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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 09-07-06, 02:07 AM   #1
yendor28
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best places to live car free

Hi,

What are the best places in the world to live car free?

I have a career guidance post in Foo, and one factor would be a great place to live car-free which I do now in Australia. I am the ONLY person I know though. Everyone thinks it is ABSOLUTELY crazy!



Not even cool original and arty crazy, but wacko crazy
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Old 09-07-06, 02:49 AM   #2
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Paris, London, Melbourne are cities I am familiar with in which it would be dead easy to live car-free
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Old 09-07-06, 03:28 AM   #3
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I took the question to mean, rural, urban, suburban. Should you live in the city, never know what restrictions a US city might put on bicycle use. Rural, then you are far away from potentially needed services with a car. Suburban , traffic can be wicked. With the US so infatuated with the car. I vote, Holland , the country in Europe.
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Old 09-07-06, 04:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
Should you live in the city, never know what restrictions a US city might put on bicycle use.
As long as you imagining things, anything is possible. What "restrictions" are you dreaming about?
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Old 09-07-06, 06:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
As long as you imagining things, anything is possible. What "restrictions" are you dreaming about?
ex. There is a current thread here at BF's about pending changes in Chicago ordinances' about bikes having to stick to bike lanes, or not ride at all. That will not get a cyclists to work.
And I thought Mayor Daley was pro cyclist. There's just a starter. Cycists need get a little more militant. Not that installing bike lanes, makes many of us a more comfortable cyclist.
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Old 09-07-06, 07:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
ex. There is a current thread here at BF's about pending changes in Chicago ordinances' about bikes having to stick to bike lanes, or not ride at all.
Where is that thread? I tried to find it, but only found the one about the guy who saw the sign that said "bike lane closed, please walk your bike on the sidewalk" or whatever, on Lincoln Avenue. An obnoxious construction sign (that's been there for several months) does not equal "pending changes in Chicago ordinances". Again, I might have missed the thread you're talking about.
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Old 09-07-06, 10:13 AM   #7
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Boston is a decent place to live car-free. The city is compact enough for practical cycling, if you can take the winters. Mass transit (for all we gripe about it) can take you just about anywhere in the city and surrounding areas. There are also commuter rail trians that can take you to more widely-spaced locations up to 60-ish miles from the city, and you can generally take bikes on these trains. There's also a heavy Zipcar presence, which just about rounds it out.

On top of all that, parking here costs an arm, a leg, and your firstborn. Auto maintenance (potholes, salted roads) can cost you the other arm and leg, which leaves you to pedal your bike with your forehead. Not recommended.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:34 AM   #8
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I've never done a study of different places, so I can only share my own experiences, FWIW.

Cities--I believe that cycling instead of driving is feasible in most locations, but the things to look for, to make it easier, include:
  • Nearness of common locations--work, school, shopping, entertainment, hospital and doctor, etc.
  • Adequate public transit
  • Grid style street plan
  • Dog leash laws

Notice that most metro areas have some or all of these features. It's more important to find the right neighborhood within the city, IMO.

Small towns--I lived carfree (no bike) in a small town and I hated it. However, I was working in the city, 25 miles away, and that's what sucked. If I had been working in the small town, it probably would have been OK. Obviously everything is nearby and traffic isn't a problem.

Rural-- I only tried this carfree for one summer. I thought I was Thoreau or something, and it was OK for a while. I wasn't working at a real job--just caretaking and chopping firewood.

Suburbs-- Sorry. Never have and never will live there. Not my cup of joe.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yendor28
Hi,

What are the best places in the world to live car free?
Plainly said.......ANY third world country or the Netherlands
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Old 09-07-06, 12:20 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyclezealot
ex. There is a current thread here at BF's about pending changes in Chicago ordinances' about bikes having to stick to bike lanes, or not ride at all. That will not get a cyclists to work.
And I thought Mayor Daley was pro cyclist. There's just a starter. Cycists need get a little more militant. Not that installing bike lanes, makes many of us a more comfortable cyclist.
As already pointed out by Mugsy; this zealous "example" is making a dang mountain out of a non-existant molehill. Definite tin foil hat material. Your "starter" is nothing but just wild and wooly over-reaction to exaggeration and bizarre extrapolation from the whaa -whaa brigade.
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Old 09-07-06, 09:55 PM   #11
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The city of Toronto is a pretty great place to live car-free. Cycling in traffic is hard work, but the drivers here seem to be more aware of cyclists than in most American cities. The public transit system is fantastic in the downtown core and OK in the inner suburbs. The city police take the crosswalks seriously, so walking there is pretty safe.

Toronto's suburbs are generally a bad place to live car-free. Most of the suburban cities are based on 2 square km supergrids, and the only through streets are multi-lane arterials with high speed limits. Suburban transit is pretty sketchy, and walking is not really feasible because everything is too far apart. At least the drivers usually act correctly around bikes (with a few very irritating exceptions.)

I live in the suburbs, but I'm lucky enough to be only 5km from work, and have several shops and restaurants within an easy 10 minute walk. Car-free is doable, but definitely not as easy as it would be downtown. Car-lite is pretty reasonable, if you live close to work.
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Old 09-07-06, 09:56 PM   #12
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It's easy to be car-free in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing. That said, cycling in Hong Kong is for crazy people (twisty two-lane roads around hills with lots of blind corners, no shoulders, not enough cyclists for drivers to know what to do), and Singapore has no bicycle infrastructure (but is still fun to ride). Beijing is great on a bike except for the pollution. Tokyo is a pretty good place to ride, and the subway system is fantastic.

Many people who are themselves "car-free" in these cities rely on public transportation and/or taxis. I know of people who primarily get around on bikes in Singapore, Beijing, and Tokyo. Not so in Hong Kong -- there it's busses and MTR (subway).
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Old 09-07-06, 09:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golf XRay Tango
The city of Toronto is a pretty great place to live car-free. Cycling in traffic is hard work, but the drivers here seem to be more aware of cyclists than in most American cities. The public transit system is fantastic in the downtown core and OK in the inner suburbs. The city police take the crosswalks seriously, so walking there is pretty safe.
+1 on Toronto, particularly near the downtown core.
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Old 09-07-06, 10:01 PM   #14
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My experience in London was brief and did not include cycling, but I could easily see living there without a car.
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Old 09-07-06, 10:38 PM   #15
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Houston or Dallas. Just kidding, although it probably could be done, if you can learn to ride the buses, and don't need to visit the suburbs.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:17 PM   #16
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Not all US cities are bad for bicycles. My personal favorites include Denver, Seattle, Portland,and, yes, Chicago. (Chicago gets a bad rap sometimes, but in reality, it kicks ass on most other major US cities. You heard it here first.)
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Old 09-07-06, 11:28 PM   #17
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In the U.S., San Francisco and Seattle. My brief visit to Toronto made me long to live there.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
Houston or Dallas. Just kidding, although it probably could be done, if you can learn to ride the buses, and don't need to visit the suburbs.
I was a bike commuter in Dallas for most of 1981-82. Lived in University Park near SMU, worked in Farmers Branch, and went to graduate school at UTD. Married with children, wife had a car. Cycled about 33 miles a day. Never rode the bus. It worked and it was glorious.

I've visited Dallas a few times since I moved away in 1983. They now have by far the best light rail system in Texas and the bus system seemed to me to be quite adequate. Dallas could work okay for a person who is able to select their residence and job with an eye to being carfree.

Houston, well, ah, hmm. That's a head scratcher for me. They have the start of what could someday be a great light rail system, and they do have a bus system. But where Dallas seems committed to making public transit work, Houston just does not buy into the idea of alternative transportation.
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Old 09-07-06, 11:41 PM   #19
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Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Spain...
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Old 09-08-06, 08:38 AM   #20
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On the subject of living car-free in Chicago:

I lived car-free in Chicago from 1999 until about six months ago (I still don't own a car, but my fiancee does, and since we live together, and I ride in her car and occassionally drive it, I don't think I can say I am car-free). Ironically, I only started using my bike for transportation about two months after moving in with my car-owning fiancee. But before then, I lived without a car for many years, relying only upon public transportation, cabs, and my own two feet to get around.

I think, in Chicago, it depends a lot on where you live and what you want to do to live car-free. Most of my car-free experience has been living in the north side neighborhood of Lakeview, and working downtown in the Loop (although I did work out in the suburbs for about six months, and did that without a car as well, but it involved a lot of bus transfers and it pretty much sucked).

I lived my life in about a four-mile radius. My apartment was a block away from the Brown Line, and I took the CTA to work every day. Most everything I wanted to do was within a few blocks of my house. Occassionally I would take the Metra (commuter rail) out to the suburbs to my parents' house. Obviously, for things like trips to Target or Costco I would hitch a ride with a car owning friend who was already going. Grocery-wise, there was a Dominick's about five blocks from my house (which burned down last summer, so I had to resort to Peapod).

Nowadays, I tend to avoid the car if I can. I bike anywhere I am going by myself - if my fiancee and I are going somewhere, we tend to drive (she's not as much of a biker as I am). And, of course, if we're going somewhere with the dog, we take the car (the dog park we like is not walkable from our house).
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Old 09-08-06, 08:39 AM   #21
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My top pick for an urban area is Graz in Austria. The central area is flat, and is criss-crossed with bike paths and lanes. There is a well developed public transport system that is really, really easy to get around, with both buses and trams. The trains (from the two stations) are designed to carry bikes, and can easily get you out into the country. The surrounding countryside is often a lot hillier, and there are great mtb tracks.
Also, the town centre is a world heritage site. Ohh, take me back to Graz!
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Old 09-08-06, 11:49 AM   #22
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nyc hands down. but it's a special case.
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Old 09-08-06, 12:01 PM   #23
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I seem to do just fine here in Portland. I perceive that my life was a great deal more stressful with the car than without. I can't speak for anyone else, but there are a lot of other car free folks around here, and they seem happy enough. My brother is for sure.

Now, my bro and I are in complete agreement that we would not be happy living car free where we grew up in metro Detroit. In fact, if you create a worst list, definitely put metro Detroit on it.
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Old 09-08-06, 04:00 PM   #24
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Santa Barbara is nice.
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Old 09-08-06, 05:12 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
As already pointed out by Mugsy; this zealous "example" is making a dang mountain out of a non-existant molehill. Definite tin foil hat material. Your "starter" is nothing but just wild and wooly over-reaction to exaggeration and bizarre extrapolation from the whaa -whaa brigade.
You are right in this example. I read it wrong. Heck, I stay up all night so often, we all make mistakes.
But, THere have been numerous threads started here at BF's in the past about restrictive laws on cyclists.
One mentioned years back. The state of Illinois, tried to eliminate the use of numerous state highways for cyclists , seems they were between Quincy and Springfield? / A member of Bike forums asked members of this forum to write State Highway officials to stop state plans to restrict cycists to pathways.
I was one who did.
Check in with the League of American Bicyclists, which in the past I have done. They are not imagined.
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