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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.

View Poll Results: Would you like to live in a car-free city?
I'd live in a car-free city, and pay a premium to do so. 48 38.10%
I'd live in a car-free city, but I wouldn't want to pay any more to live there. 59 46.83%
I wouldn't want to live in a car-free city. 8 6.35%
A car-free city would somehow be declared unconstitutional in the US. 11 8.73%
Voters: 126. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-31-07, 01:44 AM   #1
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I'm ready for a US Car-Free City

I recall visiting Venice a few years back. I remember how peaceful and quiet it was, even though there were hundreds of thousands of tourists there.

I think this is just what the US needs - a brand spanking new CAR-FREE city. The Press would jump all over this. The city would have free advertising, just based on the novelty. I'll bet that if some entrepeneur started something like this, he'd get a ton of interest. This investor could purchase a large tract of land, near some city, and connect with a major Metropolitan area's light rail. And just like people must park their cars at the train station in Venice, they'd have to do this in Serenityville (how's that for a name?).

I found this link, and it has some interesting designs for Car-Free cities.
http://carfree.com/

I'll bet there are a number of industries that would love to have their home-base in this kind of city. Not only would the city be quiet, but there would be NO auto accidents. To maintain the quiet atmosphere, I think internal combustion engines, in general, should not be allowed (gasoline powered lawnmowers, etc). I've attached a poll. I'm curious what others think.
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Old 03-31-07, 03:10 AM   #2
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A fully functioning car free city would be a pretty tall order.

What might be possible would be for an older small town on a major recreational trail to become a popular destination for recreational cycling and hiking. If the concept worked well, some regular visitors might become year-rounders. It might develop along the same lines as an artist colony.
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Old 03-31-07, 05:43 AM   #3
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I love Venice.

We should all of us choose a common place to live, move there, and gradually take over its real estate, infrastructure, and politics.

I couldn't live in a place that didn't have a large body of water nearby though. I need my sailing fix or I start to freak out. I vote for Astoria, Oregon, where The Goonies was filmed. We could get an exodus of nearby Portlanders there and start afresh.
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Old 03-31-07, 06:04 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alekhine
I love Venice.

We should all of us choose a common place to live, move there, and gradually take over its real estate, infrastructure, and politics.

I couldn't live in a place that didn't have a large body of water nearby though. I need my sailing fix or I start to freak out. I vote for Astoria, Oregon, where The Goonies was filmed. We could get an exodus of nearby Portlanders there and start afresh.
There a couple of resort areas that come to mind, as far as I know Makinac Island is car free as is Baldhead Island off the coast of the Carolinas. I would love to see a carfree city or at the very least a car light city, where the parking was on the outskirts of town. It would be easy to do if you built it up on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. I think you would have major regulatory hurdles to overcome to make it work, but still a great idea over all. But with these two examples I am sure it could be done.

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Old 03-31-07, 06:16 AM   #5
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when peak oil hits, there will be many car-free US cities

See US GAO report on crude oil supply that came out on 3/29/07.

No one at the rudder of this ship of state.
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Old 03-31-07, 06:34 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kf5nd
when peak oil hits, there will be many car-free US cities

See US GAO report on crude oil supply that came out on 3/29/07.

No one at the rudder of this ship of state.
+1 and for those of you who sail and know the terminology I seriously think the ship of state is three sheets to the wind as well as being "UWWNWO" (under way with no way on)

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Old 03-31-07, 08:24 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
A fully functioning car free city would be a pretty tall order.
I'm curious why it is, that you think this?
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Old 03-31-07, 09:03 AM   #8
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I'd be happy to see a 50% car-free city. That could be realistic in North America actually. I believe Japan is like this. Quite a few people have cars, but they still use public transportation. [which begs the questions of why they bother to buy cars in the first place, but...]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rental car suggestions in Japan
http://www.cellularabroad.com/japancar.html
If you are travelling to the larger cities, renting a car in Japan would probably be more of a hindrance than a convenience. Parking is a rare commodity, as space is so precious in Japan, and therefore very expensive and inconvenient. Furthermore, the roads are all toll roads, so you will be required to pay to drive on them, stopping periodically at booths along the way to make your payment. Traffic is very heavy, unless you are outside of the big cities, so again, an automobile does not really make sense when compared with the public transportation system, which runs virtually everywhere at a far less cost and hassle. Also, in Japan you drive on the left side of the road as in England – not an easy thing to get used to. If you do decide you would like to rent a car, you will need an international driver’s license. Most of the major rental car companies do exist in Japan, and you can inquire with your hotel as to the closest and most convenient one should you really need to rent a car.
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Old 03-31-07, 09:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
A fully functioning car free city would be a pretty tall order.

What might be possible would be for an older small town on a major recreational trail to become a popular destination for recreational cycling and hiking. If the concept worked well, some regular visitors might become year-rounders. It might develop along the same lines as an artist colony.
Platy... I think this kind of exists already. There are some trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin that seem to fit your description. They aren't car-free yet, but it sounds like the next evolution for them.
http://www.rootrivertrail.org/lanesboro-main.php
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Old 03-31-07, 09:40 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
I'm curious why it is, that you think this?
Well, I'd love to have you prove me wrong on that. It's just my opinion.
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Old 03-31-07, 09:42 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv
Platy... I think this kind of exists already. There are some trails in Minnesota and Wisconsin that seem to fit your description. They aren't car-free yet, but it sounds like the next evolution for them.
http://www.rootrivertrail.org/lanesboro-main.php
That's more or less what I had in mind, thanks for pointing that out.
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Old 03-31-07, 10:01 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerv
I'd be happy to see a 50% car-free city. That could be realistic in North America actually. I believe Japan is like this. Quite a few people have cars, but they still use public transportation. [which begs the questions of why they bother to buy cars in the first place, but...]
Many City Councils strive towards such numbers today, and they don't even come close. Once you build the roads, they will come - that is, soon they'll be loaded with gas-guzzling, loud, belching cars and trucks. A car-free city would have no roads, only trails and walkways ala Venice. Freight and transfer of goods, trash, etc. in and out of the city is by rail, or truck from the perimeter.
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Old 03-31-07, 10:04 AM   #13
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A virtually car-free city (and why would it have to be in the US? Can't we have one in Canada?) would be, well, virtually impossible. Since that option wasn't there, I have not voted.

I'd like police, fire and ambulance to arrive quickly should I need them, so they would need to be exempt, as would delivery vehicles, construction, repair and city works vehicles, among many other commercial and business-related vehicles. There are those in our communities who are unable to walk or ride and they need to have equal access to all public areas as well. And, no matter where such a fantasy city is built, weather sometimes dictates that a motor vehicle or public transit is safer and more convenient.

What is needed is not so much a car-free city, but a city designed for people first and cars second, not the other way around. Perhaps Amsterdam could be the model. The city would have main avenues and streets that exclude motor vehicles (except emergency vehicles, of course) and roads for cars routed around so that deliveries can still be made efficiently and those who are unable to walk or ride would still have access to shops and services. Public trains/trams/buses would also have superior access to all destinations and, together with the non-vehiclular avenues, would be built first so that the infrastructure is already in place. Any expansion of the city or construction of new neighbourhoods, subdivisions and condo complexes would need to include accomodation for public transit/non vehicular access in the plans, mandatory green space and limited parking to discourage residents from using cars.

If you make everything easily accessible by bike or public transit and less atrractive (and costlier) by car, residents will use what is easiest. And if you build it they will come...no matter where it is.
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Old 03-31-07, 11:23 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
A fully functioning car free city would be a pretty tall order.
I think you're probably right, no cars/trucks at all would be a tough one. You'd have to allow some form of public transportation (i.e., buses), and allow the occasional truck for moving and deliveries. However, I think not allowing any cars for personal transportation is very possible, and would reduce the number of autos by a good 90%. Living in such an environment would vastly improve everyone's quality of life. If such a city existed, I'd definitely consider livng there.
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Old 03-31-07, 12:52 PM   #15
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I think car free zones will be first. Paris anyone?
You could humanize vehicles. Look at golf carts or those small EV vehicles. Of course then restirct them to only emergency services, mass transit, deliveries, etc.

You could limit delivers at one time during the day say 5 am to 8am
You could build a subway system for Mass transit, Emergency vehicles, etc
You could build a canal system

There is the free state project they might help you out
http://www.freestateproject.org/
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Old 03-31-07, 01:00 PM   #16
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Gas $4.50/Liter. Done.
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Old 03-31-07, 01:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by EnigManiac
A virtually car-free city (and why would it have to be in the US? Can't we have one in Canada?) would be, well, virtually impossible. Since that option wasn't there, I have not voted.

I'd like police, fire and ambulance to arrive quickly should I need them, so they would need to be exempt, as would delivery vehicles, construction, repair and city works vehicles, among many other commercial and business-related vehicles. There are those in our communities who are unable to walk or ride and they need to have equal access to all public areas as well. And, no matter where such a fantasy city is built, weather sometimes dictates that a motor vehicle or public transit is safer and more convenient.

What is needed is not so much a car-free city, but a city designed for people first and cars second, not the other way around. Perhaps Amsterdam could be the model. The city would have main avenues and streets that exclude motor vehicles (except emergency vehicles, of course) and roads for cars routed around so that deliveries can still be made efficiently and those who are unable to walk or ride would still have access to shops and services. Public trains/trams/buses would also have superior access to all destinations and, together with the non-vehiclular avenues, would be built first so that the infrastructure is already in place. Any expansion of the city or construction of new neighbourhoods, subdivisions and condo complexes would need to include accomodation for public transit/non vehicular access in the plans, mandatory green space and limited parking to discourage residents from using cars.

If you make everything easily accessible by bike or public transit and less atrractive (and costlier) by car, residents will use what is easiest. And if you build it they will come...no matter where it is.
And herein lies some great arguments against a car-free city. Actually, based on your argument, you might have chosen the "Constitutional" option. But lets look at these issues one by one.

1. Emergency vehicles: Police, fire, and ambulances. There are electric vehicles that can travel very fast (0-60 MPH in seconds), and can use trails. Similar to emergency vehicles in our existing cities, they would be equipped with sirens, and all the necessary equipment. They would be smaller, lighter vehicles (because trails don't have the structure to handle real heavy vehicles). Concerning law enforcement, I would think a car-free city would have distinct advantages. Outlaws would not be able to quickly get away from the police.
2. Elderly: Any great city has provisions for elderly and handicapped. My fair city has a subsidized dial-a-ride program that picks up the elderly in vans for $2, and takes them to their destination. I see no reason that this cannot occur with the similar "trail" vehicles as above. Even pedicab services could be used.
3. Weather: Has anybody noticed that hardly anybody uses umbrellas anymore? We have snowstorms here along the Colorado Front Range that virtually shut down our city, sometimes for days. Trails would be maintained, similar to roads in today's cities. Here in my city, they actually have electric vehicles to maintain the trails. They are equipped with rotating brushes, and do as good a job as the snow plows. Our city's budget gets zapped during some of these snowstorms. A trail system would be much easier to maintain under budget. Nothing is safer in harsh weather than walking.

Many of the US city planners would argue with you that their cities are designed for "people first". I agree with much of what you say here. But the fact is, if you build roads, you will have lots of cars, and sprawl, and everything we have in our cities today.
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Old 03-31-07, 01:17 PM   #18
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Interesting project, but it's not a car-free city.
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Old 03-31-07, 03:20 PM   #19
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Speaking of cycling cities, how about Sidney, Aus?

Interesting new piece and it's related to the topic!
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Old 03-31-07, 04:55 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kf5nd
when peak oil hits, there will be many car-free US cities

See US GAO report on crude oil supply that came out on 3/29/07.

No one at the rudder of this ship of state.
Where is this report? Do you have a link?
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Old 03-31-07, 05:00 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platy
A fully functioning car free city would be a pretty tall order.
A brand new city, built as car free, would actually be fairly easy, you just connect any outside road to a parking area outside the city limits, and the parking area would be connected to a subway station, people coming by bicycle could take a connecting path, the train station would be within the city itself. Buses and trucks would connect to a special terminal, that is again just outside the city limits.

What would be difficult is an already built up, car based city, probably the easiest would be to move everyone out, carpet bomb the entire city, and build it up new. Some cities where the city core has been abandonned, could be redeveloped from the core out, you start by building a railway station, then under that you build a subway hub, as you redevelop you extend subway lines out like spokes in a bicycle wheel. As people move back into the redeveloped core, they will move out of the outer edges, giving new areas for redevelopment, the issue is that a carfree city, even at the same population, is going to be much more compact.

See the book Carfree Cities by J.H. Crawford, for how to build a car free city.
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Old 03-31-07, 05:08 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oilfreeandhappy
And herein lies some great arguments against a car-free city. Actually, based on your argument, you might have chosen the "Constitutional" option. But lets look at these issues one by one.

1. Emergency vehicles: Police, fire, and ambulances. There are electric vehicles that can travel very fast (0-60 MPH in seconds), and can use trails. Similar to emergency vehicles in our existing cities, they would be equipped with sirens, and all the necessary equipment. They would be smaller, lighter vehicles (because trails don't have the structure to handle real heavy vehicles). Concerning law enforcement, I would think a car-free city would have distinct advantages. Outlaws would not be able to quickly get away from the police.
2. Elderly: Any great city has provisions for elderly and handicapped. My fair city has a subsidized dial-a-ride program that picks up the elderly in vans for $2, and takes them to their destination. I see no reason that this cannot occur with the similar "trail" vehicles as above. Even pedicab services could be used.
3. Weather: Has anybody noticed that hardly anybody uses umbrellas anymore? We have snowstorms here along the Colorado Front Range that virtually shut down our city, sometimes for days. Trails would be maintained, similar to roads in today's cities. Here in my city, they actually have electric vehicles to maintain the trails. They are equipped with rotating brushes, and do as good a job as the snow plows. Our city's budget gets zapped during some of these snowstorms. A trail system would be much easier to maintain under budget. Nothing is safer in harsh weather than walking.

Many of the US city planners would argue with you that their cities are designed for "people first". I agree with much of what you say here. But the fact is, if you build roads, you will have lots of cars, and sprawl, and everything we have in our cities today.
When I responded to the thread, I did not distinguish between alternative-fueled vehicles for emergency services, city works, etc. and gas-powered vehicles because the poll asked if we wanted to live in a car-free city and, presumably, that meant even alternative-fueled cars would be disallowed. After all, as you point out---they can go very fast and be operated just as recklessly and destructively, even if they don't contribute to pollution.

However, if electric or alternative-fuel vehicles are exempt from a car-free city, then, yes, services could be provided without pollution-causing vehicles and maybe they could even operate on 'trails.' However, there would still be a large number of these types of vehicles and I would propose that, other than for urgent, emergency needs, those vehicles would be restricted to inconveniently-placed roadways (in order to sicourage casual, convenience or pleasure-driving).

If roads are built, that doesn't mean we immediately will have people in cars and sprawl. The reason we have that now in all our cities is because our society encourages it, our self-centered attitudes promote it, our city and suburban designs enhance it. When we begin to change the attitudes of our society, when they begin to be less selfish and me-centered, we might begin to see the first steps toward a car-free city.
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Old 03-31-07, 05:10 PM   #23
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It already exists. It is called Lancaster County, PA. You know, the Amish? Nothing connected to the mechanized world? No trade? No electricity? No UPS? No Whole Foods? No Starbucks?

I am all for bicycle power, but if you are proposing that a bunch of hippies join a commune and renounce civilization, fagettaboutit!
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Old 03-31-07, 05:15 PM   #24
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I can't imagine myself in a car free city today. I love being car free, but it would exclude to many people, not to mention the whole truck issue.

Don't worry though, it'll happen. Nobody had to plan a horse free city 100 years ago, it just happened. Same thing will happen again, naturally and in due course.
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Old 03-31-07, 05:24 PM   #25
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Of course, if a municipality reverts to 19th century norms, it could shackle its prisoners in chain gangs and force them to do all the things that machines do for us today... maybe even providing out-sourced prison services for the rest of the state, which could pay for all the infrastructure costs of building a bicycletopolis...
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