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Is car-free becoming mainstream?

Old 11-19-16, 09:41 AM
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Is car-free becoming mainstream?

I'm sure it isn't mainstream yet, but quite often I hear that someone else has sold their clunker... and not replaced it.

Frequently the story revolves around someone living in the city, working within a couple of miles of the house who just gets sick of ongoing car, insurance, etc, etc.

A friend of mine in Canada is retired and got seriously annoyed at his last car insurance bill. When he compared it to the cost of taxi fares, he made the switch.

Any of your friends, family or acquaintances giving up their cars?
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Old 11-19-16, 10:33 AM
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No, not becoming mainstream around here anyways... In fact I used to know 2 people who were, car free and now one of them drivers a car all the time because he's got 2 kids now... On average I do see more people on bicycles now than I used to a few years ago so general bike riding does seem to have increased... JMO
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Old 11-19-16, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
A friend of mine in Canada is retired and got seriously annoyed at his last car insurance bill. When he compared it to the cost of taxi fares, he made the switch.
Just think how much he'd save if he made some of those trips on a bicycle.
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Old 11-19-16, 01:06 PM
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It's mainstream for lots of folks here in my city, although there are still many who keep on driving everywhere. Much of this is cultural, as there is a certain class of people who look down their noses at car-free types.
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Old 11-19-16, 01:23 PM
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No. That will never happen. As long as people are buying $50k pickup trucks (maybe to pull their camper 5x year) we as a nation will never see the LCF lifestyle become mainstream.
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Old 11-19-16, 01:32 PM
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Auto sales are increasing. I don't see car-free ever becoming mainstream.
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Old 11-19-16, 02:47 PM
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Doubt it is becoming mainstream. If people could get used to riding a couple of miles and doing away with the cars for short trips it would help. However most areas don't have the infrastructure to support that.

My parents are now car free. They have stopped driving and sold their last vehicle this past year. Mom is using GoGoGranparent for some of her transportation needs, also the local para-transit. Dad walks and rides the local city buses. He has the schedule memorized for all the places he normally goes.

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Old 11-19-16, 03:22 PM
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I'm sure not seeing any increase in car free people. In fact, I'm seeing many formerly car free friends and neighbors going back to cars. One family down the street, who were car free for five years, have purchased two cars over the past two years and now drive almost everywhere. It's not the children issue since their oldest is now in high school and the youngest enter middle school next year, so they weathered the years of having four young kids without using cars.

What's really upsetting is the fact that so many who have returned to driving are currently driving very poorly through the neighborhood, which then discourages the remaining car free people. I guess once they changed tribes they lost any empathy for the non-carbound folks.
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Old 11-19-16, 05:02 PM
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As much as I would like to, I don't see it happening in the near future, either. Gas is cheap, weather is getting cooler in my area, and I expect that Making America Great Again will involve greasing more of the skids related to gasoline-powered transport than bikes.

It's too bad that these conversations (not just on BF, but in the broader sphere) don't include more focus about becoming car-light-er -- the discussion doesn't have to involve people giving up their cars (or having them taken away) but anything people can do to optionally replace car miles with bike or foot miles will help.
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Old 11-19-16, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
As much as I would like to, I don't see it happening in the near future, either. Gas is cheap, weather is getting cooler in my area, and I expect that Making America Great Again will involve greasing more of the skids related to gasoline-powered transport than bikes.

It's too bad that these conversations (not just on BF, but in the broader sphere) don't include more focus about becoming car-light-er -- the discussion doesn't have to involve people giving up their cars (or having them taken away) but anything people can do to optionally replace car miles with bike or foot miles will help.
That's very true. However, with the large fixed costs involved in car ownership (half the cost?), the economic pay back for reducing miles driven is much smaller than the pay back for eliminating the car altogether. Thus, we're much more likely to only see educated people who have a sense of community choosing to reduce their miles driven while those who are either poor or are looking to improve their financial situation substantially are going to be the ones going car-free. Trends in both science education and selflessness don't leave me optimistic that I'm going to see hordes of people joining me on bikes, but I suppose stranger things have happened so I won't give up hope.
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Old 11-19-16, 07:01 PM
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Car free has been mainstream in major cities and other dense areas for decades. I's driven by the push/pull of urban conditions.

Good density means that the out of the house needs like jobs, goods, and services are available close by in enough variety and abundance that there's no need to travel far on a regular basis. At the same time, issues like parking, crime, and cost/insurance make ownership a greater burden.

When the reduced need and increase burden combine to exceed the greater convenience and mobility that car ownership offers, then folks will opt to go car free.
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Old 11-19-16, 07:11 PM
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I think a lot of people would like to do it if they thought they could pull it off. I'm sure an increasing percentage of the population is recognizing what an economic and environmental burden a car is. I think just about every state is focusing on increasing its infrastructure in regards to bicycling and alternative (mass) transportation, so I think now is a good time for anyone near a metropolitan area to consider using their bike more. Local and state advocacy groups as well as online advocacy sites such as Bike Forums will play a critical role in initiating and maintaining an increased cycling population.

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Old 11-19-16, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Ekdog View Post
Just think how much he'd save if he made some of those trips on a bicycle.
That's a good thought. In his particular case, he has MS so riding a bike is difficult sometimes. I think his decision to stop driving may have been driving by the MS, but not sure about that... he is generally pretty healthy, just not real energetic.
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Old 11-19-16, 07:15 PM
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Ok... I should have been more insistent and started this thread off more definitively.

I don't believe carfree is going to be > 50% of the traffic any time in my life.

I'm just wondering if you guys have any stories about friends and family... I know quite a few who are carfree or nearly so in the summer... I have met a few who have completely ditched their cars...

Tell me your stories.
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Old 11-19-16, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post

When the reduced need and increase burden combine to exceed the greater convenience and mobility that car ownership offers, then folks will opt to go car free.
Agree 100%
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Old 11-19-16, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by 1989Pre View Post
I think a lot of people would like to do it if they thought they could pull it off. I'm sure an increasing percentage of the population are recognizing what an economic burden a car is. I think just about every state is focusing on increasing its infrastructure in regards to bicycling and alternative (mass) transportation, so I think now is a good time for anyone near a metropolitan area to consider using their bike more. Local and state advocacy groups as well as online advocacy sites such as Bike Forums will play a critical role in initiating and maintaining an increased cycling population.
Exactly, If they thought they could do it they would try,... But he don't... So it ain't going to happen until they thing it can be done.
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Old 11-19-16, 11:12 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Car free has been mainstream in major cities and other dense areas for decades.
Other than NYC, is this really true? It never has been on the West Coast nor in the cities of the Mountain West. While I've not lived in the larger cities of the South, I don't believe it is true there either. Even NYC had a majority of the cars on the road being driven by residents of the city. (It may take me a while to find the several year old NYTimes article that came from.)

Even the suburbs I've lived in had pretty much all the amenities I needed within reasonable walking and cycling distances, including access to public transit to the major city. Even so, not many folks seem to choose to move about without their motorized couches. I strongly suspect this was simply cultural, but it would take a substantial shock to change that culture.
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Old 11-19-16, 11:19 PM
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Old 11-19-16, 11:23 PM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
Other than NYC, is this really true? It never has been on the West Coast nor in the cities of the Mountain West. While I've not lived in the larger cities of the South, I don't believe it is true there either. Even NYC had a majority of the cars on the road being driven by residents of the city. (It may take me a while to find the several year old NYTimes article that came from.)

Even the suburbs I've lived in had pretty much all the amenities I needed within reasonable walking and cycling distances, including access to public transit to the major city. Even so, not many folks seem to choose to move about without their motorized couches. I strongly suspect this was simply cultural, but it would take a substantial shock to change that culture.
NYC isn't the only one, and "mainstream" isn't a digital concept. So, to some degree it's been true in various cities that meet the necessary conditions; density, good mass transit, and a large enough critical mass to provide plenty of opportunities and amenities in close proximity. When I started riding seriously about 50 years ago, there were strong cycling communities (both sport and utility) in NYC, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago.

NYC car statistics are deceiving in many ways. NYC is not a single homogeneous entity. When most people think or speak about NYC, they're really thinking about Manhattan. Keep in mind that Brooklyn would be the the USA's 3rd largest city in it's own right, then there's Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island. These are all very different, and per capita car use in the 3 less dense boroughs is more similar to other metropolitan areas of the same size.

BTW - back then, student car ownership on large university campuses was also much lower than today, and biking for transit was SOP.

Footnote, I suspect that a major factor in car reliance in various parts of the USA is a product of history. Major cities in the east, plus a small number of others, like Chicago, were pretty developed already by the early 20th century, before cars were a dominant form of transportation. That established the basic footprint and culture as not being car dependent.
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Old 11-19-16, 11:39 PM
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Look at the actual figures. True, car sales have been going up the last couple years--probably as a result of pent-up demand because people held off buying cars during the recession. Vehicle miles travelled have steadied after falling for several years, and may be rising now.

But the percentage of people who have driver licenses has been declining steadily for many years, especially among the younger people.

I'm not sure what to take from these figures. It looks like some people are driving more, but also more people are not driving at all. I think there's some reason to think that the answer to the OP's question is "Yes".

Originally Posted by The Atlantic
Young people are not getting driver’s licenses so much anymore. In fact, no one is. According to a new study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, the percentage of people with a driver’s license decreased between 2011 and 2014, across all age groups. For people aged 16 to 44, that percentage has been decreasing steadily since 1983.

It’s especially pronounced for the teens—in 2014, just 24.5 percent of 16-year-olds had a license, a 47-percent decrease from 1983, when 46.2 percent did. And at the tail end of the teen years, 69 percent of 19-year-olds had licenses in 2014, compared to 87.3 percent in 1983, a 21-percent decrease.

Among young adults, the declines are smaller but still significant—16.4 percent fewer 20-to-24-year-olds had licenses in 2014 than in 1983, 11 percent fewer 25-to-29-year-olds, 10.3 percent fewer 30-to-34-year-olds, and 7.4 percent fewer 35-to-39-year-olds. For people between 40 and 54, the declines were small, less than 5 percent.
The Decline of the Driver's License - The Atlantic
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Old 11-19-16, 11:47 PM
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The same researchers at the University of Michigan did a survey to find out why young people were not getting driver's licenses. Here's a summary of their findings:

This survey examined why a substantial percentage of young adults currently do not have a driver’s license, and the future plans of this group concerning obtaining a license. The survey yielded useable responses from 618 persons aged 18 to 39 without a driver’s license.The top eight reasons (primary or secondary) for not having a driver’s license were as follows:

(1) too busy or not enough time to get a driver’s license (37%),
(2) owning and maintaining a vehicle is too expensive (32%),
(3) able to get transportation from others (31%),
(4) prefer to bike or walk (22%),
(5) prefer to use public transportation (17%),
(6) concerned about how driving impacts the environment (9%),
(7) able to communicate and/or conduct business online instead (8%), and
(8) disability/medical/vision problems (7%).

Of the respondents, 22% indicated that they plan on never getting a driver’s license. On the other hand, 69% expect to get a driver’s license within the next five years.
https://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitst...pdf?sequence=1
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Old 11-20-16, 12:06 AM
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Originally Posted by gerv View Post
I'm just wondering if you guys have any stories about friends and family... I know quite a few who are carfree or nearly so in the summer... I have met a few who have completely ditched their cars...

Tell me your stories.
My son was always skeptical of my car-free ways and dreamt of having his own car, so I was pleasantly surprised recently when he informed me that he'd bought a Brompton and would henceforth be commuting to his job in Barcelona on that. It seems he's not the only one: cycling and walking are making a comeback in that city and experimental urban planning is encouraging people to give up their cars.

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Old 11-20-16, 12:19 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
I don't see car-free ever becoming mainstream.
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Old 11-20-16, 12:37 AM
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My 18 year old grandson, who lives with me, says he's in no hurry to get a DL. His two friends who hang out at the house are also DL-free. They say it's too much of a hassle to get a DL, which sounds a lot like the most common reason from the survey I mentioned above--"too busy or not enough time to get a driver’s license (37%)."

These boys aren't really carfree, since they get a lot of rides from parents and even teachers. The one boy is moving in with us and he likes to walk a lot. He says my grandson will get a lot more walking when he moves in! I used to ride a lot with my grandson, but he almost never uses his bike any more, even though my son and I have made the effort to always keep a running bike there for him.
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Old 11-20-16, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Look at the actual figures. True, car sales have been going up the last couple years--probably as a result of pent-up demand because people held off buying cars during the recession. Vehicle miles travelled have steadied after falling for several years, and may be rising now.

But the percentage of people who have driver licenses has been declining steadily for many years, especially among the younger people.

I'm not sure what to take from these figures. It looks like some people are driving more, but also more people are not driving at all. I think there's some reason to think that the answer to the OP's question is "Yes".



The Decline of the Driver's License - The Atlantic
Around here they just drive without them...

Seriously, nearly a third of the vehicles on the roads in NC on any given day are being operated illegally. No insurance, no drivers' license, improper registration (expired or not on the vehicle it was issued for), no current inspection.

The US is headed for a point where something is going to have to give. Baby Boomers are getting older and living longer, they grew up driving and will drive until they either kill themselves or the keys get taken away. Unfortunately in many states it is all but impossible to stop someone from driving.

There is some movement towards more self contained neighborhoods in some parts of the country. But around here they are still building suburgatory, lollipop neighborhoods with unsustainable density. The county I live in is one of the fastest growing micropolitan areas in the country. Population has nearly doubled since 1995, and is expected to continue to grow. Average commute for people in our county is 17.6 miles. Population density is 215. No county wide mass transit, minimal to no cycling or walking infrastructure.

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