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Family Goes Car-Free in the O.C.
What’s unique about Erick and Rachel Cave’s decision to dump their car, as featured in a recent O.C. Register article
, is that it was born of simple economics. The couple was sick and tired of dumping endless money into their aging Volvo for repairs, insurance, and fuel.
Most stories I come across about people giving up their cars relate to a calculated decision based on environmentalism or health concerns. These carectomy patients are sick of dumping smog into the air, or they realize that if their transportation involved some exercise that they’d be happier and healthier – both wonderful reasons to reduce car travel.
Erick had proposed the idea a few weeks before the vehicle’s water pump crapped out. They were figuring out if they could manage the daily tasks of grocery shopping, work commuting, and socializing as well as how to deal with possible calamities, like if their daughter got sick, when the water pump’s demise pushed the couple over the edge. They dove into a car-free existence.
The Cave’s were not particularly environmentally aware or actively green. They hadn’t ridden on bikes in about 20 years and they lived in southern California – a place more reliant on cars than perhaps anywhere in the country. Nevertheless, they bought some simple, practical bicycles for themselves, an attachable trailer bike for their daughter, and a cargo trailer.
In spite of difficult initial adjustments to their new lifestyle, the family persevered.
From the O.C. Register:
"The biggest obstacle is your own attitude," says Erick, 38, who home schools Rachel, 8, while Jess works as a dog groomer. "It’s getting out of that car mentality that’s so much a part of us."
Jess started taking the bus to work. Erick started biking Rachel to tutoring lessons and to the park to play. All three of them bike to Target and the beach. They’ve discovered new restaurants. Met new people. Rediscovered their own neighborhood.
The biggest changes the family experienced were financial and in their relationship with one another. No car meant dramatically fewer expenses, to the tune of a 35% increase in household funds. In addition to the money saved on running and maintaining a car, impulse purchases were minimized. Because they needed to carry everything they bought by bike or bus, they began to take a hard look at what they really needed. The experience also has brought the family closer together.
Although the Cave’s decision wasn’t born of environmental concerns, after some research they were pleased that their actions were making a difference. It led them to recycle, conserve water, and pay attention to their footprints.
It’s carectomy patients like these, “regular people” going car-free for practical reasons, that could be the most nation’s powerful spokespeople for transportation change.
- For Car-Free Family, Biking Replaces Bad Habits
- Cars Break the Family Budget
- Ditching the Car for a Motorboard in L.A.
- Crazy for Car-Free: Perks Surpass Challenges
- Car Parking Free Light Rail Stations