Thursday, September 07, 2006

CarLess Santa Monica

This is an NBC TV News report about how one Santa Monican man, Chris Balish, is living in L.A. without a car. It was broadcast on August 29, 2006.

Chris Balish also wrote a book, "How To Live Well Without Owning A Car".

Watch the Video News Report

This is a very nice video report. And I would add that if he selected an ebike, an electric bicycle, he could do everything he is doing with his conventional bicycle, including taking it with him on public transit, and so much more. See the video news story "Man Motors on Hybrid Bike", which came out recently, to get a sense of how it can be done.

Also, a reminder, this Friday (August 8, 2006) will be a FREE community screening in Santa Monica of the documentary "Power of Community - How Cuba Survived The Oil Crisis (details)

How To Live Without A Car
August 29, 2006

SANTA MONICA, Calif. -- Could you get through the day without your car? Before you say, "no way," NBC4's Kelly Mack shows you one man who says it can be done -- even in Los Angeles.

Following is a verbatim script from the on-air report

Kelly Mack: Chris Balish puts on his helmet, mounts his bicycle and glides off on his two wheels onto the streets of Santa Monica. Three years ago, Chris decided to sell his car and live without one. Why? Well, he's not anti-big oil. He's not an environmental activist. Why then? In a word, money.

Chris Balish: Most people will spend from $500 to $800 every month on their car here in L.A. That is a lot of money to me. If you can cut that out of your monthly budget, that's huge.

Mack: For the past ten years, Chris worked as a reporter at a local TV station in St. Louis. It was there that he started thinking about how to live without a car. Chris did a little simple math and discovered that if he lived without car expenses for 30 years, he would pocket more than $1 million in savings. Furthermore, Chris says going without four wheels is not that difficult.

Balish: I think people would be really surprised when they combine a bicycle and mass transit how easy it is to get around the city and you don't have to sit in traffic.

Mack: Chris tells me that the first step to giving up your wheels is to figure out a reliable way of getting to work, with at least two backup plans. If you can do that, he insists, everything else falls into place.

Balish: If that involves car pooling, or using the metro bus, combining your bike with public transit -- whatever it is, that's your first step. Just take a look around your neighborhood for public transportation infrastructure. It's probably there, or it's probably pretty close and I will bet that most places, it's no more than a mile or two bike ride from your home. If that's the case, you've got a great shot a living car free and saving a lot of money.

Mack: Chris acknowledges that going totally car free in LA may be impossible for some. In those cases, he suggests going "Car-Lite."

Balish: Cut down to one car. A lot of couples have two cars. A lot of families with kids have three cars. One-car families are going to be the wave of the future, I think ... with gas prices as high as they are.

Mack: Indeed, since gas prices started to skyrocket last year, the number of customers using public transportation here in Southern California has also gone up, according to the MTA. And with the cost of gasoline expected to continue climbing, many more people may be forced to consider changing their transportation habits.

Chris has written a book, called "How to Live Well Without Owning a Car," to help people figure out how to do what he has done ... or some version of it.

There is no question that doing without a car takes significant thought, planning and some trial and error. But Chris insists that since he went "car-free" he is saving tons of money, breathing easier, and getting a lot more mileage out of life.
If any of you come across any other stories like this, on living without a car, or that support a cycling, skating, and/or walking lifestyle, send me the info. Thanks!

Other Upcoming Events:
- Friday, Sept 8, 7pm - Free community Screening "Power Of Community - How Cuba Survived the Oil Crisis"(Santa Monica)

Related Posts:
- CarFree L.A. (video)
- Revenge of the Ped (humor)
- "Motoring on a Hybrid Bike"(video news report)
- Hannah On Bikes videoblog on LA bike culture
- Santa Monica Bicycle Workshop

Recommended Links:
- Cycle Santa Monica! community forum
- Santa-Monica/West-L.A./Venice critical mass community forum


Anonymous said...

check out the NPR interview with Chris Balish (LISTEN) talking about his book "How To Live Well Without Owning A Car"

Anonymous said...

Why does it say: "And I would add that if he selected an ebike, an electric bicycle, he could do everything he is doing with his conventional bicycle, including taking it with him on public transit, and so much more." at the head of this article? Electricity is generated primarily by burning fossil fuels, itself an inherently unsustainable activity. Presumably, like me he currently fuels his travel with slices of cake and cups of coffee, so why would he want to swap this lifestyle for dependency on electricity?

Cycle Santa Monica! said...

Anonymous. Thank you for your comment.

Consider this:

Where is the cake and coffee coming from? What fuel source was used to grow the ingredients, to process the ingredients into thier packaged product, and what fuel sources were used to transport them to the location where you consume them?

These things need to be factored into your analysis.

And consider this:

If you are using a bicycle and public transit multi modal transportation as advocated by the author, which is fine, what fuel sources are going into the production, maintainance prodcuts consumed by the bus, and its fuel source.

And when you look at those fuel sources, which are primarily from pretroleum, which i believe you imply is an unsustainable source of fuel.

Consider this:

Electricity can be easily derived from multiple sources. As a matter of fact many counrries, for example, such as Denmark obtain aproximately half of their electricity energy from wind power alone. And they plan to increase that to 70 percent and more.

And remember, a conventional bicycle with an electric hub motor continues to possess all the qualities that a conventional bicycle bicycle normally has, it's ability to be pedalled by human power alone.

Just some things for you to ponder when comparing a conventional bicycle and a conventional bicycle with an electric high efficiency hub motor.

Again, thank you for giving me the opportunity to express these ideas.

steven said...

Well done glsd to see another member of the Car free club.
I am a 42 year old who has never owned a car and cannot fail to be bemused and confused by the modern addiction to cars.
Keep it up.

rad said...

I bought an electric bike about three years ago and parked our second car to see if we could get along without it. After three months of it not moving, I sold the gas eater (10-14 mpg). I now ride the bike every time I get the chance. The bike keeps our remaining car's mileage down to 6000 a year.

Over the summer, I drove our car three times to work because fo weather. I charge at work for free and the six mile trip costs three cents for electricity when I get home.

Yes, the generation of electricity creates pollution, but one source says an e-bike creates 1% as much as a car. Mine uses 50 watts per mile to recharge or about 1/2 cent for electricity.


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