Monday, May 29, 2006

A family of 4 -- but no car

This past weekend, while I was off wandering around Oregon with my pal Fred, the Seattle paper ran a front-page story about about how my lovely wife and I raised our kids in a car-free household. You never know how a story is going to turn out until you see it in print, but I think the reporter, Sonia Krishnan, did a pretty good job telling our story. The text and pictures are online here:

Keep 'em rolling,



Jessi said...

Hi Kent,

That is really great and I totally admire your family!

I have a couple questions though (and these really are questions, not criticisms):

-What do you do if someone gets sick and needs to get to the doctor ASAP? (But not so sick they need an ambulance.) Do you just call a cab?

-Don't you ever have the desire to get outta town without buying a plane ticket? Go for a long weekend on the OR coast or something?

-What if you need to move furniture or something? I'm guessing you rent or use Flexcar?

Thanks for answering my questions, and congrats on your 15 minutes of fame! :)


Me said...

Kent [& Family]...

Amy & me just read the article on your family, wow... so inspiring.

I really mean that Kent.

You guys [and I know you probably aren't too interested in hearing this or such things] are perhaps the vision of the future... getting it done without conventional means, thinking outside the box, and finally-

Just living simply & honestly.

Leading by example.

I'm proud to know ya Kent, and double proud that my family contributed [in some small part] to your quest last Summer as well as getting you back to your family as quick as possible at race end.

Keep rocking!



Kent Peterson said...

Hi Jessi,

I'll try to answer your questions here.

As for the doctor, we picked where we live so the our doctor is local and close. Depending on the particular circumstance we might walk, take the bus, take a cab or get a ride from a friend or neighbor.

About travel, we go by bus, train, plane, sometimes go places with friends and sometimes bike. I just got back from a weekend trip with my friend Fred. We drove down in Fred's truck and then Fred and I rode our bikes for three days. When Christine and I get-away it's often a bus-trip to Seattle and then a train or ferry ride to where we are going.

We both let our licences lapse years ago. We DON'T drive. Moving furniture is super rare. If it's a new purchase, it's delivered. The last time we moved, we used a local moving company and had friends help out.

When we get rides with friends or have them help out in some transit way, we pay for gas or buy them dinner or something like that. One thing we've drilled into the kids is "don't mooch!" Pay your way in some way.

- Kent

Kent Peterson said...

Thanks Scott,

Give Amy and Chloe a hug from me. I still owe you guys big time for all the good vibes and hard cash that kept (and keeps) me rolling. Someday we'll have to swap some good stories over a good meal.


Paul said...

It's nothing to do with the (great) story, but I just had to tell you that while cycling in to work this morning I found my first ever lost/discarded wrench. It feels like I'm a proper cyclist now, and my first thought was of letting you know :)

Paul said...

This really doesn't have anything to do with your car-free lifestyle, but it appears from the article that you and your wife have chosen to rent, rather than own, your housing (the article refers to your "apartment", which I assume means a rental). Since I get the impression that you make thoughtful choices, I'm curious if there's a philosophy behind that, or just financial necessity.

patrick said...


congratulations. that was a really good story. i was impressed at how the writer managed to resist debunking your efforts. plus I loved the photo of you sitting in traffic!

all best

Jessi said...

Hi Kent,

Thanks for answering all my questions. I read in the article that you'd let your license lapse - sorry I didn't remember that when grilling you! :)

Very admirable lifestyle!

Thanks again,

Kent Peterson said...

Hi Paul,

The lack of home "ownership" is not out of financial necessity. I won't go into everything here but you can probably tell that Christine and I aren't into having a lot of stuff. And we've decided that we really don't like doing yard work or spending weekends at Home Depot.

-- Kent

gollygumdrops said...

I'm loving your adventure. The thing I found odd in the US is that people refused to sell me booze because I didn't have a drivers licence. I explained that I was on my bike and they simply could not understand the concept of shopping on a bicycle!

Matthew Lee said...

Howdy from NC Kent,
In some ways your lifestyle since 87 (the ways of the suburban turtle, if i might) are far more impressive than rigid, singlespeeding the great divide race last summer. i wish i could have spent a bit more time hanging out and/or riding with you out there. We'll miss you this year. Sorry you can't make the Canadian prologue. Have a great summer whatever you have up your sleeve.

just curious, have you ever tried to go thru drive thrus by bike? i found that most discriminated against me on bike during the divide race last year, refusing to serve unless one is in a car.

Matthew Lee

Alberto said...

Great story, Kent. I think the reporter did quite a fine job. What impresses me most is that you guys just do as you choose and not as you’re “supposed to”. The frugality and simplicity you practice are quite admirable. I’m sure some people might think of you as some kind of freaks. I’d ask them to look again. Congratulations.

Kurt said...

Hey there, I saw the link from my blog buddy Tammy. I have 4 kids so was curious on the how tos but you answered that for Jessi.

I grew up in Seattle and it is doable. Never had a car til I moved to NC.

Good job!

Ben, aka BadBen said...

Nice story, Kent.

the old bag said...

Great article!

Iron Benny said...

Great story. That must take serious discipline. I commend you.

Cellarrat said...


It's so refreshing to hear this again and again. I've never had a DL because of some medical issuies I have but even without those I'd still rather be on the bicycle.

If your on the fence try it if you can!

Dustin said...

Hey Kent,

Really enjoyed reading your article.
I, minus the 2 kids and wife, live the same lifestyle. Fortunately, I've found someone special who seems to understand it. It's interesting...while reading the article, I could fill-in the blanks to people's questions before reading your responses. I suppose the choices we make wouldn't be so unusual in Europe. It never ceases to amaze me how much value people in American society place on driving everywhere and having too much stuff. I was really encouraged reading your story. It's so nice to know that, while small in numbers, other people out there are chosing to do things their own way.

IHateToast said...

found you via Whammy Flammy Tammy. i enjoyed the article mucho. here in brisbane, my hubby and i have only one car. i cycle, run or ride the train/bus to work and have to say i have the better deal over my hubby. it's great. and that i have to plan is wonderful mental exercise.
i've not gotten him used to going out without the car yet. some of that is brisbane not being too hip on tickets yet. no coins no ride (at times for the train). and he can't really totally go without as part of his job is to supervise the collection of cardboard for recycling. if he didn't have a car, they'd provide him one. but not having the second insurance, second petrol bill (we do pay more than americans), and not sitting... it's great.
however, i do love a good road trip planned a la over a plane (planes aren't really using biodiesel), but those are so few and far between and nothing a rental agency couldn't handle. and man... if we could rent bikes and do it... bonus. would love to do the katy trail in MO.
i hope more people opt for cutting down to at least one car. it's great fitness. good luck! pedal on.

Nytro said...

very, very interesting life you and your family are leading. i applaud you. we all could learn a lesson or two. my hubby and i just recently bought a scooter to drive to and from work on... it costs about $3.50 to fill up and gets about 85 miles to the gallon. is this something you and your wife have ever considered?

Doug said...

Kent, I was at work today (June 7th) here in Duluth and a co-worker asked me if I'd seen that article in the paper about the guy who used to live in Duluth and is car-free. She asked me because I sold my car four years ago and bike year-round (my wife does have a car though). I don't get the paper so I didn't see it. Anyhow, it's the same article and it was run in the local paper. I don't know if you knew that or not. I've been reading your blog for about half a year and didn't know you had lived here until this article came out. Small world.

gwadzilla said...

very cool...


I do not think our family could do it


I do not think we could exist on one car

that is us...

I commute to work via bicycle
and use the bike to get around and even walk a fair amount

but camping trips and bike races
I need a car
and if I am going to head to a race
it would be tough to leave the wife with two kids and no car

did you have a car when your kids were small?

I think that is the difference

your kids are old enough to be independent

glad they picked up your two wheeled ways

good going!

glad to hear that your story is being told

Teri said...

OMG, I am sooo jealous. I never get 22 comments!

Three cheers from a "biker chic" in Toronto.