Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Living Car Free
Reload this Page >

Best places for Car Free living revisited

Notices
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.

Best places for Car Free living revisited

Old 07-24-17, 11:26 AM
  #1  
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 434

Bikes: 1986 Bridgestone 450

Liked 5 Times in 3 Posts
Best places for Car Free living revisited

Hi Everyone,

I know there's another thread on this topic but I wanted to get some input from y'all about something. I've been living without a car for about 5 years now but I need to take things one step further. I'm looking for a place that's bike friendly BUT that also has a lot of rental housing stock available for single people. Ideally, not apartments, but old homes converted into four plexes, or lots of duplex/townhouses, or lofts, ADU's, over-the-garage types of things. The smaller the better. I currently live in Portland where there are tons of shiny, new, expensive box-style apartments to live in, but that's so not me! Looking for something pretty funky and offbeat. So far, I've got Eugene and Ashland, OR on my list. Olympia, WA and possibly Bellingham, WA too. Arcata, CA could work so could Amherst, MA. Any spots in the midwest, South, or mid-Atlantic I should know about? I'm thinking about 30,000 to 100,000 in population so the environment is not too urban and it's still easy to get to lakes, mountains, nature trails etc. I love Burlington, VT so that will always be on my list.

Thanks in advance

Maria
erbfarm is offline  
Old 07-24-17, 11:22 PM
  #2  
On yer bike
 
Nightdiver's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Shelbyville
Posts: 520
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Lots depends on your wants/needs for getting places and doing errands. For example, Arcata could be okay if you never really need to leave the redwood curtain, and if you're okay with biking into Eureka/McKinleyville for shopping. But transportation to basically anywhere would require either car rental or ride sharing. The public transit system is pretty pathetic, but considering the population, I guess not that bad. While there are some rentals that fit your criteria, the rental market in Arcata is inflated due to the university and what you get for the price is usually pretty crappy. Of course you have super easy access to lots of grand nature within easy biking distance, and of course a playground of rivers and mountains if you do ride sharing.

Eugene is probably a better fit as it's a very easy town to live car-free in, has easy access to more major transportation lines (bus/rail), a so-so public transit system, and lots of relatively affordable rentals, especially if you search outside of the areas immediately surrounding the university. The ability to access hiking/lakes/etc depends on your criteria for those things. There are hiking trails within the city and extending right out from the city, and lakes nearby. But for more secluded and/or grander nature experiences, you'll be doing ride shares to get there.

Ashland is probably the least affordable and most competitive for finding the sort of rental you want. It's a great biking town, and even though the major shopping center is Medford, the Bear Creek bikeway allows very convenient (and flat!) access. Depending on budget, you might instead choose to live in Talent, which is more affordable, and more laid back without the level of attitude that exists in Ashland.
Nightdiver is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 09:15 AM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,355
Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 13 Posts
Many areas of Florida are getting better for carfree living. I heard recently it is the flattest state, so no mountains but there are some hilly areas where you will need your gears. People love and hate 'the South' for various reasons. I watched My Cousin Vinny recently and it gave me a laugh seeing the old stereotypes about north and south and realizing I understand the cultural references better at an older age than I did when I was younger.

North Florida from Tallahassee to Orlando has a lot of forests and hiking trails (the Florida Trail). It is a struggle to keep these areas undeveloped and historically preserved because there are always population growth pressures for widening roads, building new corridors and highways to ease traffic congestion, etc. The more people move to Florida carfee, the more impetus there is to restrict auto-sprawl development and improve transit options. There are buses and trains, but it's tricky to use them well. Trirail in the Miami-Dade area and Sunrail in the northern Orlando area may eventually grow and connect, but the process is slowed by politics and budget battling. In the meantime, there are lots of great rails-to-trails paved corridors, esp. the Withalacoochee trail that goes about 50 miles between Dunnellon and Dade City with a lot of small towns in between. Orlando has a more cosmopolitan, big city feel, and it has a lot of paved trails running through neighborhoods and interesting semi-natural areas.

If someone was moving to FL to LCF, I would recommend moving to one of the university towns and exploring the state via the paved trails and many bike-laned highways. If you like long-distance touring, Georgia has a system of numbered bicycle highways, e.g. route 95 runs more or less parallel to USI95 and forms part of the developing network of routes and paved paths they're calling the eastcoast greenway.

Probably people used to living in the cold north wouldn't be immediately comfortable in FL, especially in the summer, but it's pretty amazing to be able to live without heat all year if you are good with low non-freezing temperatures in the winter. Florida is also very affordable and socially/culturally/economically diverse. I'm not a big fan of beaches but there are a lot of beloved coastal areas. My love is the forests and other areas where nature is preserved and waiting to reveal her charms to those patient and subtle enough not to scare things away. As I said, development is always a threat so it would be good to see people move here and seriously live carfree and respect and appreciate the nature so that it will continue to be preserved and protected.
tandempower is offline  
Old 07-25-17, 09:53 AM
  #4  
Been Around Awhile
 
I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Burlington Iowa
Posts: 30,055

Bikes: Vaterland and Ragazzi

Liked 1,606 Times in 1,084 Posts
Originally Posted by erbfarm
Hi Everyone,

I know there's another thread on this topic but I wanted to get some input from y'all about something. I've been living without a car for about 5 years now but I need to take things one step further. I'm looking for a place that's bike friendly BUT that also has a lot of rental housing stock available for single people. Ideally, not apartments, but old homes converted into four plexes, or lots of duplex/townhouses, or lofts, ADU's, over-the-garage types of things. The smaller the better. I currently live in Portland where there are tons of shiny, new, expensive box-style apartments to live in, but that's so not me! Looking for something pretty funky and offbeat. So far, I've got Eugene and Ashland, OR on my list. Olympia, WA and possibly Bellingham, WA too. Arcata, CA could work so could Amherst, MA. Any spots in the midwest, South, or mid-Atlantic I should know about? I'm thinking about 30,000 to 100,000 in population so the environment is not too urban and it's still easy to get to lakes, mountains, nature trails etc. I love Burlington, VT so that will always be on my list.

Thanks in advance

Maria
Does employment opportunities have any importance in choosing your residence location?
I-Like-To-Bike is offline  
Old 07-26-17, 10:58 AM
  #5  
Full Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 434

Bikes: 1986 Bridgestone 450

Liked 5 Times in 3 Posts
Does employment opportunities have any importance in choosing your residence location?

yep. I work in higher ed so need to be in a college town
erbfarm is offline  
Old 07-28-17, 12:48 AM
  #6  
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Posts: 24,221
Liked 13 Times in 13 Posts
IMO one can be carfree almost anywhere. Just find a town you like and be carfree in it. Most older working class communities have a good selection of the kind of housing you described.
__________________

"Think Outside the Cage"
Roody is offline  
Old 07-28-17, 07:51 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 217

Bikes: Trek 7.2 FX, Co-Motion Supremo

Likes: 0
Liked 2 Times in 2 Posts
Moscow ID or Pullman WA?
Stick69 is offline  
Old 08-01-17, 02:23 PM
  #8  
Prefers Cicero
 
cooker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Toronto
Posts: 12,880

Bikes: 1984 Trek 520; 2007 Bike Friday NWT; misc others

Liked 117 Times in 92 Posts
Originally Posted by erbfarm
yep. I work in higher ed so need to be in a college town
Are there good job prospects in your field in a lot of college towns, or will you end up having to pick from a (hopefully somewhat short) list of good car-free communities based on which school has an opening?
cooker is offline  
Old 08-05-17, 10:08 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 4,355
Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 13 Posts
Originally Posted by Roody
IMO one can be carfree almost anywhere. Just find a town you like and be carfree in it. Most older working class communities have a good selection of the kind of housing you described.
I am very independence-minded when it comes to this issue too, but for better or worse I realize that many people want to be part of a herd and 'fit in,' so they will tend to avoid LCF if it's not popular in an area. I've known several people who lived car-free in Dutch cities when they lived there, but wouldn't do so when they move to a US area where they feel it would make them seem, 'out of place.' There is a popular Dutch expression, "just be normal," that suggests some people may be more culturally prone to fearing non-conformity, but on the other hand there are plenty of examples of people in Dutch areas behaving in non-conformist ways, so the relationship between culture and individual behavior can exhibit quite a lot of variation.

'Fitting in' to a popular culture (herd) may not be the only, or even the main factor, with moving to an area and LCF when it's not common. There may be aspects of the community, like inconvenient transit, or lack of good bike tech support (although you can get this via internet pretty easily). Really these are all weak excuses as I read what I type, because if you really want to LCF somewhere, you can manage it; though it might involve some sacrifices that driving people wouldn't make.

I imagine the biggest deterrent would be a shortage of bike lanes and bad or no sidewalks. If you have to ride everywhere in narrow lanes without shoulders, it's going to be uncomfortable. Even if you don't take the lane, cars will probably slow down and change lanes to get around you, and it's annoying to have animosity building up behind you on the road all the time. There is definitely a special courage/heroism that goes into standing your ground and biking in such lanes holding steadfast in your position that it's the planners' fault for making the lanes too narrow, despite the view of some others that says you're the problem, not the infrastructure.
tandempower is offline  
Old 08-05-17, 01:39 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 7,048
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 8 Posts
I'm curious as to why Eugene and Ashland made your list, but Corvallis didn't. Corvallis has much higher rates of cycling than either Eugene or Ashland, like three times as much, and has some really nice places to ride off into (lots of physical overlap with Eugene since it's only 50 miles between the two). The suburbs of Corvallis have lots of interesting old structures and one can still ride a bike in from them with reasonable safety (unlike the situation in Eugene and Ashland), so there's more to Corvallis than just the city proper.


Good luck finding the right fit, wherever that may be.
B. Carfree is offline  
Old 08-07-17, 12:59 AM
  #11  
Sophomoric Member
 
Roody's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Dancing in Lansing
Posts: 24,221
Liked 13 Times in 13 Posts
Originally Posted by tandempower
I am very independence-minded when it comes to this issue too, but for better or worse I realize that many people want to be part of a herd and 'fit in,' so they will tend to avoid LCF if it's not popular in an area. I've known several people who lived car-free in Dutch cities when they lived there, but wouldn't do so when they move to a US area where they feel it would make them seem, 'out of place.' There is a popular Dutch expression, "just be normal," that suggests some people may be more culturally prone to fearing non-conformity, but on the other hand there are plenty of examples of people in Dutch areas behaving in non-conformist ways, so the relationship between culture and individual behavior can exhibit quite a lot of variation.

'Fitting in' to a popular culture (herd) may not be the only, or even the main factor, with moving to an area and LCF when it's not common. There may be aspects of the community, like inconvenient transit, or lack of good bike tech support (although you can get this via internet pretty easily). Really these are all weak excuses as I read what I type, because if you really want to LCF somewhere, you can manage it; though it might involve some sacrifices that driving people wouldn't make.

I imagine the biggest deterrent would be a shortage of bike lanes and bad or no sidewalks. If you have to ride everywhere in narrow lanes without shoulders, it's going to be uncomfortable. Even if you don't take the lane, cars will probably slow down and change lanes to get around you, and it's annoying to have animosity building up behind you on the road all the time. There is definitely a special courage/heroism that goes into standing your ground and biking in such lanes holding steadfast in your position that it's the planners' fault for making the lanes too narrow, despite the view of some others that says you're the problem, not the infrastructure.
I bicycled here in the days when to get anywhere you had to share the lane. Besides a little courage, it took a good understanding of traffic and what I called "street intelligence" (as opposed to street smarts). I also found it helpful to be flexible and inventive about which routes I used--often going a very different way than I would if I were driving a car.

Nowadays, I'm happy that there are many more bike lanes and the trail system (carfree!!!) is much more extensive. You still have to share the lane sometimes, but not nearly as much.

There are good books and websites about vehicular cycling. Even though I strongly disagree with VC as a "political" movement, I do find their knowledge of riding a bike in car traffic to be very useful. The older pages of the bikeforums Safety and Advocacy subforum can also be a food resource.

I'm not sure that I ever got a lot of resistance to being carfree here, even though this is one of the earliest and largest of cities to build motorcars in the entire world. I have had some run-ins with individual motorists, but I think they hated me because I was riding a bike on "their" road, not because I was carfree, which they would have no way of knowing.

BTW, narrow lanes with no shoulders has always been my favorite type of road for cycling. I like taking the outer lane right down the middle, and letting the cars easily overtake me in the other lane or lanes. I think it's safer than riding in a wide outer lane far to the right, especially when parked cars and cross wtreets are involved. But that's just me.
__________________

"Think Outside the Cage"
Roody is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
WuLingZhi
Great Lakes
11
06-14-15 02:38 PM
erbfarm
Living Car Free
67
03-15-13 10:36 AM
davidmcowan
Living Car Free
41
10-18-10 05:13 PM
erbfarm
Living Car Free
57
05-19-10 05:15 PM
nostalgic
Living Car Free
6
04-16-10 11:29 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.