READER REPORT:

12 years of living car-free

ALASTAIR AND LYNETTE BROWN
Last updated 14:00 25/09/2015
The Brown family has maintined a car-free life for 12 years in Christchurch.
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The Brown family has maintined a car-free life for 12 years in Christchurch.

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In 2009 we wrote about our decision to lead a car-free life.

We're pleased to say that we've managed to keep to that lifestyle in Christchurch, albeit with a few changes to our lives.

First a confession; Alastair did the Coast-to-Coast in 2010, and for that he had to get a grade two kayaking certificate, and for that he needed to get a lot of river time.  While he can tow my kayak by bike to the lower reaches of the Waimakariri River (and has several times), he had to get a car for the upper reaches which were essential for the certificate. We owned it for about a year, finally selling it just after the September 2010 earthquake.

We've also got two kids now, who are very used to being carted around on bikes, and the eldest makes his way to school - mostly on his own. It is a bit challenging putting both in a trailer when it's wet, but fortunately it's only 600m to school, and will reduce to 50m in a year or two.

For us, at least, the earthquakes weren't too much of a challenge. Not having a car was a complete non-issue. From our perspective, commuting with a car on the days of the resulting traffic jams after three big ones just showed why a bike can work way better. After Alastair's workplace was yellow-stickered, his commute changed from 5km to 13km, so doing it by bike saved lots of petrol, and helped him get fit enough to tackle the two-day individual Coast-to-Coast in 2012 - especially when he ran to or from work.

The latest challenge is that Alastair tried to run the Christchurch Marathon in June this year and had to pull out after 33km with a nasty stress fracture, and has been on crutches ever since.  

However, cycling with a crutch is more feasible than most would think, as one doesn't need to weight bear and can still make good forward progress on half power. It sucks being passed by all and sundry, and it does mean that he can't haul the groceries home - so far we've managed to coordinate monthly-ish grocery shopping with family visits and when we've rented a car for out-of-town travel, without needing friends to help with that.

READ MORE: Cars hate me, so I'm giving up the bike

From time to time (4-5 times a year), we utilise friends vehicles and Lynette does take the bus on lousy weather days. Alastair tends to only take the bus as a last resort.

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We also shifted to a more suburban location with more kid-compatible parks, and closer to where Lynette was spending much of her time. It has a larger double garage that now has 10 assorted bicycles, including a triple tandem, as well as two kayaks and two bike trailers.

We've been car-free now for 12 years, which while it has its challenges, it has also been a positive experience, allowing us to slightly escape the mould of routine suburban existence.

Have you lived car-free or are your four wheels an essential part of your life? Share your story in Stuff Nation by hitting the green button or emailing stuffnation@stuff.co.nz.


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