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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 03-29-10, 12:50 PM   #1
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Have you ever been in a truly carfree place?

This forum is almost exclusively concerned with carfree living as a personal and individual strategy. But there is also a large movement to make entire areas--cities, neighborhoods, regions, islands, etc.--totally carfree. A large number of such places already exists, located all over the world. LIST

Have you ever visited or lived in a carfree area? Tell us your impressions. Also, what are your opinions about efforts to make areas carfree?
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Old 03-29-10, 02:21 PM   #2
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Any small island community is guaranteed to be car-free, however they're also likely to own a boat.
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Old 03-29-10, 02:59 PM   #3
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I've been to Venice and Lausanne, though you wouldn't want to ride a bike in Lausanne. It's main street is very steep up and down. And Venice isn't exactly bicycle friendly either.

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Old 03-29-10, 03:58 PM   #4
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I've been to fire island, which is the only truly car free place I've ever visited. I remember feeling great not to have to worry about being run over by some over anxious motorist in a hurry to get somewhere. I live in NYC and haven't owned a car in 12 years--though biking here is hardly a breeze. I think its feasible that most of NYC could be made car free someday. We already ahead of most U.S. cities in that we've got a developed public subway/bus system that people rely on.
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Old 03-29-10, 04:43 PM   #5
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Mackinac Island...loved every minute of it and will be going back, possibly this year.

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Old 03-29-10, 05:41 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
This forum is almost exclusively concerned with carfree living as a personal and individual strategy. But there is also a large movement to make entire areas--cities, neighborhoods, regions, islands, etc.--totally carfree. A large number of such places already exists, located all over the world. LIST

Have you ever visited or lived in a carfree area? Tell us your impressions. Also, what are your opinions about efforts to make areas carfree?
Maybe you should define a car free city. Freiburg, Germany, the top car free city listed on your wikipedia List_of_car-free_places is by no means a car free city. I've been many times to Freiburg, my daughter went to the University for two years and I frequently drove down from Heidelberg to visit. In fact we looked at living quarters in Vauban, also cited in your reference and it is hardly a city but more like an apartment complex with limited parking, very well served by a tram line.There are pedestrian zones in business areas (Fussganger Zones) common to many if not most European cities

Freiburg a truly car free city? Only in a zealot's fantasy.
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Old 03-29-10, 05:50 PM   #7
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Two places:
1. When growing up (late 1950s/early 60s), we would visit our grandparents in Northern Newfoundland. You got there by coastal boat. There was no road linking all the villages and very little road in any of the villages themselves. Everyone did a lot of walking.

2. In the 1970s, i spent a year in Italy in Perugia, which is mentioned in Roody's list. The center of the town did have a small parking area for cars and there were some streets where it was possible to drive, but most of the Centro was available only to police cars. Most streets were too narrow or too steep for cars.The main piazza was a wonderful super-wide street where people who spent all evening walking from cafe to cafe, or just hanging out. Very civilized.
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Old 03-29-10, 05:51 PM   #8
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Maybe you should define a car free city. Freiburg, Germany, the top car free city listed on your wikipedia List_of_car-free_places is by no means a car free city. I've been many times to Freiburg, my daughter went to the University for two years and I frequently drove down from Heidelberg to visit. In fact we looked at living quarters in Vauban, also cited in your reference and it is hardly a city but more like an apartment complex with limited parking, very well served by a tram line.There are pedestrian zones in business areas (Fussganger Zones) common to many if not most European cities

Freiburg a truly car free city? Only in a zealot's fantasy.
Perugia and most of the Italian cities are far from car free too, but major sections are either off-limit or impassable for cars.
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Old 03-29-10, 05:59 PM   #9
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This forum is almost exclusively concerned with carfree living as a personal and individual strategy. But there is also a large movement to make entire areas--cities, neighborhoods, regions, islands, etc.--totally carfree. A large number of such places already exists, located all over the world. LIST

Have you ever visited or lived in a carfree area? Tell us your impressions. Also, what are your opinions about efforts to make areas carfree?
Venice. The quiet is odd at night. During the day boats create some background noise, but still not like traffic. The effort and thought that went into building Venice is amazing. In some places it seemed like a huge shopping mall.
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Old 03-30-10, 01:33 PM   #10
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I lived in Vicenza, Italy for a couple of years and they block off the city center after afternoon rush hour, thats as close as I have seen. It is really nice to have a part of the city blocked off from cars though.
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Old 03-30-10, 01:39 PM   #11
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Zermatt. we went everywhere by foot only exception was an electric truck of sorts that brought us from the train to the hotel. the Swiss know wutz up

http://www.carfree.com/cft/i025.html
http://wikitravel.org/en/Zermatt
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Old 03-30-10, 03:31 PM   #12
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Does prison count? I'm sure the 'joint' still counts as a place. I wasn't a fan to be 'honest'.

Seriously: I knew Sark of the Channel Islands was car free (apart from the tractors) but I was quite shocked at the brevity of the list with regards to the UK......no surprises there I suppose.
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Old 03-30-10, 04:49 PM   #13
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Well, yeah, islands can be car free but they can still be dependent on internal combustion engines. My wife's family owns a 110 acre island in a lake in New Hampshire. It is car free (no roads). Last time I was there I bicycled to the boat house and then canoed over instead of driving to the boat house and taking a motor boat over. In many ways non-motorized boating on the lake on a summer weekend is akin to riding a bicycle on a road with motor vehicles although non-motorized boats always have the right of way (unlike bicycles) and aren't subject to any silly "as far right as practicable" non-sense, many MB's pass too close while generating a large wake, sometimes deliberately. So, the LCF ideal in a maritime environment is living motor boat free (LMBF).
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Old 03-30-10, 04:59 PM   #14
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Smaller regions count also. Back in the 1950s and 60s, many American cities experimented with carfree streets in their central business districts. I remember several in Michigan, such as Jackson and Kalamazoo. Lansing had about 4 blocks of Washington Ave. nicely landscaped and carfree. They nibbled away at it over a couple decades, and the last little bit was recently opened to cars.

They put in these carfree areas because they thought it would help the downtown businessed compete with shopping centers and malls then being built in the suburbs. Why did they remove the carfree "squares" and "plazas"? I think because the store owners were still losing business to the outlying malls, and they thought free parking close to the stores would help. what a waste....
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Old 03-30-10, 05:15 PM   #15
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Well, yeah, islands can be car free but they can still be dependent on internal combustion engines. My wife's family owns a 110 acre island in a lake in New Hampshire. It is car free (no roads). Last time I was there I bicycled to the boat house and then canoed over instead of driving to the boat house and taking a motor boat over. In many ways non-motorized boating on the lake on a summer weekend is akin to riding a bicycle on a road with motor vehicles although non-motorized boats always have the right of way (unlike bicycles) and aren't subject to any silly "as far right as practicable" non-sense, many MB's pass too close while generating a large wake, sometimes deliberately. So, the LCF ideal in a maritime environment is living motor boat free (LMBF).
To be honest the right of way thing is on the books but not always followed. You pointed out the wake issue. There is also the Big boat little boat rule. " The Big Boat Rules".
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Old 03-30-10, 05:48 PM   #16
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Freiburg a truly car free city? Only in a zealot's fantasy.
The linked article merely (and clearly) says that parts of it are car-free.
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Old 03-30-10, 06:19 PM   #17
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One thing about all the Italian towns that got mentioned is the atmosphere. You have a lot of narrow streets, 3-4 stories buildings and lots and lots of piazze -- large areas that are frequently carfree, but more like a courtyard. I recall living on a really small piazza in Perugia. Neighbors were really close, so you could here all kinds of things (like lovers making out.. or married couples fighting) that you never hear in more spread-out towns.

But there were many interesting events too. Once we had a theater troupe from Rome stage a play in the piazza.

Someone mentioned how quiet Venice could be. Perugia was particularly quiet with all the noisy Fiats (Cinque Cento) in the distance. But the cars did seem distant.
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Old 03-30-10, 11:29 PM   #18
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Kasia & I lived car-free for 3.5 years in Wrocław, Poland. Many places (grocery stores, a shopping mall, tons of restaurants, the train station, etc) were within walking distance of our apartment. The city has an excellent bus & tram system for more distant destinations. Occasionally, if we had a lot of shopping to do, we'd walk/bus/tram to the shop and take a (surprisingly inexpensive) taxi back.

We did some biking while living in Wrocław, but it was mostly recreational. I don't recall seeing bike racks on trams or buses, but some of the trains have bike cars.

For longer trips, we'd take the train. It was a 3 hour train ride to Kasia's parents in Jastrzębie Zdrój (actually train to Rybnik, then bus to Jastrzębie Zdrój). It was a ~5 hour train ride to Prague.

We hope to move back there someday.
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Old 04-27-10, 06:20 PM   #19
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Lamma Island, near Hong Kong, is technically car-free. When I was there, merchants used a few open-topped motorized carts, but otherwise it was your feet or a boat if you wanted to get anywhere. Prince Charles was there also, as part of a celebration of the island as a nature preserve. Nice change from Hong Kong, though I love both. Would only use a bike on Lamma though . . .
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Old 04-27-10, 10:24 PM   #20
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I've been to fire island, which is the only truly car free place I've ever visited.
The only carfree island I've been on is Liberty Island where the Statue of Liberty is placed! How lame is that! LOL! I have to check Fire Island out but I've read they don't allow bikes on the ferry! ;-(

I don't get why you have to live on an island for the city to be carfree? It's incredible how much money I and millions of others would pay just to live in a small town that has no cars. Why do I have to travel half way around the world to live in a carfree town? A carfree town would sell out in days.
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Old 04-28-10, 05:58 AM   #21
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Mackinac Island. Cool little tourist island; all transport on the island is by foot, bicycle, and horse-and-wagon. I think the only exception is emergency vehicles. You get there by ferry, or I imagine even a private boat. I've heard you can get there by snow-mobile in the middle of winter, which sounds quite plausible.
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Old 04-28-10, 08:38 AM   #22
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Technically, I can add Ship Island off the coast of Mississippi. No cars there, and just a walkway to the other side of the island, about 200 yards away. Most of the island is a nature preserve. Pretty place.

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Old 04-28-10, 10:01 AM   #23
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A couple of semi-random observations:

-Have been to Monhegan Island, Maine. Very nice, nowhere to go by car even if you had one. Many houses don't have electricity either. But not a good place for bikes.

-I remember having read somewhere that bikes aren't even allowed in Venice, not that it would be useful to have one even if they weren't. I do remember seeing one there once. It was standing in a utility yard, and looked like it might not have been used in a long time.

-Roosevelt Island, in the middle of NYC, shows that it's possible to have a largely car-free community in a big city, or at least it is if there's an island available. Nice to bike around, but getting off the island by bike might be a challenge.

-What a great idea by Dahon.Steve! Build it and they will come?

-It's odd that although I've been to a couple of places on the list, I've never been to the one that's very close to where I grew up -- Fire Island, which is a short ferry ride off the coast of Long Island.

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Old 04-28-10, 10:15 AM   #24
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Catalina Island off the So Cal coast has no cars.
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Old 04-28-10, 12:01 PM   #25
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Catalina Island off the So Cal coast has no cars.
Then why do I have distinct memories of driving my family around Avalon in an Austin Mini Moke?
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