Car-free Follow-up

It was a pleasant surprise to get so many email messages and comments in response to my post about car-free living. A common thread in many responses was the aspect of hauling large or heavy items without a car. It wasn’t really at the top of my mind, as it has been quite some time since I have been in need of a creative transport solution — mostly because we live in a small home and there isn’t much more room for more furniture or large objects. In a couple of months, though, I will be eyeing the melons and winter squashes at the farmer’s market, which would be somewhat heavy to carry the bags that I normally use. I realized that I had addressed this topic last year; take a look at my post about transporting goods without a car for some thoughts about bike trailers and rolling carts.

A term that How to Live Well Without Owning a Car uses is “car-lite,” to refer to a lifestyle where the car is used minimally and/or where a family might get rid of one of their cars and adjust to sharing a car. This an idea for the cases where there is a reason or multiple reasons why it would make sense to be completely car-free. So if there is a car sitting there to use, how do you stop yourself for jumping in the car in the cases where it isn’t necessary? Some ideas include planning ahead, trip-linking, and being okay with certain errands taking more time than they would in a car. If you want an easy motivator for getting more organized, not using a car might be one way to do it: because you can’t just drive everywhere when you are out of something or need to pick something up it’s much easier to keep a running list of errands. One of the best techniques that’s worked for me in terms of efficiency is trip-linking. Instead of going in and out multiple times, I look at what I need to do and plan a route that makes sense to get a few tasks done at once. Of course (as I mentioned previously) it’s pretty easy to do this living in Berkeley. This is not as easy in some suburban and rural settings, but not impossible.

I would love to hear from others who are living without a car or have minimized their car use. Please feel free to comment or send a message!



  1. Car-free since 1997 or so. Bike + BART is a major win for any destination in Berkeley/Oakland/SF.

    Shopping: I use panniers, an elastic cargo net to strap larger things on top of the panniers, and hang a plastic grocery bag or two from each bar-end.

    Laundry: an XXL duffle bag slung across my shoulder. This thing is like five feet long and two feet in diameter, but clothes are not very heavy.

    Moving medium-sized stuff: I can temporarily zip-tie a large milk crate to the pannier rack.

    Moving larger stuff: I have a friend with a pickup.

    Road trips: I go with friends.

    I am considering City Car Share or one of the similar instant rental orgs, but so far I just haven’t needed it.

  2. Ron Bloomquist said

    Great topic Jen,

    I lived in the redwoods, five miles from town, for 22 years. Recently moved into the heart of Fort Bragg, CA. Instead of 10 miles round trip for a loaf of bread I now walk to everything! Good for my health and great for my gas mileage!!

  3. Georgia said


    A timely topic given the unfortunate accident on the freeway on Sunday morning. I watched KRON4 on Sunday morning and was disappointed with the news reporting, especially in regards to the transporation alternatives initially suggested by the newscasters. BART, bus, and ferry alternatives were only presented after a disjointed discussion about different auto routes and long auto commute times.

    If two sporting events were not scheduled in Oakland on Sunday afternoon/ evening, for which BART is heavily used, I think the discussion about public transit would have taken even longer to emerge.

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