Why I'm giving up on car-free living
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Could you live car free?
I just have just arrived home from a trip to the mall, car free. Along the way I have twice had vehicles cut in front of me at intersections, forcing me to apply brakes. Not very safe on a wet drizzly day.
Two years ago, I sold my van to go 'car free'. I liked the idea of forcing myself to use my bike more, saving on costs, and getting more exercise.
I do enjoy biking and walking more and find the local bus service is quite good.
The down side is the dangerous drivers I encounter every day.
Intersections are particularly bad and I often have to take evasive action. Once, I was forced into the Mad Butcher parking lot by a driver who cut in front of me. I swerved but fell off my bike anyway and the young driver never stopped to check whether this 57-year-old granny was ok.
I consider myself a careful, 'defensive' driver and now try to avoid dangerous intersections by either dismounting and crossing, or sometimes going on the footpath if it is deserted.
Cars hate me whatever I do.
If I use the footpath I am abused because I am cheating, if I dismount and cross I am abused for holding up traffic. A young lass in a car once told me to 'hurry up you silly, old, slow, c#%*', because I walked with my bike on the pedestrian crossing in front of her car.
Robyn's electric bike in Samoa, where cycling presented a different set of problems. PHOTO: ROBYN METZGER
In Christchurch, with so many road works, the lanes are often reduced and I can feel - and sometimes hear - the car drivers getting impatient when they have to follow me along in single file. Yet when I have given the cars room by going on the empty footpath, I have been tooted at, yelled at and given the two-finger salute.
I had a different problem when I was biking while on holiday in Samoa - dogs running after me trying to nip my legs. The best way to avoid the dogs was on the electric bike, when I could outdistance them.
Back in Christchurch, after two years car free I am giving up. I am now looking for a vehicle with a tow bar so I can take my bike out of the city to safer riding areas.
Hopefully we will get the bike lanes that have been talked about so I can go car free again.
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