Meet Gin Kilgore, a car-free Chicago mom

Logan Square resident as well as cycling and car-free living advocate Gin Kilgore was recently interviewed in the Chicago Tribune. Grid talks to Gin to get some more information about how others can go car free or “car light.”


Cars aren’t allowed to get this close in Humboldt Park.

Columnist Dawn Turner Trice describes how Gin and her family get around the city without a car, and one of the hard decisions they had to make about their son’s school.

But Gin has advice for other families who want to be car free, or drive less or with one fewer car:

Kilgore said that families considering changing their car habits should understand it may take time to get used to the new terrain. It helps to have a support system of family and friends. She also recommends the Chicago-based Active Transportation Alliance and keeping the number of a nearby cab or car-sharing company. [Chicago Tribune]

I talked to Gin this week to get some more information for Grid readers if they want to reduce their use of cars.

Going car free or car light is not about changing all of your trips to be by bike, but about how you organize your life.

My most challenging times have been when I commuted from Logan Square to 43rd and King Drive. I’m not used to shopping at bulk products stores – people might need to change their habits to achieve their car free/car light goals.

If you want to go car free or car light, you should consider an incentive “program” for yourself: set aside the money that you’re saving for a specific reward, or just save it. If I normally fill up tank 4x per month, can I cut that in half and use it for another purpose?

What’s the next step?

You can go “cold turkey” or you can start by identifying trips that can be consolidated in addition to trips where you can change your mode. Since I’ve never had a car, I’ve always organized my life, never made choices that required me to have a car.

I encourage the test run. Try biking to work on the weekend, on a day that it’s really low stakes. Allow for learning curve. It’s not difficult, it’s different. You need to give yourself time to figure it out. The benefits won’t seem obvious at first.


Gin and her son Miguel ride together on Humboldt Drive on their way out of Humboldt Park.

What are some of the benefits, Gin?

  • Never having to wonder where you parked.
  • Always being able to do a u-turn, when you’re lost.
  • Save so much money! I wish I noticed how much money I saved, but I never had a car.
  • I don’t go to the gym, I say 80% of my fitness is from cycling and walking to places.
  • There’s a community you join when you walk, bike, or take transit often. I love being on transit and around other people.

One thought on “Meet Gin Kilgore, a car-free Chicago mom”

  1. Thanks for letting me add in some details. It does make me a little sad that being a no or low car family is newsworthy (esp since 26% of Chicago households have no car and only 30% have 2 or more), but am grateful for any chance to get the word out. I don’t think we could have afforded to buy our building if we owned a car/s.

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