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Old 02-11-2013, 06:17 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217


Living without a Car : Is it possible ? ... in NC/SC

Here's the main message that I have used to start four threads on City-data forums:

=== QUOTE ===
I have lived happily without a car for many years, and in some great cities.

I am now considering a move to the ??? area.

I do not want to waste $8-10,000 per annum on a vehicle*, if I can avoid it.

Have you got any suggestions for places to live in the area?
A nice Walkable neighborhood is what I am seeking, and one which also has some decent transport links.

So far, I have been eyeing the areas in and around :

( Specific areas of the city mentioned)

BTW, I am self-employed, and normally work from home, and so I do not need to commute every day.

Surely, there must be people in the area, who enjoy the wonderful freedom of living a car-free life, and are willing to share some of their secrets.
=== UNQUOTE ===

I have started threads like this on C-D for four cities in NC and SC:

+ Charlotte NC : Living without a Car : Is it possible in the Charlotte area?
+ Asheville, NC : http://www.city-data.com/forum/weste...ille-area.html
+ Greenville SC : Living without a Car : Is it possible in the Greenville area?
+ Rock Hill+ SC : Living without a Car : Is it possible in the area?

In general, the threads have inspired a fecal storm, as the Car-drivers jumped in, and tossed mud at the idea that I was suggesting there was something WRONG with their communities, because I wanted to live car-free. No! I was just inquiring as to whether it is possible, and searching for areas within the city where it might be.

Yes, I am looking for a possible place to live. But I am also looking for a place to invest. Past experience has taught me that investing in cities with good jobs, and improving transport is a very smart idea. And investing near that transport, as it is improved, is a great idea.

Coming out of the housing downturn of 2006-2012, I think it will be a very powerful investment theme.

I am very keen to hear if people here have suggestions and comments on this.

If there are few comments, then I might post some HIGHLIGHTS here of those other threads.

=== ===

*I have also started a thread here in the Urban-Living section, backing up the claim that
the average car owner spends that much annually on his/her vehicle.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:22 PM
Location: North Baltimore ----> Seattle
6,473 posts, read 11,096,962 times
Reputation: 3117
I've got a number of friends who live/have lived in Asheville car free. All were avid cyclists.

Greenville seems a bit too spread out. Charlotte's transit has apparently improved substantially but I'm not really familiar with it, haven't been in several years and it seemed so damn boring when I was there. Never been to Rock Hill.

A lot of older cities in the Carolinas are surprisingly well laid out, but so many have just remarkably wide arterials without sidewalks that aren't great for cycling or walking.
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:35 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
Thanks for that, HUTD.

I haven't been to Asheville or Charlotte yet (except changing planes at the airport.)

I visited Greenville two summers ago, and mostly liked what I found there. But I thought it would be a stretch to live there without a car. The following letter, which I sent to the local bus company illustrates the problem:

=== QUOTE ===

BUS TICKETS - There's a better way for Greenville

RE: Commuting adventures near America's "Best Main Street"

Dear (Name withheld),

It was my pleasure to visit your fine city about two weeks ago.

I had done plenty of research via the web, and in nearly all respects Greenville exceeded my expectations. However, there was one thing that I found disappointing - ney, very disappointing, because the problem can be so easily fixed.

My partner and I live in Hong Kong, where she was born. We do not own a car, and we like to travel without renting a vehicle. One of the reasons we visited Greenville was because we heard that it was a model for walkable cities in the USA. Indeed, that is mostly true. But we had some problems when we decided to take a bus one afternoon.

We arrived at the Main Bus station off McBee St. with a wallet containing several $20 bills. We easily found the bus that we wanted, and when I tried to board, I showed a $20 bill and the driver shrugged and said, "Sorry, I cannot make change." So I went to the window of the dispatchers room, and tried to buy two tickets. I got the same response, "Sorry, we cannot make change."

So I explained, "I am not here seeking change, I want to buy two tickets for the bus."

"We do not sell bus tickets here," he said, leaving me amazed that the bus station cannot sell tickets to eager customers. "So where do I buy a bus ticket?" I asked, looking around. "Oh, you will have to buy from the bus driver." When I explained that she had no change, he was totally disinterested.

Fortunately, my partner had a solution. She took my $20 bill and walked slowly through the bus, begging people to make change for her. Finally, she found someone who could make change, and got the smaller money we needed, $3 for two bus tickets. The good news for us was that we had time to play out this little drama. If we had arrived later just before the departure, I would have been left standing in the fumes with a $20 bill in my hand, left with a one hour wait for the next bus. Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.

One of the people on the bus had observed our plight, and when I told her told her the bigger story about being refused change at the dispatch window, she was sympathetic. My frustration bubbled over a bit, and I said, "I may send a letter to the president of the bus company." She said, that might be a good idea. In fact, she thought I should copy the mayor too.

I turns out that she is a local lawyer, and she works in an office run by her father, a prominent local man, who had run for governor a few years earlier. She said, "The mayor here is a good man. He gets things done, and he may want to hear your story." So my moment of frustration has led to this letter.

What is particularly annoying, is that this problem is so easily fixed. I can envision three simple solutions, with the third of these being the most elegant:

1) A machine that dispenses change : put in a $10 or $20 bill, and get some singles in return. I ask myself, what does the bus company do with all the single dollar bills they collect? Perhaps they can recycle them back to customers through a change machine

2) A machine that sells $10 or $20 tickets for multiple trips. There could be tear-off tabs for each journey, or something more sophisticated and electronic. But this is really just 20th century technology, which can be easily found by the bus company

3) A 21st century solution would be an "Octopus Card" (which is something they use in Hong Kong), or the "Oyster Card" that is used in London England, a place that I formerly lived. This is a card with a chip that stores money. You can recharge it at any main station by putting cash into a machine. When you enter a bus, you place the card over a reader, and it subtracts the fare. All very neat and efficient, not requiring much time, and freeing the bus driver from the need to carry change. In fact, in Hong Kong, these cards are used more widely, and the MTR Corporation which owns the Octopus Card company makes some additional revenues when people use the card to buy things like candy bars at convenience stores.

I think progress in this area is inevitable. I have read that Greenville is beginning to manufacture electric-powered buses with a company called Proterra. Surely, you will want to run them in your own streets using 21st century ticketing technology.

I am still in Hong Kong, although I am considering a move to the USA, even Greenville. By while I am here, I can help. If you think that the Octopus Card may be a solution for Greenville's great bus change challenge, please let me know. I will be happy to contact the MTR Corp on you behalf and find out whether they might be willing to resell or license their Oyster Card technology.

Yours Truly, XXX

=== UNQUOTE ===
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:44 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
One of the posters on the Greenville thread wanted to get cyclists off the road, and was not fussed about the niceties of the law:

Originally Posted by SwampFox35 View Post
you don't have to agree with every law. it would be one thing if the guy pedaling somewhere is using the bike like other people use a car to get about, but if he is just out for exercise, it would be considerate if they didn't use the main roads in an urban road.
SW, are you suggesting breaking the law, and forcing cyclists off the road?
How would you like it, if cyclists and pedestrians targeted you?
As it is now, motorists are subsidized by non-motorists, but I see that changing.

So you may find motorists "targeted" by rising taxes, as governments find that no one else is willing to pay for the rising cost of highways. They are running out of borrowing capacities, and other places to hide these costs.

/see-post#72 : Living without a Car : Is it possible in the Greenville area?
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Old 02-11-2013, 06:45 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
Oh, I should also add some info here, on page one, about the EFFICIENCY of transportation in various cities. Here's a summary of a study of 100 metropolitan areas:

TRANSIT Profiles summary
CITY------------------ : Pct. : Waiting : Jobs : P+J-W (May 2011)
Provo-Orem, UT------- : 73% : 14.1min : 48% : 107%
Albuquerque, NM------ : 73% : 14.0min : 53% : 112%
Denver-Aurora, CO---- : 84% : 08.1min : 47% : 113%
Salt Lake City, UT----- : 89% : 08.5min : 59% : 139%
Greenville, SC--------- : 28% : 28.3min : 29% : 028%
Knoxville, TN ----------: 28% : 18.3min : 25% : 035%
Charlotte, NC--------- : 42% : 13.4min : 30% : 059%
Greensboro, NC------- : 43% : 14.1min : 29% : 058%
Little Rock, AR ------- : 37% : 19.3min : 37% : 059%
Wichita, KS----------- : 54% : 14.7min : 39% : 078%
Boise City, ID -------- : 52% : 22.4min : 34% : 064%
Columbus, OH--------- : 56% : 11.4min : 34% : 079%
Des Moines, IA ------- : 62% : 12.7min : 41% : 090%
Detroit, MI ----------- : 60% : 11.4min : 22% : 071%
Kansas City MO------- : 47% : 14.2min : 18% : 051%
Tulsa, OK ------------ : 47% : 19.6min : 31% : 058%
USA ave./ 100 cities- : 69% : 10.1min : 30% : 086%

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Old 02-11-2013, 07:35 PM
Location: MMU->ABE->ATL->ASH
9,123 posts, read 17,125,688 times
Reputation: 9974
I have car-less friend who Lives in Atlanta, He can use MARTA (Atlanta mass transit). For most of his needs. Work from home about 4 days a week. When he does need a car he uses ZipCars (Hourly Car Rental). Seem to work for him.
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:43 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
TRANSIT And Good Urban Planning (from the Charlotte section):

"Another fallacy is the one that states that building of transit results in high density. It doesn't. Density is achieved either because local conditions (lack of land & over population) cause it, or choice is removed from the people that forces them to live in such conditions."

The Density doesn't happen magically. It requires flexible zoning laws and good design.

Many cities have made the same mistake as CLT and surrounded mass transit stations with parking instead of well designed mixed use developments

Architect Ian Rassmussen discusses this in this excellent podcast. Why not listen and comment (rather than not listening and commenting):

TRANSIT, a Strong Towns podcast

MP3 : http://www.strongtowns.org/storage/p...13_Transit.mp3

Ian Rasmussen joins Chuck Marohn to talk about transit systems and how they should be viewed as the Suburban Experiment continues to wind down
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Old 02-12-2013, 02:56 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
Originally Posted by Feltdesigner View Post
20 cents? I remember when it was $1.00 and we could fill our Saturn up with $12.00 in Philly in 2003.
..and one of the reason's gas is so high is due to the demand from China...
from Bloomberg
And that trend is going to continue.
Whenever a Chinese person buys a car, the US gains more competition for imported foreign oil. And their currency is stronger, because China is becoming more wealthy, rather than hemorraging wealth, like the US. Increasing wealth in China (and India etc) means that Global oil demand is likely to rise, even if it falls in the US, in a time of a weak US dollar and rising dollar oil prices.

Growth in demand in China and India will more than offset drops in demand in the US. Because of its falling real wealth per capita, the US will be forced to "make way" for new motorists from emerging countries. That's just economics in action, and does not require any policy changes in the US.

- Yet another reason to seek ways to become less car dependent
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Old 02-12-2013, 03:41 PM
3,463 posts, read 4,538,222 times
Reputation: 7127
I think you could live some paces in NC without a car, but the traffic and attitudes towards cyclists isnt very good.
Asheville comes to mind, but the only problem I had with Asheville, was that you are sort of confined to the city for riding. If you need to go outside the city limits, it can be sort of undesirable. I am not that familiar with that area, though.
As for SC, it is becoming North South Floridistan at a rate that is shocking. I think you could do Greenville in a pinch or the city proper of Charleston, but anywhere outside of Charleston, like Mt. Pleasant, you are going to encounter some undesirable attitudes and situations. Although I cycle for transportation, I am a very non-aggressive rider/walker. So keep that in mind if you make to the end of this boorishness
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:42 PM
Location: Hong Kong
1,329 posts, read 872,207 times
Reputation: 217
Originally Posted by thunderkat59 View Post
As for SC, it is becoming North South Floridistan at a rate that is shocking...
Can you explain a little what you mean by this.
I live far away, so it is not obvious
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