The Best Places to Live in Without a Car
“A car is no longer a status symbol for young people,” says Sonja Heikkilä, a transportation engineer that rocked the world with her vision for urban transport. Some time ago (some will still doubt its over), having a car of your very own is a strong social symbol and and will earn you the respect or envy of your peers. But, social patterns change and sometimes they change drastically.
With rising gas prices and growing concerns over the environmental impacts of cars, they are no longer the favorite mode of transportation for a lot of people. The number of commuters who don’t care about owning a car or driving, for that matter, and prefer to walk, bike or use public transit to get to work, is growing with each passing day, as they get tired of spending thousands of dollars a year on fuel and maintenance. Being able to get to work without having to drive is a dream come true for those who don’t like cars, and there are plenty of places around the country that are perfect to live in without a car.
If you hate driving, you will love the idea of living in one of the following places, that have highly efficient public transportation systems, as well as amenities that are within walking and cycling distance from just about anywhere in the city.
The “Windy City” is known for its excellent rapid transit system, that is among the best in the country, serving the city center as well as its suburbs, including lines to and from Chicago’s airports. On top of this, many neighborhoods in Chicago are pretty walkable, and there is an extensive bike network with protected bike lanes, that is expected to be further expanded over the next couple of years, with plans to build a 645-mile network of bike lines by 2020.
Boston is also a very pedestrian-friendly city, where walking is a safe and convenient way to get to work for hundreds of thousands of commuters, thanks to the great infrastructure that includes a lot of crossing islands, highly visible and accessible crossing signals and largely improved design of roads and sidewalks that are meant to shelter people walking to work and everywhere else. Boston has a quality public transit system as well, that consists of light rail, bus system, commuter rail and subways.
Public transit in San Francisco is a great transportation alternative for commuters who don’t have cars. It includes buses, light rail and commuter rail, which along with the numerous walkable neighborhoods, with abundance of grocery stores, shopping malls, restaurants and coffee shops in residential areas, makes the city one of the best places to live without a car.
Philadelphia is one of the best cities for people who prefer to bike to work, thanks to significant investments in biking infrastructure that have been made in recent years, which has made Philly the city with the most bicycle commuters per capita in the United States. Some 10% of commuters use the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation System, that provides transport by bus, trolley, and subway, and commuter rail.
The biggest reason why the most populous city in the U.S. is considered a good place to live car free is the world-famous subway system, that more than makes up for the lack of bike lanes, allowing residents to get across town fast and avoid the crowded, congested streets. Another thing that goes in favor of New York as a walk-able city are its mixed-urban developments, that combine commercial, residential, cultural, and institutional buildings, all in one place.