Breaking Free from Car Dependency

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Guest post written by: Matt Granger

In 2021, we found ourselves in a dilemma. We were reading coverage of the IPCC reports described as “Code Red for Humanity” and an “Atlas of Human Suffering”. Yet despite that, we decided to start a family. We had squared off this decision by pledging that we would work out how to be a family that encouraged a more sustainable form of living from Day 1. We’d given ourselves 9 months to figure out how… 

We moved from sleepy Shropshire, UK to Munich in the heart of Bavaria, Germany. We sold everything except our car and the belongings that we could fit inside it.

How We Went Car Free

The move to city living was like visiting the future. We were surrounded by a robust public transport system, e-scooters, car/van sharing programs, cargo bikes and a vast network of cycle paths. For the first time in our lives, we had access to a whole variety of viable car-alternative transport methods.

Both of us work within the cycling industry so using bicycles was always going to be our preferred method of getting around. The thing that wasn’t clear was how we were going to do it.

There is no doubt, cargo bikes are impressive and have come a long way in recent years! We tested a few but ultimately got stuck with two major points:

  1. If one parent drops the child at nursery on their way to work, how does the other one pick them up on the way home?
  2. How do you carry your kid around when you arrive at your destination if they either need a nap or are already taking 40 winks?

Considering this, we couldn’t justify the cost. Cargo bikes were fun but expensive and a compromise for what we needed from them.

Then We Discovered Burley

After reading several reviews and speaking to friends already on the Burley train, we quickly decided on two trailers: a Cub X and a Coho-XC. The Cub X was for our son and his beloved toy panda co-pilot whilst the Coho-XC would be used for kit, shopping, and crates of Bavarian beer. For 1500EUR we were able to buy both trailers and a second bicycle to run them – less than ¼ of the price we were quoted for our preferred cargo bike.

Since owning the trailers, we hadn’t used our car on any of our Monday-Friday journeys. The car had been reserved for trips that we were now able to do with the help of the bicycles, car sharing or Deutsch Bahn’s snow train ticket. Our ownership of the car was no longer necessary, so we made the decision to sell it.

Our New Approach to Travel

Today, we are living in a new city 1000s of Km away from our home country without the form of transport that has given us freedom and flexibility for over 15 years. Rather than feeling intimidated, we are excited! All being well, our son will grow up to see our family’s primary method of transport as a bicycle occasionally supplemented by several forms of communal travel. Whilst we may not have nailed the master plan for sustainable parenting just yet, we have begun to role model a different way of traveling. That feels like a pretty good start.

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