View Full Version : How do I dissuade a first-time driver?

05-02-2008, 08:21 PM
As a high schooler, I finally got my license this spring. Unlike nearly every other suburban high schooler, (I live East of 205 in Vancouver) however, I have no plans to get a car. I only live two miles away, so biking makes perfect sense. Why in the world would I want to spend what little time I have to study in order to work to pay for a car I don't need?

But no matter how much I plan to keep cycling, (and hopefully never purchase a car) there are still others in my family who don't see it the way we all do. My younger sister doesn't even have her permit, and she already wants to waste what is essentially her entire life savings on a hunk of petrol-hungry metal.

Considering that my sister probably already thinks I'm crazy for riding a bike instead of wasting my money on gasoline, what is there that could be done to win her over on the bicycle? What could we do to make one less car? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

05-02-2008, 09:13 PM
What have you told her already that hasn't won her over yet? You have to know what she values before you're ever going to ring her bell. I can think of a bunch of reasons why a girl on a bike is wonderful site, but if they don't mean anything to her, there's no point in bothering her about it. Maybe she'll see on her own the wisdom and benefit of riding.

In some situations, the need for a car is inescapable. Maybe she's one of those.

05-02-2008, 09:37 PM
It seems like a rite of adulthood for Americans to drive.

I sure remember how important it was for me.

I can think of a lot of things to say. The problem is, how will you get her to listen?

I think the attraction of a car is how it represents independence. The secondary costs (six 40-hour weeks a year in time, $400 per month in gas, insurance, and maintenance) are a lot harder to grasp, and it may be too much to expect of a teenager.

Perhaps the only way out of this is to help her realize some other way she can meet her transportation needs. The area you live makes this a particularly knotty problem, since Clark County public planners seem to be betting their future on the success of single-occupant motor vehicles.

Depending on how mathematical she is, you might be able to draw up a balance sheet measuring her actual transportation requirements for the last, say, month--and then show how it would have been cheaper if she'd even used a taxicab instead of driving.

If you figure something out, be sure to share. Good luck!

05-02-2008, 10:24 PM
Well, wsbob, in response to your notion for the need for a car, my sister isn't one of those casualties yet. She has the same commute to school as I do. There just isn't much of a case for needing a car.

And as far as transportation needs go, it's the same as almost any teenager who thinks they need a car. They've been sold a lifestyle that simply isn't sustainable.

I think the best solution would be to show her how useful and fun a bike can be. One problem with this is that we live in Clark County, on the bad side of the river (so far as cycling is concerned). And it doesn't help that she lives a rather sedentary lifestyle. Biking to her would just seem like a chore. Why would she want to do that when she can just walk a couple of feet to and from a car?

How do you get someone like that on a bike? What can be done to show them the freedom from gas prices and gridlock?

05-05-2008, 09:45 AM
Man, 20 years ago... that was me! I HAD to have a car living in the 'Couv (Mountain View HS). My whole independence depended on it!

Later on after a couple of years living in Seattle, living on top Ramen and going to the U - a vehicle became an expense I couldn't afford. My '72 Plymouth Duster sat in my folks driveway for the occaisonal weekend visit or holiday break...

And when home, we drove and drove and drove... what else is there to do in what I call "AutoCentrailia."

Vanouver is simply not designed for anything else. Oh sure there's bike lanes, but we are talking serious sprawl and seriously inadequate public transportation. This is really the Portland-Metro area's dirty little secret... just across the river.

I spent two years attending Clark and working in Vancouver with nothing but a bicycle... and I tell you it was tough back then. I felt like a non-person, a person living on the margin of society. It was lonely and discouraging.

Such a far cry from the atmosphere on this side of the river... and in places like Seattle!

And yet I face the same situation my friend... I'm trying to convince my neighbors son - he's a young'un just starting out - to forgoe car ownership - at least for awhile. Heck we both work downtown - if I can do it...

Think of the money lad!!! Oh if I could go back in time... this is way too much like being a Dad, you know?

But the resistance is there man - he wants the freedom - like other's have said, he wants to join "the world" and cruise and buy a stereo...

Sigh. It isn't until we own one of the darn things that we can stop pining for one maybe? The grass is always greener and for a young person and for your sister it just may symbolize her ticket to "freedom" though as it seems you've discovered - it's more like signing up for prison!

Sorry we aren't more help. But maybe share these forum stories?

05-05-2008, 10:52 AM
People will always have their own priorities and make their own choices. The best thing you can do is to set the example, and demonstrate by doing. I can truly say that several people have told me that they have started riding as a result of seeing me on a regular basis. None of these people have been family members, and the few times that I have tried to convince anyone, family or not, it has only generated more resistance. Let them make their own mistakes, and they will either learn or not. Once they express some interest, then you can be a big help.

05-05-2008, 01:28 PM
If she has to pay for everything herself (car, insurance, gas, etc) she may see the light sooner than you think.

05-08-2008, 07:10 PM
Once Americans understand that cheap oil and SUVs aren't birthrights, I think half of our job will be done, but until then, thank you for the advice.

05-15-2008, 12:04 PM
You can't make them see it your way. Like someone above said, lead by example and hopefully they will see the light.

I, too, live in the 'Couv and commute to work by bike most days. I commute from Hazel Dell to Camas. There are only two of us at the City of Camas that commute by bike. Some people live only blocks from work and don't even walk. Wish I was so lucky to live that close. But its a choice I have made not to sell and move closer. It's all about choices. People say they "must" have a car because of work, children, shopping, etc. but ultimately it is a choice of lifestyle. They could live closer to work, take the bus to work/school, or choose many other ways to reduce dependence on a vehicle.

Unfortunately, I don't think I have inspired anyone by my example yet. They just think I'm nuts.