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What will be America's first carfree city?

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What will be America's first carfree city?

Old 03-20-15, 10:02 AM
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What will be America's first carfree city?

NYMag.com thinks it will be Boston.

What Will Be America?s First Car-Free City? -- Next

What do you think?

Ground rule: Assume that there WILL be at least one carfree city by the end of this century. This is a chance to use our imaginations. Try to provide logical reasons for your choice, but no need for statistics.
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Old 03-20-15, 10:42 AM
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If America was absolutely going to have a carfree city, I would bet on Detroit. Everyone with enough money to move will be long gone, and the bankrupt city will look like a post-apocalyptic war zone.
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Old 03-20-15, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
If America was absolutely going to have a carfree city, I would bet on Detroit. Everyone with enough money to move will be long gone, and the bankrupt city will look like a post-apocalyptic war zone.
Detroit is bouncing back. But I don't think Detroit will be the first carfree city. It's too sprawled out, IMO. Even before it lost half its population, it was the most spread out big city in the country. I have lived in Detroit without a car, and the distances are a big problem.
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Old 03-20-15, 11:41 AM
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From the cited article:
"But, recently, Anthony Townsend, the senior research scientist at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy, imagined how Boston could transform into "a place where mobility has changed profoundly." The short version of the vision for Boston is this: Starting around 2020, Boston's taken over by micro-apartments, filled with young, connected people who aren't particularly attached to their homes — they might move every few months, just to stay within walking distance of work, school, or friends. At the same time, cognitive science advances our understanding of how people react to "walking environments," and yields streets and sidewalks that make people more likely to move about."

Wow, that is some kinda imagination! A city filled exclusively with young "connected" people wandering around from place to place in order to keep on walking. Sounds like it could have been imagined by the premier LCF daydreamer.

I have to think that El Cid's imagination on the future first car free city is more reality based then this "stuff" from the NYU eggheads.
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Old 03-20-15, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
From the cited article:
"But, recently, Anthony Townsend, the senior research scientist at NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy, imagined how Boston could transform into "a place where mobility has changed profoundly." The short version of the vision for Boston is this: Starting around 2020, Boston's taken over by micro-apartments, filled with young, connected people who aren't particularly attached to their homes — they might move every few months, just to stay within walking distance of work, school, or friends. At the same time, cognitive science advances our understanding of how people react to "walking environments," and yields streets and sidewalks that make people more likely to move about."

Wow, that is some kinda imagination! A city filled exclusively with young "connected" people wandering around from place to place in order to keep on walking. Sounds like it could have been imagined by the premier LCF daydreamer.

I have to think that El Cid's imagination on the future first car free city is more reality based then this "stuff" from the NYU eggheads.
So, I guess you're not voting for Boston. Assuming that there WILL be a carfree city by century's end, what would be your best guess?
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Old 03-20-15, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
So, I guess you're not voting for Boston. Assuming that there WILL be a carfree city by century's end, what would be your best guess?
Short of a nuclear disaster, the best city candidate is Manhattan if it secedes from the other boroughs, (or is cast off by same) and its residents are prohibited from working outside their city. That also assumes that "carfree" does not mean truck free, nor taxi free, nor emergency vehicle free.

I'm not voting against Boston, but rather against an apparently drug induced free form fantasy being passed off as a professional planning scheme.

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Old 03-20-15, 01:32 PM
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Old 03-20-15, 03:01 PM
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I'd imagine someplace in the Florida Keys could pull it off. If not there, then I'd say someplace in the NE corridor- those towns were in place long before we became an auto-centric nation (unlike most of 'flyover country').
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Old 03-20-15, 03:47 PM
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San Franciso might be able to pull it off. It's relatively compact, the climate is mild, it has good transport, including a streetcar system that they were smart enough to keep when other cities were tearing theirs out, they've been improving their cycling infrastructure and getting more people on bikes in spite of the hills and, perhaps most importantly, the people there have the progressive mentality that it would take to pull such a thing off.
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Old 03-20-15, 03:59 PM
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Do the Amish count? Various retro-communities?

Keep in mind that Central Venice is car-free (although there are cars in the suburbs). My prediction is that a new city will spring up in the Florida Keys named Atlantis, modelled after Venice with no cars. Perhaps with Dutch engineering for water control.

Of course, in a few decades, it is quite possible that New Orleans will also look like Venice.

The USA could at some point annex one of the Caribbean Island nations. Haiti and Cuba are among the lowest in the world for car ownership. Although I imagine that the 51[SUP]st[/SUP] state will be Puerto Rico which isn't too different from the US average. The Caribbean governments like their independence, but both the USA and Cuba would benefit significantly with a merger, if the two governments would ever put aside their petty differences.

New York and Manhattan Island have been investing in car-free infrastructure for decades, so they may well lead the nation if there was to be a shift to a car-free structure. I could imagine NYC as one big walking/biking mall by day, and trucks by night.
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Old 03-20-15, 04:24 PM
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Isn't Mackinac Island already there?
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Old 03-20-15, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post

New York and Manhattan Island have been investing in car-free infrastructure for decades, so they may well lead the nation if there was to be a shift to a car-free structure. I could imagine NYC as one big walking/biking mall by day, and trucks by night.
I would have voted for Manhattan. I would think it far more likely for large sections of many cities to become car free. In some respects it already has happened... not car free but trending in that direction.

I wonder if at the turn of the 19th century folks could have imagined the disappearance of trolleys? How quickly did that happen?
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Old 03-20-15, 08:45 PM
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I think a smallish town would be a much more likely candidate for this than a city. There aren't as many layers of bureaucracy involved in making such a change and it's more likely the community will come to an agreement about it. My vote would go to a place like Eagle, Colorado, where they are building single-track to be used as transportation. Here's an article about that: https://www.outsideonline.com/outdoor...Sidewalks.html
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Old 03-21-15, 02:46 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Isn't Mackinac Island already there?
If you would consider Ann Arbor, MI a city, it might be the one. It is fairy compact with a pretty good bus system already (as I recall), a large student and staff population around three centralized campuses of the University of Michigan, and probably a political propensity to consider such a status.

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
...Back in the 60’s in the Motor City, I had an “English Racer,"...then joined the car culture. In Ann Arbor MI in the 70’s I really realized the utility of bicycles for commuting, and began touring on a five-speed Schwinn Suburban...
Maybe Cambridge, MA for similar reasons (Harvard U), or some other college "town."

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Old 03-21-15, 02:53 AM
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Silly question, by "car free" do you mean for general commuting or will even the emergency services be peddling bicycle based ambulances and fire trucks?

While there's probably a very big majority of traffic that could be culled through the use of alternative transport, I think there are some jobs that do need a motor vehicle.
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Old 03-21-15, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Redhatter View Post
Silly question, by "car free" do you mean for general commuting or will even the emergency services be peddling bicycle based ambulances and fire trucks?

While there's probably a very big majority of traffic that could be culled through the use of alternative transport, I think there are some jobs that do need a motor vehicle.

To amuse myself while riding the bus into work, I've observed/counted the number of work vehicles on the road vs number of personal/commuting vehicles. It's not 50:50 but the number of work vehicles is quite high ... maybe 40:60.


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If a place were to go "car free", my bet would be that the place would be something like Zermatt ... a very small tourist town. Zermatt has a population of about 5800 and is a combustion-engine car-free zone. There are, however, a plethora of battery vehicles used to transport tourists to their hotels, etc. But it isn't entirely combustion-engine car-free. They allow emergency vehicles and garbage trucks ... and while we were there, a farm vehicle drove through.

So ... what kind of place is similar to that in the US? Is there a small tourist town in the mountains somewhere?
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Old 03-21-15, 07:16 AM
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Car-free city in North America ??=Keep on dreaming
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Old 03-21-15, 07:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Redhatter View Post
Silly question, by "car free" do you mean for general commuting or will even the emergency services be peddling bicycle based ambulances and fire trucks?

While there's probably a very big majority of traffic that could be culled through the use of alternative transport, I think there are some jobs that do need a motor vehicle.
Let's say a "car" is a privately owned vehicle used for personal transportation. So emergency vehicles and cargo trucks might still be found in a carfree city.
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Old 03-21-15, 07:33 AM
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Originally Posted by ro-monster View Post
I think a smallish town would be a much more likely candidate for this than a city. There aren't as many layers of bureaucracy involved in making such a change and it's more likely the community will come to an agreement about it. My vote would go to a place like Eagle, Colorado, where they are building single-track to be used as transportation. Here's an article about that: Connecting a Town with Singletrack Sidewalks | The Edge | OutsideOnline.com
I was thinking that a small city would be a good candidate. I thought of Key West as No1mad said. Jim from Boston also mentioned Ann Arbor and Cambridge. Cambridge makes sense because of the progressive poulation and proximity to Boston. Maybe carfre Cambridge will be a prototype for carfree Boston?

In big cities, my money is still on San Fransisco. The influence of the tech companies is very positive for carfree development, IMO, along with the reasons mentioned by Ekdog.

Do any people who live in the Bay Area have thoughts on that?
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Old 03-21-15, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
Isn't Mackinac Island already there?
Yes, but it's only a small village with 600 year-round residents.
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Old 03-21-15, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
Yes, but it's only a small village with 600 year-round residents.
And that's probably about as good as it is going to get for carfree "cities" in the US.
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Old 03-21-15, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
And that's probably about as good as it is going to get for carfree "cities" in the US.
Just over a hundred years ago, every city in the USA was carfree. Only a few guys in southern Michigan were even daring to think that someday the nation would be dominated by cars. To the vast majority of the population, car dominated cities were a silly pipe dream. They were all proven very wrong within one generation.

So who's to say what changes we will see in urban transportation in the next generation or two? Technology is a strange and marvelous thing!
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Old 03-21-15, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
To the vast majority of the population, car dominated cities were a silly pipe dream. They were all proven very wrong within one generation.
Cities dominated by alternative transportation other then cars is a pipedream. Honestly I just don't see that happening in the near future in any of the larger cities...Villages, communes, small tourist towns don't count.

Originally Posted by Roody View Post
So who's to say what changes we will see in urban transportation in the next generation or two? Technology is a strange and marvelous thing!
The only changes in the near future which are a realistic scenario would be self-driving cars powered by some alternative energy source other then gasoline, this includes electric cars, hydrogen fuel cells, compressed air etc. Cars will never go away, they will only evolve just like everything else evolves.
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Old 03-21-15, 09:44 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Car-free city in North America ??=Keep on dreaming
This thread is based on a daydream: "Boston's taken over by micro-apartments, filled with young, connected people who aren't particularly attached to their homes — they might move every few months, just to stay within walking distance of work, school, or friends."
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Old 03-21-15, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody View Post
In big cities, my money is still on San Fransisco. The influence of the tech companies is very positive for carfree development, IMO, along with the reasons mentioned by Ekdog.

Do any people who live in the Bay Area have thoughts on that?
I live in the Bay Area. San Francisco is a decent candidate, but I don't think it's because of the tech companies. Most of the larger ones are located in the suburbs about 40 miles south of the actual city. In fact, some of the suburban towns have little other than tech companies in them. So many of their employees live in SF and commute to work in the South Bay that each of the big companies has a fleet of private buses for employees.

But bicycles and transit are both used pretty heavily in the more densely populated parts of the entire Bay Area, and many people who live in SF don't own cars, because the cost and hassle are simply prohibitive. You must either pay for a private parking space (usually $300/month or more) or get a resident sticker to park on the street and move your car frequently, as parking is prohibited on one side of every street for street cleaning twice a week. Most people who park on the streets get a lot of expensive parking tickets. Car sharing is very popular and the vehicles are everywhere.

I think it would not be that great a leap for SF to have no privately owned cars inside the eastern half of the city. The western half is more like a suburb and not as well served by transit, so that would be harder. I do think that car sharing would stay, though, unless something catastrophic happens.
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