Books for Bicyclists: How to Live Well without Owning a Car

How to Live Well Without Owning a Car by Chris Balish.

Published in 2006,  when my family and I were already ensconced in school routines and a mortgage and 25-minute commutes, this book inspired me to at least step up my pedalling from here and there in sunny weather to a more everyday, most-weathers proposition.  The biggest obstacle, after distances and general laziness, to my carless existence was that I thought I had to carry clothes to change into when I went anywhere fancier than the grocery store.

There are days I wish we could go back and reconsider the choice to live further than 10 miles from my husband’s work and other necessities.  What we saved in housing costs has been less than what we’ve spent on gas and car expenses.  If we could start again, I would weigh living closer in for employment and doctors and libraries much more heavily.  Next time around (if I get a next time around) I think I’d follow the example of others like  A Most Civilized Conveyance, Change your Life.  Ride a Bike! , Lovely Bicycle! , portlandize, and Let’s Go Ride a Bike . . . and more and more all-bike all-the-time riders out there who are really living the life.)

But reading this book convinced me that even though I live here, with some unavoidable, regular car travel –  and even with the bike I had then (a hybrid with panniers and/or baby trailer) – I could cycle for most of my daily transportation.  Most days I can leave my car at home.

It is even easier now for me to ride rain or shine with a bike-for-living, as opposed to a bike-for-sport.  But biking my drive was worth doing even with the ordinary hybrid I’ve had for  years – enjoyable, healthier, community-building.  The past four years since first being inspired by Balish’s book, I’ve loved discovering how easy – and life-enhancing – a bikeful (if not entirely carfree) existence can be.


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