Monday, January 2, 2023

#CarFreeFamily2022: How Much Does It Cost?

It's that time again: that time where I look back through my email receipts, Compass card records, & Modo account to see what the four of us spent on transportation for the year. 2022 wasn't all that different from 2020 & 2021, transportation-wise: we used no taxis, no ridesharing, no car rentals, & only a couple trips on the water. We got around by bike & on foot the vast majority of the time, which are practically free. I have started using Mobi again a bit to commute to work, but that's covered by my employer so I don't count it below

Before I get down to brass tacks, on the topic of what I count or don't count: I don't include bike purchases (we bought a used tandem this year!) or new helmets because we would likely own them anyway, whether we were using them for transportation or not. I'm not including things like umbrellas, rain coats, or shoes, because though they are definitely part of what makes walking & biking doable for transportation, we would need to own those even if we drove everywhere. Things like extra food to fuel all the active travel is also not included, since I doubt we'd eat any less if we were exercising less.

a woman stands with a walker in front of a Modo minivan with a girl sitting in the back seat. the sliding door & side door of the van are open, it's parked in a hospital parking lot
Modo home after my hip replacement surgery

On paper, 2022 wasn't all that different from the previous year, but personally it was another slightly unusual one. Partly because we're still not doing everything that we did before COVID (mainly travel & family visits, when we tended to use Modo), but also because I got myself a shiny new hip in April! 

We spent a little more on Modo in the spring to go on walks when I was still quite limited in my mobility, & bored with walking around the exact same few blocks near home. We also spent a little more on Modos to get to & from various kid appointments in the unusually cold & wet fall & winter months near the end of the year. Despite driving about 50% more often than is typical for us--17 trips in 2022--it only cost a total of $528.52.

By the way, this Modo cost includes gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, membership fees, usage costs--everything. It's really so much cheaper than owning a car if you don't need to drive it daily. It's also much nicer to know how much access to a vehicle will cost you: since maintenance, gas, insurance, & most of the time even parking are included, there are no surprise bills for repairs or maintenance. If you're wondering what Modo costs, you can use their trip calculator here on their website to see what a trip would cost. Just choose the type of vehicle, the time you want to use it, & how far you're planning to go. 

Total cost to drive: $528.52

a woman stands next to her bike in the snow
#VikingBiking for after school pickup in December


2022 saw no huge purchases on bike gear, other than a new pair of tires for my Tern GSD. We replaced front & rear brake pads & a chain, plus paying our local bike shop to have the studded winter tires taken off in late winter & put on again in late fall. All that came to $499.64.

Electricity costs are a bit harder to calculate, because it's only a few cents each time we charge our bikes. I'd say we spent about $10 on electricity charging my Tern GSD & Oliver's Tern Vektron. I estimate about 60 full charges of the 900Wh of batteries in the roughly 5000km I rode. Oliver rides much less than me, as he's been working from home 99% of the time, so I doubt he needed a full charge more than once a month.

Total cost to run our bikes: $509.64

Aquabus tour of False Creek for Canada Day


On Canada Day, my friend Donna, Bronte & I played tourist in our own town for the day & got Aquabus passes so we could flit around False Creek by boat for the day. That cost us a grand total of $30. We didn't manage to do any camping trips this year, sadly, but we did do one short daytrip to Bowen, which cost B & I a grand total of $16.75

These two trips were recreational, & we likely would still have taken both even if we were diehard car people, but bringing a vehicle to Bowen Island would have cost us about $32 more in ferry fares alone.

Total cost of boat travel: $46.75


We took transit more this year than 2021, but a lot of my trips were paid by my employer (I have a Compass card that I can use to travel to & from work). Another thing that cut down on transit costs is here in BC, kids under 13 travel free. Between all four of us, our transit costs were only $17.15, which is about six one-way trips.

Total cost for transit: $17.15

And, that's it for all the categories of transportation, so... *drum roll please*

The total transportation costs for our car-free family of four in 2022 was $1,102.06.

This is 7.5% less than we spent last year & about nine times less than the average person spends on owning a car. Keeping our transportation costs this low by not owning a car is one of the biggest factors in how we can afford to live in such an expensive city as Vancouver. It isn't always fun to cycle or walk in the rainy weather, but I do love how much exercise just gets built into my life without having to think about it. & on those days where it's just too cold or too icy or too wet (not actually that often) or too far to bike where we need to go, we can always drive a Modo.

So, how about you? What did you spend on transportation last year? Do you total it up annually? What are the upsides & downsides of how you get around? What do you do to save costs on transportation?

If you're curious about our past transportation costs, you can check out my posts on the breakdown for 201820192020, & 2021 here.

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Saturday, July 16, 2022

Hiking through Disability with Modo

two children & a woman stand on large rocks in front of a Modo carshare vehicle in a parking lot surrounded by tall trees in Lighthouse Park

Today we decided on a whim to grab a Modo & go to Whytecliff Park, to see what we could see at the still fairly low low tide. The weather forecast looked great--cool, overcast, 10% chance of rain. Maybe the park wouldn't be too too busy, since it didn't really seem like beach weather? When I left the house to go pick up the Modo that is just a few blocks from home, it had started raining. Guess we got lucky & were that 10% today? (sad trombone noises)

a girl touches a slice of a large yellow cedar tree & looks up at a sign with information about the 1400 year old treeThe short walk to get the car was still quite pleasant, as the rain was really light & I realized, hey! Here's another new thing post-hip surgery. It'd been ages since I'd just gone for a walk in the rain with an umbrella. When I used a cane before my surgery, It always felt way too awkward to also carry an umbrella, so on the extremely rare occasion I walked anywhere & it was raining, I'd just use a raincoat with a hood.

Once I drove the car back to the house, we decided to shift plans to a hike in Lighthouse Park, so if it continued raining, we'd at least be under the trees for a lot of it. When we arrived at the park, we were trying to figure out when we last visited. I realized as we were setting off on the hike that the last time was almost exactly three years ago. 

a man & two children walk down stairs on a trail toward a rocky shoreline in Lighthouse ParkHow did I know it was almost exactly three years ago that we were in Lighthouse Park? Well, that experience was what convinced me to apply for a SPARC disabled parking pass. Three years ago, we walked down the main trail--if you haven't been there, Beacon Lane is really more of a road, though it's closed to cars--then scrambled down to the East Beach. I remember that I was already nearly DONE by that point from the pain of my hip osteoarthritis. From about 800m of walking down a hill. But we still had to get back up to the car. I was so tired & in a lot of pain by the time we got back up to the car in the parking lot. 

When we got through West Van near Park Royal, bridge traffic was moving pretty slow, as usual, so we decided to stop at White Spot & wait it out while we had dinner. We ended up driving around & around in the mall lot, getting slightly lost because some of the exits were closed due to construction. We couldn't find any parking near the restaurant. It was incredibly frustrating: I think it took us 15 minutes to find somewhere to park the car & then we had to walk a a few hundred metres to get to the restaurant. After having sat in the car for a bit post hike, my hips were pretty stiff & painful, so this relatively short distance was really awful. 
the view of the gun emplacement looking west from above East Beach in Lighthouse Parka man, a woman & two children stand inside the graffiti covered old gun emplacement in Lighthouse Park looking out over the ocean
When I got home, I looked up the SPARC website & looked at the requirements for applying for a pass. I printed off the form, made an appointment with my doctor so she could sign it, then sent it off with the fee & my pass arrived in the mail soon after. SPARC passes are not tied to the license plate of the car, only to the person who has the pass, so we used them with Modo cars when we were parking anywhere with a big lot. It made my life a lot easier to have a wider space to park in too, so I could swing my door fully open & lever myself out of the car & get my cane or Nordic poles out. In the early days after my hip replacement surgery, I needed that space to get on my crutches too. 

About a month ago, I got a letter in the mail, letting me know it was time to renew my SPARC pass, as it would expire at the end of July this year. That was about two months after my hip replacement surgery, when I was getting to the point where I was starting to feel downright able-bodied. It's funny, because four months ago, I was making a mental note to reapply for my SPARC pass later this summer. Then, poof! I got the call for a hip replacement surgery date on a cancellation in three days, & my life changed.
a girl walks along a wooded trail, using Nordic poles
Not that surgery was an instantaneous fix for my hip issues--recovery felt slow at times & I've definitely done a lot of work to get here since my hip replacement. It's been about 15 weeks now since my surgery & I'm still adjusting to what my body can do on a weekly basis. Today when we packed up all our things to go on this short hike, I brought my Nordic poles to help me with stability on the rockier & steeper bits of the trails. However, once I got down to the water with them, I realized that they were more hassle than help, so I let Bronte use them on the way back up. 

It is so incredibly satisfying to really feel the progress like this. For weeks after surgery, I was walking up stairs with only my left leg, pulling my right leg up behind me each step. Then I started walking up alternating legs, but it was still painful to take those steps with my right maybe a month ago.

But today I did a 2km hike with about 100m of elevation gain with no pain at all. It felt so good to be able to just enjoy the forest; I was grinning all the way up the hill back to the Modo car. It's really funny how these two Lighthouse Park visits bookended my SPARC pass so perfectly. 

I cannot wait to do more hiking this summer!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Family Biking @ WTQ Night - Our Community Bikes

I'm doing an informal talk about family biking for WTQ Night at Our Community Bikes on Wednesday, July 6 at 7:30-8:00pm. I put together a few images & resources I wanted to share in case people were curious about what family biking setups can look like. There are many other options out there, but here's a selection of the common ones you'll find here in Vancouver, as well as a few great low-cost options.

My Family Biking Evolution

2011: Started family biking with my then
10-year-old hybrid bike & a MEC trailer 
when my first child was nine months old

2012: iBert front seat with first kid at 20 months

2013: used Trailabike with oldest kid at age 3.5

2014: new Yuba Mundo longtail cargo bike with two child seats,
kids are 3.5years & 9 months

2016: used Bakfiets Long, kids are 3 & 6 here

2019: got a Tern GSD S10 e-cargobike when kids were 6 & 9.
It still carries them daily at almost 9 & 12 years old.

2022: got a used Bike Friday Family Traveller Tandem so either
kid (almost 9 & 12) can ride on the back 

Other Kid Hauling Ideas


Front & rear child seat are usually easy to find used,
can do DIY rear rack options for age 4+ like above
saddle strapped to rack, stem & small bars on seat post,
with BMX pegs for kid feet

Tow cables (red TowWhee on right) or
DIY option with 2 used tubes looped together (left)

"Bag & Drag" to tow a kid's bike when they get tired.
The child can fit on the rear rack seat too, mine tend to sit sidesaddle.
Note: They can NOT ride on their own bike in a bag & drag.


Vancouver Family Biking Facebook Group crowdsource info, buy & sell gear, meet other families

Let's Go Biking recreational ride ideas & maps

This Mom Bikes Calgary-based all about family biking

Two Wheeling Tots US-based reviews of family biking gear 

HUB Cycling Resources Page All about cycling in Metro Vancouver

HUB Cycling with Children Webinar recording of July 2021 webinar on Youtube

Project 529 Register your bike to recover it if stolen

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Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Where to Buy a Cargo Bike in Vancouver

Cargo bike party outside Velo Star Cafe!
If you're looking to buy a cargo bike in Vancouver, the options are getting better & better. More shops are starting to stock cargobikes & it's getting easier to test ride them, though you may end up going to a few different  shops to test ride a range. Quite a few brands of cargo bike, like our Bakfiets, aren't even sold here in brick & mortar stores--your only option is buying online.

A note about buying a bike online without a local dealer: you may save some money this way, or be able to get a specific bike that you want, but if you ever have warranty issues, it can be a major pain to get them addressed without a local shop that's invested in helping you out. Depending on the bike--& more so with lower end electric assist bikes--you may also have difficulty finding a shop who will work on the bike or can get parts in for you. I highly recommend buying a bike from a shop located near home so that you can easily bring it in for service.

Until we get a great family & cargo biking shop (like Seattle's G&O Cyclery) here in Vancouver, you'll have to pound the pavement a bit. 

In the interests of making that easier for you, I've updated my list of bike shops that sell cargo bikes here in Vancouver. There are increasing numbers of cargo bike retailers now, which is fantastic--so many more companies are offering different styles & price points as well. Here's what I have found & what brands they sell, alphabetically.

Cit-E-Cycles 3466 West Broadway Vancouver 604-734-2717
Riese & Mueller Load & Packster; Tern GSD & HSD; Cube Cargo; Moustache Lundi.
Cit-E has multiple locations in the Lower Mainland, so call if you're looking for a specific model--they may have it in stock at another shop.

Dream Cycle 1010 Commercial Drive Vancouver 604-253-3737
Soma Tradesman (cycle truck, not really a kid hauler); Surly Big Dummy (wait list til 2023)
Dream focuses on building custom bikes from the frame up. They have a Soma Tradesman in the shop as of May 4 2022 to test ride, but call ahead if you want a test ride in case it's sold.

JV Bike 929 Expo Boulevard 604-694-2453
Tern GSD
JV is an all-round shop that sells a variety of bikes & ebikes, with just the Tern GSD cargobike. They generally have a Tern GSD available for a test ride, but best to call ahead to check.

Mac Talla Cycles 2626 East Hastings Vancouver 604-707-0822
Bullitt; Kona Ute
Mac Talla tries to have floor models available for test rides, but with supply chain issues they can't always keep them in stock. Call ahead to ask!

Rad Power Bikes 3296 E 29th Avenue Vancouver 1-800-939-0310
Note that you can test ride bikes at this location, but they are currently not offering ebike purchases from the Vancouver retail store. All ebike purchases must be made online.

Reckless Bike Stores 110 Davie Street Vancouver 604-648-2600
Babboe City; Benno eBoost; Tern GSD; Urban Arrow
Reckless has two locations, they generally have one of each available for test rides but it's best to call ahead so they can schedule some time for your questions.

Sidesaddle Bikes 3469 Commercial Street 604-428-2453
Yuba Boda Boda; Bike Friday Haul-A-Day & Ever-E-Day; Bombtrack Munro Cargo (cycle truck, not really a kid hauler)
Andrea opened Sidesaddle specifically as a women-friendly shop & I posted about the shop not long after they opened. You can drop in to look at the bikes, but if you're looking at test riding & buying a cargo bike, it's best to call ahead so they can set aside time to answer all your questions. 

Velo Lifestyle 1350 Nanaimo Street 604-216-0111
Muli; Creme; Veloe; Triobike; Black Iron Horse.
This shop is the latest addition to my list, only opened their Vancouver location about a year ago. They specialize in European brands, mainly front loaders & several models of trikes.

Velo Star Cafe 3195 Heather Street Vancouver 604-376-8223
Due to supply chain issues, it's been hard for Clint to get cargobikes in, but he occasionally has or knows of used ones on sale.
VeloStar is where we go for service on all our bikes--the mechanics here really know & love cargo bikes & we've always had gread service there.

That about wraps up my updates to the list. Please let me know if you know of other cargo bike selling shops in the city that I've missed!

Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way to list these bike shops & have no affiliation with them, other than being friends with Clint & Kat from VeloStar. The above information is correct as of the writing of this post & opinions above are my own, as always.

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