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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:25 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:47 pm
Posts: 36

THE PLAN:


A.) I currently have two cars. One running, one not. The one not running, is destined for the scrap yard (after I cut the catalytic converter off to scrap separately). I paid $350 when I bought it, will get approximately the same if not a tad more when scrapped.

B.) The running vehicle will go to a relative in trade (some cash, garden produce swap, etc--this car I purchased for $100, FYI).

C.) Henceforth, I shall be car free. This will allow me to not spend $3000 in fuel and insurance ($2400 & $630 respectively) annually. My car-free deadline is August 2012--my car insurance and tags both expire at the same time (on the running car).

D.) Future transport needs to be met by walking, bike, bus, train, cab, car rental.

E.) Generic travel/commute distances for needs:

1.) Daily round trip for work commute--> 32 miles, 1.5 to 2 hours each way.

2.) Distance to visit family--> 32-40 miles each way (64-80 miles round trip), depending upon routing/traffic. 3 hours pedaling each way. No bus or train goes all the way to them. If take bus, only covers 1.25 hours travel of total distance.

3.) Groceries--> ~3 miles tops. Walk, bike, bus. Not even a worry here.

4.) Library--> Same as groceries.

F.) Monthly, unlimited bus pass is $50. This monthly amount to be deposited into a dedicated savings account for exclusive transportation usage. The more I bike, the bigger this fund gets.


THE DILEMMAS:


A.) Dog. Easy to travel w/ me when in the car. She's the navigator! Bike only? Get a bike carrier/trailer? This is for instances when I go to visit family for a weekend. Having a family member pick me up in their car is not an option (1.--for independence, 2.--of course they would in an emergency)


B.) Bike vs. Scooter vs. Bike only vs. Scooter only. So, I've discussed ER/ERE/FI with some of my friends and family and my plans towards these ends. Out of about 15 people, 1 person "got/gets it", could/can "see" it through my eyes. He pitches a scooter idea to me. I can get a Chinese scooter delivered to my door for $847 vs. the almost $800 folding mountain bike.

1.) Scooter:

a.) Low upfront cost

b.) Quicker than a bike

c.) 50cc engine--no titling/license overhead

d.) Ongoing expenditure:

i.) gas

ii.) engine oil

iii.) transmission fluid

iv.) tire & brake wear(ongoing maintenance)

e.) Included the $847 delivered price is $200 is shipping.

2.) Bike:

a.) About $50 less than scooter

b.) Free shipping.

c.) No gas

d.) No oil

e.) No transmission fluid

f.) Still have tire and brake wear (ongoing maintenance)

g.) Improved personal health due to physical exertion of pedaling

h.) Bike I want is full-size folding bike. The folding aspect gives me more transportation options where I can take my bike w/ me.

i.) Can fold bike to take on bus, train, throw in trunk of a cab, rental car or vehicle of a friend if I get a ride. Can even package to check as airplane luggage but this costs at least $50 each way (depending upon airline).

3.) Bike (w/ promo code, no extras): http://www.commuterbikestore.com/montague-paratrooper-bike.html

4.) Scooter: http://www.scooterdepot.us/50cc-sunny-gas-motor-scooters-free-windshield-and-free-trunk-p-625.html

5.) Good God, the flak I've gotten when trying to explain all this to people!! If only you could see the looks on their faces when I detail all this out. Almost all of them can't get past the no car aspect. Unreal. Their eyes just gloss over, blank stares.


HELP/INPUT:


--Bike only the way to go?

--Any merit to the scooter?

--Long term (seasonality & 7-10 year+ duration for this approach) considerations I may be missing/overlooking? Inclement weather being the biggest--specifically ice and snow in winter. Bike/bus combo has the advantage here--scooters not allowed on the bus.

--Anything else to add?


Apologies for the loooooong post. Been mullin' this over for a while...




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:30 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 21, 2010 10:33 pm
Posts: 116

32 miles of bicycle commute every day. Now, that is impressive!


I wish I roughly knew where you lived as that will help understand the elements you are going to be up against. Snow & ice gives a hint. Up north where I live, this lasts a good 4 months per year. Have you biked through this stuff for a whole winter? I found it ain't fun. It needs to much special clothing. Even with special winter wheels, it still is too darn easy to slip and fall.


I have a 80 mile work commute. I too live car-free. But this is easier in Europe than America. Car pooling to work has worked really well for me. Six months of the year, Oct-April, I take the bus about 4 miles to spot where carpool starts. The other six months I bicycle to there. I try not to buy the unlimited rides pass, as that way I have an incentive to walk home evenings thus saving money and getting some exercise. I feel more rewarded this way. Is there any way you can find others commuting from where you live to where you work? I found that students are most open to the idea as sharing those gas costs matters much more to them. They also tend to be more eco-friendly. Carpooling would save you time and effort.


Another option might be to negotiate a partial or full work-from-home situation. I do that one day a week. Sometimes two. It is great to be able to telecommute, especially during snow storms and such.


How often do you visit family? Is there someone else who needs to visit that area during weekends? Cousins? Siblings? Old school mates? The children of your parents' neighbors? If yes, could you share the ride with them? I always pay for my share of gas. If it is a very good friend and they would rather not take cash, I buy the meal on the way. Or buy them a gas of tank once in a while. Or get them a gift they could use when I go abroad (food usually). Or cook for them.


If I were you and I could not find a ride share, I'd seriously consider buying the scooter. With that budget, you could buy both the bicycle and scooter. I'd buy them used. And I would not fuss too much about having a foldable bicycle because in all likelihood, despite the best of my intentions, I will rarely carry the bike with me. It is like this friend who bought a certain car with the need to transport bicycles in mind. And in the 5 years he's had it, he has put bicycles in it like twice. Or this colleague who showed off his huge van with sleeping for 3 yesterday. After the first year, turned out he was averaging 1 night per year sleeping in it. I'd be the same.


And oh. If I were visiting family I would not shy away too much from asking to be picked up once a while. Maybe they go somewhere close to where public transport gets to, once a month or something. You could just align your visits with the trips they are already making.


Whatever I did, I would not invest too much money into buying up stuff to help me solve this situation.. as situations do have a funny way of changing over time rendering stuff obsolete.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:29 am 
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 11:30 am 
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Keep the running car, really. If you are able to stop from using it for three months, you sell it. It seems too much commuting to do by bike daily. The ideal situation would be moving closer to the job or getting another one. Is that possible?


But if you are able to use public transportation to go to the job, you could go car free.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 1:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:47 pm
Posts: 36

@ktn--I'm in midwestern USA; get all 4 seasons. Hot, muggy summers, cold winters. I currently have 3 free Wal-Mart, dual suspension mountain bikes. Obtained all 3 legally, free of charge (given to me). I've run all three into the ground in the last year (anybody ever bent a frame and two wheels on a dual suspension bike all at the same time? This was non-commuting use when this happened, btw). I did use these to commute to work last year 3-4 days per week. The commute is feasible via bike all the way.


@bigato--bus gets me 4.4 miles short of door to door, 30 minutes before I have to be at work. I did an experiment of taking the bus a couple of times last year to test it out. First time, I missed a transfer (bus 2 of the 3 required), was an hour late (was walking to office when someone else who was late stopped and picked me up). Second time, caught all busses on time and when walking to the office, a co-worker on their way to the office picked me up and gave me a ride. Now, w/ folding bike, could bus to work daily (3rd bus doesn't have bike rack, other two do), carry bike on 3rd bus, then pedal the last 4.4 miles and hit the front door just in time for start of work...


@ktn--commute carpool: have attempted this in the past, and have been unsuccessful in polling folks in the office in which I work and have struck out on craigslist and local transit authority vanpool options as well. Figured best option was to make due on my own given this experience.

Visiting family: a couple weekends per month. They live 30 minutes away by car. Two years ago, I managed to find someone driving in the same direction that was willing to do a rideshare, however, been dry since then when I've checked/attempted since then.

80 mile commute: I too had this same commute per day (40 miles each way, door to door). I did it for 5 years driving my own car myself before I moved closer to work.


@bigato--move closer: I've checked this out over the last 9 years. Did find a little house to rent within 4 blocks of work, but it was nasty looking and had some smell the landlord couldn't cover up (looked at this same house 3-5 times over the last 9 years hoping for ANY kind of improvement, alas none). While I would be closer to work (there is some housing/neighborhood fairly close to work), I end up 7-8 miles away from other necessities--namely grocery store. Other options in same vicinity have been woefully overpriced (in my opinion) in a high property tax area.

Get another job: Have been shopping this over the years as well. Lots of misses here as well. Either long or short on skillset/experience in field or short on pay. Yes, could take a job for less pay, but would knock a hole in savings rate (currently at 60-67% w/ once/twice per week car use).

In short, still shopping both these options and haven't hit the gold mine yet.


@ktn/@bigato: thank you for the feedback!




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 3:55 pm 
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what was that smell? it probably can be fixed. the look of it could be fixed too, couldn't it? you could maybe even make some money. also, remember that you don't need to shop everyday as you need to work. also, most stores will make delivering these days. the extra time you get by reducing commuting is very important.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 6:46 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am
Posts: 621

Can you get free gas for your car? I've found a number of legit ways to get free gas cards. Unfortunately they're Alaskan but I bet there's something where you live?




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 7:24 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:47 pm
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@riparian--I haven't heard of any legal way to get free gas where I live. I'm not high enough in pay grade/hierarchy to have my employer pay for my fuel. I'm not aware of a gas card way to get free gas. How's it work where you're at?




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PostPosted: Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:50 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2011 4:00 am
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There's energy assistance and there's "volunteering" at a BP approved non profit. And there's 100 gallons/year from Chavez.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:44 am 

Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:35 pm
Posts: 443

Scooters have become more popular in many areas recently. It's much easier to get one serviced these days, particularly if you go with a common model. Even so, be sure there is someone in your area who can service that type of scooter-- unless you are appropriately skilled in that area. In days gone by, getting a broken scooter fixed, or even getting brakes re-done could be a major problem requiring a kind of impromptu negotiation with a lawn mower/go cart/tractor mechanic. These kind of people are used to working on things that can be left at the shop for a month while parts come in and they get around to it-- it's not exactly like going to Midas and having the car running again in a day or two.


Some of the folks around here know a lot about bikes. Perhaps a separate post about the bike will get some comments.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:13 am 
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I rode a scooter for several years.


Mo is quite right about getting something that doesn't need repair. If I needed something to depend on, I'd get something brand new of high quality. (Honda, Yamaha, Piaggio)


It can take a month to get a scooter fixed, which is very lame.


Or, get a scooter that is built like a tank for a developing nation. (Bajaj)




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 4:47 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 7:47 pm
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@ dot_com_vet & Mo: A buddy of mine is a skilled mechanic and is willing to assist me w/ repairs (have discussed this topic w/ him many times). Biggest lag in time would be the availability of parts (in going w/ a Chinese scooter, would have to source from west coast USA). Honda/Yamaha might be more readily available locally due to market presence.


I'll be starting out on a bicycle (already have a couple of freebies). However, I may be second guessing this with the advent of inclement weather in the winter months.


Also, have been shopping real estate closer to work. Many deals to be had. Have found many listings from $9900 to $65000. Many are not too bad all things considered and all will require some work--but prices like those are hard to pass up...




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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 3:19 pm 

Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:54 pm
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Be mindful about exposure to loud noises while cycling. Cars zooming by at 35+ mph a few inches to a few feet could generate decibels high enough to induce hearing loss and tinnitus.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:59 pm 
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Arrrrrgh, regarding Chinese scooters. A friend bought a few of these a couple of years ago.


Their experience? Bolts coming lose that hold the exhaust, lights not working from the factory, etc. Nothing critical or dangerous, but not very confidence inspiring.




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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 5:34 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 02, 2010 4:45 am
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Good stuff above. Two more thoughts:


Some vehicles are designed to be sealed throwaway products and some are designed to be durable and easily-serviceable. The latter is usually more economical in the long run, and certainly more pleasant to maintain. IMO one is better off paying the up-front premium for that, or buying a quality used vehicle for the same price as a throwaway new one.


So if you go for a scooter, I'd recommend one of the highly-regarded Japanese brands (Honda, Yamaha, similar). For bicycles I'd recommend a big-name (Trek, Cannondale, similar) or custom bike with mid-tier Shimano or better components.


Also, even if the scooter costs the same up front, I expect it to be more expensive/difficult to maintain in the long run. It has many mechanical systems that a bicycle does not: ignition, cooling, exhaust, hydraulic brakes, shock absorbers, multiple lubrication systems. Eventually all that stuff will need maintenance.




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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:20 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:54 pm
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"The cheapest guy often ends up spending the most."




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