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I recently had a chance to read How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life by Chris Balish (Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2006).

Car Free

This is a well-crafted, thorough and enjoyable book. In the first part of the book, Balish focuses primarily on the financial implications of car ownership (did you know that the “true cost of ownership” is about TWICE what you paid for your vehicle?) and the financial freedoms available to those who choose to forgo such ownership and embrace other transportation choices. But, he doesn’t stop there — this book is packed with practical advice on the “nuts and bolts” of living a car-free or car-lite lifestyle. Balish covers it all: environmental and health considerations of car ownership and the resultant benefits of choosing a car-free life, carpooling and ridesharing, bicycle commuting and strategies for most conceivable transportation scenarios.

The book is peppered throughout by “real world” stories and examples from Balish’s communications with other car-free citizens (including Tampa’s own Julie Bond). These tidbits provide a “face” to this lifestyle and really help sell the concept.

Overall, I highly recommend this book — while I already live a pretty car-lite lifestyle, I became totally gung-ho to finally sell off my car and to reap the resultant financial benefits. In this book, Chris Balish presents his case in such a way that makes this a very real and very attainable choice for most people. And he does it without forcing anything down one’s throat — everything he describes is presented in a practical, rational framework. Two thumbs up!

Oh, and I’d like to thank the readers who recommended this book to me in the comments section of an article I wrote a few weeks ago. Thanks! And, I’m always on the lookout for other bike-friendly book recommendations, so if you have some favorites to share, please leave your recommendations in the comment section of this review…