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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 08-01-10, 07:44 AM   #1
Geo Cruise
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Car Free for two years.

I would love to come in here and say yes I am car free for two years because of my convictions to the environment, but in actuality I simply could not afford it anymore. I can get a car but cannot afford insurance and gas. Summer is easy I can get everywhere and everything I want on my bike, but we get 4 feet of snow here and 8 foot snow banks the roads are too dangerous to try to winter ride around here so I rely on family and public transport for about 5 months a year.

I actually eat a lot better because I go to the grocery store more often and buy less but get a lot more fresh baked goods and fruit than I used to. I get more exercise, I wasn't a couch potato before but now every where I go I am getting exercise. If not for my health and my need for Canada's Health care I would probably think about moving south where I could live a car free lifestyle year round with ease.
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Old 08-01-10, 01:11 PM   #2
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If not for my health and my need for Canada's Health care I would probably think about moving south where I could live a car free lifestyle year round with ease.
And yet I live in the Willamette Valley where we have no snow or ice and in my city I see more cars than bikes on the bike paths seven months of the year. The cultural norm here is that if it might rain one is not supposed to go outside. They even set up the bike paths so they flood regularly. Why not? No one rides on them when it is wet out. We could really use some people who would ride their bikes year-round. Maybe the U.S. will join the civilized world and get universal health care someday so you can move on down here.

By the way, congrats on the 'free lifestyle.
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Old 08-01-10, 03:26 PM   #3
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The UK is very much only talk when it comes to climate change. There have been a few changes, but car usage is still more practicle and cheaper than public transport.
Car free is better for your own health and meeting people. I have been car free for 3 months, I dont think that I have saved any money, but I dont expect to buy a car when cold weather comes.

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Old 08-01-10, 03:37 PM   #4
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Well even in Canada Healthcare is still an issue, really only with people who have never been sick before though, but I doubt I could get insurance down there with a preexisting disability and without it I could not function so no sunny warm January days for me. That would be nice though, I would not even be tempted by a car if I could go year round on a bike.
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Old 08-01-10, 03:55 PM   #5
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I would love to come in here and say yes I am car free for two years because of my convictions to the environment, but in actuality I simply could not afford it anymore. I can get a car but cannot afford insurance and gas. Summer is easy I can get everywhere and everything I want on my bike, but we get 4 feet of snow here and 8 foot snow banks the roads are too dangerous to try to winter ride around here so I rely on family and public transport for about 5 months a year.

I actually eat a lot better because I go to the grocery store more often and buy less but get a lot more fresh baked goods and fruit than I used to. I get more exercise, I wasn't a couch potato before but now every where I go I am getting exercise. If not for my health and my need for Canada's Health care I would probably think about moving south where I could live a car free lifestyle year round with ease.
I'm curious about how much snow you get in Barrie. I saw a number of pictures from Toronto last winter and they got less snow that we did in the US Midwest. Average snowfall for Toronto is 52 inches. Average Des Moines snowfall is 33 inches. However last winter we got around 70 inches and I was able to cycle in every month of the year (not every day, but many days...).

If you live in metro Toronto ( and most likely Barrie), streets get cleared regularly and with proper gear you can probably get out on bike on most days. The Winter Cycling subforum is full of posts from Canadians who happily commute through the winter.

I recommend looking through Winter Cycling. You may be able to convince yourself to start eating into that 5-month block of no-cycling... perhaps getting out on good days and taking public transportation when it really sucks.
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Old 08-01-10, 04:12 PM   #6
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I'm curious about how much snow you get in Barrie. I saw a number of pictures from Toronto last winter and they got less snow that we did in the US Midwest. Average snowfall for Toronto is 52 inches. Average Des Moines snowfall is 33 inches. However last winter we got around 70 inches and I was able to cycle in every month of the year (not every day, but many days...).

If you live in metro Toronto ( and most likely Barrie), streets get cleared regularly and with proper gear you can probably get out on bike on most days. The Winter Cycling subforum is full of posts from Canadians who happily commute through the winter.

I recommend looking through Winter Cycling. You may be able to convince yourself to start eating into that 5-month block of no-cycling... perhaps getting out on good days and taking public transportation when it really sucks.
I ride year-round and we get an average of 50 inches of snow. In some ways winter riding is more difficult, in some ways it's easier. I just hate to see people say it's impossiblel when they haven't even tried it.
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Old 08-01-10, 04:16 PM   #7
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I'm curious about how much snow you get in Barrie. I saw a number of pictures from Toronto last winter and they got less snow that we did in the US Midwest. Average snowfall for Toronto is 52 inches. Average Des Moines snowfall is 33 inches. However last winter we got around 70 inches and I was able to cycle in every month of the year (not every day, but many days...).

If you live in metro Toronto ( and most likely Barrie), streets get cleared regularly and with proper gear you can probably get out on bike on most days. The Winter Cycling subforum is full of posts from Canadians who happily commute through the winter.

I recommend looking through Winter Cycling. You may be able to convince yourself to start eating into that 5-month block of no-cycling... perhaps getting out on good days and taking public transportation when it really sucks.

We get significantly more snow here in Barrie than in Toronto, Between Barrie and Huntsville about an hour and a half north of Barrie is called the snowbelt, we get streamers coming off Georgian bay and can get 3 feet over night or more at times, Toronto rarely gets hit by the lake effect snow and therefore does not get near the amount. I can drive 25 minutes south to my sisters home and she will have 4 feet less snow than we have, for cycling it simply makes it too dangerous to even try the snow banks get so large and the roads get narrower with the snow and most cars simply cannot react in time if a near miss is about to happen. Plus with the amount of snow we have on the ground even on a clear sunny day all you need is a gust of wind and you have an instant white out from the drifting snow. Some years we get of easy, last winter was a peach I wish we had mor like it, but the previous winter was horrid and we were buried. The streamers are hard to forecast until often the day of I have gone to sleep before with no warnings and woke up with a few feet in the yard. You may learn more details about it by googling lake effect snow, or lake effect streamers but as long as lajke huron and georgian bay have open water we never knoow what the next day could be like.
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Old 08-01-10, 04:23 PM   #8
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We get significantly more snow here in Barrie than in Toronto, Between Barrie and Huntsville about an hour and a half north of Barrie is called the snowbelt, we get streamers coming off Georgian bay and can get 3 feet over night or more at times, Toronto rarely gets hit by the lake effect snow and therefore does not get near the amount. I can drive 25 minutes south to my sisters home and she will have 4 feet less snow than we have, for cycling it simply makes it too dangerous to even try the snow banks get so large and the roads get narrower with the snow and most cars simply cannot react in time if a near miss is about to happen. Plus with the amount of snow we have on the ground even on a clear sunny day all you need is a gust of wind and you have an instant white out from the drifting snow. Some years we get of easy, last winter was a peach I wish we had mor like it, but the previous winter was horrid and we were buried. The streamers are hard to forecast until often the day of I have gone to sleep before with no warnings and woke up with a few feet in the yard. You may learn more details about it by googling lake effect snow, or lake effect streamers but as long as lajke huron and georgian bay have open water we never knoow what the next day could be like.
I'm in Michigan, so I certainly know about lake effect snow. We don't get much here in Lansing. Another town I spend a lot of time in averages 100 inches of snow, alot of it lake effect. Many people ride year-round there also. The snow is cleared off streets within hours, without fail. My rule of thumb is that if cars with 2 wheel drive can get through, so can bikes with 2 wheel drive.
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Old 08-01-10, 04:35 PM   #9
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I'm in Michigan, so I certainly know about lake effect snow. We don't get much here in Lansing. Another town I spend a lot of time in averages 100 inches of snow, alot of it lake effect. Many people ride year-round there also. The snow is cleared off streets within hours, without fail. My rule of thumb is that if cars with 2 wheel drive can get through, so can bikes with 2 wheel drive.
Granted you are right but you are putting a lot of faith in the skill of drivers you have no knowledge of. You can do everything right but if they do something wrong do you have faith they can control their car properly?
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Old 08-01-10, 04:42 PM   #10
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Granted you are right but you are putting a lot of faith in the skill of drivers you have no knowledge of. You can do everything right but if they do something wrong do you have faith they can control their car properly?
I never have faith in other drivers (or walkers, cyclists, etc.) so I always ride defensively. I don't ride in the midst of a heavy snow storm or blizzard, but hardly anybody would be driving in those circumstances either.

If I did lose control in snow, I'd rather be on a bike going 10 mph, which can easily be dropped in a panic situation, than stuck in a car going 20 or 30 mph or more.
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Old 08-01-10, 04:44 PM   #11
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But I forgot to say what I wanted to say to the OP, which is congratulations on your 2 years. Keep it up, no matter HOW you do it, the important thing is that you are doing it!

BTW, what is your main transportation in the winter when you're not riding?
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Old 08-01-10, 04:53 PM   #12
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But I forgot to say what I wanted to say to the OP, which is congratulations on your 2 years. Keep it up, no matter HOW you do it, the important thing is that you are doing it!

BTW, what is your main transportation in the winter when you're not riding?
City bus, if I am in a rush a cab, or if available a family member, it all depends were and what and why. Mostly buses though.
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Old 08-01-10, 05:34 PM   #13
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Congrats on the 2 years -- I'm nearing 6 myself....

Around here (NE Indiana), we get about the same as Des Moines; there's also a pretty lousy system of street-clearing, although it's better now than a decade ago. Were it not for a homeowner down the street, our street would get plowed maybe once every other year.

I will ride 10-1/2 months or more out of the year; if it's too deep, or too slick, I take the bus. I'm thinking of studded tires for this coming winter, they may help avoid last winter's little debacle (cracked (L) ankle).

I haven't saved any money either, unless you classify "saving" as "no longer wasting". But the sense of freedom from the car is still exhilarating!
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Old 08-01-10, 07:18 PM   #14
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City bus, if I am in a rush a cab, or if available a family member, it all depends were and what and why. Mostly buses though.
There's nothing wrong with using a city bus. I'm carfree and would not consider riding my bike anymore and actually prefer using the bus because it's safer and more relaxing. Most of the world is without a car and the transport of choice is the bus. Don't feel ashamed.

The forum members are pro-cycling and that's fine too. They only see carfree independence through two wheels but we are in fact a minority. There are very few men and even less women who practice transportation cycling. This is usually out of fear that our roads are too dangerous and then there's the impression that people will consider you destitute cycling to work.

Whatever the case, it's good to see you carfree. Welcome.
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Old 08-01-10, 07:33 PM   #15
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I'm car free in Monterey, California for about 7 years
and car lite at the most any any given time in my life before that
as a kid, my dad and I did not have a car, living in Ventura, Ca.

my brothers, car free in Los Angeles

sometimes I'd wonder of Car Free in Hawaii
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Old 08-01-10, 09:27 PM   #16
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but car usage is still more practicle and cheaper than public transport.
Why is that? Is the public transit extremely expensive where you live?
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Old 08-01-10, 09:29 PM   #17
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I'm curious about how much snow you get in Barrie. I saw a number of pictures from Toronto last winter and they got less snow that we did in the US Midwest. .
Toronto has some kind of weird bubble over it formed by Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment directing snowfall away. Areas all around Toronto, even Buffalo south of us, get way more snow than we do. Barrie is much snowier than Toronto.
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Old 08-01-10, 10:53 PM   #18
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Snow isn't really the problem for me. It is the low temperatures. I'm OK with riding in temperatures as low as six degrees. Unfortunately in Montana there are usually several days that have overnight low temperatures at minus 20 F. In those weeks the high temperature is usually minus 10 to minus 1. For the past few years I've worked for myself and didn't need to go out until the temperature reached its high for the day. Now I've got a job and I'll be working at night. My return trip home will be at about six to seven AM. I'm concerned about that for this coming winter.

Usually I stick a couple of chemical hand warmers in each heavy down mitten and one in each boot. Even at six degrees my feet and hands get cold. I guess I'll try doubling up the chemical packs. They might cost less than calling a cab. Will it be worth $660 per month to go to and from work in a cab for two months per year? This job doesn't pay a fortune. There isn't any good mass transit in my city.
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Old 08-01-10, 11:06 PM   #19
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you need Moose Mitts
http://www.trails-edge.com/retail/te...mfbikemits.htm
aka: poogies
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Old 08-01-10, 11:41 PM   #20
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Why is that? Is the public transit extremely expensive where you live?
Over here in the UK small, older cars can be quite cheap to run; public transport can be expensive. I havnt kept a record of how much I spend, but it only takes a few long journys or a few taxis to higher the cost.
Perhaps it might be cheaper car-free once I get cycling more, but looking after my daughter puts the costs up. Weekend trips out. Not sure how much winter will affect that.
I think the car-free v car costs may be similar.

S
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Old 08-02-10, 09:55 AM   #21
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Over here in the UK small, older cars can be quite cheap to run; public transport can be expensive. I havnt kept a record of how much I spend, but it only takes a few long journys or a few taxis to higher the cost.
So you were talking about longer trips rather than daily commutes. For a group of people, like a family, who travel together a lot - say to a weekend retreat 20 weekends a year, certainly car ownership might well be a cheaper way to travel, and far more convenient than buying everyone multiple bus or train tickets. But if it's only a handful of trips a year surely car rental would be the most economical option.
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Old 08-02-10, 11:09 AM   #22
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Summer is easy I can get everywhere and everything I want on my bike, but we get 4 feet of snow here and 8 foot snow banks the roads are too dangerous to try to winter ride around here so I rely on family and public transport for about 5 months a year.
I live in a part of Ontario that gets a fair amount of snowfall too. Although some love to cycle in the snow and cold, I wouldn't dream of it. I like to cycle, not dread it. I can usually manage until about mid November, and then pick it up again in March or so. There are usually some days in the winter that I can sneak in a ride or two because it's not that cold or snowy out.

When it's really cold and snowy, as you do, I commute on foot or by bus. Not using the bicycle does not mean necessarily having to revert back to the car. A bicycle is often not the only way to get around in the community as you have shown; buses, taxis and friends are other ways.

But when the weather turns warmer, (around here it's about mid March,) I start riding the bicycle pretty much all the time. It feels so good to be around my favourite mode of transportation again
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Old 08-02-10, 11:25 AM   #23
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I had a buddie when I was living in Timmons and he was a Native American and was from way up near Churchhill and he had Caribou mittens, I asked about them and it turns out caribou hair is actually hollow to add better insulating properties, I tried the on and it was like having electrical heaters in them is was quite amazing. He had me trace my feet and he sent them to his mother and she made me a beautiful set of Moccasins all beaded in native art and everything, I wore the for years until i finally wore them out

he said he has a caribou coat as well but rarely wore it because it was so hot LOL, I wish I could get some of that stuff but it isn`t I believe allowed to hunt caribou except for natives who live off the animals the way they have for a thousands of years.

I have a set of something similar to the moose mittens, they actually work quite well I still pull the out on the cold days every one in a while but they are quite worn out.

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Old 08-02-10, 11:37 AM   #24
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I live in a part of Ontario that gets a fair amount of snowfall too. Although some love to cycle in the snow and cold, I wouldn't dream of it. I like to cycle, not dread it. I can usually manage until about mid November, and then pick it up again in March or so. There are usually some days in the winter that I can sneak in a ride or two because it's not that cold or snowy out.

When it's really cold and snowy, as you do, I commute on foot or by bus. Not using the bicycle does not mean necessarily having to revert back to the car. A bicycle is often not the only way to get around in the community as you have shown; buses, taxis and friends are other ways.

But when the weather turns warmer, (around here it's about mid March,) I start riding the bicycle pretty much all the time. It feels so good to be around my favourite mode of transportation again
I made it til december last year thanks to the easuy winter we had, I was riding almost until Christmas, and was back out 2nd week of march, year before I was done by mid October though we had a tough winter then and after Chistmas I moved to Grande Prairie Alberta to a job Ihad go and did not ship muy bike out right away, the oil prices fell to 34$ a barrel though and everything shut down up there so I was back home on April 28th which was when I started riding again, but that had a tough winter while I was gone and it sound like I did not miss much riding time. I love the fresh air of riding and I really noticed when I first went car free that I had a huge ne jump in my step to do things, I just had more energy because of the extra exercise I was getting and I am not a morning person at all, but I noticed it was a great way to start the day and wake up and be a little more cheery.
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Old 08-04-10, 12:01 PM   #25
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we get 4 feet of snow here and 8 foot snow banks the roads are too dangerous to try to winter ride around here so I rely on family and public transport for about 5 months a year.
I've been car free in Anchorage for quite a few years now. Check out the winter biking forum here. The impossible *IS* possible.
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