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Help me to give it up!

I live in SW Portland for now and have to drive to Hillsboro everyday to go to work. I don't want to own a car anymore. I want to use public transportation and a bike and maybe be part of a car cooperative. I am amazed at how hard it is to make these changes happen.
I hate the drive to Hillsboro. I had hoped to find work in the Portland metro area. I will now have to stay at least a year and transfer in or to a city where public transportation is available. I don't want to live out there. The only housing I could afford is corporate, isolated and toxic. I want to live somewhere in a REAL neighborhood, next to the MAX line and not drive anymore. I want to ride my bike in the local neighborhood and use public transportation when I have to go further.

The real turning point came for me, when last week as I was driving 217, and a raccoon tried to cross the freeway lanes and cars made no attempt to stop. They just plowed it over and left it to suffer on the side of the road. I stopped and tried to cross the lane of traffic to pull it off the road (it was still alive) and could not get the cars to stop.

I know you may think I am naive...but I have not been part of the war of cars before. I have made sure that I never lived where people had to commute an hour or more to work. I have made a decision not to be part of this ritual of hostility and waste and pollution. I love Gods creatures and would not want to be on this planet if they were missing from the earth.

Now I want to make my life different. I want to sell my vehicle and stop paying corporations for insurance, car payments, and gas and oil. I don't want to pay for the genocide of the people Iraq, Afganistan and other countries where haliburton will attack next. I want figure it out. Here are some of the obstacles I am running into.

I work for the state of Oregon and I am told by my supervisor that I must have a car with me at work even though there are state vehicles available for me to work.

This last week a email was sent out to people working in Washington county that we should all try and use the MAX and trimet as much as possible to cut down on pollution, traffic and noise. We are also told that there are few parking spaces and they should be used for state cars and clients coming to our building.

The MAX stops a couple of blocks from where I work and I want to use this transportation.

I contacted Trimet to find out how I could stop driving and start using transportation and they informed me that the state offered strong incentives for me not to drive including pre-tax trimet bus and Max pass. The state will pay $200 a year on the cost of that pass.

The obstacle is my supervisor. But it may also be her supervisor

QUESTION:

Does anyone know how Trimet puts together these employer-base programs to get people to stop driving? How can I get my supervisor to change her ways. Is there someone at Trimet or the state who should make sure incentives flow down to supervisors so employees can actually make changes in their lifestyles.

I am so driven to make this change that I am even looking for another place to live so I can have access to public transportation and a place to ride my bike safely. That is not possible where I live now. I would have to drive my car to a place to catch the bus.

I want to change... and stop driving... .stop being part of the problem... .stop consuming oil and gas and corporate stuff...

Who has made the change? Tell me how you did it.

I'm ready

I made the change... 25.Apr.2004 11:09

David B.

... when I moved to the Bay Area a number of years ago. I had wanted to escape auto-dependance for some time, taking my existing used car into California would have involved expensive emissions-system retrofits, and both my new place and my employer were within walking distance of BART. So the decision was obvious.

The better transit in Portland as opposed to Seattle was a big factor in my decision not to return to Seattle when I decided that California wasn't for me.

What is your official job description? Does it involve driving? Does it mention furnishing a vehicle at your expense to your employer? Finding these out can be a help in your goal of ditching your car.

If they don't help (i.e. your job description DOES require you to have a car), then one thing you should consider is leaving the car at work all the time and taking transit there. If the car is a piece of work equipment, it belongs at work. Do that, and you'll also have a good case for deducting your car-related expenses from your income taxes as such. That'll at least reduce the sting of it somewhat. Or, of course, you can always try and find another job.

When you said: "I don't want to live out there. The only housing I could afford is corporate, isolated and toxic. I want to live somewhere in a REAL neighborhood, next to the MAX line and not drive anymore.", what did you mean? That housing near MAX is out of your price range? I don't think so -- there's apartment buildings near me which are officially low-income (with income limits and all that), and I live only a few blocks from MAX.

It's a hard habit to kick, harder than most drugs. But it can be done 25.Apr.2004 13:01

Teddy Ruxpin, the lousy typist

It's not easy, American society is dealing with over a century of perfection in the art of advertising psychology, and we are trained from birth to accept certain things (fast food, cars, fear of foreigners, fear of inner cities, wal-mart, etc). Kicking any of these things means fighting against a lifetime of education, social programming, parental lessons and really really good research (Harvey Kellogg, the father of advertising psychology, was a true genius despite what his inventions led to.)

Ok, enough of my rant. Your question: Tri-Met's empoyer pass program has details on their website ( http://www.trimet.org/employers/programs.htm) and a really super-responsive customer service line (e-mail will get you a reply same day, phone call will almost always get you info immediately). To sum it up, employers contact tri-met for the passes, and can choose several ways to pay for it (one popular one is to deduct it from your paycheck before taxes are taken out, so your boss is not out any cash, but you get to pay at a lower tax bracket at the end of the year, which can save you a lot of money).

As for neighborhoods, there is a really nice apartment near PGE park that is rent-controlled, about 70% the cost of similar apartments in the area. There are several of these actually, worth looking into. It is nice to live nearer to where you work.

But one of the harder things to kick when you make the transition from cars to mass transit is the bus stigma: Portland is not like other cities, our busses are not just used to haul the dregs of society. EVERYBODY uses the busses here, they are clean, the drivers are friendly and the passengers are nice. Sure, there are exceptions, but that is true on the MAX too. And the busses go EVERYWHERE. They have bike racks on the front too, and a tri-met pass works on them as well as the MAX and streetcar. It is easy to go from Oregon City to Vancouver, from Troutdale to Tualitin, from Gresham to Beaverton, and make it within a couple blocks of any address by combining the bus, MAX and streetcar. Added bonus: Since you are not driving, you can use all that time to read books, study, play with your laptop, catch up on work, etc. You can't do that while driving.

Try this: go to www.trimet.org, and use the trip planner on the right side of the page. Type in your current address and the address of your work, and the time you need to be at work by. It will tell you where to go to catch any particular bus, when it will drop you off, which direction to walk and how many blocks away you will be. It even gives you a half dozen alternate busses in case you miss one. You may find that moving is not necessary at all!

It gets better. If you have an internet-capable phone (like Sprint PCS vision phones), you can go to tri-met's WAP site and get a real-time countdown for bus arrivals. Type in the bus stop number (they have a search engine, or you can call them for the number) and it will tell you when the next three busses will get there.

One last thing: if you manage to ditch the car, I recommend getting a flexcar membership. It costs $25 and is a one time thing (you are a lifetime member after that with no more fees). This lets you borrow cars, vans and trucks from them on the rare occasions you need one (like when you move, those pickups come in handy). Borrowing costs 8 bucks an hour with no costs, flexcar pays for the gas, insurance, repairs, carwashes, etc. If you use them once a month to go grocery shopping, and spend three hours there, your car costs would only be 24 bucks a month. How much do you spend on $2 per gallon gas and liability insurance these days? I bet more than 24 bucks a month. This program is not so great for taking long trips (rent a car from a place OUTSIDE portland to avoid the PDX surcharges for long trips. Places like Avis have easy online reservation systems). Oh, and they mostly use hybrid cars! www.flexcar.com.

Combining these things will let you, for far less than you are paying now: move yourself and you bike anyplace you need to go, drive when you need to, use a truck to haul furniture anytime you need it, go on car trips to the coast, save traffic congestion in the city, make the air much cleaner, reduce the threat of terrorism and give you back hundreds of hours per year that you can spend writing, reading a book or talking to people while letting the bus driver deal with the road.

-------------(cars=gas=oil=Saudi Arabian Royalty=terrorists, Bush isn't going to save us from terror so it is up to us)------------------

Ride on! 25.Apr.2004 14:13

gerry

The last two posters gave good specific advice about transportation alternatives, so I'll just say more generally that busing and biking is pretty easy in-town. I have two kids and still sometimes go over a month without being in our car at all, and it's never for my benefit when we are. I ride everywhere year-round; put yourself in that mindset and you can used to it physically and mentally in no time. You're already off to a great start.

Carless 25.Apr.2004 16:56

In Portland

Well, I gave up owning a car 14 years ago (the first gulf war was my inspiration) and while it was hard at first (hours on public transport, depending on others for rides for places off the bus routes, missing job opportunites because of no car) but now it's much easier and I don;t give it a second thought. I also never ask for rides anymore (didn't want to be a hypocrite) I joined Flexcar for the once or twice a year I need a car locally or I will even rent one for a road trip. I save buckets of money and pollute far, far less. I made sure I found a job with company vehicles too.

As to your job requiring a car. You need to research this and find out what your rights are, ask your union rep or look on the web site for your agency. Read your job description. The state maintains a huge motor pool and has policies on use of personal vehicles. It's not up to your supervisor or her supervisor, it should be a clear department (whichever you work for) policy. They can require that you drive or have a reasonable alternative if you don't, but I don't think that they can require that you use your personal vehicle. If you use yur perosnal vehicle they must pay you mileage and if they have motor pool cars then they are wasting funds by paying you on top of the cost of the motor pool cars. See this:  http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/PFSS/FLEET/about_us.shtml

Good luck!

No Longer a Car Slave 25.Apr.2004 17:35

North Portlander

This is a great thread. Cudoes to all who passed along the information and good ideas. Car ownership is so entrenched in our society that it takes real force of will to turn away from it and explore alternatives.

I sold my car this weekend and will be using Tri-Met, MAX, bike, FlexCar, and walking to get around. Some years ago, I did all my commuting by bicycle, but I didn't have any pets. Taking pets with you to visit friends or to walk them in someplace like Forest Park of Kelly Point Park is problematic without a car. FlexCar allows animals in its vehicles, but they have to be in closed crates which cuts down on the number of vehicles available to you and requires more time (and they charge by the hour). There's a $200 fine if you're caught with animals loose in a FlexCar.

Until I moved into town, mass transit and FlexCar would not have been an option. Tri-Met does NOT go everywhere. It doesn't run on Skyline Blvd. or Germantown Road. It is also not animal friendly, unless the animal is a service dog. I have seen people occasionally take small pets in carriers on Tri-Met and sit in the open area in the front. But you can only do that if there are not disabled riders needing the area. If you're WAITING for a bus, you can always wait for the next one if you see the space is taken, but if you're already ON the bus with your crate, you can never tell when someone with a scooter or wheelchair might get on during your trip.

The suggestions re. work and whether you are really required to have a car were good ones. Here's another possibility: If you MUST have a vehicle (do they specify car?) you might be able to get away with a scooter or a very small motorcycle, depending upon where you have to go during the day. They are much less expensive to run and to insure and you could leave them at work, too.

Personally, I think they should applaud your restraint and make a State car available to you if you have to do work-related driving.

Call Human Resources 25.Apr.2004 20:21

Carolyn

To get the Tri-Met card and before tax assistance, contact your Human Resources Dept. or Payroll. They're the ones that do the paperwork and arrangements, your supervisor probably has nothing to do with it. However, as a practical matter, it would be wise to get your supevisors agreement to your not having a car available at work before you do something irreversable. I wonder if you could use Flex car at work in a pinch?

Talk to your Union steward 25.Apr.2004 21:08

Dio

If you don't know who that is, or if you are not satisfied, call your Union office.

Go over your job-description with your steward.

If you need a car (and this was made legally clear when you accepted the job -- you signed something), ask your steward about finding another state job.

If you do not need a car (ie your supervisor lied), ask your steward how to go about challenging her.

Discuss whether your steward should be present when you do so. Make her/him slow down when she/he talks about appeals, be sure you understand where they go.

Ask you steward for photocopies of all reports and correspondence.

Go for it! 25.Apr.2004 21:42

Ralphie

When I moved to PDX 18 months ago, one of the first things I did was get rid of my car. My employer paid 100 percent of my monthly transit pass. Not having a car is so liberating. It's like someone gives you an extra 300-400 bucks a month and says here, have fun! I live downtown and can go anywhere in the metro without a connection. For trips to areas not well served by trimet, I put my bike on the bus or max. Everything I could ever want or need is within a few blocks of my apartment. Restraunts, bars, grocery and book stores, etc, etc. Congratulations on making the decision to go car free.

You people are awesome! 26.Apr.2004 08:09

wondering woman

Hey,

Thanks so much for all the good energy and information as I move toward libertating myself from this addiction.

Can someone direct me to where I can find out about the flex car project? Is it a company...a movement? Is there a website with information. Thanks again. It is important they we put this information out to others who are trying to disconnect to the systems of abuse on this planet.

FlexCar URL 26.Apr.2004 09:11

North Portland

FlexCar Portland:
 http://www.flexcar.com/portland/default.asp

The other good thing about getting out of the car is that you will begin to notice more things and meet more people in Portland neighborhoods. Being on foot or on a bike lets you notice the little things and plan more carefully to make your trips more efficient. People in cars tend to think only of the destination and not of the journey. People remain encapsulated and isolated in a car and often feel that they are inhabiting personal territory -- a territory they will aggressively use and protect if challenged.

I've never seen a rolling bicyclist distracted by putting on makeup, drinking coffee, eating lunch, reading the paper, or using a cell phone as they navigate around town -- I can tell you I appreciate that and you don't get the same consideration with motorists.

You will also enjoy the sweet times when you are walking or cycling along a street that is bumper-to-bumper cars, and you reach the next light either before or at the same time as any given car in the queue. Who's the smart commuter in THAT situation? ;-)

Bicycles are the best invention 26.Apr.2004 11:14

@

it's rad to ride your bike, but if yu think you might need to use your car once in awhile, you should consider biodiesel. i'm thinking of the frenchman's website:

www.mrsharkey.com/pusher7f.htm

this should link to the frenchman's site (which didn't seem accesible, that's queer)

and try a search on GreaseWorks! in Corvallis, for some ideas and how to reinvent your car. bikes are still rad tho.

more about the benefits 26.Apr.2004 13:40

enji

i liked what the north portlander had to say about the differences between driving and biking or walking.

i don't think i've ever seen a transit rider distracted by putting on makeup either. on the bus or max, people have the freedom to be sociable, talk with friends or strangers, or on their cell phone, without it being a distraction and danger to others. not to mention the freedom to read, to listen to music or a book on cd, to sightsee the architecture and the street life.

there really is something to be said for the psychological differences between being encapsulated in a car and rubbing elbows with humanity on a bike, walking, or on a bus. a car insulates, separates, cocoons, cuts off, keeps a person very self-involved. walking, biking, or riding keeps a person other-involved, connected, allows you to slow down and notice things and beings. most of all perhaps, it helps to dispel the illusion of self-control. i suspect one reason otherwise reasonable people get irritated and aggressive while driving could be from the illusion of control over one's world it gives. the power seems to be in their hands to steer their life. stepping on the gas makes one go faster, gives them the illusion they'll get to work on time, etc. with transit, a person is wholly dependent upon someone else to be on time, to obey the traffic laws, to look out for pedestrians. someone else is steering your life. you learn to relax and go with the flow.

That's why they call it a "journey" 26.Apr.2004 18:42

Pravda or Dare

I respect your actions and your motivations. Together we can offer a civilized model of decency where belligerence becomes unnecessary and unlearned.

Living in Boonies and I still ride the bus 26.Apr.2004 21:48

April

I live south of Hillsboro, near where Hillsboro Hiway and Farmington meet. I have to get rides for the five miles into Hillsboro, and then I catch the max (at Hillsboro TC) from there to get anywhere.

I have problem of, I still have to get rides into town, and my harp teacher lives in Newburg, so I have to get driven there. No busses out here in the boonies, but I don't expect one--there aren't enough people to support a route.

I try to go into town/back home when other people in my household are going either way, but sometimes I do have to have someone give me a round trip. It sucks!

And bikes aren't really an option, because it's a rural hiway with a dropoff into Jackson Bottom Slough on each side, and people pull 90mph all the time on it. Also, no lighting at night. Yikes!

But to everyone who rides trimet and/or uses their bike, you rock my socks. It's so freaking easy to ride public transit here. I haven't owned a car in several years.

Try walking 27.Apr.2004 16:42

jamit

Try walking, stop whining!" Sound's like another one trying to take advantage of the system they loathe."

First thing you should do... 28.Apr.2004 12:48

Corporate Titan

is take a bong hit or smoke a big fatty... preferably on your break from that state-run or corporate job you are being forced to do. Then (after you are fired for being a utopian doper) file an unlawful termination claim stating that the work-related stress from not having a private parking space caused you to become dependent upon drugs.

File for unemployment at that other state run government agency then go to the nearest tatoo parlor and hand several colorful depictions of the 1917 workers revolt in Russia permanently placed upon your chest and back.

Move to North Korea. Proclaim your unending devotion to communism. Purchase a bicycle. Stop complaining.

First thing you should do... 28.Apr.2004 12:48

Corporate Titan

is take a bong hit or smoke a big fatty... preferably on your break from that state-run or corporate job you are being forced to do. Then (after you are fired for being a utopian doper) file an unlawful termination claim stating that the work-related stress from not having a private parking space caused you to become dependent upon drugs.

File for unemployment at that other state run government agency then go to the nearest tatoo parlor and hand several colorful depictions of the 1917 workers revolt in Russia permanently placed upon your chest and back.

Move to North Korea. Proclaim your unending devotion to communism. Purchase a bicycle. Stop complaining.

Going car free 28.Apr.2004 17:07

Rob rtmin@ij.net

It is interesting how people want so eagerly to give up their vehicles yet they still use the roads and infrastructure. How far out of their way do the people you bum a ride from go in order to pick your self riteous asses up? Shouldnt you look at using government owned (public) transportation be seen as submitting to the will of your governent? Do these same people also live in the dark at home and refuse to use computers? Obviously not since they are posting to this site. How can they say they are "not polluting" when everything they buy use, sell, throw out or whatever is transported on (gasp) a truck or other vehicle with an internal combustion engine? Get real, unless these people are living in mud huts and grow all their food as well as cotton to make their clothes then they are just being irrational. It is like they are pissing on a forest fire and claiming that they are saving the forest because of it.


 rtmin@ij.net

Rob Minichino

When you ride alone, you ride with Bush! 28.Apr.2004 20:13

asdf

Another option for weaning oneself off the single occupant vehicle is of course the old standby: carpooling.
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WWII allied propaganda poster