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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-26-07, 08:37 AM   #1
Cowtown Cumuter
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Car Free Not Always Easy...

I am now car or in my case, truck free. I have been a bicycle commuter eight months of the year for at least 7 years now and even before then at another workplace. But I always owned a vehicle for errands and trips etc...Mainly because the city I live in is so spread out it is difficult to go car free. I know...excuses, excuses. Well a couple of days ago I was running such an errand in my pickup and some fellow turned an illegal left turn towards me into my path. I tried to swerve and blamo, we hit! Both vehicles write-offs. He says he didn't see me coming due to the settng sun...The point is if you can't see, be extra careful when you proceed, don't just give 'er! So I am thinking of not even replacing this vehicle. It was a big gas guzzler but the size saved me from serious injury. I do have a hard time with winter riding. It gets very icy here and minus 20 celcius is not uncomon with wind-chills down to minus 35 at times. I could probably get some studded tires and special winter cycling gear with the pittance of insurance money I will receive. In anything below minus 10 celcius my lungs take a beating. Do any of you have asthma? I do and it can be diffucult in the cold. I know sounds like more excuses but going car free is not easy and I do admire anybody who can do so with little or no problem. Maybe they make a warming mask for asthma sufferers for the cold? Just looking for options here and trying to go with one less vehicle. Right now I am anxious to heal up and get rid of my whiplash so I can return to work (I have a physically demanding job).

GOD BLESS THE CAR-FREE YEAR-ROUND CYCLIST
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Old 09-26-07, 09:03 AM   #2
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CC, sorry to hear about the accident, but best wishes for your effort to remain car free.

Yes, I agree that it's not always easy to be car free. However, the luckier you are and the more carfree technique you can develop, the less you'll need the steely eyes and iron determination. There are lots of obstacles that need to be figured out. I don't recall anyone raising the question of cold weather asthma here on LCF, so I guess you'll have to be the expert.
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Old 09-26-07, 09:10 AM   #3
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I don't have full-blown asthma, but I have asthma-like symptoms from time to time and I used to have an asthma inhaler. I also know a bit about dealing with breathing troubles in cold weather, since I lived in Anchorage and Montreal for a combined 21 years. My thinking is that one way to avoid the worst of asthma is to try not to expose yourself to dust/smoke/pollens that could bother you. Keeping my home cleaner seems to make me less prone to asthma symptoms while I'm not home. I don't clean as much as I think I should, but I think I ought to spend, say, 5 or 10 minutes twice a week doing sweeping and such to keep things from getting as dirty, plus vacuum the whole apartment fairly thoroughly (or do some mopping) every other week.

Last I looked for it, nashbar.com had a pollution-filter mask that might or might not help with your cold-weather asthma symptoms... partly as a temperature barrier. Going slow and breathing through your nose (which filters some moisture out when you exhale and adds some moisture to dry air when you inhale) probably makes more of a difference.

Speaking of which, I think it's a good idea to pay attention to how much you can take before you'll get an asthma attack. Don't hesitate to use your inhaler right away if you know you must, but... for me anyway, pushing myself to the point where my air passages started to close up, and continuing anyway without using an inhaler, seemed to desensitize me so that I wouldn't get the closing-up reaction as easily.
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Old 09-26-07, 09:17 AM   #4
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Ask from local cross-country ski-club about breath air warmers. They might be able to give you good advices how to survive with asthma and cold weather.

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Old 09-26-07, 10:18 AM   #5
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I used to live in good ol' C-Town with asthma, and I used to take a neck warmer and pull it up over my mouth in the winter. Less than ideal, when compared to what is available specifically for the task, but it did help.

How far are you from the C-Train? Do you use it as part of your commute now? The thing that sucks about the C-Train is no bikes during rush hour, which is likely exactly when you would need it. If your work isn't from a station, lock up your bike at the station you leave from. Or see about shifting you hours at work so you can use CT. As long as you are a reasonable distance from a station, there should really be any services you would need that are more than a 5 min walk from a station. Use your insurance money for cold weather clothes and a transit pass.
If I recall, they plow the bike paths along the Bow for most of the way during the winter, but I don't think they plow anything else. Funny how the city won't plow streets (except the major roads), but they plow some of the bike paths.

PS Can anyone tell me what MUP stands for? From what I can tell, they are bike paths.
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Old 09-26-07, 10:50 AM   #6
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MUP stands for multi-use path.
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Old 09-26-07, 11:13 AM   #7
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Hey Cowtown Comuter,

I have asthma and live in a climate that gets pretty cold in the winter; around 15 degrees F when I leave in the morning for work. I have commuted by bike for over three years now, or three winters. I have had success using a scarf over my nose and mouth, but am definitely going to try a balaclava this year.

Also, when I have more difficulty with my asthma in the winter I have had to have my dose of Advair increased. Do you currently use any type of bronchiodilator? Advair is a combination of two drugs. The first drug is fluticasone propionate (Flovent) and the second drug is salmeterol (Serevent). Serevent is a long lasting albuterol, I believe.

Also, if you consider trying the balaclava or scarf idea, I would recommend not getting anything thicker than Polartec 200. I have found that trying to breathe through Polartec 300 is difficult when I'm exerting considerable effort, like climbing in the granny gear/small chainring. Whatever you end up using, you just want to make sure that you can easily breathe through it.

I hope I have helped.
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Old 09-26-07, 11:22 AM   #8
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I think you should talk to your doctor about the asthma issue. Do you see a pulmonologist, allergist or other specialist with advanced training and experience in treating asthma?

Strictly from a comfort level, winter carfree iding is very pracital. It's about 50 per cent good gear and equipment, and 50 per cent acclimatization, attitude, willingness and general happiness level.
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Old 09-26-07, 11:41 AM   #9
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Definitely make an appointment with a doctor to talk about your asthma. Until you do have the appointment, I'll second the scarf/balaclava thing, or look into the breath warmers for skiing and such.

I used a cheap neck gaiter last year for riding down to -5 F and didn't have any problems with my asthma.
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Old 09-26-07, 07:36 PM   #10
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Well you can always try and see how being car-free goes now that you have a chance, and buy another vehicle later if it doesn't work out for you. Is your commute doable by public transit? If you have the backup of transit for your winter commute, you can probably work out errands and trips. If trips are infrequent, renting a car for the weekend is often cheaper than having insurance on a car year round. You can get free credit cards that cover the CDW insurance. (this is what I do not having a car in case I want to rent one although I rarely do)

For errands, having a bike trailer comes in handy. In winter, if you can't find a way to deal with the cold (asthma of course makes it much more challenging), are there car-sharing programs you can join where you live? They usually are quite ideal for errands and again cheaper than insuring a car you own if you're going to use the car infrequently.

It doesn't have to be all or nothing - you can be car-lite rather than car-free by car sharing for the times when you need a car. You'll probably end up driving a lot less than if you owned a car because you'll think about each trip, do I really need a car for this or no?
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Old 09-28-07, 01:00 AM   #11
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I too suffered from asthma-like symptoms during winter riding.I found MY problem was breathing in the super cooled air and getting ice crystals in my lungs.Use to have an inhaler just for the winter.That is until I found this mask for snowmobiling.Covers your nose and the lower part of your face and neck.It was only $10 at the sporting goods store.Since then the asthma hasn't been a problem and I don't have to worry about my face freezing.Boogers in the 'stache are another thing.

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Old 09-28-07, 01:24 AM   #12
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It doesn't have to be all or nothing - you can be car-lite rather than car-free by car sharing for the times when you need a car.
Exactly. I don't own a car (never have), so I commute and run errands and whatnot on bike. But I also take the bus, taxi or rent a car if needed. Being "car free" (or car-lite in my case) is not a religion for me.

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Old 09-28-07, 10:00 AM   #13
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Congratulations! Calgary is just getting worse for traffic, and I can't say that public transit is keeping up with the population growth, either. Hopefully with the new city council, there'll be more spending for mass transit and low-impact commuting like biking. I wish you well, This place is sprawling!
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Old 09-29-07, 10:04 AM   #14
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Well I will take a little from all your advice...Thanks for your input, it is helpful. Firstly, I will have my asthma inhaler on hand and pre-medicate on really cold days. Second, I will purchase a balaclava to warm the air for cold days and third I will go car-light, my Wife has the "family wagon" and we use it for errands and trips but I really don't want to have to get another car. I actually feel that if all families owned one less vehicle the world would be a better place. I can honestly say that it will only be really badly cold for a brief few months but luckily we get those Chinook winds! So I will "cowboy-up" and bite the bullet. Unfortunatelly the c-trains are very far but I can use the bus on very bad days as long as I am not on an evening shift. You see the bus only runs so late and it literally takes me two times as long on the bus than taking it easy on a bike! Calgary really needs to develop its transit with the population growth.
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Old 09-29-07, 10:15 AM   #15
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Cowtown...try using a neoprene face mask, I work construction in all types of environments and they seemed to work the best for me, I also used them for cross country skiing and mtb riding in the winter....recommend you remove it prior to entering a bank or store however

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Old 09-29-07, 01:35 PM   #16
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.The point is if you can't see, be extra careful when you proceed, don't just give 'er! So I am thinking of not even replacing this vehicle. It was a big gas guzzler but the size saved me from serious injury.
Yep. Left-turners are always something to watch out for at intersections when you're on a bicycle. Fortunately, you'll probably not have to learn that the hard way.

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I do have a hard time with winter riding. It gets very icy here and minus 20 celcius is not uncomon with wind-chills down to minus 35 at times. I could probably get some studded tires and special winter cycling gear with the pittance of insurance money I will receive. In anything below minus 10 celcius my lungs take a beating.
Check out the Winter Cycling forum. Lots of advice on how to ride in winter. There is an active thread specifically on breathing in cold temperatures there right now.
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Old 09-29-07, 03:08 PM   #17
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Being "car free" (or car-lite in my case) is not a religion for me.
I'm all about being accepting of people of different backgrounds and different cultures and all, but if anybody says that car-free is their religion, I'm gonna laugh real hard.
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Old 10-09-07, 08:34 PM   #18
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Cowtown.......recommend you remove it prior to entering a bank or store however

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Old 10-09-07, 08:55 PM   #19
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oh hell, its easy as pie.

Just throw on 75 layers of clothes, ninja mask and give her hell.
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Old 10-09-07, 09:37 PM   #20
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Cowtown is Calgary, right? What's going on out there? I heard it's set to be the biggest city in Canada sometime this century. Does this have to so with oil? If so, be careful. I hope you don't go the way of so many oil boom towns. It doesn't sound good so far, with all the sprawl.

Is there a lot of air pollution in Cowtown? Usually smog is worse on the lungs than cold air. Sometimes smog is worse in the winter, so people blame their asthma symptoms on the weather.
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Old 10-09-07, 11:56 PM   #21
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Is there a lot of air pollution in Cowtown? Usually smog is worse on the lungs than cold air. Sometimes smog is worse in the winter, so people blame their asthma symptoms on the weather.
No more than usual for a big city, here in Calgary. All of the labour end of the oil business happens farther up north, its primarily the offices and such here.

Cowtown C, I also have asthma. It hasn't been a big deal in the last few years, and I don't even personally carry an inhaler anymore, but cold is still an issue. Keeping the incoming air warm is fine, even if you just use a thick face guard the warm moisture that lingers from your outgoing breath heats the incoming air.

Also, if you're going to get into winter biking here one thing to remember is that they salt the roads like mad now. That will eat your bike into scraps very fast. Frankenbikes are your friend!
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