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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 04-18-08, 11:25 AM   #1
gwd
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Shifting Demographics

I've regularly taken the subway and bus out to an affluent suburb during the past 4 years or so. Yesterday, I saw beggars out there for the first time. Three of them. Usually the beggars are in closer to the city. Later, on my return one of them got on the bus. His clothes looked old but his kit was new. He kept his stuff in two water proof plastic stackable boxes, he had a new looking LL Bean sleeping bag, he had several sheets of that plastic stuff that looks like cardboard and he had a new hand truck to haul everything. The newness of his stuff made me imagine that he was newly homeless and had thought things through a bit before he hit the streets. Many homeless people haul their stuff in shopping carts but the hand truck made it possible for him to get on the buss and the subway with his stuff. He had room on the hand truck for one more stackable box.

I've also noticed that the buses have become more crowded out there in the suburbs. When I first began taking classes out there, I'd see one to five other people on the bus. Now its rarely less than 5. I travel at the same times and same routes. I thought maybe the increased public transit use was because people are getting smarter but the sudden appearance of beggars working the intersections out there makes me wonder.
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Old 04-19-08, 10:43 PM   #2
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We used to look for blossoms and other signs of spring. Now we look for signs of recession.

I saw a bunch of people riding cheap bikes on the sidewalks. Is that recession or springtime?
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Old 04-20-08, 07:40 AM   #3
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Our buses here are still empty and costing the taxpayers a fortune.
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Old 04-20-08, 09:15 AM   #4
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Our buses here are still empty and costing the taxpayers a fortune.
Why are the buses empty? They should get good ridership if the company is well run, and public subsidy should be light.

And why do you complain about the cost of buses? Public highways are undoubtedly far more expensive, even if you don't consider the enormous external costs. How much do these buses cost the taxpayers in your community? (How many mills on your property taxes, that is.) How does that compare to public expenditures on roads, signs & signals, storm sewers, snow removal, parking, and so forth?
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Old 04-20-08, 10:40 AM   #5
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Why are the buses empty?
If I recall correctly, we had a discussion with maddyfish about his local bus service a while back. The problem of low ridership on some of its routes was the subject of some public concern there, less than one rider on average on some of the runs.

Here in Austin, which is what I am familiar with, there are two factors to consider with claims of low bus ridership. The first is that if you observe buses loading and unloading at the suburban ends of their routes, they will often appear empty. That's because most of the riders get on and off at the intermediate and downtown stops, and there just aren't many riders at the suburban end of the line. The other factor is that bus lines which run only in suburban areas tend to not have many riders, that's just the way it is. You can't maintain reasonable bus service without appropriate urban density. If you try, you'll have empty buses.
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Old 04-23-08, 08:54 AM   #6
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I read an article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about this very shift.
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Old 04-23-08, 08:56 AM   #7
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We used to look for blossoms and other signs of spring. Now we look for signs of recession.

I saw a bunch of people riding cheap bikes on the sidewalks. Is that recession or springtime?
its a sign of the price of a gallon of gasoline.
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Old 04-23-08, 11:28 AM   #8
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I read an article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about this very shift.
Thanks, there are so many notable things in that article. I'm not imagining things.

"Many of the fringe counties in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, for instance, are projecting big budget deficits in 2008. Only Washington itself is expecting a large surplus. Fifteen years ago, this budget situation was reversed."

Wow, 8 years ago I got the idea to go completely car free and buy a place in the city despite the bad reputation. So many suburban people had a bad reaction to my decision. In hind sight car free urban living seems like a smart choice.

"In other words, some of the worst problems are likely to be seen in some of the country’s more recently developed areas—and not only those inhabited by subprime-mortgage borrowers. Many of these areas will become magnets for poverty, crime, and social dysfunction."

Some of the statements in this article would have read like lunatic fringe stuff back when I moved into the city.
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Old 04-23-08, 06:41 PM   #9
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I read an article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about this very shift.
I was born and raised in the suburbs. Owned a three-bedroom that backed-up to a town park. I moved to a studio apartment in the city in 1996 and have never looked back. It's what enabled me to become car-free in 1999.

I live now in a slightly larger one-bedroom in a small building that was originally built in the 20s as assistant-professor housing for the University before they moved to the new campus. By the 90s, the building wasn't so much a crack house as a 20-unit crack mall. The current landlord bought it in '98, kicked everyone out, gutted and renovated the whole place. It's back to it's original purpose of inexpensive housing for single professionals.

What has me concerned is that the sort of reverse migration in the article could push me out of this place as the landlord markets it upscale. His more recent rehabs have been lofts--some within sight of my building--but renting for three to four times the price of my place.

Yeah, I like that my place is cheap, but what I like better is its location. And that will likely be what drives rents up and me out.
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Old 04-23-08, 09:29 PM   #10
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I read an article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about this very shift.
This is a very nice summation of a lot of things we in LCF have all been saying for a while. As transportation costs escalate, the value of far-flung suburban housing will have to drop. James Howard Kunstler once predicted that these suburbs will likely become the new farming communities with residences growing large gardens where their lawns now reside.

From a personal point of view, I can't imagine how or why some of these folks decided to move so far away from the city center. I've seen suburbs that were 5 and 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. I've always wondered how these folks would survive if their cars broke down (or if they suddenly couldn't afford to own cars.)

Perhaps we may begin to see this...
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Old 04-23-08, 09:57 PM   #11
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I saw a bunch of people riding cheap bikes on the sidewalks. Is that recession or springtime?
Neither.
It's progress.
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Old 04-23-08, 10:56 PM   #12
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From a personal point of view, I can't imagine how or why some of these folks decided to move so far away from the city center. I've seen suburbs that were 5 and 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. I've always wondered how these folks would survive if their cars broke down (or if they suddenly couldn't afford to own cars.)

Perhaps we may begin to see this...
Some of us never don't work in the city? I live in the burbs (close to "out in the country") and I work, well all over (consulting) but my main office is also outside of the city.

I have a small shopping center a mile or less away. Grocery, drug store, hallmark store, couple restaurants, etc. I can bike to it easily.

-D
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Old 04-24-08, 08:08 AM   #13
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James Howard Kunstler once predicted that these suburbs will likely become the new farming communities with residences growing large gardens where their lawns now reside.
That would be a pretty cool development, although it is very unlikely in my opinion. Seems more likely that developers will bring the store to the suburbs. In a more optimistic mood, I would say you could do very well to open a small, "green" grocery store in the burbs that is locally owned.

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From a personal point of view, I can't imagine how or why some of these folks decided to move so far away from the city center. I've seen suburbs that were 5 and 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. I've always wondered how these folks would survive if their cars broke down (or if they suddenly couldn't afford to own cars.)
White flight at first, then it became a status symbol. Only young, single or newly married professionals who work downtown live downtown. This is undoubtedly over generalized...especially considering that I would prefer to live farther out of town myself, and I'm not interested in it as a status symbol. Although I would not want to live in any suburb where all the houses look the same. That drives me crazy.
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Old 04-24-08, 11:46 AM   #14
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What has me concerned is that the sort of reverse migration in the article could push me out of this place as the landlord markets it upscale. His more recent rehabs have been lofts--some within sight of my building--but renting for three to four times the price of my place.

Yeah, I like that my place is cheap, but what I like better is its location. And that will likely be what drives rents up and me out.
Try being proactive and forming a tenant's association with the goal of buying the building as a co-op. The landlords have different tricks depending on local laws, your tenant's association can have its own lawyer to advise you on N.Y. laws. The sooner you move on this the easier it will be. You see the writing on the wall so does the landlord and you can bet he's getting his game together.
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Old 04-24-08, 01:49 PM   #15
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Try being proactive and forming a tenant's association with the goal of buying the building as a co-op. The landlords have different tricks depending on local laws, your tenant's association can have its own lawyer to advise you on N.Y. laws. The sooner you move on this the easier it will be. You see the writing on the wall so does the landlord and you can bet he's getting his game together.

Hmmm... About a third of the tenants are long-timers like me...
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