Author Topic: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?  (Read 8074 times)

Houdini

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Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« on: November 20, 2014, 12:02:25 PM »
Just discovered the MMM blog -- love it! I have question for your readers:

 I've been unwittingly adhering to the first commandment of MMM: "Thou shalt bike" for my entire life -- so much so that I never really learned to drive. I got my licence 5 years ago, but have probably driven a less than a dozen times since. While I bravely cycle my city streets in any type of weather, I get terrified and stressed out whenever am behind the driver's wheel. I know more practice is the answer, but I live in the city, where as you know, biking is faster, healthier, and way less expensive. However, whenever I want to head to the country, or take a trip not accessible by train, I am always dependent on another person -- not a good feeling! I'd like to have the independence that comes with being a good driver.

Not having the skill of driving is a weakness, but becoming a good driver takes time and money, and I love my bike -- what should I do?

Future Lazy

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #1 on: November 20, 2014, 12:04:06 PM »
Take a road trip with a friend who has a good car. Drive to the Grand Canyon or some other middle of nowhere monument.

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2014, 12:07:24 PM »
Practice, practice and practice!

You need about a 100 hours of driving before you become skilled.

So, drive in different areas, first in less crowded and then as you get more confident, in more difficult areas.
Remember, driving on the expressway is quite different from driving city streets.

Best of luck and welcome to the MMM community.


Houdini

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2014, 12:33:37 PM »
Thanks, everyone! I know practice is the answer. However, I don't have a car (none of my friends in the city do either), and I rarely need to drive anywhere. I really only use a car for the rare occasion out of town trips, and then we usually want to get somewhere efficiently.

Should I rent a car to practice in the city, drive just for the sake of it? That seems crazy and expensive! And as for taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon, I'm so nervous on the road, I can barely drive in a 20 zone, let alone on the highway!

I'm trying to figure out a cost-efficient way to get started, and get practice in, given that I don't have access to a car.

johnny847

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2014, 12:36:44 PM »
Do you have access to a car sharing service such as Zipcar? You get charged by the hour, so for short practice sessions, it could be cheaper. But, you have to pay a yearly membership fee.

You could mitigate some of the costs by doing errands that you would normally do on your bike with a car instead.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2014, 01:55:01 PM »
If you live in an urban environment and do not need a car, I say, "...don't worrybouddit.." for now.  Any method of learning is going to take time and will have a big cost.  When and if you move somewhere where you need to be a skilled driver, then "bone up".

Lkxe

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #6 on: November 20, 2014, 03:09:40 PM »
Do you have access to a car sharing service such as Zipcar? You get charged by the hour, so for short practice sessions, it could be cheaper. But, you have to pay a yearly membership fee.

You could mitigate some of the costs by doing errands that you would normally do on your bike with a car instead.

There are several car share programs you should find the most cost effective. Or rent a car for several days( a weekend or a couple of weekdays) if it cheaper. If you are going to drive at anytime you need to be confident in the car- being overly cautious is just as dangerous as over aggression. Driving is a skill you should have even if you rarely need it. I learned to drive a stick in parking lots(I had been driving automatic for a couple of years) and then without enough practice drove from Virginia, around DC to Chicago- when I got there I was good, but I can't recommend it.

countdown

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2014, 03:21:21 PM »
Not mustachian, but just for reference, when my 49 yo husband from NY decided to learn to drive we tried to diy it with me and assorted friends/family helping him practice and he was still godawful. Think driving 15mph in a 45 zone. Finally, we paid for lessons from an off-duty police officer and it was a huge help. You might look for a Groupon.

agent_clone

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2014, 06:42:08 PM »
As others have said unfortunately it takes practice.  My personal story for driving was I got my learners at 17, my provisional licence at 18.  I think I drove about 30-50 hours before getting my provisional license.  After that I drove maybe once or twice a year until I completely moved away from my parents.  I ended up not driving at all for 3 years, moved back to my parents.  Dad was in the car with me the first couple of times driving after that, I was still only driving once every 2-3 months and scared of driving.
After I moved again I needed a car to get anywhere, it took me about a month of driving to and from work (about 20-30 minutes each way) before I became reasonably confident in driving.  My strategy was to avoid changing lanes except when necessary even if it meant I was going a bit slower... Also making sure I was in the needed lane very early.
To be honest, if your not going to be driving on a regular basis anyway, getting the confidence then not driving for a while you may lose your confidence again.

goodlife

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2014, 07:03:42 PM »
I also used to (somewhat still have) this problem. I think part of it is confidence. If I knew I had to drive somewhere, it used to really freak me out days in advance. But once I actually did it, I realized that it's not that bad. I also tend to avoid driving situations that freak me out. Like I really hate driving in cities in rush hour, so I would leave really early in the morning and intentionally come back really late at night so that there is no traffic. I hate driving in heavy rain, so whenver it pours, I just pull over and wait for it to stop. I always leave plenty of time buffer so that I am relaxed about driving (which means I usually get to where I need to be an hour ahead of time, so bring a book or something, haha). I never overakte people, even if I am behind a truck or something, I just stay there, makes me feel more comfortable and less stressed and I don't mind going slow anyhow. I always change lanes WAY ahead of time because I get very stressed out when people have to let me in later on (I have taken many long detours due to not feeling comfortable changing lanes at a later point, lol). I get very stressed out when I have to park on the side of a busy road or parallel park, so I just don't do it. I drive a mile further to park somewhere in the middle of nowhere and then walk to where I need to be, just reliefs the stress. Also in parking lots or parking garages, I usually drive around until I find a spot where there is no car parked on either side of me. It's not that I don't have the skill of parking, but if there is a car behind me, I just get really stressed out if I take a bit too long or have to reverse, I just hate it. I never drive with the radio on because I find it distracting. I try to drive alone or only with people really close to me because I always have the feeling that other people in the car with me are judging me and that makes me nervous (I know they probably aren't). Over the years it has gotten a lot better, so all I can say is that you just have to drive more and then gradually you will feel more confident. You are probably not a bad driver at all, probably you just have no confidence, the more you do it, the better you become.

Beric01

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2014, 07:07:40 PM »
Wow, this thread is really interesting!

I learned to drive at 20 (while on winter break from college), drove to work every day from age 22-24, and this year sold the car and am cycling everywhere. I haven't driven a car in 3 months, and don't foresee any reason to need to in the near to mid-term future. Should I be concerned about losing this skill?

agent_clone

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2014, 07:39:06 PM »
You won't lose the skill (I didn't after 3 years with minimal driving prior to that).  I did need a couple of hints for a couple of things but thats it.  However there may be a loss in confidence.  Really 3 months isn't long at all I don't think anyway...

johnny847

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2014, 08:32:17 PM »
Wow, this thread is really interesting!

I learned to drive at 20 (while on winter break from college), drove to work every day from age 22-24, and this year sold the car and am cycling everywhere. I haven't driven a car in 3 months, and don't foresee any reason to need to in the near to mid-term future. Should I be concerned about losing this skill?
I doubt it but in the past month, I've tried to turn off my car while it was in park two times now. Thankfully my car prevents me from doing this, but I got confused both times as to why I couldn't turn my car off.
So you may forget a couple little things here and there...

Beric01

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2014, 09:03:16 PM »
You won't lose the skill (I didn't after 3 years with minimal driving prior to that).  I did need a couple of hints for a couple of things but thats it.  However there may be a loss in confidence.  Really 3 months isn't long at all I don't think anyway...

Yeah, I think my point was that the next time I drive might be 5-10 years from now. Anyway, interesting situation! Perhaps we'll have robotic car-sharing by then anyway. :)

Nudelkopf

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2014, 02:12:46 AM »
 I can't drive. I guess I'll have to learn when I start having babies (I'm single and early 20s now, so no huge rush).

Beric01

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2014, 02:18:10 AM »
I can't drive. I guess I'll have to learn when I start having babies (I'm single and early 20s now, so no huge rush).

Who knows? Perhaps you won't need a car even if you have babies. I definitely am loving not owning one. I feel like I have more freedom NOT owning a car. It's one less thing to worry about, let alone the costs involved. If I have kids some day, I would love to get by on biking + walking + mass transit.

Nudelkopf

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2014, 02:21:50 AM »
You cant take a new born in a bike, right? And riding with a new born in 44oC (like today) is probably not advised.

former player

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #17 on: November 21, 2014, 02:51:12 AM »
To practice driving the first thing you need is access to a car, and unfortunately this is not cheap however you do it.  A generous and patient friend and an empty parking lot/roads is the cheapest option.  A more sustainable, although more expensive option, is to buy driving lessons as they come with the car included: a driving tutor (make sure you get a personal recommendation for a good one) will be happy to give lessons to someone like you who already has a licence but wants practice.  You could take a lesson or two before you plan each trip out of the city, so that the lesson is fresh when you need it.

Another option when you want to leave the city is to take public transport for the difficult bit (getting out of the city) and rent a car from a station outside the city for the more rural bit where you need the independence of the car and the driving should be less difficult and stressful - you might find that you are comfortable enough with such less stressful driving that you can do it without needing lessons.

electriceagle

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #18 on: November 21, 2014, 05:17:11 AM »
Thanks, everyone! I know practice is the answer. However, I don't have a car (none of my friends in the city do either), and I rarely need to drive anywhere. I really only use a car for the rare occasion out of town trips, and then we usually want to get somewhere efficiently.

Should I rent a car to practice in the city, drive just for the sake of it? That seems crazy and expensive! And as for taking a road trip to the Grand Canyon, I'm so nervous on the road, I can barely drive in a 20 zone, let alone on the highway!

I'm trying to figure out a cost-efficient way to get started, and get practice in, given that I don't have access to a car.

In my part of the country, Enterprise rents cars for $30 total from Friday to Monday. The only catch is that you'll have to buy their liability insurance if you don't already have your own.

arcangel911

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #19 on: November 21, 2014, 06:42:09 AM »
Have you thought about a motorcycle?

They're cheaper, last a long time, and are easier to maintain these days than some of the electric cars.

Gerard

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #20 on: November 21, 2014, 08:21:00 AM »
When I moved to a new city 8 years ago, my colleagues told me that driving was essential. So I got a learner's permit and arranged to borrow a car (my son and I were going to learn at the same time).

But then we thought... why bother? Everywhere we want to go is accessible by transit or bike, or taxi in a pinch. Why not use the time and money to do something more productive, or more fun?

So I still don't really know how to drive. And I haven't needed a car in the intervening 8 years. And I'm on track to retire after a 14-year work life.

johnny847

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #21 on: November 21, 2014, 08:59:52 AM »
When I moved to a new city 8 years ago, my colleagues told me that driving was essential. So I got a learner's permit and arranged to borrow a car (my son and I were going to learn at the same time).

But then we thought... why bother? Everywhere we want to go is accessible by transit or bike, or taxi in a pinch. Why not use the time and money to do something more productive, or more fun?

So I still don't really know how to drive. And I haven't needed a car in the intervening 8 years. And I'm on track to retire after a 14-year work life.
Well, it does restrict where you live to be manageable without a car. Of course, being able to do day to day things without a car is one of the core facets of Mustachanism. But life doesn't always go the way you want.

A more specific scenario would be to drive a rental car while on a vacation. Some areas of the world have some great scenic drives.

Sid Hoffman

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2014, 09:49:31 AM »
Well, it does restrict where you live to be manageable without a car. Of course, being able to do day to day things without a car is one of the core facets of Mustachanism. But life doesn't always go the way you want.

A more specific scenario would be to drive a rental car while on a vacation. Some areas of the world have some great scenic drives.

Yeah, I know in the recent MMM blog about cycling, he made mention of not buying gas for one (or both?) of his cars in 4 or 5 months.  However when on vacation they often do hundreds or even thousands of miles.  I look at cars as a tool: if you know how to use it, you at least have the option to do so.  If you don't know how to use it, you cut yourself off from ever having all the options that become possible when you do know how to use a car.  I like options.  In fact that's the thing I like about FI/RE more than anything else: it provides you with more options in life.

johnny847

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2014, 09:56:35 AM »
Well, it does restrict where you live to be manageable without a car. Of course, being able to do day to day things without a car is one of the core facets of Mustachanism. But life doesn't always go the way you want.

A more specific scenario would be to drive a rental car while on a vacation. Some areas of the world have some great scenic drives.

Yeah, I know in the recent MMM blog about cycling, he made mention of not buying gas for one (or both?) of his cars in 4 or 5 months.  However when on vacation they often do hundreds or even thousands of miles.  I look at cars as a tool: if you know how to use it, you at least have the option to do so.  If you don't know how to use it, you cut yourself off from ever having all the options that become possible when you do know how to use a car.  I like options.  In fact that's the thing I like about FI/RE more than anything else: it provides you with more options in life.
+1
You expressed my underlying message far better than me!

Gerard

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2014, 07:43:35 AM »
I look at cars as a tool: if you know how to use it, you at least have the option to do so.  If you don't know how to use it, you cut yourself off from ever having all the options that become possible when you do know how to use a car.

Nicely put. But I'm not so good with tools, either. I am good with cooking utensils, which I use far more often than I would ever use a car. I tell myself that that makes it okay.

sheepstache

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Re: Lifelong cyclist asks: how do I learn to drive?
« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2014, 01:32:38 AM »
Here's a tip: You know how people get really peeved about cyclists running red lights? Hoooo boy, they get way madder when you do it in a car.

j/k but seriously I'm just waiting until self-driving cars are a thing.