Golden lesson 3: It’s the life events – our house moves

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Policy makers like to talk about life events: birth of a child, marriage, change job, unemployment, change house etc.  At these times we all have to re-think our lives.  Re-think budgets, re-think priorities.  In transport it means we re-think our personal travel arrangements and our travel interdependencies: who takes the kids to school? what time do we leave the house to get somewhere at a certain time?

The first time I really thought about the concept was when i read something by Phil Goodwin (http://people.uwe.ac.uk/Pages/person.aspx?accountname=campus%5Cpb-goodwin) some time ago.He was talking about churn in travel:  how people’s travel behaviour changes.  He noted that if it didn’t change regularly we’d see the same person every day and pass the same cars at the same time everyday.  I hadn’t really thought about this counterfactual before.

agg

Six Cassidy Homes – by Tess as part of her A-Level Art Project.

I have moved house a lot: 11 times since 1988.

7 times in the last 10 (including 3 inter-country moves).  Ouch.

This car free year (well quite a bit more than a year now!) has really been made possible by my house moves….

Move 1: move to Edinburgh from Brussels.   What was going on in my mind??

I was thinking about giving up the car so I deliberately weighted heavily the importance of living close to a major bus route and close to work.  Thus I had a bus every 3-6 mins to get into work and the kids could easily walk to school.  I didn’t think too much about access to City Car Club and thus had to walk a good 10 mins for a city car.  Bit of  pain.

Move 2: move from first flat to second flat. What was going on in my mind?

I needed money to buy the flat and was quite happy with being car free.  Thinks: “If I can maintain car freeness I can spend the money I save on other things – like a deposit for my flat”.  Again, in my flat search, I made sure I had lots of buses going close by (every 2 mins now) and could walk to work, and also that the kids could get to school ok by bus.  Importantly I made sure I was near City Car Club Car as well.  There are 2 cars within a 2 mins walk of my new flat.  This was VERY important to me

I VERY MUCH realise I am lucky, compared to many, to be able to make these choices.  Though at the same time MANY people make moves over which they have a range of choices…

So how can we get people thinking “mmm maybe when I move house I should review my car ownership and use“?  If people were given the tools to help think about this maybe it would help people make informed decisions about what really is the best place to live and make lives cheaper, more simple etc

mosslea

Penge, London – 1990-1996

Estate agents/rental companies: maybe they should become travel advisers too? Or at least partners  They are the people who are there at the flirt stage (thinking about forming a relationship with an area/place) and through to consumation stage (this is the place for me) and can give good advice and help.  Perhaps they could be incentivised to help people move to areas which suit their needs.

After reading Phil’s work I was excited, but then realised that people were talking and talking and talking about life events as an opportunity to help people think through choices, but really that’s all that happened.  Everyone talked.  No one seemed to catch these events.

PROBLEM: There was little in the way of really getting to people when they had a life events.

BUT HURRAH: social media changes this  - see “facebook life events” link.

BUT BOO: Not everyone reports everything on facebook or via other social media.  So how can we capture these life events to make life simple for people

paris

Paris – 2000-2002

Some trigger sends a message to…the City Council…or mobility manager (see Golden lesson 2) when someone changes Doctor, or registers for Council tax, or registers a death?  Lots of difficulties with this – we may be waiting some time for this “joined-up” solution. Though if people could save money, have simpler lives as a result maybe it would be supported??

Or maybe by developing/using products and services and offers which are of interest and give value to movers, to those who have children etc, (and unbeknownst to them are re-thinking their mobility) – and using these to help people think about mobility decisions?

The “mobility adviser/manager/helper” should  REALLY think about what is important to people at life events and make sure they bring information and services together which at that precise moment in time are of real value.  It’s called product bundling.  And if they work with the right partners (eg estate agents -see above) -partnerships are key – they could make a difference to people’s lives.

wapp

Hootton Roberts, S Yorks – 2002-2004

 

roth

Ravenfield, S Yorks – 2004-2006

 

 

 

 

 

So house moving was a biggy for me. Thanks Tess for your pics: there are a few life events ..especially in the small print…

Golden Lesson 2: Make it obvious….in black and white

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Car Free Familydom means lots of payments being made for mobility.  Any modern family has loads of payments to make to many organisations, but in (my) Car Free Family there are many mobility payments.  My last week’s payments were::

  1. Standing Order Bus Pass (actually paid by my employer) TO LOTHIAN BUSES
  2. Individual bus tickets for Maddie TO LOTHIAN BUSES
  3. Monthly pass for Tess TO LOTHIAN BUSES
  4. Individual book of bus tickets for Tess – TO LOTHIAN BUSES (she was away a lot of the month and thus when this month ran out she didn’t renew as she wouldn’t get the money’s worth this month)
  5. Taxis – for me + at least one other kid TO CITY CABS EDINBURGH
  6. Taxis for me alone – usually paid by work-  TO CITY CABS EDINBURGH
  7. Tess taxi back from friend’s very late TO CITY CABS EDINBURGH
  8. Maddie taxi back from friend’s while I was at work and no buses for a while TO CITY CABS EDINBURGH
  9. Paying for my Mum’s taxi TO FLEETWAY’S YORK
  10. City car club invoice CITY CAR CLUB
  11. Parking payment EDINBURGH CITY COUNCIL
  12. Parking ticket – oops – I was in Gardenlady’s car EDINBURGH CITY COUNCIL
  13. Booked car hire for holiday and flights HERTZ – I THINK

I’ve also taken trains for work, planes for work – here and in other UK and non-UK cities……

So this week, how much did it cost me?  Don’t know. How much less did it cost me than if I owned a car?  Don’t know

It is a pain (even for a middle-aged-male-transport-nerd) to keep track of every expenditire.  Why?

Sometimes I buy my mobility one month and use the next (eg tickets), sometimes I use one month and pay the next (eg City Car Club), sometimes I pay cash and then would forget to log (eg taxi).  (Sad as I may be, I don’t carry a little red book from the Post Office, lined for my pleasure, on which I have written – Mobility Spending, by Steven Cassidy aged 48 – to write every transport cost down.  I’m not really a mobility nerd – I just want to know.)

 

http://www.tripbase.com/c/trainspotting/

My estimate costs for mobility for our first 13 months without a car were:

£1,651 + bus pass paid for by employer =£500 (incl taxis, bus tickets, rail, city car club, but excl occasional rail trip and holidays and odd tank petrol for friends) plus lots of calories walking/cycling!)

The costs for having used a car (http://www.theaa.com/motoring_advice/running_costs/). For a petrol car, just the “standing costs” (VED, insurance, cost of capital, depreciation, breakdown cover) per year are estimated at a minimum of £2358 for a car that was less than £12000 new.  Then, running costs (petrol, tyres, service labour, replacement parts, parking & tolls) are about 21.95 pence/mile (for that same small car/cheap car).

So…..I did 1230 miles in City Car Club, rounded up to 2000 to include my travel by other modes (?) = 2,000 miles = £439 on petrol if I had owned a car (probably a lot more more as I would have been less discretionary in my use).

Thus, with some assumptiojns, and estimates (probably underestimating my car costs) the grand result is:

CAR = £2797

NO CAR= £2,151 (incl cost of my bus pass) – actually £1.651 to me

So what have I learnt? That in purely finaincial terms it has been cheaper not to have a car

But what have I really learnt? That the comparison, an accurate comparison, is neither obvious nor easy.

Surely, if policy makers want to nudge people to consider reducing car use and even giving up the car, the benefits, finaincial or otherwise, need to be IN YOUR FACE OBVIOUS

Perhaps it is even trickier to understand the cost of car ownership and use fully – (certainly if you include all the indirect costs).  But there really needs to be some personalised feedback comparing what you have done with what you could have done, on a weekly, monthly, yearly basis as to costs etc.

Then people will think about their behaviour and maybe change.  Feedback works

There’s lots to back this up – check the Invoicing and feedback link.  And maybe there’s scope for thinking how this is presented – I like the following design-based receipt the more I look at it:

http://berglondon.com  [Thanks Andy (@mrhyde) for the receipt!)

Who will take responsibility for giving me this feedback, this comparison, this invoice?  Who will provide me with some on-line and/or regular paper bill incl. feedback on my mobility?  All my mobility?  Then I’ll have the tools to know, consider, change.  The others will too.

Who?

 

 

Golden Lesson 1: People will assume……

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I was driving over the Forth Road Bridge on a clear blue-sky day, looking at the sea, beholding the wonder of the Forth Rail Bridge.

I was happy.

It was the second time I had used a City Car Club car, and today I was driving to see a friend about 60 miles away.

Clear roads.  Blue sky.  Music on.

The car I was driving was unremarkable – a Ford Fiesta I think – with the City Car Club neat little logo on the side.

Smiling , I noticed a car in my rear view mirror.  I was doing about 75 mph (ok, a tad over the speed limit), but this car was slowly but surely making ground on me.

As it came closer I could see the people in the car: a car full of four young men of about 24years.

What was interesting was their fixation with my car.  They rubbernecked their way past me, slowly but surely; all the time looking the car over.

My positive warm mood turned into an almost visible glow as I realised they must be having a little group discussion about City Car Club: “motoring by the minute”.  This is probably quite natural, I thought: younger people are tight for cash – they are probably discussing how they should join the Club, the potential cost savings, and how much money they could save.

How fantastic

As they edged past me the two young men who were sat in the back of the car turned around and simultaneously made the all too distinctive “you’re a wanker” gesture.

(Good wrist action, mind.).

And then, with perfect symmetry, the guy in the passenger seat and the driver both stuck out their arms and did a synchronised, wrist-tastic “you’re a wanker” sign.

 

When I have told people I don’t have a car it has been met with a mix of reactions.  One person told me that they think I am a hero as I am saving the world.  When I met Gardenlady and told her my deadly secret she asked immediately “But you can drive, can’t you?”.

Most people assume I am an environmental  warrior, but they don’t know I am not.  Not really.  OK I recycle as much as is reasonably easy.  Thanks to the Council that’s quite a lot.

But green issues and the environment are mot prime motivators for me – I guess I am averagely green….I do care about the planet and sustainability, but I am not overly green.   I have trialed living without a car and it works – it saves me money and saves me hassle (see Golden Lesson 2).

 

The next most common reaction I have had from people when my car-freedom-ness has come up has been a cocktail of guilt & defensive justification as to why THEY can’t give up their car.

Really, I am not that bothered if someone chooses the car  -I have done so for many years.  And many people’s current lifestyles, where they live and specific mobility needs would make giving up the car very difficult indeed. But there is a feeling that I must be judging them.

Also the car is certainly a signifier of status.  And the use of public transport is seen by some as some form of failure or lack of status (remember the Thatcher quote?).

I suppose public transport cannot be cool, can it?  There are some tips to looking cool in the bus out there though:

But I have found something different:

giving up the car ASSUMED TO BE  green

giving up car ASSUMED TO BE hippy

It is very rarely attributed to saving money and lack of hassle and other positive attributes (no time spent servicing, repairing, taxing – and being able to have a drink, getting me and the kids to walk more…)

A project we have just completed for the European Commission has shown very clearly that you don’t “promote green” to promote environmental behaviour – you promote the co-benefits: saving money, time, health benefits etc.

Golden Lesson 1: If you give up the car people will assume you are something that you probably are not.  If people want to assume I am a green God they can.

But it certainly makes it difficult for the next person to give up the car.

Most will think they do not have this God-like love of the planet.

It will hinder change.

 

 

 

Car Free Family – 10 Golden Lessons

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The story so far:

Le Famille Cassidy leave Belgium to live in Edinburgh in late March 2010  – we have decided to be car free FOR A YEAR.  But the car was needed for the move : cats + international house move + using public transport was an expensive challenge!

But in July 2010 the car is taken back to Belgium to stay in its place of birth – the Car Free Clock begins to tick….

The posts so far have captured the drama and emotions, but the remaining question is:  did we make a year?

July 11 2011 was the day the tick would tock.  It would be 12 months without a car.

Tick. Tock.

The last post was February 23.

Tick. Tock.

Scotland swings like a pendulum do….Bobbies on bicycles two by two…

Tick. Tock….

Well, when the final tock ticked we were still car less.  Not a car in sight.

I rang Gardenlady on July 11 2011.  She was in Lisbon.  We didn’t even talk about the great Car Free Date – it was Lego and sun and the last 6 months.

Today is a beautiful sunny 20 May 2012 – The Cassidys are still car free (nearly 2 years), and we have learnt a LOT!  And we continue to learn a LOT!

10 Golden Lessons of the Car Free Year coming up – interspresed with stories of the last few months: house move, love, laughter, drama, crises, conflicts, tears, joy, smart cards.

A rollercoaster ride – not a car journey.

 

Back to basics & (car free) family values…

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All this talk of hypocrisy and rallying (though on the latter we were probably part of only the 1% who arrive at the racetrack by public transport!)…… it was now time to get back to basics and car free family values: a bike ride from Edinburgh to the Falkirk Wheel with Nige.  Bikes and canal paths (ok, and a busy road) for a great 35 miles.

And a journey home via Scotrail – doesn’t say much for our mettle.  But at least there was a public transport option for us.  We had set off in high spirits in spring-like sunshine, but cycled predominantly in heavy drizzle and cold.  Preferred a trip home with a coffee and a bun.

It was the first time I have put my bike on a train.  The bike rack was great, though occupied by one little bike belonging to an equally little boy.  He looked like he was called Dermot.  He looked up at Nige and I and eyed our bikes.  He was very polite, thanking us when we commented on the coolness of his bike and helmet.   I think he thought we were professional cyclists (who of course always catch a train home for the return leg).

We did not disabuse him.

Great ride.  Saw lots of canal boats.  And a canopied small ship.  Super Falkirk Wheel.  Falkirk Railway Station a bit scary.  Mistaken for Lance Armstrong & Greg LeMond.  Not a bad day.

And again – THANKS NIGE! – nice headcam and even better editing.

Carfreefamily goes rallying: is this the end?

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After being accused of hypocrisy (blog Jan 24), and my lovely daughter posting that there is car envy in the household (blog Feb 06), carfreefamily then goes motor sporting!

Is this the beginning of the end, or more a reflection of the fact that our most adventurous friends, the Browns, have been visiting?

Watch and learn (just as I did from Nigel’s video editing skills – note the improvement in video quality – thanks Nige!)

Christmas Day in the Workhouse

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So on 25 December after a fusion cuisine Christmas dinner of Veggie Haggis, gravy, sweet corn and Yorkshire Pudding, a treasure hunt for more AAA batteries, our ritual reading of all 21 verses of George Sims’ poem Christmas Day in the Workhouse, and a few songs around the banjo, the Cassidy family’s minds turned to our 3 day Yorkshire Tour comprising the well-known Edinburgh-Sheffield-York-Northallerton-Edinburgh Loop.

You will of course be thinking that, following the post of 21 November, we would be walking 10 minutes down the road to pick up our City Car.  However, you would be wrong.  Instead we walked 3 mins around to Matt and Kirsten’s to take up their very kind offer of taking their car for the journey.  How kind is that?  Thank you Matt and Kirsten.  They even cleaned out the crisps behind the car seats.  It was certainly easier that City Car, as well as being much cheaper given their insistence that we pay nothing!  (Matt did graciously receive a fluid payment of petrol and alcohol.)

In fact Matt and Kirsten have made their car available again…super kind.  And another lovely neighbour has offered hers recently, as has another friend from a bit farther afield.  It has made me think a lot about sharing cars between friends, and the model you could use: have a mutual financial pot for servicing, only one insurance necessary, pay per mile…?????  It could certainly work well.  I wonder if many friend’s do have “formal” car sharing arrangements?  This said I am still sceptical of the formal downtime car sharing scheme which Whipcar offer – see the link.  I just think it is a slightly different proposition borrowing a stranger’s car (but maybe you soon get over this social barrier and it becomes a beautiful “car-share-relationship”).  

So back to Christmas.  Sims’ poem was first published in 1879 as a dramatic monologue to highlight the harsh conditions of the Workhouses, the impacts of the Poor Laws in England, and also the hypocrisy of the rich Guardians of the Parish visiting the Workhouse with their gifts at Christmas.  Double standards, hypocrisy.  Nasty stuff.

But wait a moment!!!  Wasn’t Car Free Family accused of being no better than these hypocritical Workhouse Guardians and patrons?  Yes – hypocrisy was the call in Sheffield at Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet. Everything seemed calm during an inter-family game of “Deal of no Deal” (with electronic telephone), but soon a mince pie and Stones bitter-fueled family exchange ensued (well mainly a discussion with my lovely nephews Matt and Simon – big Uncle hug to you both xx)  concerning our arrival BY CAR!

A small preview has been made available below suitable for all ages…..

 

Your Generation

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have been thinking a lot about ageing this week.  This is not only because occasionally nowadays when I look in the mirror in a morning someone from the crypt looks back at me.

In fact I have been reading, along with my colleague Beth (to see what she likes click on link to the right), some fantastic articles on ageing and lifestyle and mobility.  Fascinating reading.  Loads of lovely scary statistics:By 2040 more than 22% of the UK population will be over 65 and 7% over 80.  (By 2044 I’ll hopefully be one of those 80+ year olds and will be regularly scaring myself in the mirror (this does not appear in the stats).)By 2030 one quarter of all registered drivers will be over 65 – a 50% increase .

Now obviously there’s a load of issues around this for older people, policy makers in mobility, health, urban planning etc (more toilets please!!! – many older (and younger) people experience incontinence – in a recent Help the Aged Poll 52% of respondents agreed that a lack of toilets in their local area stopped them going out as often as they would like).

And if you can’t get out, due to lack of access to a car, buses, places to go (as your local shops are now in a distant shopping centre), because you’re lacking confidence etc etc, you become increasingly isolated: there’s been an increase of over 50% in older people reporting that they feel often or always lonely.

Many of the older car driver predictions note how important it will be to ensure driving is made easier and safer for older people, but also that those without access to a car or who give it up (see blogg www.carfreefamily.com/2010/06/19/154/ for my Mum and Dad’s experience) will be increasingly marginalized (especially for rural and suburban older people).

A recent US study showed that problems with eyesight and having no reason to drive (the latter makes you think) are the two largest reasons for giving up the car.  Was a bit of a dodgy sample though – not many low income people.

But two interesting things:

1:. Future elderly people (me…and YOU): will we be as married to the car as current older people?  My own background and expectations for mobility are very different to Chris’ (though I hope to be walking to the pub every day at 85 – it’s a Cassidy thing).  Will we be more married to it? Or will the future elderly be so much more environmentally aware? And economically aware?   Will petrol be so expensive that only the very rich (older people) can afford a car?

2: Good news!!!!! A great article from University of Arizona (Sandra Rosenbloom) looked at how adult children in the UK and US view the cessation of driving by their parents.  Finding: nightmare – they dread it – especially if their parents live in rural or suburban areas and the adult child lives close enough to have to help! It’s seen as a huge burden.

So what is the good news? Well – it’s for my lovely daughters Tess and Maddie: If I continue to live in a city, and extend my car-free year to a lifetime, YOU WILL HAVE NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT ME GIVING UP MY CAR!  I have done it already!  My gift to you.  Call it your inheritance – I’ll spend the money…

Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet

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An annual event in the Cassidy-Edley Social Calendar is Brenda’s Boxing Day Buffet. Held in Sheffield on (appropriately) Boxing Day, the Edley side gather for a light finger buffet and Christmas games and Stones’ Bitter.  We also meet for a ritual which involves my throwing discarded wrapping paper at Uncle Pete, and for my 18 and 21 year old nephews to call me Uncle Duck Egg (while siding with their Dad).

The last few years we haven’t been able to make it – nothing to do with being called Uncle Duck Egg or being beaten in the Wrapping Paper Wars – just logistics about getting from Brussels to Sheffield……BUT:

Good news at last in 2010: we now live in the UK!  We will eat prawns; we will drink Stones; we WILL compete in the Wrapping Paper Wars. (We’ll also go to York to see my Mum and Day, aka Chris n Aud, who will feed us Christmas cake and Cheddar Cheese (is that a Yorkshire thing?)

Travel arrangements:  Brenda’s Boxing day Buffet (Sheffield), Audrey’s Christmas Cake Cheese Feast).  Days away – not telling you in case you want to burgle us…but not too long.

Train (preferred Choice): impossible – no trains on Boxing Day;

Flight BMI Baby: £19 each on Boxing Day (with a thousand hidden extras) – but flight arrives after the cheese sticks have gone soft);

Commercial Car Hire: only available from the airport (booo) and coming in at £210 cheapest plus petrol plus insurance for most things that could actually happen;

City Car Club: £230 incl petrol and ALL insurance included and pick up 10 min walk away.

This makes us festively happy.

PS: apologies for lack of video footage – Flip camera has died

PPS: Photo Montage = Audrey pre-Christmas cake and cheese…and after.  (Audrey has kindly agreed to release these pics to prevent younger people from such indulgence.)

Car Rhyddha Deulu i mewn Cymru ‘n ieuanc boblogi a mobility

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Now as the title suggests we have had a brilliant weekend in Wales having lots of fun with, officially, the most fun, friendly, hospitable family in Wales.  I saw Gwyn smile at least twice, and the sun shone.

Amongst the Welshy things we have been up to: eating leeks, watching rugby (GO Rocks!), drinking at rugby club, eating Welsh Cakes, big wheel at Cardiff Bay, going to Barry Island (including Nessa’s slots (?), Marco’s cafe), meeting Dai, Elwyn, Rhys, Huw and Maegan, watching fight between disaffected youths when I was running round the park, feeding chickens, drinking Stella.  All very Welsh.

Car free family have also learnt the Welsh language, which we found remarkably easy:  Araf plant. Tidy.  What’s occurring.  Crackin.  Lush. Not sure what all the fuss is about.

And as you will see on the video, we explored contrasting mobility issues for urban and rural families – especially teens…..always a laugh!

But the conversation did highlight the ONE thing that is giving me worries about not having a car: getting Tess home from late night events.  Reluctant to get a taxi and buses late at night, she cycles or walks.  So what is the latest that I should allow her to get home alone like this?

But wait a minute…..

STOP PRESS: Tess caught a taxi home tonight at 11pm!  Black cab – call when in it – give the number to father over mobile – safe and sound.  Her friends are all starting to now.  Would be nice to have an account for this – with some added benefits – eg a text to me when she is in the cab, a saved contact number to call me in case there are any problems (would be good for the cab company too as they would have someone to take responsibility in case there are any problems……mmmm)

Good weekend!

Nos Da.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXblFxgEVA8

 

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