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Old 03-08-2010, 01:16 PM
 
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While doing some online research, I came across some very helpful guides entitled "Living in ________ without a Car" for different cities but not for Charlotte. I wish there had been that type of guide available for the Charlotte area when I was looking into moving here (from Buffalo NY.) I've always been a nondriver, have never owned a car & been living car-free in Charlotte for about 2 years now (I'm also female, over 45, single.) I know I'm part of a tiny minority and most people think that living here without a car is more or less impossible. (I've seen remarks to that effect right here on this forum, even from long-time regular participants.) With this posting, hope to hear from others who have lived car-free in Charlotte & what their experiences have been like. I'm also offering info & opinions based on my own experiences living here car-free.

From time to time, I've seen postings here asking about public transportation options in Charlotte & the possiblity of living in Charlotte car-free & then seen responses which strongly discourage against that idea. I suspect that some of these discouraging opinions are made by people who have never have taken public transportation or shopped for groceries without a car in their life! (and have probably always lived in suburban outlying areas, not cities.) Just want to assure newcomers that yes, it can be done! You don't have to contribute to the car traffic problems here! Hey, I'm not naive or overly idealistic, I know that living in Charlotte car-free is not without its challenges, that without a car, you have to do a lot of research into where you should live and work, have to be very smart about that. And yes, you have to be careful & alert to potentially dangerous situations. There are some hostile drivers who view pedestrians, bike riders and bus passengers as annoying obstacles in their path. But there are also great, positive aspects to living without a car in Charlotte (or other cities.) In order to cover different aspects of living here without a car, I've listed some questions for nondrivers to respond to. (I put my own personal responses to these questions in italics.)

(I realize than some nondrivers without cars might depend on other people for rides, either occasionally or on a regular basis-- rides from family members, significant others, husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, other friends or co-workers. But I'm really hoping to get feedback from nondrivers who don't depend on rides from other people the majority of the time, nondrivers who get around on their own thru other means. Thanks.)

-- Your main reasons for not driving and/or not owning a vehicle? If you're a licensed driver but choose not to own a vehicle, your reasons for that? Economic reasons? Choosing not to contribute to overcrowded roads & traffic? Other reasons? Disabled, not physically able to drive? Never learned to drive, always lived in a large city with extensive public transit options? Other reasons?
In my case, I'm not physically disabled and there's no financial reasons keeping me from owning a car. I've had a valid drivers license which I kept renewing for years but have never owned a car and don't like driving. Not sure why I don't like driving, have some fears about it, especially since I lived in a very snowy/icy winter climate most of my life. Just wasn't eager for a drivers license as a teen, didn't get my license till my 20s, last time I drove was over 20 yrs ago using a borrowed car, have tried to get behind the wheel with friends a few times since then but both these friends pronounced me a very timid, over-cautious driver who should probably not drive, stay off the roads! (which is odd considering I'm practically a daredevil riding my bike, very assertive, hold my own & will yell at drivers when they try to cut me off! And bike-riding is what I do 80% of the time for my transportation needs, otherwise I walk or take buses.)

-- If you relocated here from another area, how did you research living in Charlotte as a nondriver without a car? Your opinion of the best areas/neighborhoods to live car-free? how do you get to your employment? commuting times without a car? how has it been doing basic shopping for groceries, other shopping, getting to entertainment, socializing without having a car, etc.?
Before moving here I spent some time researching the public transit system, made sure I looked at the transit map which lists all the bus routes & checked which bus routes ran most frequently, the most days, and which ones ran the latest into the evening. I also used Walkscore.com and googlemaps to see locations of shopping and other amenities in certain areas, that helped a lot to narrow down my choices of where to live. The majority of my time living in Charlotte I've resided in the Southpark area just a few blocks south of Southpark Mall. There's plenty of places within walking distance here (and even quicker on a bicycle) -- a large library, 3 book stores, two supermarkets, 2 drugstores, 2 fast food places (Burger King & McDonalds), all kinds of upscale, more expensive restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons/spas, many different banks, lots of medical offices and gyms/health clubs. And those are just the walkable/bikeable destinations outside the Southpark Mall! Of course, within the mall itself (which is less than a 10 minute walk from where I reside), there's tons of shopping choices, mostly upscale, including 4 department stores, many designer clothing stores, home stores, more dining choices, etc. In addition, there's access to about 5 different bus routes here, many options to go north, with Uptown as the final destination & from there will be options to transfer to other buses or Light Rail. But in addition, there's also buses to go West towards the Light Rail or South ending at Carolina Place Mall. (Now, if there was only a bus route that would go east, maybe along Fairview Rd, I'd really be all set!)


-- Pros and cons of living without a car, being a nondriver in Charlotte? (or nearby areas, but I'm assuming that most nondrivers live within the city itself, not in suburbs or other towns? correct me if this is incorrect!) Success Stories? Experiences either as a pedestrian, as a bike rider and/or taking public transportation? Suggestions to improve living car-free in Charlotte, realistic doable improvements you wish would be implemented to make walking/biking/taking buses/trains better, a safer experience, more efficient, more effective? (especially concerning bus routes/transfers/travel times.) Your frustrations as a pedestrian, bike rider, public transportation user, etc? Simple changes that could be done by the city/county (maybe very easily if someone would just listen to us!) to improve thie experience of living in Charlotte without a car?
On some bus routes, I wish the bus stops were not so far apart, that just seems like bad planning. And wish some buses would run later in the evening or more often on weekends. Also, IMO there needs to be more buses that connect to major north/south bus routes, which would greatly shorten the time it takes to get to certain areas. And of course, as a pedestrian, it's frustrating when there's no sidewalks or a sidewalk suddenly end for seemingly no reason! And as a bike rider, I often get frustrated about the lack of places to securely lock my bike!

Hope this posting will be helpful to those who currently live car-free in Charlotte or who are considering doing this. Especialy hope it's helpful for those who are looking into relocating here from elsewhere & would like the freedown to live without a car. (My viewpoint is: the more nondrivers, the fewer cars clogging up the roads, the Better!! And more votes for our Side! ) As I stated, I've seen lots of negativity and discouragement aimed toward the idea of car-free living here in Charlotte, hope I've done my part to offer another perspective. Would welcome responses both positive and negative.

Last edited by newbie09; 03-08-2010 at 01:57 PM..
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:26 PM
 
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I know a lot of people at work who dont own cars.. and they depend on bus. and I think overall CATS bus service is very good. I myself feel handicapped without my truck.. but when I have had friends/family to visit me here and if I cant take them to uptown (from southpark) they've managed with ease with the bus service. also, sicne I live around southpark mall everything from groceries, to mall is pretty accessible by walk. walmart/arboretum is accessible by bus.

most of my collegues live in north charlotte, university area and tell me there are express bus services too. so they are all rushing not to miss that 6.30 express bus.. LOL..

other than bus, I know a friend who takes Lynx rail from south blvd and he thinks its very convenient as well. using public transport avoids the hefty parking charges in uptown. There is ofcourse taxi cabs which I think are a little expensive. I heard its a $25 to and from airport. I dont think it'd cost me that much to travel that distance in a cab in Nyc. but I also think nyc has by far cheaper taxi cab rates than in most cities...

well.. in all, I think you can survive and manage without too much difficulty without driving/or owning a car, but I defnitely cant do it.
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:42 PM
 
Location: The 12th State
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Bus service is good you can almost set your watch by bus times
However I strongly recommend you live Uptown.
It the hub all buses sprout out from this location and you dont have
to wait for the next bus to transfer when your left one one bus at the
transportation center. It could take up to 15 minutes to transfer plus
alot of routes offer limited service on the weekend and at night so
Uptown would be the ideal spot.

If you cant live Uptown choose
Plaza Midwood there is several different bus routes that serve that area or
You could live in South End and you will have the light rail available.
You could also live off Sharon Road West there is quite a few apartments on this road
It a bit of hike but there is a locker at the transit station & bike racks on buses.

When I first moved to Charlotte I didnt have a car and I got along fine.
There is a grocery store near the apartments on Sharon Road West all you need is a bike &
back pack and your set.

I didnt have pleasure of light rail when I live there so that will help that trap feeling on
the weekend
Good Luck
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:45 PM
 
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I'm sure your OP was prompted by the lady from NYC (Manhattan) that asked if she moved to CLT (she named the community) if that would work for her. I'm not sure if you know much about the subway, bus and rail system that lady is about to leave but let me tell you... people in NY SELL their cars because the system works so well and is so inexpensive to use.

You asked for negs. and pos.My take on this question would be there are a whole lot of better cities in the U.S. that serve a non-driver than good ole Charlotte N.C.

Case in point: A couple of years ago I stayed at a hotel in the University area. (right next to a BOA parking lot?). Wanted to go to dinner-no car. I attempted to walk it along Harris Blvd (?). After 2-3 blocks I said "Dinner or the morgue?
Forget it. Can't be done without really stretching your imagination and your tolerance for pain.
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Old 03-08-2010, 01:50 PM
 
248 posts, read 638,964 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pink caddy View Post
I'm sure your OP was prompted by the lady from NYC (Manhattan) that asked if she moved to CLT (she named the community) if that would work for her. I'm not sure if you know much about the subway, bus and rail system that lady is about to leave but let me tell you... people in NY SELL their cars because the system works so well and is so inexpensive to use.

You asked for negs. and pos.My take on this question would be there are a whole lot of better cities in the U.S. that serve a non-driver than good ole Charlotte N.C.

Case in point: A couple of years ago I stayed at a hotel in the University area. (right next to a BOA parking lot?). Wanted to go to dinner-no car. I attempted to walk it along Harris Blvd (?). After 2-3 blocks I said "Dinner or the morgue?
Forget it. Can't be done without really stretching your imagination and your tolerance for pain.
I agree to your situation.. but if you are moving in to settle in charlotte (because of job) and prefer being without a car, then you better be prepared, like choose a neighborhood that is accessible by public transport and also maybe accessible to some strip mall for food/necessities by walk.

while the public transport in here definitely cant be compared to the ones in other metros like nyc, dc, chicago, i'd say its still better off than may other southern states.
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Old 03-08-2010, 03:50 PM
 
301 posts, read 1,503,264 times
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Thanks for the replies so far. But some who replied seemed to think I'm new to Charlotte & looking for a neighborhood to live in without a car? I've already found a good neighborhood for a nondriver, I'm living in Southpark. What I'm seeking is feedback and opinions from other nondrivers about their experiences living here in Charlotte without a car, partly just because I'm curious about it-- I can't be the only nondriver here, wondering about the experiences of other nondrivers! Hope this clears up my motivation for posting this, maybe I should have done this as a poll?
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Old 03-08-2010, 04:56 PM
 
Location: The 12th State
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Living in South Park will be sort of rough. Im telling you from my experience with the bus service
How can I put this in a somewhat politically correct way CATS caters to areas where the income
mostly cant afford the means of owning a car. YES there is bus service and quite a few go to the mall but if you dont live by the mall your bus service will become extremely limited.
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Old 03-08-2010, 05:40 PM
 
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Sunny, Not really sure what you meant to say about Southpark (when were you taking buses in Southpark, was it years ago or more recently?) but I've lived in Southpark now for almost 2 years and there's plenty of public transportation here. I have access to at least 6 different bus routes-- north/south bus routes: Sharon Rd bus, Park Rd bus and Selwyn Ave bus which all end north at Uptown & some east-heading buses that go to and past Light Rail Stations at South Blvd: Archdale Rd, Tyvola Rd and Woodlawn. Not all of these bus routes run the same amount-- some run more frequently, later into the evenings & more days of the week than others.

Also, I'm in a somewhat expensive, upscale part of Southpark, just a few blocks south of Southpark Mall, there's not much that's "low-income" here! Now I'll grant that I've taken some of these bus routes more than others & probably only took the east-heading ones as far as South Blvd/Light Rail Stations at the furthest (maybe didn't stay on these buses further into more "low-income/higher-crime areas"?) but I've always felt "safe", never felt "threatened" while riding on any of these buses! And yes, from my area (Sharon Rd near Fairview Rd), the further east or south you go, there's fewer bus routes. In those areas it's much more suburban, spread out, "sprawly", which is one reason I don't live there! There's whole areas there that are not serviced at all by public transportation and are also not pedestrian-friendly or bike-friendly, so I'd be stupid to try to live there without a car, right? That's the point I was making in my OP: when you plan to live without a car, you have to pay attention to what areas are most serviced by buses and Light Rail, that's why I suggested it's important as a nondriver to research the public transit system covering the area where you're considering residing!

Also, I disagree with your statement that
Quote:
CATS caters to areas where the income mostly cant afford the means of owning a car.
I disagree with this because some of the areas in Charlotte that are MOST serviced by public transportation are also some of the most expensive areas! I'm talking about many parts of Eastover, Elizabeth, Myers Park and Dilworth which are very well serviced by major bus routes that end at Uptown, including bus routes on Randolph Rd, Providence Rd, Sharon Rd/Queens Rd, Selwyn Ave, Kings Drive and Park Rd (into Dilworth.) You could also include the Light Rail where it services Dilworth and Southend (is Southend considered a "wealthy" area? not sure about that.)

I've often thought it was strange that some of the wealthiest areas of Charlotte have the best, most convenient and most extensive public transportation! (Didn't seem to be the case in Buffalo NY where I'm from, but maybe it's the pattern in many other cities? In Charlotte, could it be because these wealthy areas also contain some major hospitals?)

Last edited by newbie09; 03-08-2010 at 06:26 PM..
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:20 PM
 
Location: The 12th State
22,974 posts, read 58,475,137 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbie09 View Post
Sunny, I have to disagree with you about Southpark because I live there now, have for almost 2 years. I'm a few blocks south of Southpark Mall and have access to about 5 bus routes, it's very extensive.

Also, I disagree with your statement that I disagree with this because some of the areas in Charlotte that are MOST serviced by public transportation are also some of the most expensive areas! I'm talking about many parts of Eastover, Elizabeth, Myers Park and Dilworth which are very well serviced by major bus routes that end at Uptown, including bus routes on Randolph Rd, Providence Rd, Sharon Rd/Queens Rd, Selwyn Ave, Kings Drive and Park Rd (into Dilworth.) You could also include the Light Rail where it services Dilworth and Southend (is Southend considered a "wealthy" area? not sure about that.)

I've often thought it was strange that some of the wealthiest areas of Charlotte have the best, most convenient and most extensive public transportation! (Didn't seem to be the case in Buffalo NY where I'm from, but maybe it's the pattern in many other cities? In Charlotte, could it be because these wealthy areas also contain some major hospitals?)
so you basically answer your own question then
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Old 03-08-2010, 06:28 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbie09 View Post
....
I've often thought it was strange that some of the wealthiest areas of Charlotte have the best, most convenient and most extensive public transportation! ...
That is simply because major roadways pass through them so the buses do as well. However these places are not setup for bus riders. There are for the most part no sidewalks, the houses are built for cars and there is too much distance between stops.

Two of the neighborhoods you mention Myers Park & Eastover were built specifically to require an automobile to live there and that was done to keep out anyone who used mass transit. There are a huge number of neighborhoods in this city that were built like that in the decades since then and for the most part these places will be unreachable if you don't have access to a car.

The bus service serves two main purposes here. It's setup for no choice riders that have no other way to travel, and express riders who are looking to avoid parking and traffic downtown. Sure if you put up with an intolerable amount of inconvenience, you can get around, but it's nothing like bus service in cities that were built for mass transit. Charlotte isn't one of them.
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