Living Car Free in Australia

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby grw » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:54 pm

Joeblake wrote:I suppose one could be grateful to be not living in Japan.

http://www.alientimes.org/Main/BuyingAndSellingACar

Particularly this bit ...

Once you have decided on a car to buy, the first thing you have to do is to get a "proof of parking" certificate ("shako shomeisho") from the police department.


Apart from the time this takes, this seems like a fairly sensible idea. At the moment because of the car centric lifestyle of Australian cities - and many others around the world, residential developments must generally include provision for car parking. Those who want to live car free are paying for something they don't use, unless they are in a position to sublet their car space. And it would mean that residential streets that are currently clogged up with cars parked by residents would be used for their intended use - which is not as a car park.
Car parking provision could become an investment class. You'd only buy it when you needed it.Stand alone parking decoupled from residential. Much more flexible
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by BNA » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:55 pm

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby scirocco » Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:55 pm

harry.major wrote:The thing that strikes me about Australia is the lack of political/social/economic side of cycling. Its very much more a sport and not away of life. Don't get me wrong, I'm no tie-dye vegan crusty, but even amongest those who work in the Industry the fact I don't have a car, or want one strikes people as odd... That bicycles are a tool for sport or recreation, and cars are for transport. It also feels like a country with a very small Bicycle Activism lobby.


I also lived in the UK for a while and agree it's different here. There's much less of the Western liberal guilt & self-loathing attitude that "I should ride a bike because it's good for me and everyone else should do the same". Many people ride and commute on bikes because it's fun and enjoyable with the better weather here, and often less stressful than driving. But they like having a car and enjoy driving as well.

This has the benefit of a lot of people being both cyclists and drivers, with less of the them and us "I'll take the lane 'cause I'm damn well entitled to" type of mentality than I saw in the UK. It's not perfect, and we have more than our share of moronic drivers. But when every driver is a cyclist as well there may be hope for all of us.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby Joeblake » Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:00 pm

I guess that drags out the hoary old chestnut that as part of getting one's car licence a wannabe driver should spend 12 months riding a bicycle, then a further 6 months riding a motorcycle. :lol:

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:07 pm

grw wrote: At the moment because of the car centric lifestyle of Australian cities - and many others around the world, residential developments must generally include provision for car parking. Those who want to live car free are paying for something they don't use,

Turn it into a BBQ deck, or use it as practical community retail space :P

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby RonK » Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:23 pm

grw wrote:Car parking provision could become an investment class. You'd only buy it when you needed it.Stand alone parking decoupled from residential. Much more flexible

It already is. Many apartments are sold without a car space. And here in Brisbane the number of car spaces in residential buildings is strictly controlled. And you are not permitted to sub-let your car space to a non-resident.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby expatkiwi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:22 pm

Interesting thread..might have my 2 cents!

Varies depending on the city I suppose. I lived in Auckland, NZ, for 6 years and couldn't imagine being car-free. Auckland is a bit like Melbourne or Sydney in the sense that it's sprawly and hilly and not really cycle-safe/friendly. And cyclists are considered a scurge, so cop a fair bit of abuse and there are more hit and runs than people will care to admit in Auckland.

Now living in Canberra, my partner and I are car-free. Absolutely no need for one here - especially if you live close to any of the main centres. The cycle paths are fantastic. The amount of $$ we save is higher than I imagined. Not having a car can be a bit inconvenient at times but will just bum of friends if need be. The money we save get chucked on the student loans back home or in the holiday fund (or pulled out into the bike fund at present..). Personally not bothered living car-free, its working well.

We get some weird reactions too - seems to be a bit of adversity to living a simpler life? Or maybe its all about context? Maybe I'd think differently if I lived less centrally, or had a family, or lived in a less cycle-friendly city.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:32 pm

expatkiwi wrote:And cyclists are considered a scurge, so cop a fair bit of abuse and there are more hit and runs than people will care to admit in Auckland.

Yeah, been sort of noticing some of that :(

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/artic ... d=10688223
"Despite emergency services best attempts she was unable to be saved and died at the scene," police said in a statement.

The woman's name has not yet been released while next of kin are being advised.

While the accident was still being investigated, police advised motorists to check thoroughly for cyclists before opening car doors or pulling out from parked positions.

The crash comes after three cyclists were killed on the country's roads at the weekend, prompting calls for urgent action to make the roads safer for them.

Four in one week takes some pretty heavy-handed driving :roll: :(
Last edited by il padrone on Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby expatkiwi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 8:44 pm

I remember that - dominated the news for a while. I think the guy got off scott-free in the end too. Auckland has one shared cycle path (along the water front) from memory. And thats dominated by soccer mums and muppets on rollerblades with dogs. Utter chaos! And hence why hardly anyone is car free in Auckland!
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby TigerFilly » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:32 pm

I think it would be very, very difficult to be car free in Adelaide with a family. It would remove a lot of the kids' choices wrt schools and activities and socialising.
Yesterday for instance some of my kids and I and picked up one of my daughter's friends from her home 10 mins drive East from our house, then drove the opposite direction and picked up another friend who lives 10 mins North. We drove home via the shops. Later I took the two friends and three of my kids to the pool, then to a park for a BBQ, then home again. Not something I could easily do with 3 x 13yo, a 10yo and a 6yo without a car.
Picking up kids from evening activities would be impossible unless you were happy to cycle with them in the dark, which I definitely am not. 13yo finishes dancing twice a week at 8pm 15 mins drive away with no public transport.
We cycle to school when possible, and have done for years, but my 6yo is at that awkward age atm where she has just got too big for the tag-a-long which meant we could go anywhere, but I'm not at all comfortable with her riding her own bike on the roads yet. Still to sort out that challenge, we need to get her a bit more confident soon.
I've just started cycle commuting again after many years break, as my work is now closer to home. Previously it was too far to juggle with childcare drops offs and school drop offs etc. One of the reasons I'm only planning to cycle twice a week is that someone needs to accompany the younger children to school. If their dad or I am at school at 8.30am then it's not possible to get to work on time by bike - in the car either of us can drop them at 8.30 and be at work by 9, which is what we are planning to take turns doing. I can book them into before school care, but that 1. costs $$, and 2. means more time in care for them which is not ideal IMO just for the sake of a bike ride.
They are just a few examples. I suppose someone will post a wonderful suggestion of how we could somehow manage it anyway, but the point is we are quite keen on cycling - not as dedicated as many on this forum, but more keen on it that most of my friends - and it would still be a major inconvenience to get rid of the car. Adelaide public transport is not up to the job, and cycling with four children is often not practical.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 9:49 pm

TigerFilly wrote:Picking up kids from evening activities would be impossible unless you were happy to cycle with them in the dark, which I definitely am not. 13yo finishes dancing twice a week at 8pm 15 mins drive away with no public transport.

"Lights, bicycles, action" Largely socially-determined difficulty. The more people who got out and did this, the more acceptable it would be to travel this way. It's another variant of the old 'safety in numbers' principle.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby DavidS » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:09 pm

I tend to agree shopping can be done by bike, I picked up a few things on the way home tonight. But I like doing the meat, veges and deli at the market (Prahran in my case) every couple of weeks and that does mean using a car for me. It would be nice to have more and smaller markets like Spain but we don't have the population density and I like my quarter acre block (old house, nice back yard).

Going to work by car? Bloody hell, I work close to town on the other side of the CBD. I would have to be bonkers to drive. Before I rode and when the weather is wet, I take the train. No contest, the car is the slowest, most expensive, most exasperating and most inconvenient way to get to work even though I know I can park (but, again, expensive).

Our cities are set up for cars but there is scope and we do need to get more medium density housing if our population rises, which it will.

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby TigerFilly » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:13 pm

il padrone wrote:
TigerFilly wrote:Picking up kids from evening activities would be impossible unless you were happy to cycle with them in the dark, which I definitely am not. 13yo finishes dancing twice a week at 8pm 15 mins drive away with no public transport.

"Lights, bicycles, action" Largely socially-determined difficulty. The more people who got out and did this, the more acceptable it would be to travel this way. It's another variant of the old 'safety in numbers' principle.

I'm sure it's possible, but why would you want to if you had the choice of a quick comfy car ride instead? I do understand lots of people on this forum would see it as desirable, but I don't know any 13 year old girls who would prefer to cycle home in the dark (and sometimes cold or wet) at the end of a long day at school and a 3 hour dance class, carrying all their dance gear and their school bag.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby RonK » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:15 pm

DavidS wrote:I like my quarter acre block (old house, nice back yard).

Our cities are set up for cars but there is scope and we do need to get more medium density housing if our population rises, which it will.

So you will be happy to give the quarter acre block then? :lol:
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:26 pm

TigerFilly wrote:I'm sure it's possible, but why would you want to if you had the choice of a quick comfy car ride instead? I do understand lots of people on this forum would see it as desirable, but I don't know any 13 year old girls who would prefer to cycle home in the dark (and sometimes cold or wet) at the end of a long day at school and a 3 hour dance class, carrying all their dance gear and their school bag.

There are all sorts of issues and points there. But essentially it is something that is done by people in cities where riding a bike is easier and more convenient than driving the car. Not so socially-acceptable in Australian cities (at least in the suburbs) I know. It is easier for some in the inner suburbs.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby zero » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:32 pm

TigerFilly wrote:
il padrone wrote:
TigerFilly wrote:Picking up kids from evening activities would be impossible unless you were happy to cycle with them in the dark, which I definitely am not. 13yo finishes dancing twice a week at 8pm 15 mins drive away with no public transport.

"Lights, bicycles, action" Largely socially-determined difficulty. The more people who got out and did this, the more acceptable it would be to travel this way. It's another variant of the old 'safety in numbers' principle.

I'm sure it's possible, but why would you want to if you had the choice of a quick comfy car ride instead? I do understand lots of people on this forum would see it as desirable, but I don't know any 13 year old girls who would prefer to cycle home in the dark (and sometimes cold or wet) at the end of a long day at school and a 3 hour dance class, carrying all their dance gear and their school bag.


There are plenty of female commuters that do just that, and in light of recent changes to Sydney (kent st, ability to cross the 2 main bridges off-roadway etc) the number/percentage of females has increased.

#1 a bicycle travelling at moderate speed doesn't make light drizzle hard.
#2 a bicycle with full guards doesn't throw water from the tires onto the rider, their shoes or their drivetrain, which makes it a lot cleaner/drier.

What makes it feasible - particularly for women is when suffiicient infrastructure is provided to allow them to not have to share it with motorists.

My experience with Sydney motorists is that when its wet they get considerably more impatient, and tend to perform more dangerous overtakes and drive faster, ie for whatever reason, they aren't very comfortable in their armchairs when its wet.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby RonK » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:34 pm

You don't need to be car free to make a difference. Car use can be minimised if you are prepared to give up the mcmansion and quarter acre block and move close to the city (or wherever your work is).

We bit the bullet, sold up in the 'burbs and moved into the CBD 10 years ago. We made some compromises for sure - it's a bit noisier, and we don't have a lot of storage space, but work and most of what we need is with walking distance, and best of all - we have no commute.

I dunno how many times people have commented that I'm "lucky" not to have a commute. But luck has nothing to do with it - it was a deliberate choice to move to the CBD.

Still, I'm not prepared to forgo the convenience of having a car. We use it for the weekly grocery shopping and for weekend trips out of the city. After nearly three years it has yet to reach 10,000km on the odometer.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby DavidS » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:50 pm

RonK wrote:
DavidS wrote:I like my quarter acre block (old house, nice back yard).

Our cities are set up for cars but there is scope and we do need to get more medium density housing if our population rises, which it will.

So you will be happy to give the quarter acre block then? :lol:


And therein lies the problem . . .

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:51 pm

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby pacra » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:23 pm

To live without a car in urban Australia requires a set of circumstances that I doubt 25% of people could meet.

-you need to live with full services, shops, full and reliable transport, medical all within 10 - 15 minutes on foot or 5 - 10 minutes on a bike.
-have no dependant children or others at home.
-have a range of alternative modes of transport for commuting.

eg, I have adult chidren, 3 of whom live with their partners and work within Melbourne inner suburbs. None of them use a car, 2 in fact don't own a car. They all live within 2 minutes of public transport, cafe strips etc. The eldest has 2 children and lives bayside 25 km from the CBD where she works. For her to live car free would be an impossible ask, shopping, schools, childcare, sport and all the rest of it.

With or without dependants anyone outside of 15 Km from Melbourne CBD or a major hub (and there is only a handful of them) will be severely disadvantaged in employment, income and lifestyle without a car.

I live car free, but I am close to retirement and I gave my car to a son for university commuting 10 years ago. I have commuted by bike for decades and live inner SE suburbs so it makes no difference to me other than, maybe, once a month when I simply hire a car for 24 hours. Most of my friends in my age group also hardly use a car, but we are in a minority with grown children and towards the end of our careers, fulltime anyway. Fewer and fewer people can aford to purchase or rent a house in the inner suburban belts and most now live out in areas built around cars.

I worked for a corporation and years ago the data and tech divisions were moved from CBD fringe to a 24 hour site in Wantirna, way out east in the foothills. With a total of 600 employees in any 24 hour period. There were over 300 car spaces provided on site and on day shifts few free spaces. I did bike and train for 5 years there, got to my late fifties and decided without a car, it wasn't the cost to my life and downshifted to a job closer to home (and fewer hills).

How anyone can face up to a working lifespan of 40+ years car free is beyond my comprhension. The determined and dedicated on these forums who commute 25Km and more each way are few and far between and I with my 12Km (shorter if I want) each way can only only marvel at their efforts.

I once had to show a German visitor around sites and he commented that as he left the airport it was like a US city with the spread out suburbs but became more European like as you moved into the inner areas. Given the vast majority now live on the outer we are in fact an American city, spread out, car dependant, mall centric and it ain't gonna change in my lifetime.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby il padrone » Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:42 pm

pacra wrote: Given the vast majority now live on the outer we are in fact an American city, spread out, car dependant, mall centric and it ain't gonna change in my lifetime.

This is the real problem. It has only kicked on this way in the past 40-50 years, courtesy of various Liberal governments in the main and the transport planners and engineers of Vicroads. Read Car Wars by Graeme Davison for some more perspective. We urgently need to do things to turn this around.

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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby wellington_street » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:16 pm

expatkiwi wrote:Interesting thread..might have my 2 cents!

Varies depending on the city I suppose. I lived in Auckland, NZ, for 6 years and couldn't imagine being car-free. Auckland is a bit like Melbourne or Sydney in the sense that it's sprawly and hilly and not really cycle-safe/friendly. And cyclists are considered a scurge, so cop a fair bit of abuse and there are more hit and runs than people will care to admit in Auckland.

Now living in Canberra, my partner and I are car-free. Absolutely no need for one here - especially if you live close to any of the main centres. The cycle paths are fantastic. The amount of $$ we save is higher than I imagined. Not having a car can be a bit inconvenient at times but will just bum of friends if need be. The money we save get chucked on the student loans back home or in the holiday fund (or pulled out into the bike fund at present..). Personally not bothered living car-free, its working well.

We get some weird reactions too - seems to be a bit of adversity to living a simpler life? Or maybe its all about context? Maybe I'd think differently if I lived less centrally, or had a family, or lived in a less cycle-friendly city.


I was thinking about the OP's question and wondering whether he truly meant car-free or just not owning a car.

I don't own a car but ultimately the lifestyle, hobbies etc that I choose still rely on one. Whether it be a taxi, bumming lifts of friends, car share, hiring a car or taking advantage of when I have a work vehicle to get some errands done a car is still a critical part of my life even though I don't own one.

In terms of parking space - my current dwelling has one, my previous one didn't. I am very glad for the parking space because it means that when I do have a hire car, or a work car, or have friends over, parking is easy and convenient.

I don't mind the idea of separating parking cost from dwelling cost but I don't like the idea of forcing people to not be able to own a car. Parking (or otherwise) at the destination is a much more effective and efficient way of encouraging mode shift away from private vehicle use.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby RonK » Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:46 pm

It's pointless comparing a heavily populated postage stamp sized country with an entire large, sparsely populated continent.

It's not just the culture - the Australian economy depends on the motor car and that is unlikely to change.

A demographic shift may see some marginal decline in car use, but they are here to stay.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby simonn » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:06 pm

RonK wrote:It's pointless comparing a heavily populated postage stamp sized country with an entire large, sparsely populated continent.

It's not just the culture - the Australian economy depends on the motor car and that is unlikely to change.

A demographic shift may see some marginal decline in car use, but they are here to stay.


Australia has, however, one of the most urbanized populations in the world. Australian capital cities are reasonably densely populated, but do not have the public transport that cities with similar densities would have Europe.

A bullet train from Coonabarabran to Birdsville is not expected, but that does not excuse the lack of public transport within, or maybe between, the capital cities.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby RonK » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:19 pm

simonn wrote:
RonK wrote:It's pointless comparing a heavily populated postage stamp sized country with an entire large, sparsely populated continent.

It's not just the culture - the Australian economy depends on the motor car and that is unlikely to change.

A demographic shift may see some marginal decline in car use, but they are here to stay.


Australia has, however, one of the most urbanized populations in the world. Australian capital cities are reasonably densely populated, but do not have the public transport that cities with similar densities would have Europe.

A bullet train from Coonabarabran to Birdsville is not expected, but that does not excuse the lack of public transport within, or maybe between, the capital cities.

The OP is about living without a car. Even those living in urban area will want to travel further afield at some time. While some destinations will have transport options, many have none, so total car independence is unrealistic.
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Re: Living Car Free in Australia

Postby birdbrain » Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:25 pm

I think that Melbourne's cbd and nearby is changing very slowly. Docklands apartments and apartments in and near the cbd would tend to suggest you don't need a car. But on the other hand the outer suburbs are continually growing and public transport is almost non existent there. Melbourne was also used as a throughfare for going from north to south for a long time. You either used Punt road, Swanston st or King st as there were few other options. I'd also like to see the cbd car free except for delivery vehicles and taxi's but it won't happen for a long time. We are like the Americans as far as using our cars and as long as petrol is still relatively cheap then people will keep using them. Some even use them to drive 1/4k to the shop.
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