Car-free? or Carless? We've been without a car in Brooklyn for over a year now and it's great. Can't say that I miss having a car except on the rare occasions we leave NYC. And, of course, no alternate side parking hassles and no tickets. Personally, as someone who loves to drive, the only thing I regret is that I cannot rent a stick-shift as I hate automatics...
But a truly car-free city is something else (Venice, of course) and may never come to pass in NYC. Cities like London are implementing stronger and stronger measures against the private automobile, while Bloomberg waffles on congestion pricing, which could greatly alleviate traffic in Manhattan. That study indicating that half of the traffic in Manhattan is generated by Manhattanites is also fascinating, showing that for even with our great transit system (well, almost great,) people still use the car when alternatives are available. Time for a stick; carrots don't work.
Car Free in America: The Alternative is Rail, Buses, Bikes and Just Plain Walking, an article by Jim Motavalli, makes some points:
General Motors executives like to say that the fuel-cell car "will take the automobile out of the environmental equation," when really it will only solve the tailpipe problem. Cars will still take up space, create gridlock and drive development decisions.
Many of us have seen old photographs of the comprehensive trolley and railroad lines that used to serve even the smallest American community, and wondered whether we've really made "progress" since then. Though the commuter of 1912 lacked an interstate highway system, he or she could walk out the front door, hop a trolley, then connect to an efficient national rail network with 300,000 miles of track.Our shrunken, financially imperiled Amtrak system is a ghost of the network we tore up in search of modernity and the personal freedom afforded by automobiles (our rail infrastructure now has half as many miles as existed in 1912). But cities are beginning to rebuild what was lost, turning to light-rail systems, fast ferryboats and dedicated bus corridors, among other new approaches.The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is full of relatively happy news:. Fourteen million Americans ride on public transportation each weekday.
. Americans took more than 7.8 billion public transportation trips in the first nine months of 2006, up three percent from the previous year. Light rail had the highest percentage of growth among all modes of transportation, with an increase of 5.4 percent. Double-digit growth was seen in Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Sacramento. Other big gainers include Buffalo and Houston.