Green Business Bureau Blog
Carless in the City: Three Top Cities for the Vehicle-Free
Living in a large metropolitan area without a car might seem like a challenge, but once you make the change and if you pick the right city, you might never go back.
There are many obvious, and maybe some not so obvious, benefits to selling the car and doing without. The avoidance of using fossil fuel to power a vehicle is a very just reason. But you will also put a little steel and rubber back into the earth. It might not seem like much, but if you and your neighbor, and his best friend, and her uncle, as well as everyone else who gives up their vehicles did this, many natural resources would be left alone in their natural habitat.
And think of the money that would be left in your pocket – the cost of the car; the cost of the insurance; the cost of maintenance; not to mention the cost of your license and registration, and in some cities a parking space.
And there are more benefits such as:
- Increases support of local services
- Improves your health through increased walking or biking
- Cuts back on greenhouse gas emissions
The Right Place to Be So the benefits are clear. But you should live in a city that supports the carless in order to be successful at living sans auto. The city has to have an infrastructure that benefits those without transportation such as:
- A reliable and vast public transportation system
- Well developed communities with:
- Medical facilities
- Food suppliers
- Safe streets to walk
- Convenience services such as delivery and flexible transportation services
Where Can I Walk (or Bike) The United States Census Bureau tracks the transportation habits of people living across the nation. In 2009, the Bureau reported that nearly 95 percent of the U.S. workforce gets to work by riding in a car. Merely 5 percent travel to work using public transportation.
But do not be discouraged by those figures. The Bureau also reports that the following cities rank highest in the number of people who walk or take a bike to work:
- Ithaca, NY
- Corvallis, OR
- Ames, IA
- Champaign-Urbana, IL
- Manhattan, KS
- Corvallis, OR
- Eugene-Springfield, OR
- Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
- Boulder, CO
- Missoula, MT
Top Cities to Consider
So let’s take a look at some of the best cities to live without a car and the reasons they are tops.
New York It is actually costly to have a car in NYC. Manhattan parking can cost $400 or more. Even in the boroughs you will pay $125 and up for parking. Not too mention insurance…plan on paying a minimum of $250 per month for very basic coverage. Whether you are in the boroughs or midtown, having a car means budgeting for additional costs associated with the wear and tear your car will incur during stop and go traffic.
Alternatively, NYC invests large sums of money in its transportation infrastructure. You can catch a bus, ride the subway, and take a ferry to work, your friends’ homes, or shopping.
Chicago Chicago has long been a pedestrian friendly city. The Chicago Transit Authority operates the nation’s second largest transportation system. You can catch a bus or train to almost anywhere you need to go within the city or take a ride to many of the suburbs.
In the event that you would like a car for a short time, you can hire a car from a car sharing service. For as little as $6.75 per hour, you can have a car to use for an hour or a day. The rate you pay often includes gas as well as insurance. Once you become a member, which may or may not involve a fee, you can make a reservation online, then go to the closest affiliated car lot. Your chosen car will open with a pass card that you get with your membership, and the ignition key will be found inside the vehicle. Also car sharing services are available specifically for businesses so your company does not have to maintain its own fleet.
Boston Boston’s public transportation system is popular and dependable, and easy to find. The city also has car sharing services that provide temporary vehicles like described previously. And like New York, it can be very expensive to own, park, drive, and maintain a car.
Plus, if you live in Boston, you can take advantage of a robust grocery delivery network that brings your food supplies to your kitchen counter. Jump online with grocery list in hand, complete your order on one of several grocery service provider’s web sites. And expect your groceries to arrive the next day.