money spent $250 went into the family-mobile which, I’m afraid, we cannot divorce ourselves from. But maybe the $100 that went into the other vehicle would actually help me to sell it.

    Msdottie: Ay, there’s the rub. I’ve been having an absolute time of it spending every single dime I made off the sale of my motorcycles on bikes and bike gear.

  4. I’ve been car-free a year now. It was a slightly difficult decision to donate my pick-up truck….it was paid for, in good running condition, though it was about 12 yrs. old. You never know when things start to go. It’s hard to let go of something tangible as your car and leap into the unknown of being car-free. You wonder if you will be okay without one, because a car seems to provide security. But that security costs money to maintain and keep…it’s not really “free”, even though the car is paid for. You still have associated costs to pay for (taxes, registration, oil changes, etc.). I figured that if things didn’t work out without a car, I would just buy another used one. But it HAS worked out. My roommate does have a car, that we use together for some larger grocery runs (Costco/BJs), and to get to various events, but I would say about 90% of the time, I use my bike to get around – to & from work, running errands, etc. I also have a membership with Zipcar – a car-sharing program. But even if you don’t have Zipcar in your area, you could always take public transportation, rent a car, or call a cab to get places….there ARE other options (especially if you live in a city/suburb area). You just have to put your “thinking cap” on and use alternative modes.

  5. the village scribe

    Good points all, Charmaine. I couldn’t agree more. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot, lately, when reflecting on matters of this sort, is the “costs” that are either not obvious or not financial.

    Meanwhile, part of the issue in my situation concerns the rest of the family. In a sense, the decision to part with the truck is not solely mine to make, because I’m not the only one who has to live with the outcome. Fortunately, my wife is hugely supportive of my interest in riding a bicycle. She is the voice of reason far more often than I, so she’s just doing her best to make sure I’ve actually thought this through before doing anything rash, short-sighted, or stupid (you know, as if I had a history of that sort of thing).

    I’m pretty confident we will sell the truck at some point. It’s just a matter of timing.