Car-free in the Sunbelt: is it possible?

If you live in New York City, San Francisco, Boston, or Portland, the idea of car-free living may not strike you as particularly unusual. Sure, plenty of people have and use cars, but urban density, public transportation options, and,  in some cases, well-developed bicycling infrastructure may not make an automobile seem like a necessity.

But what about in Houston? Atlanta? Phoenix? Las Vegas? These cities developed around car culture. As someone who went without a car in one of them for a year (Vegas in ’95-96), I can attest to the challenges present. An article in today’s Dallas Morning News about car-free blogger Patrick Kennedy got me thinking again about these challenges… and looking to see who’s overcoming them by foregoing automobile ownership in these car-centric locations.

Can you go car-free in the Sunbelt?

Yes… but it’s an idea that still in its infancy, even as automobile ownership seems to be declining in the US. In addition to Kennedy’s blog, I did find a handful of other resources about people relying on walking, biking, and using public transportation to get around in metropolitan areas developed around driving. Among them:

  • The Los Angeles edition of Streetblog: Started in NYC, Streetsblog has turned into a small network dedicated to “Livable Streets.” Among their location-bases sites is one dedicated to the city perhaps most emblematic of car culture: Los Angeles.

  • Car-Free Atlanta Family: This small blog documents the efforts of one family to “[Get] around Atlanta by bicycle, running, walking, MARTA, taxi and Zipcar.”

  • More Minimal: Good blogging buddy Chris Baskind hasn’t been particular active lately (as I understand it, he’s doing a lot of web development projects for clients), but his car-free archives are a gold mine… and largely derived from his own experiences living car-free in Pensacola, Florida. An interview with Chris at minimalism blog Far Beyond the Stars has some great insights…

Of course, there are plenty of broader resources for living without a car: Car Free City USA,, and the World Carfree Network, for instance. But I’d love to know about other resources focused on car-centric cities… what do you know about that I don’t.


Image credit: chrisbaskind at Flickr under a Creative Commons license