From Truck in the Suburbs to Car-Free in 7 years

In celebration of World Bicycle Day, we are sharing a story written by Paths for People Member Kelly Granigan, which recounts her family’s changing experience with transportation in Edmonton!

Kelly is a mom and an engineer. She spends most of her free time crocheting and getting outside by walking or biking. Kelly’s family is car-free, and year-round cyclists (including the kids). She’s passionate about solar energy, waste reduction, & sustainability.

In 2013 our family lived in Millwoods, and owned a car and a truck. I read an article that introduced me to the idea of bike commuting. I became interested in bike commuting to improve my health and finances. I had not biked in 10 years, but I was lucky in a few ways:

  • Less than 10km to work, mostly flat route, almost fully separated from traffic
  • Secure place to lock
  • Showers and lockers

I bought an entry level bike and became a fair-weather cyclist. It was an enjoyable experience, and I got hooked.

As I bike commuted, biking changed my perspective. Cycling connected me to my community. I felt unsafe biking in many places in our neighborhood, and I wanted to feel safer. I learned about how infrastructure affects the cycling experience.

Two people were killed, in two crashes, at an intersection near our house. We did not feel safe walking with our kids. I began to see cars as dangerous. I felt driving a car made me dangerous to those around me.

I wanted to improve safety in my neighborhood by choosing not to drive. I see biking (and walking and transit) as a way to use my privilege to improve my community.

Eventually, we needed to send our kids to daycare. We bought a third-hand trailer. I was struggling pulling two kids. I got an electric pedal-assist bike.

Riding a pedal assist bike was fun!

I soon discovered wind and rain were no longer a challenge. I became an all-weather cyclist. 2017 was the first year I winter biked.

Our trailer was stolen within two months. Cycling had become crucial for my physical and mental health and I was unwilling to let a theft stop me. We bought a pedal assist cargobike, which let me carry two kids without a trailer, making it easier to take with me and lock up.

We rarely drove the truck. It would not reliably start as a result. I did not like driving a truck in a city. It cost a lot of money. Where we lived, transit was not great. As long as we lived there, we needed a second vehicle for severe weather days. We had to move to an area with better transit to sell the truck.

We moved in 2018 to a location with better transit, close to better bike infrastructure. Selling the truck made living in the more expensive house less expensive than a car and a truck and a house in the suburbs. The new location also feels safer to walk around.

After my partner changed to a job he could bike and transit to, we were driving the car about once a week. The car started having trouble starting. We started looking into going car free.

Searching for transportation alternatives felt freeing, and we realized we had many options.

Using multiple transportation methods lets us pick the right tool for the job. We also choose activities we don’t need to drive to as often as possible. When we were using the car twice a month or less, it became more expensive to own a car than not, and selling was an easy decision.

A car was a source of stress for us, and we’re glad it’s gone from our lives. Moving around on bike and by foot brings us joy, connects us to our community, and helps our physical, financial and mental health.