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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 01-30-08, 09:44 AM   #1
gwd
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City Promotes Car Free?

One of the close in suburbs of DC seems to have gone a step further toward
dealing with traffic. Arlington has a nicely signed system of bike routes and would be a good place to live and work car-free.

http://www.carfreediet.com/
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Old 01-30-08, 10:08 AM   #2
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I have an acquaintance there. He's a proponent of electric assist bikes as a way for more people to use bikes for everyday transportation (http://www.freewebs.com/adamgruen/) and uses bike trails a lot.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:39 AM   #3
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They have a blog with content about different reasons for being carfree.

Does anybody know how to get this site linked to various carfree blogs like this one? We have a good resource for carfree people, especially with the cycling angle. And we might pick up some interesting new members if they read about us on other sites. I have tried to do this a couple times, but I didn't know what I was doing.
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Old 01-30-08, 10:44 AM   #4
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One of the close in suburbs of DC seems to have gone a step further toward
dealing with traffic. Arlington has a nicely signed system of bike routes and would be a good place to live and work car-free.

http://www.carfreediet.com/
What kind of town is Arlington? Is it expensive? What kind of people live there? (living people, that is. ) The photos on the web site show mostly young people who look fairly prosperous.
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Old 01-30-08, 02:34 PM   #5
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What kind of town is Arlington? Is it expensive? What kind of people live there? (living people, that is. ) The photos on the web site show mostly young people who look fairly prosperous.
It surrounds the cemetery on 3 sides. It has two subway lines going into DC. The distinction it has over the other suburbs is that the city planners decided long ago to allow dense mixed use development along the subway lines. So you get this big city feel near the subway but a few blocks away are neighborhoods with detached single family homes and little strip malls. Another distinction is that streets with a single name are not continuous but generally run in the same direction. All kinds of people live there. I haven't been in the market for housing in years so don't know about shelter costs, but from the people who I know who live there they think they get a good deal. Maybe some Arlingtonians can jump in and brag on their city?
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Old 01-30-08, 03:33 PM   #6
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I've been living in Arlington for 15 years. It is among the highest-educated and wealthiest counties in the US. According to the 2000 census, it's ranked 8th in the country for per-capita income. Note that 6.8% of the population commutes by bike or on foot:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/money...PL5103000.html

What's it like? Imagine living on a hilltop surrounded by dense woods, but being able to cycle to downtown Washington DC in a half hour or less (driving is often slower because of the time required to find a parking spot.) There is a lot of wildlife - I often see a hawk perched right outside my kitchen window. The population is somewhat unusual - when your child wins a reading prize at school, it might be presented by an astronaut.

The bike trails generally make sense - they bypass major roads and intersections, improving point-to-point travel time. More importantly, most roads and streets have a wide outside lane that is easily shared. I often say that I cycle to work and shop because I'm too lazy to use my cars except on weekends. Housing costs are high, but we think they are a good value since it is such a unique place to live.

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Old 01-30-08, 04:25 PM   #7
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Rossyln and Crystal City are my favorite neighborhoods in Arlington. I love King Street Blues down in the Crystal city underground mall. My dad used to work in Rossyln, so I used to go into work with him and skate around. I also have biked alot of Arlington and it is a well thought out city.
I would say that Arlington is definitely a very safe city. Since there is very little low income housing and the cost of living is high, you will prolly be rubbing elbows with some pretty well off people. Many senators and house members live in Arlington.

To get an idea of the housing prices in Arlington just check out Craigslist. I would assume they would have some listings.

If it wasn't for school and the wildlife down at the beach here in Pcola, I would be back up in VA in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-30-08, 07:35 PM   #8
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I've been living in Arlington for 15 years. It is among the highest-educated and wealthiest counties in the US. According to the 2000 census, it's ranked 8th in the country for per-capita income. Note that 6.8% of the population commutes by bike or on foot:
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/money...PL5103000.html

What's it like? Imagine living on a hilltop surrounded by dense woods, but being able to cycle to downtown Washington DC in a half hour or less (driving is often slower because of the time required to find a parking spot.) There is a lot of wildlife - I often see a hawk perched right outside my kitchen window. The population is somewhat unusual - when your child wins a reading prize at school, it might be presented by an astronaut.

The bike trails generally make sense - they bypass major roads and intersections, improving point-to-point travel time. More importantly, most roads and streets have a wide outside lane that is easily shared. I often say that I cycle to work and shop because I'm too lazy to use my cars except on weekends. Housing costs are high, but we think they are a good value since it is such a unique place to live.

Paul
6.8% bikers or peds? Isn't that much lower than other bike-friendly cities? It seems like a very reasonable infrastructure for biking, but just because you build it... doesn't mean they will come.
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Old 01-30-08, 07:40 PM   #9
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6.8% bikers or peds? Isn't that much lower than other bike-friendly cities? It seems like a very reasonable infrastructure for biking, but just because you build it... doesn't mean they will come.
I answer my own question. Cycling percentages even in Portland aren't that high.

http://bikecommutetips.blogspot.com/...-for-bike.html

The survey hailed Portland, Oregon as best for bicycling mode share among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Nationally, only 0.4 percent of commuters use a bicycle. The top ten U.S. cities for percentage of bicycling commuters:

City / Percentage
Portland / 3.5
Minneapolis / 2.4
Seattle / 2.3
Tucson / 2.2
San Francisco / 1.8
Sacramento / 1.8
Washington DC / 1.7
Oakland / 1.5
Honolulu / 1.4
Denver / 1.4
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Old 01-30-08, 07:47 PM   #10
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Many senators and house members live in Arlington.
Just when I was starting to think I'd like to live there....


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Old 01-30-08, 07:50 PM   #11
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I answer my own question. Cycling percentages even in Portland aren't that high.

http://bikecommutetips.blogspot.com/...-for-bike.html

The survey hailed Portland, Oregon as best for bicycling mode share among the 50 largest U.S. cities. Nationally, only 0.4 percent of commuters use a bicycle. The top ten U.S. cities for percentage of bicycling commuters:

City / Percentage
Portland / 3.5
Minneapolis / 2.4
Seattle / 2.3
Tucson / 2.2
San Francisco / 1.8
Sacramento / 1.8
Washington DC / 1.7
Oakland / 1.5
Honolulu / 1.4
Denver / 1.4
Do you all think that the website we're talking about (and it linked to many similar programs for Arlington) has had anything to do with more people using other modes and/or becoming carfree? I sometimes wonder if it's worthwhile to push carfree on the web or other media. If you don't persuade anybody to use their car a lot less, it's just a feel-good waste of money.
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Old 01-31-08, 07:58 AM   #12
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Do you all think that the website we're talking about (and it linked to many similar programs for Arlington) has had anything to do with more people using other modes and/or becoming carfree? I sometimes wonder if it's worthwhile to push carfree on the web or other media. If you don't persuade anybody to use their car a lot less, it's just a feel-good waste of money.
No. The infrastructure planning required to make Arlington what it is today took place maybe 20 years ago. They are retrofitting some early bad decisions trying to make the first buildouts in Rosslyn and Crystal City more ped friendly but the basic ideas were in place before websites existed. My impression is that the cycling amenities are the result of a few dedicated people working hard with the city over many years. I'm always impressed with the well thought out on-street cycle route signage. I can tell it was organized by people who actually rode the streets and thought about the best ways to cycle. That kind of thing doesn't happen in cyber space, it happens by real cyclists biking around AND caring enough to get involved. Reading a web site might get someone to try biking to the store but the clear signage onto safe routes keeps the person cycling to the store. Arlington put the safe infrastructure in before it put the web site up.
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Old 01-31-08, 08:58 AM   #13
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I've been living in Arlington for 15 years. It is among the highest-educated and wealthiest counties in the US. According to the 2000 census, it's ranked 8th in the country for per-capita income. Note that 6.8% of the population commutes by bike or on foot.
Do you think many/any of your adult bike commuting neighbors lead car-free lives? Bike commuting is one thing, and a good thing it is! But that alone hardly makes those individuals members or potential candidates for the car free club.

I suspect the poorest sections of DC have far more people who are most definitely car-free, though they may never be found bike commuting.
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Old 01-31-08, 09:52 AM   #14
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I suspect the poorest sections of DC have far more people who are most definitely car-free, though they may never be found bike commuting.
Census data shows DC to have the highest percentage of public transit users (65% IIRC), highest % of walking commuters and lowest % of people who drive alone to work. But these figures compare DC to other states rather than other cities. The data don't tell us if the reason for DC's bus usage is poverty or convenience, or some other factor.

(I couldn't find census data sets for bicycle commuting, or people who don't own a car--but I know that data exists online somewhere because we had a thread about it a year or two ago.)
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Old 01-31-08, 10:07 AM   #15
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Census data shows DC to have the highest percentage of public transit users (65% IIRC), highest % of walking commuters and lowest % of people who drive alone to work. But these figures compare DC to other states rather than other cities. The data don't tell us if the reason for DC's bus usage is poverty or convenience, or some other factor.
I doubt if those figures include data on whether those commuters are in fact "car-free."

Again, it is an error to assume that individuals who commute to work by means other than a privately owned motor vehicle are living "car-free" lives, or would like to be leading such a life.

Also, it is an error for those who voluntarily choose to live a "car-free" lifestyle to assume that such a lifestyle is considered desirable by the millions of poor people who by necessity already "enjoy" that status in the US.
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Old 01-31-08, 10:11 AM   #16
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I doubt if those figures include data on whether those commuters are in fact "car-free."
Like I said, the census does have figures on people who are carfree, but I don't have time to find it right now, considering neither the Census web site or the BF search function are exactly user friendly.
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Old 01-31-08, 10:11 AM   #17
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I live in Vienna and cut through northern Arlington on my way into the city. The trail system there is great. Well for the northern half... I don't know about the southern part outside of the Mt. Vernon trail.

The 4 mile, Custis, and part of the W &OD trail follow 66 in. If you lived in the Ballston area/ Falls Church (though you are getting "out there" now) you could easily access anything you need via bike. Most of the roads through Arlington county are easy to ride and if one isn't, there is always a nice easy slow road mimicking the busy one.

As far as pricing goes, everything is relative. Yeah NOVA is expensive but most employment wages reflects that. That is if you aren't with a non-profit like my poor (no pun intended) roomie.
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Old 01-31-08, 12:24 PM   #18
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Like I said, the census does have figures on people who are carfree, but I don't have time to find it right now.
I am sure you are right that car free data could be gleaned from censes data. My point is that the car free status or car free preferences of an individual or group or local population can not be gathered or credibly assumed by observing or counting the activity of bike commuters or the number of people on the bus or walking about.

The web site cited in the OP uses the term "Car Free" as a synomyn for "Car Lite" and less daily use of the personally owned motor vehicles. There doesn't appear a notion anywhere on that site of the desirability of not owning an automobile at all.

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Old 02-04-08, 12:32 PM   #19
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The web site cited in the OP uses the term "Car Free" as a synomyn for "Car Lite" and less daily use of the personally owned motor vehicles. There doesn't appear a notion anywhere on that site of the desirability of not owning an automobile at all.
The introduction page says:
"Welcome to Arlington's Car-Free Diet, the easy, fun way to see how incredible it can feel to live a car-free or car-lite lifestyle."

And on the calculator page:
"Whether you plan to go car-free every single day or just once or twice a week, you're about to see some real results!"
Every single day means never using a car. So they are talking about car-free as an option. They are also promoting Chris Balish's book "How to Live Well Without Owning a Car", again advocationg car-free living.
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Old 02-04-08, 01:23 PM   #20
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I can attest to the fact that the Arlington/Crystal City area is very livable without a car. My bride (back before that great day) Used to live in the Lennox Club. There are plenty of amenities with in an easy walk, IIRC there is a small grocery store/deli in the building itself on the ground floor. The metro stop was less than a block away. And if you were slick you take the Double Tree van to the airport

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Old 02-15-08, 12:14 PM   #21
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Arlington's Car-Free Diet

I'm lucky enough to live in Arlington, where the county government is making a concerted effort to get people out of cars. There are plenty of bike paths and pretty good bus and Metro (subway) service. Arlington is pretty compact, too, so everything is within easy biking distance. The hills make for a good workout, especially on a heavy (probably impractical, I know) Dutch bike.
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