The Auto Free Life

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The Auto Free Life

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:16 pm

We have members here who wish to lead life auto-free to the fullest extent possible. While "I'm not exactly" one of such - le voiture c'est moi - I respect those here who are. Away from the Northeast Corridor cities where an auto-free life is reasonably possible, here are several other cities well away from the Corridor that this Times reporter sets forth the case such is possible: ... ities.html

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Weekend trips to cities like Boston, Chicago or San Francisco rarely require a rental car to get around, given their extensive public transportation systems. But more unexpected locales are joining the car-optional list as new and expanding rapid transit options take root across the country.

Many major transit systems, like those in New York, predate the ubiquity of cars and serve densely populated urban areas. Now, younger and less dense cities, like Denver, are adding trains or streetcars. Even places most closely associated with cars, like Detroit and Los Angeles, are remaking transit networks once ripped out to make way for Fords, Chevys and Chryslers
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby east point » Sun Feb 26, 2017 9:16 pm

Must add Seattle and in 5 years it will be even more so.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby rohr turbo » Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:20 pm

This healthy trend is also fueled by the rise of Uber, more bike-friendly transit, and (in my area) tech shuttle buses.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby AgentSkelly » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:06 am

And if you need a car, its easy to be a member of car sharing services like Car2Go and ZipCar which has service in many cities for cheap too.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby bdawe » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:56 am

The car shares seem to have been one of the greater spurs to that sort of living in Vancouver - that you can use a car when you need it without having to maintain or store it. The city has been quite open to considerably reducing parking requirements in place of a few car-share spots. Some car-shares (like the Modo Car Co-op) will even let you take their vehicles down logging roads for a weekend for backcountry trips.

On a more train-related note, the conductor of the Koaham Shuttle, a remote service rail-bus type thing serving tiny, mostly native communities along Seton Lake, told me he was car-free. The fellow had little need to leave the valley, and when he did he took the train to Lillooet to do his business. He'd never learned to drive
B. Dawe's map of routes and urban populations ... /embed_map NOW updated with 2016 Canadian Populations
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Bob Roberts » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:31 am

Forgive me for deviating slightly from the tourism focus of the article but I will go car free this Fall in Charlotte, NC. The extension of our light rail system, combined with better bike infrastructure and an increase in frequency of the Piedmont trains (which allow bikes on board for free) has enabled this change. While I am an unusual case, my experience does suggest that carless living is growing even in the Sunbelt South.

Charlotte is not yet ready for carless tourists however. The unfortunate location of the current Amtrak station makes life difficult for folks who are not well acquainted with the area. Hopefully that will change with the completion of Gateway station downtown within five (???) years.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Tadman » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:47 am

I wish the state-shaped-like-a-corridor (IE Florida) was better set up for car-free. I'm in Orlando and a rental was a must, despite the fact there are essentially three attractions here. I have a side-trip to Miami planned and Silver Service is a joke. It's a 3 hour drive or six hour ride if the train is on time. Barf.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby mohawkrailfan » Mon Feb 27, 2017 12:49 pm

rohr turbo wrote:This healthy trend is also fueled by the rise of Uber, more bike-friendly transit, and (in my area) tech shuttle buses.

I find that my smart phone makes riding buses in strange cities a lot less intimidating. Google Maps will give me the directions, and then the transit authority's web site will tell me exactly how many minutes until the bus arrives. That's a huge change from 15 years ago, when buses were a sort of black magic that only locals understood.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby electricron » Mon Feb 27, 2017 1:58 pm

I'm not sure how living an auto free life has to do with Amtrak?

Never-the-less, using Uber or a Taxi on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis is not living an auto free life.
You're exchanging auto loans, insurance, fuel, and registration fees for uber or taxi fares. You're not eliminating transport by automobile.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 27, 2017 2:13 pm

Mr. Dunville, if your "little White wind-up toy" has a toll box on the windshield such as Hertz has in their vehicles, you might still consider getting a Sun Pass - especially if you plan to come back to Florida again. Wait until you see the "fees on top of fees" those toll boxes pile on. Go to compare cash tolls with those for SunPass, and decide if the "initiation fee" is worth it.

But more on topic, I have met Gen X's aboard Amtrak in the past that have no intention to own a motor vehicle and no intention of leaving the city after marriage.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby JCGUY » Mon Feb 27, 2017 3:46 pm

In a nation of 330 million people, you can find people to epitomize any lifestyle choice, but in my experience most professional couples - in the 90% + range - want a house once they have kids, even those who began their foray into married life insisting that they would never move the burbs. The ones who don't move out tend to have one child and lots of money. In most urban areas it seems like flying saucers must have come down from space and teleported away all the kids of grammar school age, because you see tons of kids under 5 and virtually none older than that. As noted, that's my personal experience.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Feb 27, 2017 4:22 pm

It appears in my rather upscale community, families come, buy a 3500' McMansion ($1.3 seems to be the settle for such), have and raise their three kids sending them to a top rated school district, then when the kids have graduated from college, they're gone and off to the City (Florida or Arizona seem no longer the draw).

As one departing family said to me "well we have five bedrooms, five baths in here, and we're running out of people to fill 'em up".

I must wonder how many give up their autos in town; bet not many. Wonder how many will use Amtrak; again.not many.

For me, I just stay in my 1200' abode with taxes frozen; no plans to leave until health conditions say I must.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby CarterB » Mon Feb 27, 2017 5:11 pm

I've been "auto free" for 25 Europe. All over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Netherlands and even Czech. Use local S bahns, U bahns and trams to get around just fine.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby GWoodle » Mon Feb 27, 2017 8:40 pm

Another trend may be for cities to do more bikeways or bike ready streets. Bike to the bus, bike to amtrak, then maybe bike to your final destination? how many cities have a "rent a bike" option? Take it to a street less traveled so you can go at your own pace.
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Re: The Auto Free Life

Postby Arborwayfan » Mon Feb 27, 2017 9:08 pm

JCGUY, when you say people with kids want a house and don't live in "most urban areas," do you mean areas with apartment complexes? There are enormous urban neighborhoods of houses where people can live without a car, whether it's Roslindale, Mass. or most of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, or parts of Ogden, Utah. House and urban, house and car-free don't have to be opposites.

electricon, living auto-free has a huge amount to do with using Amtrak. Someone who doesn't have a car is a lot more likely to use Amtrak (if it's in their town); someone who has a car for commuting has already paid a lot of the price of driving from, say, Champaign, IL, to Chicago, or Northampton, Mass., to someplace in Vermont, so taking the train is a big extra expense while the car sits in the garage costing 30 or 40 or 50 dollars a day whether it goes anywhere or not. Someone without a car will have a need and the money for a train ticket.

For the same reason, I think that using cabs or zip cars regularly, for trips where public transit just doesn't work, is quite different from owning a car. I've lived with cars, without cars but with cabs sometimes, and pretty much entirely without cars; the 2nd and 3rd are a lot more similar than either of them is to owing a car. I suppose you're right that it's not entirely car free, but it reduces the number of cars and parking spaces; it makes you think carefully before using a car, because you're paying by the mile or the hour; it usually goes along with a lot of walking and transit use. My father (transportation scholar) used to point out that plentiful cabs helped convince people to use transit, because they knew that they could always find a cab for their late-night trips, or their trips that just weren't practical for transit (let's say Lincoln Memorial to anywhere for a tired family after the Mall shuttle buses stop running for the evening). In Oslo, where public transportation is amazing, the transit agency reimburses anyone who's delayed more than 20 minutes on transit for a substantial cab fare. I assume such delays are very rare, or they'd go bust, but the point is that cabs are a complement to transit in various ways. And even a scheduled plane is hardly an environmental bonanza.
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