Monday, January 25, 2010

Changing Family Size, Changing Transportation

So we have some transportation issues to decide ASAP. We currently have 2 cars which happened almost by accident. We love our Buick that was given to us by G&G. That car has seen us across the country and back and on numerous adventures for the last five years. We also have our much loved 88 Volvo wagon which drives like a tank and shows no signs of slowing down.

For the first few years living in Portland we were a one car family, the Buick met all of our needs. We used the bus and train all of the time and whoever had the furthest to drive that day got the car. Of course those were simpler times without car seats and strollers. Since then I've become really, really used to having my own car. I drive more often then I should, driving to the grocery store or my office which are both only a few blocks away.

All of these thoughts are fresh in my mind because unfortunately the Buick is not faring well. In the last few weeks the blower fans have stopped working, the turn signals have stopped working, it's developed a gas leak and then last night the starter went out. We were ready to take it into the shop until the starter went out. Now I'm not so sure it is worth the cost of all those repairs.

So here we are with a baby due any day wondering what we should do. We are still about a year away from being able to purchase a new car so that leaves us with the option of taking a chance on a used car. We don't want to finance anything because that would require taking out full coverage insurance which would be a huge monthly strain to pay. We are also not excited about the idea of hitting our savings to pay for a used car with the hope that it holds up mechanically.

After all these options I am warming more and more to the idea of just being a one car family again. This would have many benefits including less money spent on gas and insurance and of course a lower impact on the environment. However, the day to day reality of being car less would inevitable fall upon baby and me as Scott has to drive across the city to get to work every day. I am now trying to imagine what it would look like to have the babe and no car. In theory it wouldn't be too painful as I have purposefully constructed a lifestyle that is all within close range to our house. The grocery store and my office are all within walking/biking distance. I have done a bit of research and found two possible day cares very close to my office. I am beginning to believe this could be a good thing.

The change to a one car household would require investing in a nice/comfortable/functional bike for me and a baby trailer for baby and groceries to ride in. A quick Craigslist search shows a plethora of nice trailers of for reasonable prices. I called a local bike shop today that specializes in family transportation and they have both of these beauties on markdown because the new models are arriving soon:

Decisions, decisions, decisions.......
What do you think? I would love to hear from anyone who uses alternatives to get around with a kiddo.

The other question I have to ask myself is what if there is an emergency and I need a car asap? For that I have checked out Flexcar which some of my friends use and really like. This is a program where you sign up and use one of their cars for an hourly rate whenever you need it. There is a Subaru Flexcar that is permanently located just a few blocks from our house. So in theory if I needed a car I could always walk down to that one and for under $10 an hour use it to run errands or go to doctors appointments. Gas is included and you have access to a car without paying insurance or any mechanical upkeep. Hmmmmm.......

There will be lots of discussion around here tonight and mainly me pondering if I can do it. Can I make a big change in our transportation situation while simultaneously welcoming a new baby into the mix and saving us a ton of money in vehicle maintenance? Time will tell and I need to decide soon while the nice bicycles are half off their normal price.

Oh yes, and no baby yet. And Olive's obsession knows no bounds. This is me typing this post:


  1. hi mamma ..
    well, as you know, we are currently a NO car family. while it certainly has it's challenges now that little luna is here, still - we are ok. we use zipcar when we NEED a car...but otherwise, we walk and use public transport - and..honestly, i prefer carrying luna in the wrap to the store over driving and having to lug the carseat around. just saying...
    as for the bikes - i had an electra (i sold it before luna was born) - great bike, but HEAVY...can't imagine steering that around with baby in, go check those bikes out - they sure are pretty!


  2. I gotta a little first/second hand info for you. When I was but a wee pup my folks had baby seats on both of their bikes. I'm told that I would fall asleep within minutes, drooling down the back of which ever parent had me. I still love bikes.

  3. The Buick has decided to start again with no further issue so it lives to ride another day! However, this incident has really inspired me to go the bicycle route and get out with the baby as much as possible. So the search continues for a bike. Thanks for the info about the weight of the bike Jenn, I will be taking that into consideration. And I look forward to a little person asleep on the back of the bike:)