Car-light Family of 4 takes on Sprawlando

4onaQuarter header

There’s a new bike blog in town and you’ll want to bookmark this one!

On September 17, we profiled Jesse Ross, whose “car” is a Madsen bucket bike. That same day Mighk posted an alert about Xtracycle’s sponsorship program. The Ross family was in the market for a second utility bike, so Angie applied and received a partial sponsorship! Thus was born the Ross Family Challenge — to use a car for less than a quarter of the national average annual mileage. Says Angie:

Imagine my surprise (and panic) when the wonderful folks at Xtracycle said, “We think that’s a good idea” and gave me a partial sponsorship!

This wasn’t supposed to happen! I was supposed to go on my merry way, driving my car and lamenting the fact that I couldn’t ride to work. Alas, here we are – together. This is my little blog about the daily trials and tribulations my family and I face while trying to live on only 4,000 car miles in one of the most car-centric areas in the country.

Two working parents with children in two different schools. They live in Winter Park and Angie works near UCF. Her morning commute, dropping Sofie off at school, is nearly 17 miles. In addition, Jesse has classes at UCF 2 nights per week, requiring a hand-off of the kids.

Follow their adventures, challenges and victories on Angie’s blog and Twitter.

12 replies
  1. Rantwick
    Rantwick says:

    Wow… if we didn’t have the car to handle lots of the family/kid stuff, I think my head would explode.

    The 1/4 thing is a nice idea, reminding people that it is not an all or nothing proposition…

  2. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    So they “only” have one car. Big deal. I’m somewhat underwhelmed.

    Meanwhile, in Toronto, we’re building entirely car-free residential complexes.

  3. LisaB
    LisaB says:

    KL: You’ve heard it before on this blog but I guess it hasn’t sunk in.


    The Ross Family Challenge is a HUGE undertaking in this car-centric, rapidly-growing metropolis. Have you ever lived here? Have you experienced first-hand the range of challenges residents face using a bicycle for their primary mode of transportation? For some, like myself, sprawl means commutes of between 25-50 miles roundtrip. Add in all the other the time pressures of family, motorist behavior (starting with foreign tourists who don’t normally drive on the right side of the road!) and attitudes and you’d appreciate the Ross family’s endeavors.

    I’ll follow the Ross Family journey with awe and admiration. I suspect others in the CommuteOrlando family will, too.

  4. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Lisa wrote:

    Kevin’s comment:
    And when I present best practices to City Council or Committee meetings I sometimes get feedback along the lines of “This is not Copenhagen.”

    My reaction is always the same. We are allowed to benchmark best practices from around the world to build a world-class city. Or we can ignore best practices and what everyone else is doing and wallow in mediocrity.

    Once upon a time, not so long ago, Toronto was almost as car-crazy as Orlando is today. Just google “Spadina Expressway” to see the battles we fought.

    We won those battles, and Orlando can too. To see where we’re at now, just take a look at:

    An excerpt:

    “More buildings in Toronto are being built with less car parking, and most are finding that they just don’t need it. The mainstream media highlighted a new condo [with] no car parking on the site of the Royal Canadian Military Institute.”

    Personal note: As a veteran, I am a member of the RCMI.

  5. Angie
    Angie says:

    Thanks all for the support – we’re excited!!

    @Kevin~ I think it’s wonderful you are in such a progressive area. That’s kind of the whole point of this challenge. I think it’s hard to make a case for those kind of changes when no one is riding, so we are trying to be a part of that movement. As Jesse puts it, “Portland wasn’t built in a day.” ;p Like LisaB, my round-trip commute is ~28 miles. With two kids, it definitely makes it challenging to get around. I encourage you to read this article to get a feel for “Sprawlando” (I *love* that, btw!!!): I especially like the part where he says, “But in Orlando people love their cars as much as they hate paying taxes.”

    Anyways, I could ramble on forever about this, but I’ll try to save it for the blog. ;p

  6. ChrisOtto1014
    ChrisOtto1014 says:

    Kevin, Orlando has to start somewhere correct?? Having people like that will get noticed and others may follow suit. When I started commuting to work by bike, I was the only one. About a year later, there were 6 bikes in the office. They may not use the bike everyday, but it is a start.

    BTW, my family is down to one car, and it is a big deal. It’s a huge cost savings and I am healthier and happier not having to spend 1+ hours a day in a steel cage.

    • Keri
      Keri says:

      “BTW, my family is down to one car, and it is a big deal.”

      It’s a HUGE deal, especially for a family. I give big props to all of you who have chosen to be single car families. And especially those with long commutes. UCF is a hike from here… although, despite the distance it is much more enjoyable to drive it on a bike vs a car 🙂

      • Chris
        Chris says:

        The Little Econ is THE reason I wanted to move to Baldwin Park. Riding on the trail in ANY weather beats commuting by car.

        Now that we are up to three kids, living centrally is even better and easier with one car. My wife and I rode our bikes to Colibre for dinner Saturday night, and last night I was at the park last night watching my oldest son play soccer and flying my kite with my four year old. Life is good.

        • JesseR
          JesseR says:

          “Life is good.” You know, that’s the whole thing. Thank goodness the idea of going carlight isn’t OVERwhelming. That would defeat the whole purpose!

          Sure, it’s nice to hear people say they are impressed, but that’s also a big part of the barrier of bicycling. People learn we commute, and we want to be like, “Yeah, I know. I DO ride far.” Maybe it’s because we want validation. But we shouldn’t be concerned with impressibility as much as accessibility. That’s what seems to be about for me. 🙂

  7. Lyndy
    Lyndy says:

    Back in 78-79-80 I was a single parent living out by UCF and worked in downtown Winter Park. I had a not so dependable car that would make it about 2/3 of the way between home/work and would get a vapor lock and die. I kept my bike on the back of the car, when it broke down, I put a note on the dash that I would be back at 5:15, put my daughter in the bike seat and off we rode to day care and work and reversed in the evening. I got more stares than anything those days as I traveled along Winter Park Drive to Rollins College area – no one tried to run us off the road or honked. Not sure if due to the kid on the back or what. It is still one of the memories we talk about now that she lives in a bike/ped friendly city – Seattle.

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