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Gifts for the Car-free People on Your List

December 15, 2009

You got your brother a fancy car air freshener, and you got your friend one of those remote car-starter gadgets. But what to get for your car-free friends and loved ones for the holidays? Here are some ideas:

Bike Helmet
According to the League of American Bicyclists (LAB), 43,000 people were injured in cycling accidents in 2007. Protect your car-free friend’s cranium with a CSPC– or ANSI-certified bicycle helmet. The good news is you don’t have to spend a lot of money; testing by the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute shows that the very expensive helmets and the very cheap helmets all have about the same impact protection. The Bell Citi, which is a reasonable $48, recurs as a favorite among cycling advocacy groups, as well as Consumer Reports. NOTE: If you really want to give the gift of cycling safety, be sure also to direct your friend to the LAB’s “Rules of the Road” for some helpful reminders.

Free Ride Coupon
If you’ve got wheels yourself, you don’t have to spend money (or even leave the house) to get a gift

Do it yourself!

for the car-free person on your list. Get out your construction paper and markers and write them a voucher for a free ride (chauffeured or otherwise) in your vehicle. Offer your car for their next dentist appointment, promise to be there for them on a rainy day, or suggest a weekend road-trip together. If you’re not artsy (or just a little lazy), you can download a coupon template. Impress your giftee with your ingenuity while showing your support for their car-free lifestyle.

Warm Woolen Mittens
As Louis said to Ella, “Baby, it’s cold outside.” Get your baby some gloves or mittens to keep their paws warm. Hand-wear is important to those of us who can’t crank the heat up when we’re in transit. If your loved one’s into GORE-TEX and polar fleece, try your local sporting goods store. If they’re into cotton and wool, try Etsy—but don’t be drawn in by those trendy fingerless kinds. Warmth trumps style.

Grocery Cart
An engine isn’t essential for grocery shopping, but a set of wheels can be a huge help. Your one-time gift of a grocery cart will allow your friend to buy both milk AND a bottle of wine and not have sore shoulders the next day. If you live in a big city, you can usually find them at the grocery store. If not, you can find a large selection online. I recommend the kind with hard plastic wheels, as the metal-spoked kind seem to bend more easily. Whether you get a simple metal cart or a canvas one with some cute print, your friend will be grateful to you for lightening their load—and they might finally be able to host you for dinner!

Public Transport Gift Card
As a nation, we took 10.7 billion trips using public transportation in 2008, according to the American Public Transport Association. So, give a subway or bus gift card, and you can be sure it won’t be part of the $8 billion in gift cards that Consumers Union reported went unredeemed last year. First, make sure your giftee lives in an area with public transportation. Then, you’ll need to do a bit of research, because each city’s public transportation system is different. Some systems have month or year passes; others might have gift certificates or cards that you can buy for various sums.

Those are my car-free gift ideas. What are yours?


3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 15, 2009 10:42 am

    Amy, I ❤ the idea of the free ride coupon! I am going to print a BUNCH of those up for my No Car Go friends.

    Another one to add, are high quality insoles for your shoes. I recently learned that to keep costs of shoes down, the quality of the insoles in most shoes is pretty low. So I did a little research and found "Superfeet" ( I have two pairs myself, one for my casual shoes, and one for my hiking shoes. They are amazing, and I have found that after wearing my shoes my feet feel way less tired. If you're a No Car Go-er, and often walking/cycling from place to place, this might be a really helpful gift!

  2. avaerewyck permalink
    December 16, 2009 11:56 am

    Glad you liked the coupon idea, Shawn. Of course, the coupon idea isn’t totally novel (and, for my part, I must give credit to my third-grade teacher, who made us make Mother’s Day coupon books) but there are a lot of fun twists and themes you can use with them. And hey, thanks for the Superfeet tip! Bet their good for your knees too.


  1. Spotlight on a Car-free Advocate « No Car Go

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