aibu to not own a car

(43 Posts)
bobbypercy1 Wed 27-Mar-13 22:14:42

we live just outside a small town in Scotland. I have two ds's of 12 and 14. We don't own a car so we tend to cycle places. We often use public transport. Occasionally we rent a car. It is 2 miles to the shops and the school. We can easily afford a car but my Dh is resolutly against cars. He doesnt like them partly because of environmental concerns.

recently my kids have been voicing their 'displeasure' at our carlessness. They remind me constantly on rainy days that cars are eminently better than cycling. They also say that cars are safer than bikes. They also claim they would get out and about more. Ds1 hates buses because once a person talked to us about how they had drunk lots of lager and then had their stomach pumped.

I am thinking about their arguments because they seem to have basis. So am i being unreasonable?

I'm carfree, and DS (8years old) isn't bothered. But we live in a London suburb and have excellent public transport.

OP, is there one of those 'car clubs' in your area, where you pay so much per year and can just hire a car when you need one?

CloudsAndTrees Fri 29-Mar-13 12:01:50

I'm with your children. It will be difficult for them being part of the small minority of families that don't have a car. Also, not everyone likes cycling, you might, but that doesn't mean your children should automatically like it.

Personally, I'd hate it.

Diege Fri 29-Mar-13 11:58:52

I think it's about being sensible really flatpack as you say, and judging which option is most appropriate for each journey...soooo we take a car (we car share) for when dh and our 5dcs go on holiday....If I'm out and about with one or two dcs one goes in front baby seat, one on back or tag along. When I go to work I drop ds's on foot, then sometimes will cycle with work stuff in backpack (inc' laptop on occasion wink) to train station. I don't think for a minute I or anyone else was suggesting that a bike could replace a car for all eventualities hmm but it would be good if more people thought about alternative options on occasion (eg. when popping to town if short-ish distance and you don't need much). I'm not bothered what anyone else does really - if people don't really want to cycle anyway, that's fine, but be realistic as to you reasons...

flatpackhamster Fri 29-Mar-13 10:55:37

Diege

flatpack I'm guessing you're not a cyclist then? If you regularly cycle you wear weather-appropriate clothing (waterproofs), and have panniers that can carry a surprising amount.

Oh, in that case I'll just put the baby in one pannier and this Ikea bookcase in the other. Or maybe I'll load a week's shopping for the family in to the panniers. Or perhaps I'll load my client's computers in to the panniers and bike 8 miles over there with it.

Where I live the traffic is so bad that it takes 40 mins to get into town by car, 10 mins by bike. I have no problem with what mode of transport people choose to take, but think it's important to have some sense of the reality of life for people who choose to cycle and not imagine what it must be like from the comfort of your car.

It's not about me being a cyclist or not. I am not at present, I've done plenty of cycling in the past. It's about this pretending that bikes are something that they aren't. They are not a car substitute.

RatPants Thu 28-Mar-13 19:31:03

My mum couldn't drive growing up and it was a pain. Couldn't accept lifts from friends very often as our mum couldn't return the favour, couldn't do a lot of out of school activities as we weren't allowed to walk home alone in the dark and had no lift etc, hoped parties were within walking distance when finding out we were invited etc.

But if, as you say, everything is within walking distance then fair enough. Bad weather is a killer though, especially long journeys in the rain. But then again all the exercise is probably good for them. Bit torn.

SofaKing Thu 28-Mar-13 17:58:03

I am just so glad to see that some people on MN are carless!

Every thread I see where someone can't drive they are jumped on and attacked as being useless, stupid, lazy and anti-feminist for not driving. No one ever mentions the environmental impact, how dangerous congestion makes our roads, or the fact that if everyone who currently doesn't got a car and drove, the transport system would be unable to cope and no one could get anywhere!

OP, would you be willing to ferry your DC everywhere given that you don't particularly enjoy driving? If not, you getting a car might not be quite as wonderful as your DC think. I imagine they think you will never drink again and be constantly poised to ferry them everywhere. Also, it will cost a fortune - what are they prepared to give up to help you with the cost?

Diege Thu 28-Mar-13 17:47:41

flatpack I'm guessing you're not a cyclist then? If you regularly cycle you wear weather-appropriate clothing (waterproofs), and have panniers that can carry a surprising amount. Where I live the traffic is so bad that it takes 40 mins to get into town by car, 10 mins by bike. I have no problem with what mode of transport people choose to take, but think it's important to have some sense of the reality of life for people who choose to cycle and not imagine what it must be like from the comfort of your car.

bobbypercy1 Thu 28-Mar-13 16:38:57

Thanks for your posts! A few things -

1. MY opinion on cars is that i can see their usefulness but there is some sacrifices (cost, environment etc.) I don't mind driving but I dont particularly enjoy it - on the bus you are driven so you can relax.

2. My Dh isn't stopping us from getting a car. He can drive but has not driven for ages.

3. We are not raving eco people with fairtrade teeth. We fly on holiday at least once a year and we are not Greenpeace members or anything!!!

EmmelineGoulden Thu 28-Mar-13 16:23:30

WMittens your figures do not account for the CO2 used in the manufacture of the car, nor the CO2 produced by the passengers in the car. The car ones are also test figures which, while useful in comparison with test figures for other cars, are generally far under what is produced in actual use.

Phineyj Thu 28-Mar-13 15:34:26

De88 I agree in daytime, but not at night e.g teenagers returning from pub or parties.

flatpackhamster Thu 28-Mar-13 14:11:24

YoothaJoist

Sadly, Britain is one of the few countries where cycling is more dangerous than driving, (fatalities per million hours), but of course driving is not just dangerous for the driver of the car, but for other road users too. Cycling is intrinsically safe, it's only dangerous when there are motor vehicles about, just like walking along the pavement, or crossing a road.

So cycling is safe so long as it's not in a place where there are cars, which is everywhere...

Driving isn't dangerous. There were less than 2,000 people killed on the roads in 2011. You're more likely to die in the 'care' of nurses at Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust than in a car.

When you factor in the intrinsic health benefits of cycling it beats car driving hands down.

Apart from getting wet. Or cold. Or a mouth full of flies. Or how long it takes to get anywhere, or the limited amount of stuff you can carry. Or the fact that it's a good way for people with limited mobility, such as the elderly or disabled, to get around.

Cycling is easy, cheap and safe. I'm astonished that so many people see it as a high risk activity these days. What happened to 'easy as riding a bike'? Why so fearful of something so safe? Safer than swimming, horse riding, spending all day sitting at a computer screen...

You just said it was more dangerous than driving. So is it now safer than driving? Make your mind up please.

De88 Thu 28-Mar-13 14:06:20

I've survived this long not having a car and although not in the slightest bit scientific, I'm sure kids are better off for having to get public transport! Learning to get from A to B with patience and a bit of initiative, routes, seeing different races, faces, ages, learning bus/train/general etiquette, being exposed to other people's germs and fighting them off... I could go on and give various unscientific anecdotes but it'd just be ridiculous of course grin .

I firmly believe that 2 miles is too close to drive in all kinds of regular UK weather if your kids are a bit older, if there are good pavements and cycle routes. If you're worried about adversely affecting your kids by not having a car and you can afford one, there's no reason not to. As above, you've already done environmental duties and I'm sure you'll continue to do so in other ways.

Scholes34 Thu 28-Mar-13 13:58:34

We have the best of both worlds - one car and nine bikes (this includes a number of "pub" bikes) for a household of five people. We use the car intermittently at home and on long journeys. We don't do many miles, but there are times where the car is indispensible. I'll need to take the DCs to various activities, which involves car sharing with friends. It's difficult to insist on no car for environmental reasons if you need to rely on others to drive you.

TwoBrasDontMakeABodice Thu 28-Mar-13 13:39:06

Maybe you could have a car for bad weather/long journeys? I couldn't imagine not having a car. It seems a bit mean that the teenagers have to go along with the 'no car' thing. It's hard enough being a teenager without being the ones whose parents don't have a car to make them stand out iyswim.

Get a Hybrid?!

Phineyj Thu 28-Mar-13 13:33:21

Cycling IS a high risk activity in this country -- our roads & roundabouts aren't well designed, we lack bike paths and a significant proportion of motorists actively hate cyclists. My keen cyclist DH and his cyclist friends have all had at least one serious accident. I wouldn't try to stop them but I'm certainly not risking it myself as a slow wobbly cyclist!

I would have considered it VU of my DPs to refuse to have a car when I was the OP's DCs' age (it's different if you live in a city, and I also think it's U not to expect the odd weirdo on the bus, and to treat your DPs as unpaid taxi drivers). I understand too why some people don't have cars due to cost, but often those people are very happy to accept lifts to IKEA, garden centre etc.

It is a little mean of your DH to enforce his views like this, as it will make the DC increasingly reliant on lifts/sleeping over at friends and there will be some events and activities they won't be able to do.

WMittens Thu 28-Mar-13 12:59:25

EmmelineGoulden

Also WMittens is talking nonsense. Car emits more than 10 times as much CO2 than a cyclist for each km travelled, and if having a car means you travel more distance then that compounds the environmental impact. So 5 people in a car would not be better on that front.

VW Polo 1.2 75PS - 91g/km of CO2 on combined cycle
Toyota iOn - 88g/km
Cyclist 17-21g/km

So 5 cyclists would count for between 85 and 105g/km.

YoothaJoist Thu 28-Mar-13 12:47:07

Sadly, Britain is one of the few countries where cycling is more dangerous than driving, (fatalities per million hours), but of course driving is not just dangerous for the driver of the car, but for other road users too. Cycling is intrinsically safe, it's only dangerous when there are motor vehicles about, just like walking along the pavement, or crossing a road.

When you factor in the intrinsic health benefits of cycling it beats car driving hands down.

Cycling is easy, cheap and safe. I'm astonished that so many people see it as a high risk activity these days. What happened to 'easy as riding a bike'? Why so fearful of something so safe? Safer than swimming, horse riding, spending all day sitting at a computer screen...

Xmasbaby11 Thu 28-Mar-13 12:34:48

i think all your lives would be easier with a car, and you could do more as a family. If you can afford it, I would get one. You have done well to manage without for years, that is the way to look at it. You have saved money and helped the environment. But now it would greatly enhance your lives.

You can always make your kids promise to still use their bikes for some activities / purposes.

EuroShaggleton Thu 28-Mar-13 12:30:45

I rarely use my car (about once a week) but I wouldn't be without it. I walk or use public transport the vast majority of the time but sometimes it is just handy to have a car. Your son probably needs to man up a bit though. Buses are full of oddballs and he just needs to be able to deal with that!

Feminine Thu 28-Mar-13 12:27:02

We are trying to manage with one car, in a rural village.

my children have got used to being in this area after school. There is a bus every 2hrs that son (14) could get if he wanted to.

With me having to find work( in the not too distance future) we may have to try and go with two!

Financially awful for us I suspect!

DeafLeopard Thu 28-Mar-13 12:21:07

Are your DS' lives being negatively affected by not having a car?

I know that our DCs would not be able to go to their activities without us having a car, even though we live in a village on the outskirts of a large town, the buses don't run after 7pm, so for us a car is important.

Your OP gives your children's opinions/preferences and your husband's opinion/preference on owning a car. What is YOUR opinion/preference?

TheCraicDealer Thu 28-Mar-13 11:40:25

Can your DH drive? If he's always "done without" then it might be hard for him to see how a car would improve his quality of life. And easier to discount others' wish to get one with, "we don't need a car".

I'm sure there's plenty of other things the family does which have a negative impact on emissions simply for the convenience factor.

If you want one, get a small 1.0L (of smaller!) engine which is used sparingly and responsibly. But don't make decisions based purely on what your DC or DH want. You have an opinion too.

NomDeOrdinateur Thu 28-Mar-13 11:26:14

Oh buggeryfucksticks - "straw man responses", that should be...

NomDeOrdinateur Thu 28-Mar-13 11:24:26

I think QueenBee245's idea is a good one. To be honest, I think it's quite unfair to choose to live somewhere quite rural (especially in a country that's known for quite poor weather) and not make proper provision for teenage children's transport despite having the financial means to do so. Opportunities for them to socialise, go to gigs/movies/plays, make trips to bigger towns, find and keep part-time jobs, and most importantly make it to exams on time and not soaked/exhausted/shaken by a near miss on the bike are important for them to develop at the same rate as their peers. Their access to those things shouldn't rely on inadequate public transport (which stops at what time in the evening?) and cycling if they feel that their safety (and probably personal hygiene, considering their ages) is compromised by it. I know this comment is likely to trigger a derisive response from the "when I was a kid we walked 80 miles over broken glass to go and watch paint drying outside the local cinema, and if we couldn't afford to then we stayed home and read a book and our friends would catch the only bus of the week to join us for a picnic, and what's more it never stopped me getting a part-time job or performing to my potential in an exam" brigade, but everything is relative. If their friends have access to those opportunities and your kids don't because your husband doesn't want to provide it, then IMO they are justified in feeling let down - they will be falling behind their peers in many respects, and they will feel the sting of that as they get older.

Also, don't forget that some people - especially teens - lack the focus, spatial awareness, hazard awareness and control to cycle safely in adverse weather conditions or when unexpected things happen. I cycled to work for 3 years and eventually stopped because a few near misses taught me that I wasn't becoming any better at protecting myself, so I can sympathise with them.

PS - apologies for all the bold, I just got fed up with dismantling straw responses to my posts under a previous name so I'm conducting an experiment to see if this helps... grin

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