Author Topic: April 2015 - April 2016: A Year Without A Car, Or, "From Four To Two For 365"  (Read 6554 times)

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Offline Geoff Reid

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A Year Without A Car.

Day 1: Me on the 1st of April 2015. An April Fool?



As most TS readers already know, I returned to cycling in 2013 after a gap of about 33 years.  Initially I wanted to start cycling again was because my general standard of fitness was poor, my weight was slowly-but-steadily increasing, my stamina was rapidly decreasing and I was noticing that even relatively gentle exercise was making me sweat much more than it had previously done.

My first bicycle was something of a disaster. Cheap to purchase but it rapidly proved the old adage 'buy cheap, pay twice'.  It proved difficult and expensive to maintain as its collective poor quality parts rapidly de-tuned, broke or proved to be poorly matched to the intended purpose. It was also physically hard to ride and in the first week of cycling to work I actually chucked up on the way  :embarassed:

As hard as it initially was in those early days, I was also beginning to remember how much I used to love bumbling around on a bicycle and couldn't really understand how I'd forgotten how pleasant self-propulsion could be but, as hard as it was, I did know that I wanted to keep on doing it.

I enquired about the cycle to work scheme offered by my employers and a few weeks later took delivery of the Boardman MX Race (Hybrid) pictured above. Costing £500 it was then classed as an 'entry level' bike which has proved itself to be (generally) fit for my purposes and with only a couple of minor'ish niggles has served me very well for the 3,197 miles I ridden on it over the last 18 months.  Because of the way the cycle to work scheme works, (18 monthly salary sacrifice payments made before deductions), it has actually cost about  £450. 

I think I'm now qualified to claim, subjectively of course, that my bicycle has not only made me fitter, stronger and happier, I think it's actually made me a better person in the sense that I have become less-insular and subsequently more in touch with my immediate environment and the people within it.  I don't think I can honestly claim that either a gym membership or my car, or a combination of both, could holistically do for me what my bike has.

Anyhoo....to get to the point of this topic, I've decided to make my bicycle my primary mode of private transport.  I haven't actually disposed of my car, but I have parked it on my drive, cancelled my car insurance and vehicle tax, registered it SORN via a Statutory Off Road Notice.  My intention is to replace my car with my bicycle for at least the next 12 months, maybe beyond - insofar as my health and the weather sensibly allows.

Apart from the health and fun aspects, there are also some fairly interesting figures I've taken into account.  If I use the car as my sole means of transport it actually costs about £148 per month. Re-entering the cycle to work scheme, (this time for £1,000), allows me to obtain a new bike and enough consumable spares for 18 months, for £53 per month.  Unforseen costs will arise from time to time, but the annual saving of about £1,100 allows for far more 'unforeseen' costs than are actually likely to arise.  I need to check the following figure, but I think I've spent less than £100 on essential repairs/replacements for the Boardman over the last 18 months.

So, I'll be keeping the Boardman as my second/bad weather bike and obtain a new bike as my main/good weather ride.

Naturally, just as I have done with my other long running bike topic, I'll be sharing my experiences with readers.  I thought I'd be nervous about trying this but, perhaps oddly, I am both excited and relieved.  I think the relief might be because owning a car might actually cause a constant but low-level of stress - unnoticed until it's suddenly absent.

 

 
« Last Edit: April 01, 2015, 02:24:34 PM by Geoff Reid »



Offline Geoff Reid

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89.3 miles in wk 1 of my car less year :)



I'm still considering which bike to get next and, no, this isn't an April fools topic.  I just thought people would appreciate the irony of the posting date :)

Offline Weebleman

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Most commendable Geoff and I look forward to following your progress.

It would also be interesting to know how often to have to resort to begging a lift/borrow a car off someone to transport larger objects, or how often you have to get stuff delivered rather than go fetch it: i.e. how well you get along without the use of a car in any form.

At least you've got a couple months to read up on how to string together the onions from your allotment to hang them around your neck safely  ;D

Offline Outoftowner

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Good point Weebleman. How are you going to move your kit back and forth to your allotment Geoff? (Psst. Borrow Weebleman;s tools. He's only over the road!!) :spin:
What's it all about?

Offline Geoff Reid

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Ah, I thought I'd updated my allotment thread...obviously not because I terminated my tenancy some considerable time back :)  We had another network revision at work and the shift pattern I used to work became unavailable to me and the one I subsequently signed for wasn't compatible with keeping an allotment. I bet, come the next revision later this year, an allotment friendly pattern becomes available again.  I'll be sticking to my raised beds and greenhouse I think.

Tig still has her car so the movement of larger objects is still possible, but probably only on Sundays.  The rest of the week her car isn't available to me at a time of day I would be able to use it.

Shopping, which I used to do alone on a Monday morning will probably be done jointly on a Sunday or solo by Tig.  Smaller bits and pieces fit fairly easily in my (quite large) panniers.


Offline Spunkymonkey

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Tig still has her car ...

Ah. Isn't that cheating. My girlfriend doesn't drive so we only have one car. My girlfriend relies on the bus in the winter and cycles to work in the summer. You will probably find it easier than us as you have one car and two drivers.

Most of the time it works okay, although it is damned annoying when she waits for the football to kick off and then says 'it's raining can you give me a lift to my mum's?' Grrrr!!!!!

Quote
Shopping, which I used to do alone on a Monday morning will probably be done jointly on a Sunday or solo by Tig.

My girlfriend swears by Tesco home delivery. It only costs about £2 if you choose an evening slot. Our grocery bill has probably gone down as we are less prone to impulse buys.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Tig still has her car ...

Ah. Isn't that cheating. My girlfriend doesn't drive so we only have one car. My girlfriend relies on the bus in the winter and cycles to work in the summer. You will probably find it easier than us as you have one car and two drivers.

Most of the time it works okay, although it is damned annoying when she waits for the football to kick off and then says 'it's raining can you give me a lift to my mum's?' Grrrr!!!!!

Quote
Shopping, which I used to do alone on a Monday morning will probably be done jointly on a Sunday or solo by Tig.

My girlfriend swears by Tesco home delivery. It only costs about £2 if you choose an evening slot. Our grocery bill has probably gone down as we are less prone to impulse buys.

Cheating?, I don't think so, this is my car-less year, not hers :)  Tig does 300+ work-related miles per week which includes transporting service users so unless/until a car becomes part of her remuneration package her own motor is essential to her retaining her job.

If I were intending to share Tig's car I suppose that could be described as cheating, but I'm not and I don't know what I'd be cheating even if I did. Her car isn't here at the times I'd need to use it, hence my purchasing a new bike and maintaining my somewhat worn Boardman as a serviceable second.  Should both bikes be out of commission I'll be using the bus one way and walking home the other (no way I'd want to get Tig out of bed at 04.00hrs to pick me up), or walking the entire (shortest route) 13 miles :)

I got used to riding to work and back in the wind, rain, sleet and odd bit of snow during the winter months so I'm fairly hardened to the elements with the exception of ice. Ice is a pain because the cycle paths aren't treated. I've had a few slides but nothing too hairy. Yet.

I had a similar conversation as this with a work colleague this afternoon who also thought that Tig retaining her car meant that I was somehow 'cheating' and I have to admit that I'm struggling to understand how or what it is I'm cheating - I'm not making an environmental statement or effort, nor claiming any moral highground, I'm just not going to tax or insure my car for the next 12 months and use my bicycle(s) instead - getting fitter and slimmer is my aim :)

Offline Muggins

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Well done on going greener Geoff, but I don't think anyone meant to imply you were cheating in the ordinary way - i'e. leaving the bike at home and sneaking to work/play/shop in Tigs.

However, having a working car outside does help matter's, even if it never left the drive. Last year when Mr. Muggins had his by-pass, for 8 weeks it was really quite scary not to have an instant filler-in if anything went wrong, i.e. sick/elderly relative etc.

To be honest I'd think you downright irresponsible if you didn't have back up - especially as all things are set these days for everyone to have transport. 

Is Mellon any good for the odd lift?

How you going to get on your  holidays??
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Well done on going greener Geoff, but I don't think anyone meant to imply you were cheating in the ordinary way - i'e. leaving the bike at home and sneaking to work/play/shop in Tigs.

I think I know that no one is seriously jibing but I thought I'd give a fuller explanation because I've heard the same question expressed 7 or 8 times in the last week :)    Using today as a perfect example of what has become a 'normal' day for me, Tig, (and her car), are currently 40 miles away and will remain out until long after I've cycled to work. 

My car is outside, but it is SORNED, now uninsured and its MOT is about to expire. I have no option but to ride, walk or bus it to work so I'm essentially, deliberately, car-less :)


However, having a working car outside does help matter's, even if it never left the drive. Last year when Mr. Muggins had his by-pass, for 8 weeks it was really quite scary not to have an instant filler-in if anything went wrong, i.e. sick/elderly relative etc.

To be honest I'd think you downright irresponsible if you didn't have back up - especially as all things are set these days for everyone to have transport. 

Is Mellon any good for the odd lift?

How you going to get on your  holidays??

In an emergency I could probably get my car road legal again in about 5 days! :)   The only thing which makes me slightly nervous is being dependent on a single bike for the next few days. Hoepfully I'll have a new one by the end of the month. In the short and longer term the only thing which gives me some concern is the possibility of needing to take Tia to the vet in an emergency.

Mellon does have an available crossbar on his bike, whether I could fit on it, (and his legs, wheels and tyres survive the extra weight), is another matter :)

Holidays:  I fitted a towbar to Tigs Pug last year and I haven't towed my trailer or fitted the cycle carrier to my car since.  We used her car for our Cornwall trip and will again for or French holiday later this year.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Just FYI:

Just looked at my car mileage for the last 4 years:

2011 to 2012 = 14,905 miles

2012 to 2013 =   9,682 miles

2013 to 2014 = 12,619 miles

2014 to 2015 =   4,591 miles

I started cycling again in 2013. The 3000+ miles I've cycled since then has already put an enormous dent in my annual mileage.  Cutting non essential car journeys and working more hours in fewer shifts also helped (fewer commutes by car).

My pre-cycling (2011 to 2013) average annual car mileage was 12,402 p.a. At todays prices that's £97 each month for diesel, (at 48mpg), plus tax, mot, servicing, tyres and insurance so my original back-of-the-napkin calculation of about £148 per month was surprisingly accurate.

I'll be keeping a record of what the next 12 months of cycling costs :)




Offline Midlander

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Well done for giving up your car Geoff. My family and I have been without a car for years, and we're a lot better off for it. Recently we did some DIY and we carried all our paint, plaster etc back from the store in two strong shopping bags! We had to rest a few times on the way back though.

We managed to take our cat to the vet with no problems - either by walking or going by bus, we've never had any problems from bus drivers when we've taken a cat box on the buses.

As for holidays, well we had two car less holidays a few years ago, one in this country where we took the train, and the hotel manager gave us the best room to say thanks as she had a shortage of parking spaces, the other we went abroad and used National Express to get to the airport.

Cycling around the town is pretty good, provided you stay away from the centre, muggers alley, and provided SBC and Thames Water don't close the cycle paths like they did last year.

Don't forget you can take a bike on the train, provided you book it in advance. I've even taken a folding bike on a bus and no one said anything.

It's certainly better than sitting in traffic jams

Offline concerned_of_Old_Town

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On a similar vein for various reasons I have not owned a car for at least ten years.


As I need  to go to Taunton most weeks make frequent use of the trains and occasional hire cars/taxis  have also joined co wheels car club and occasionally make us of them when I need to go  for a big shop/Garden centre.


I am also in the fortunate position of been able to walk to work and Swindon shops/pubs.


On balance find this cheaper less stresssful than having a car and think this is the way forward.

Offline Muggins

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'course all of the aforementioned tasks I've had to do over the years on my own, simply because, Mr Muggins was never here when I needed him - and his car was with him. 

But I don't half know it now - I  have something that gives on my neck every time I try to carry anything heavier that a toothbrush, a back that won't bend the way it used to do and a head that spins when I try to lift anything. 

So don't get prematurely wearing yourselves out, you'll have no choice one day when they take anyway your keys. 

I often wondered how the NHS is going to cope with all the prematurely worn out joints from all this tarmac pounding and visits to the Gym. 
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Spunkymonkey

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I often wondered how the NHS is going to cope with all the prematurely worn out joints from all this tarmac pounding and visits to the Gym.

In theory it will be offset by all of the healthy hearts and lungs. Cycling is actually quite kind to the joints.

The NHS will cope. Not sure about the pension fund though when all of these fitness fanatics live to be a 120. Might have to raise the retirement age to 90.

Offline Spunkymonkey

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Cheating?, I don't think so, this is my car-less year, not hers.

I was only joking about the cheating. It is your challenge and your rules, so you can't really cheat.

I reckon that a year without a car will result in a considerable benefit to health, moderate benefit to the wallet and a small benefit to the environment.

Incidentally. my girlfriend found some cash in the street over the weekend. We have notified the police, but if no one claims it within 30 days we will donate it to charity. I was thinking that BHF via Geoff's London-Brighton cycle ride would be a worthy cause. Better to claim 'gift aid' than just stick it in a collection tin.  :)

Offline Geoff Reid

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Cheating?, I don't think so, this is my car-less year, not hers.


I was only joking about the cheating. It is your challenge and your rules, so you can't really cheat.[/quote]

I knew you weren't serious, but I tapped out my thoughts for some of colleagues who were!  :)


I reckon that a year without a car will result in a considerable benefit to health, moderate benefit to the wallet and a small benefit to the environment.

Incidentally. my girlfriend found some cash in the street over the weekend. We have notified the police, but if no one claims it within 30 days we will donate it to charity. I was thinking that BHF via Geoff's London-Brighton cycle ride would be a worthy cause. Better to claim 'gift aid' than just stick it in a collection tin.  :)


Apart from the obvious and easy to calculate costs & savings I haven't considered my carbon footprint, tbh I wouldn't know where to begin although I am sure that every litre of oil pumped out of the ground will still be burned regardless of whether I'm the one buying and burning it.

The health benefits are already noticeable after 3,300 miles of cycling - and they are considerable  :thumb:   Apart from being somewhat lighter I have more energy, strength and stamina.  My lung function is hugely improved, (quitting the demon weed helped), and I haven't suffered a serious bout of flu or even a bad cold.  I have no empirical evidence to support a 'fresh air kills flu bugs' but, in recent years, I've usually 'enjoyed' at least one or two bouts each year.  It might equally be that my immune system has been bolstered by better health :)

As you said, cycling is quite easy on the joints although it is also quite easy to damage your joints if riding a poorly adjusted bike with, for example, the seat in the wrong position.  There are some common cycling injuries, most of which are caused by poor position (bike fit) and technique.  Luckily there are plenty of good resources online for novice and experienced riders alike and it's never too late to learn something new or helpful. 

I can supply a cogent example of the above: About 1,000 miles back I started noticing a persistent pain in both Achilles tendons.  It was quite painful on waking but would always be gone well before I rode each day and didn't occur whilst riding.  I didn't connect the activity to the injury(s) and put it down to the particular style of work boot I'm required to wear at night.  Eventually though, I began to seriously investigate the cause of the pain, (it was getting severe enough that I had started using ibuprofen to alleviate the symptoms), and filmed myself riding past a video camera at various points of my regular journey.  At 100 fps I immediately noticed that I was 'ankling' in a manner which seemed likely to be causing my pain. 

Further examination of my pedalling technique revealed that I was placing my feet too far back on the pedals.  A week of riding with my feet placed further forwards, (centre of the pedal slightly behind the ball of my feet), saw an immediate decrease in the pain level and an immediate (unplanned) increase in my average speed.  I thought about it for a few days then invested in some half-decent cycling shoes (they look like trainers) with a fairly stiff midsole and the facility to fit Shimano SPD cleats to their underside.  I also bought a pair of SPD clipless pedal.  The combination allows me to 'clip in' to my pedals and precisely adjust the position of my feet on the pedals. Within the first 100 miles the pain in my left ankle has gone and the right one continues to improve. (I think I'd probably caused some micro-tears in the right one which will take longer to heal).  The Shimano SPD pedals (M520) were less than £20 and the shoes, (Specialized Cadets), were about £65  (Hargroves cycles). 

I'm a happy bunny now although I am considering using flat (normal) pedals for the London to Brighton ride - solely because riding with 28,000+ other cyclists is almost certainly going to provide plenty of unexpected moments requiring being able to get my feet onto the floor quicker than is possible by 'clipping out' of SPD's.

All donations to our London to Brighton just giving page will be gratefully received, but your offer is especially welcome Spunkey :)

We're at £144 so far - about £170 with gift aid, and I haven't yet started badgering on Facebook :)

 

 


Offline Geoff Reid

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198 miles for the first half of the month, (which included a week of annual leave - no commuting), so I'm expecting mileage to be a bit higher for the second half of the month.

I pick up my new (main) bike later today.  I've had to organise a car lift back from the shop with it because my previous experience of having someone else 'build it' wasn't as satisfactory as should have been.  "If you want something doing properly...." eh?

Anyway, Tig is assisting in collecting a very large box, 4 tyres, two wheels, rack, mudguards and a host of smaller items back from t'shop later.  It will then 'rest' in her office until I can find a few hours to assemble and fettle it into a finely tuned working bicycle. The weather looks good for tomorrow (Saturday) so we'll get out for a few hours tomorrow and I'll probably have an early start in the man-cave on Sunday.

Pictures to follow :)


Offline Geoff Reid

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Our ride out yesterday was cut short when the new (300 miles old) chain on my Black MX snapped on the Old Town Railway path, so  I ended up building up the new one on Saturday instead of today.

I decided to play about with my new Garmin Virb sports camera while I was in the cave, specifically some of the time lapse settings.  Ben asked for the video, which I duly gave to him, and he gave it the Mellon treatment.  I think it's far better than my silent version....