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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 06-18-14, 01:58 PM   #1
tandempower
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Sprawl-free vs. car-free

While car-free living is great for those of us able to do it, I think that it is more important to have cities that are sprawl-free than car-free. Although motor-traffic is a nuisance and cycling would be a lot more pleasant without motor-noise, not to mention how much nicer roads would be if they were only wide enough for bicycles and foot traffic with tree canopy over all roads, the reality is that some motor-traffic is always going to be inevitable for some reason or other. As such, I think sprawl-free planning is the most effective route to facilitating car-free living among the maximum number of people possible.

Then the question is what it takes to achieve sprawl-free cities. Density? Viable transit and bike infrastructure? Limited parking?
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Old 06-18-14, 02:04 PM   #2
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Then the question is what it takes to achieve sprawl-free cities. Density? Viable transit and bike infrastructure? Limited parking?
It would take a population of ideologically extreme citizens or an oppressive government since most people don't want to live like that.
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Old 06-18-14, 02:57 PM   #3
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A Peninsula of Land surrounded by water on 3 sides , and no where left to sprawl into? I live on one. SFO is Another .
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Old 06-18-14, 02:58 PM   #4
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The right kind of zoning.
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Old 06-18-14, 03:13 PM   #5
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It would take a population of ideologically extreme citizens or an oppressive government since most people don't want to live like that.
So in your assessment most people prefer sprawl? I.e. they don't just deal with it because that's what they have to deal with but they actually prefer to spend their time driving long distances and getting stuck in traffic? I can't imagine who would advocate sprawl except people who can't think of a better way to make money than automotive industries, insurance, road and parking lot construction and maintenance, etc. Why else would people prefer sprawl to bikeable/walkable living? The only other answer I've thought of for this is that sprawl creates a lifestyle where people are basically invisible in public and they use their motor-vehicles to go from private venue to private venue. To me this seems like a control obsession but to the people that prefer it, public living must seem like a security nightmare.
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Old 06-18-14, 03:18 PM   #6
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So in your assessment most people prefer sprawl? I.e. they don't just deal with it because that's what they have to deal with but they actually prefer to spend their time driving long distances and getting stuck in traffic? I can't imagine who would advocate sprawl except people who can't think of a better way to make money than automotive industries, insurance, road and parking lot construction and maintenance, etc. Why else would people prefer sprawl to bikeable/walkable living? The only other answer I've thought of for this is that sprawl creates a lifestyle where people are basically invisible in public and they use their motor-vehicles to go from private venue to private venue. To me this seems like a control obsession but to the people that prefer it, public living must seem like a security nightmare.
Many people prefer suburban living over living in the city. Why would you want to live in a tiny expensive apartment when you can have a spacious home in a suburb with easy access to bike trails, shopping, dining, and other recreational activities? Maybe you want to live your life in a manner that makes easy access to public transit or close proximity to work a major factor in your living situation, but not everyone does.

Luckily the US is a HUGE country and we can all choose which way of life we prefer.
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Old 06-18-14, 03:22 PM   #7
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  1. Close urban freeways
  2. Land use plans (zoning) that creates green belts around cities
  3. Zoning that permits infill development to increase density in sprawl zones
  4. Better public transit in most areas...
  5. But NO public transit in sprawl zones
  6. No extension of utilities and roadways

My hunch is that #6 is the most effective and the most easily accomplished. They won't build a new Home Depot if it doesn't have electricity, sewage, and a big ol' road!
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Old 06-18-14, 03:27 PM   #8
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Many people prefer suburban living over living in the city. Why would you want to live in a tiny expensive apartment when you can have a spacious home in a suburb with easy access to bike trails, shopping, dining, and other recreational activities? Maybe you want to live your life in a manner that makes easy access to public transit or close proximity to work a major factor in your living situation, but not everyone does.

Luckily the US is a HUGE country and we can all choose which way of life we prefer.
You have a tough sell on this forum! Cars are needed in sprawl zones, and most of us on the carfree forum don't want cars.

The notion that this is a huge country so we can do anything we want has been well proven to be false.

And is this what you mean by "easy access"? As in most of Sprawlsville, the access is easy in a car, difficult on a bike, suicide for a pedestrian!

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Old 06-18-14, 03:41 PM   #9
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Then the question is what it takes to achieve sprawl-free cities. Density? Viable transit and bike infrastructure? Limited parking?
My guess would be opportunities. Career, social, educational... Put all the good stuff close together.
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Old 06-18-14, 03:56 PM   #10
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My guess would be opportunities. Career, social, educational... Put all the good stuff close together.
A recent trend is for urban school districts to build new high schools far out in the countryside. They get the land cheap, but they saddle themselves with enormous ongoing expenses for school buses. And of course they also encourage suburban sprawl and traffic near the school. They also practically guarantee that kids will be severely injured or killed while driving to school.

Put the high school close to downtown! Kids should walk, bike, or take the public bus to school.
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Old 06-18-14, 04:01 PM   #11
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There ALREADY are parts of USA cities exactly like what you describe.
Unfortunately only the affluent can live there.
I wonder what rent is in "downtown" San Francisco or manhattan?

The "edges" of cities(suburbs) always had the lowest housing costs.

Now some areas-Marigny in NOLA- have reasonable rents-but as it becomes more livable rents will go up-and the poor-mainly black residents-will be pushed out.So the cities you picture-only the affluent can live there
People move to suburbs because they can live better for less
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Old 06-18-14, 05:02 PM   #12
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There is a reasonable amount of density required in order to build sprawl-free communities. It doesn't require extreme density or limited housing types. But what you do need to work on is proximity. And zoning. First, the "neighborhood" needs to be centralized around a single activity center with multiple uses: commercial, retail, residential, recreational and perhaps even light industrial. If all this stuff is close together and compactly developed, without or without transit, you can put people in close proximity to the amenities. And those distances can be short and walkable or bikeable.

Not all areas will be suitable for frequent transit, but almost any community can be designed to make sure the key activities are within about a 2 mile radius for everyone.

Basically everyone needs live close to an old school main street, and there should be many housing types surrounding the main street: single family homes, condos, apartments, in-law suites..
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Old 06-18-14, 05:06 PM   #13
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A recent trend is for urban school districts to build new high schools far out in the countryside. They get the land cheap, but they saddle themselves with enormous ongoing expenses for school buses. And of course they also encourage suburban sprawl and traffic near the school. They also practically guarantee that kids will be severely injured or killed while driving to school.

Put the high school close to downtown! Kids should walk, bike, or take the public bus to school.
Even if the student body that the structure would serve isn't near it? While the amount of people living in Downtown Tulsa is on the rise, it is still an insignificant number compared to the city as a whole- and the vast majority of said urban living space isn't considered "kid friendly".
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Old 06-18-14, 05:21 PM   #14
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Many people prefer suburban living over living in the city. Why would you want to live in a tiny expensive apartment when you can have a spacious home in a suburb with easy access to bike trails, shopping, dining, and other recreational activities? Maybe you want to live your life in a manner that makes easy access to public transit or close proximity to work a major factor in your living situation, but not everyone does.

Luckily the US is a HUGE country and we can all choose which way of life we prefer.
+1

Many people don't want to live squashed in with a whole bunch of other people. Others don't mind.

Luckily Canada and Australia are HUGE countries, and we can all choose which way of life we prefer.


"Don't Fence Me In" (Cole Porter)

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in

Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hobbles and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in
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Old 06-18-14, 06:20 PM   #15
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Even if the student body that the structure would serve isn't near it? While the amount of people living in Downtown Tulsa is on the rise, it is still an insignificant number compared to the city as a whole- and the vast majority of said urban living space isn't considered "kid friendly".
Jeeze, I guess I wrote too fast. "Put the high school close to where people live and where there is good transit access."

The point is, for schools and other necessary places--don't put them out in the fringes where they are accessible only by car.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:25 PM   #16
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There ALREADY are parts of USA cities exactly like what you describe.
Unfortunately only the affluent can live there.
I wonder what rent is in "downtown" San Francisco or manhattan?

The "edges" of cities(suburbs) always had the lowest housing costs.

Now some areas-Marigny in NOLA- have reasonable rents-but as it becomes more livable rents will go up-and the poor-mainly black residents-will be pushed out.So the cities you picture-only the affluent can live there
People move to suburbs because they can live better for less
What?
In almost every American city, the pattern has been for the wealthy and middle class to live in the suburbs and the poor and working class to live in the central city. There are only a few exceptions to this.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:32 PM   #17
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A recent trend is for urban school districts to build new high schools far out in the countryside. They get the land cheap, but they saddle themselves with enormous ongoing expenses for school buses. And of course they also encourage suburban sprawl and traffic near the school. They also practically guarantee that kids will be severely injured or killed while driving to school.

Put the high school close to downtown! Kids should walk, bike, or take the public bus to school.
If zoning regulations restricted parking to loading/unloading, essentially car-free communities would be developed around such schools because driving and parking would be impossible in those areas. I don't know if people/businesses would find a way around this, though, such as using indoor parking garages.

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There ALREADY are parts of USA cities exactly like what you describe.
Unfortunately only the affluent can live there.
I wonder what rent is in "downtown" San Francisco or manhattan?

The "edges" of cities(suburbs) always had the lowest housing costs.

Now some areas-Marigny in NOLA- have reasonable rents-but as it becomes more livable rents will go up-and the poor-mainly black residents-will be pushed out.So the cities you picture-only the affluent can live there
People move to suburbs because they can live better for less
Yes, this is the general problem with the automotivist economy. Paying more for things generates more GDP, which means more income for everyone who either wants or just has to drive. Then, when the people who can afford to move away from sprawl do so, it costs more, hence creating even more sprawl jobs for people who will live in suburbs and commute just for the competitive edge it gives them in the rat race.

Then, if a car-free area goes down in price so that more people can afford it, the rat-racers avoid it because it is viewed as a bad investment. Suburbs are also prone to this kind of stratification but somehow a blighted suburb doesn't have the same stigma as a dense area with declining property values. Motor-traffic also plays a role, I think. If freeways and other major motor-corridors cut through the area, it falls to blight unless it is an affluent suburb designed exclusively for motor-access. I don't know if there are suburbs like this that fall to blight but maybe they do and it's just not as easy to put an image to it because the media coverage of suburban blight focuses on individual houses/families whereas denser areas can be showcased as more holistically blighted.
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Old 06-18-14, 06:40 PM   #18
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What?
In almost every American city, the pattern has been for the wealthy and middle class to live in the suburbs and the poor and working class to live in the central city. There are only a few exceptions to this.
Obviously not the US, but this is a housing price map of Melbourne.

REIV - Real Estate Institute of Victoria

The closer you are to the city centre, the more expensive the housing. The further out you go ... and the housing prices drop off dramatically.

In case it is not clear, the city centre is the uncoloured bit in the middle with the word "Melbourne" written over it. That's all office buildings etc.
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Old 06-18-14, 07:06 PM   #19
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What?
In almost every American city, the pattern has been for the wealthy and middle class to live in the suburbs and the poor and working class to live in the central city. There are only a few exceptions to this.
A lot of these wealthy people in the suburbs who own a big house and have 3 cars in their driveway are "cash poor" and live from paycheque to paycheque, a lot of them live on credit....If they miss few days at work and don't get paid then credit cards come to the rescue.
Here in Canada it's cheaper to live in the 'burbs then it is in a large city. That's why I live in the suburbs few minutes west of Toronto, it's cheaper for me.
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Old 06-18-14, 09:16 PM   #20
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Obviously not the US, but this is a housing price map of Melbourne.

REIV - Real Estate Institute of Victoria

The closer you are to the city centre, the more expensive the housing. The further out you go ... and the housing prices drop off dramatically.

In case it is not clear, the city centre is the uncoloured bit in the middle with the word "Melbourne" written over it. That's all office buildings etc.
I very clearly said American cities. For a few reasons I won't go into, American cities took a different path compared to some other countries.

The topic here is sprawl. What relationship are you thinking of between sprawl and real estate prices?
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Old 06-18-14, 10:39 PM   #21
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I very clearly said American cities. For a few reasons I won't go into, American cities took a different path compared to some other countries.

The topic here is sprawl. What relationship are you thinking of between sprawl and real estate prices?
The US doesn't have the monopoly on sprawl. Many cities throughout the world sprawl.

In many cities, it is cheaper to buy a decent sized house and plot of land in a subdivision on the edge of town than it is to buy a small, cramped apartment in the middle of a city.

In Melbourne, for example, an inner-city apartment can cost $800,000. While a house and bit of land on the edge of Melbourne might only cost $400,000. That's a fairly significant difference. It would be less expensive for a family to buy a house on the edge of Melbourne plus a car than to get a place in the middle of the city with plans to walk everywhere.

And so sprawl is financially attractive. In addition to being attractive in other ways.


Regarding American cities ... have you looked up the housing costs in places like San Francisco, New York, Boston ... ? I'd be interested to see maps similar to what I just posted about Melbourne. I found a similar map for Vancouver, BC (located in America) and of course, the most expensive areas were quite near the downtown.

Lots of Vancouver maps:
Metro Vancouver Mapped | The Vancouver Sun

Home values in Vancouver:
Shaughnessy homes ten times as expensive as those in Guildford
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Old 06-18-14, 11:03 PM   #22
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You have a tough sell on this forum! Cars are needed in sprawl zones, and most of us on the carfree forum don't want cars.
I recently moved from a suburban city to Seattle. Part of the reason was to depend less on driving. With a shorter commute, better access to public transit and my new passion (i.e. cycling), I've been able to live nearly, if not completely, car-free. Yes, housing is more expensive in the city, but the extra cost may very well be offset by less money spent on cars in the long run. In my opinion, car-free and sprawl-free go hand in hand unless you have decent public transit networks spreading out into the suburbs.
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Old 06-18-14, 11:25 PM   #23
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I recently moved from a suburban city to Seattle. Part of the reason was to depend less on driving. With a shorter commute, better access to public transit and my new passion (i.e. cycling), I've been able to live nearly, if not completely, car-free. Yes, housing is more expensive in the city, but the extra cost may very well be offset by less money spent on cars in the long run. In my opinion, car-free and sprawl-free go hand in hand unless you have decent public transit networks spreading out into the suburbs.
Like you, when I think of sprawl I think of a place where it's pretty much impossible to live carfree. You can be carfree in a well planned suburb or in a small town, or even way out in the country. But in places with a lot of sprawl, the traffic is horrible. There aren't very many roads, so you don't have much choice about where you ride your bike.

I like your idea that people can afford a nicer location if they cut back or eliminate their car expenses.
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Old 06-18-14, 11:42 PM   #24
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I like your idea that people can afford a nicer location if they cut back or eliminate their car expenses.
Thanks! I used to spend $120+ a month on gas. Now it's down to about $5 a month. My monthly bus pass used to cost $144. Now I only pay per ride and the monthly cost is about $20 since I ride to work most of the time. This means I save more than $200 a month. And I'm a lot healthier.
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Old 06-19-14, 12:32 AM   #25
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I recently moved from a suburban city to Seattle. Part of the reason was to depend less on driving. With a shorter commute, better access to public transit and my new passion (i.e. cycling), I've been able to live nearly, if not completely, car-free. Yes, housing is more expensive in the city, but the extra cost may very well be offset by less money spent on cars in the long run. In my opinion, car-free and sprawl-free go hand in hand unless you have decent public transit networks spreading out into the suburbs.
Got an SO and/or any dependents? If so, how did the move affect them?
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