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Old 05-12-2009, 03:23 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default In German Suburb, Life Goes On Without Cars




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VAUBAN, Germany — Residents of this upscale community are suburban pioneers, going where few soccer moms or commuting executives have ever gone before: they have given up their cars.

Street parking, driveways and home garages are generally forbidden in this experimental new district on the outskirts of Freiburg, near the French and Swiss borders. Vauban’s streets are completely “car-free” — except the main thoroughfare, where the tram to downtown Freiburg runs, and a few streets on one edge of the community. Car ownership is allowed, but there are only two places to park — large garages at the edge of the development, where a car-owner buys a space, for $40,000, along with a home.

As a result, 70 percent of Vauban’s families do not own cars, and 57 percent sold a car to move here. “When I had a car I was always tense. I’m much happier this way,” said Heidrun Walter, a media trainer and mother of two, as she walked verdant streets where the swish of bicycles and the chatter of wandering children drown out the occasional distant motor.

Vauban, completed in 2006, is an example of a growing trend in Europe, the United States and elsewhere to separate suburban life from auto use, as a component of a movement called “smart planning.”

Automobiles are the linchpin of suburbs, where middle-class families from Chicago to Shanghai tend to make their homes. And that, experts say, is a huge impediment to current efforts to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tailpipes, and thus to reduce global warming. Passenger cars are responsible for 12 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe — a proportion that is growing, according to the European Environment Agency — and up to 50 percent in some car-intensive areas in the United States.

While there have been efforts in the past two decades to make cities denser, and better for walking, planners are now taking the concept to the suburbs and focusing specifically on environmental benefits like reducing emissions. Vauban, home to 5,500 residents within a rectangular square mile, may be the most advanced experiment in low-car suburban life. But its basic precepts are being adopted around the world in attempts to make suburbs more compact and more accessible to public transportation, with less space for parking. In this new approach, stores are placed a walk away, on a main street, rather than in malls along some distant highway.

“All of our development since World War II has been centered on the car, and that will have to change,” said David Goldberg, an official of Transportation for America, a fast-growing coalition of hundreds of groups in the United States — including environmental groups, mayors’ offices and the American Association of Retired People — who are promoting new communities that are less dependent on cars. Mr. Goldberg added: “How much you drive is as important as whether you have a hybrid.”

Levittown and Scarsdale, New York suburbs with spread-out homes and private garages, were the dream towns of the 1950s and still exert a strong appeal. But some new suburbs may well look more Vauban-like, not only in developed countries but also in the developing world, where emissions from an increasing number of private cars owned by the burgeoning middle class are choking cities.

In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency is promoting “car reduced” communities, and legislators are starting to act, if cautiously. Many experts expect public transport serving suburbs to play a much larger role in a new six-year federal transportation bill to be approved this year, Mr. Goldberg said. In previous bills, 80 percent of appropriations have by law gone to highways and only 20 percent to other transport.

In California, the Hayward Area Planning Association is developing a Vauban-like community called Quarry Village on the outskirts of Oakland, accessible without a car to the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and to the California State University’s campus in Hayward.

Sherman Lewis, a professor emeritus at Cal State and a leader of the association, says he “can’t wait to move in” and hopes that Quarry Village will allow his family to reduce its car ownership from two to one, and potentially to zero. But the current system is still stacked against the project, he said, noting that mortgage lenders worry about resale value of half-million-dollar homes that have no place for cars, and most zoning laws in the United States still require two parking spaces per residential unit. Quarry Village has obtained an exception from Hayward.

Besides, convincing people to give up their cars is often an uphill run. “People in the U.S. are incredibly suspicious of any idea where people are not going to own cars, or are going to own fewer,” said David Ceaser, co-founder of CarFree City USA, who said no car-free suburban project the size of Vauban had been successful in the United States.
In Europe, some governments are thinking on a national scale. In 2000, Britain began a comprehensive effort to reform planning, to discourage car use by requiring that new development be accessible by public transit.

“Development comprising jobs, shopping, leisure and services should not be designed and located on the assumption that the car will represent the only realistic means of access for the vast majority of people,” said PPG 13, the British government’s revolutionary 2001 planning document. Dozens of shopping malls, fast-food restaurants and housing compounds have been refused planning permits based on the new British regulations.

In Germany, a country that is home to Mercedes-Benz and the autobahn, life in a car-reduced place like Vauban has its own unusual gestalt. The town is long and relatively narrow, so that the tram into Freiburg is an easy walk from every home. Stores, restaurants, banks and schools are more interspersed among homes than they are in a typical suburb.

Most residents, like Ms. Walter, have carts that they haul behind bicycles for shopping trips or children’s play dates
For trips to stores like IKEA or the ski slopes, families buy cars together or use communal cars rented out by Vauban’s car-sharing club. Ms. Walter had previously lived — with a private car — in Freiburg as well as the United States.

“If you have one, you tend to use it,” she said. “Some people move in here and move out rather quickly — they miss the car next door.”

Vauban, the site of a former Nazi army base, was occupied by the French Army from the end of World War II until the reunification of Germany two decades ago. Because it was planned as a base, the grid was never meant to accommodate private car use: the “roads” were narrow passageways between barracks.

The original buildings have long since been torn down. The stylish row houses that replaced them are buildings of four or five stories, designed to reduce heat loss and maximize energy efficiency, and trimmed with exotic woods and elaborate balconies; free-standing homes are forbidden.
By nature, people who buy homes in Vauban are inclined to be green guinea pigs — indeed, more than half vote for the German Green Party. Still, many say it is the quality of life that keeps them here.

Henk Schulz, a scientist who on one afternoon last month was watching his three young children wander around Vauban, remembers his excitement at buying his first car. Now, he said, he is glad to be raising his children away from cars; he does not worry much about their safety in the street.

In the past few years, Vauban has become a well-known niche community, even if it has spawned few imitators in Germany. But whether the concept will work in California is an open question.

More than 100 would-be owners have signed up to buy in the Bay Area’s “car-reduced” Quarry Village, and Mr. Lewis is still looking for about $2 million in seed financing to get the project off the ground.

But if it doesn’t work, his backup proposal is to build a development on the same plot that permits unfettered car use. It would be called Village d’Italia.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/sc...er=rss&emc=rss
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:02 PM   #2
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Great for them.

Let's think about how Germany fits in Texas. Yup. This idea would totally work in the states.
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:26 PM   #3
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It would work fine in many part of the northeast and anywhere else with fairly high population density and good public transit. When I lived in Toronto, I rarely drove my car during the week and I knew people who didn't own one at all and just rented once in a while if they needed a car for a trip.
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Old 05-12-2009, 04:56 PM   #4
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They can keep riding their bikes. I'll keep my AK's with high-cap magazines and V8 powered car!
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:20 PM   #5
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^^^^^ me likes!!!
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Old 05-12-2009, 09:21 PM   #6
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yea...no thanks
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Old 05-12-2009, 10:10 PM   #7
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It would work fine in many part of the northeast and anywhere else with fairly high population density and good public transit. When I lived in Toronto, I rarely drove my car during the week and I knew people who didn't own one at all and just rented once in a while if they needed a car for a trip.
Well there's your problem.

Doesn't work in a country with the urban sprawl that we somehow find acceptable here in the US.



When it takes a car to do even the most basic of functions - like buy groceries or drop kids off to school or eat at a local restaurant - a car is absolutely necessary... and with that dependence on motorized transport come the problems of pollution, parking requirements and high traffic.

Not needing to use your car is fantastic, but too many areas of this country are completely not set up for that... luckily some communities are seeing the problem and increasing funding to public transportation and trying to reduce urban sprawl.
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Old 05-12-2009, 11:39 PM   #8
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What about motorcycles? Do they allow them to be parked by the house?
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:10 AM   #9
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Well there's your problem.

Doesn't work in a country with the urban sprawl that we somehow find acceptable here in the US.
that's kind of the point of the article.

i would LOVE to live in such a planned car-free community. i ditched my car in May 2008 after progressively driving it less and less and have been quite happy with my decision. additionally i've made out like a bandit financially, a nice side benefit. depreciation (!), gas, insurance, maintenance, and parking are expensive!
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:40 AM   #10
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I rarely drive my car in the spring, summer and fall. We have very little public transit in New Hampshire. The world would be a better place if people rode bikes more. People would be healthier and happier from the regular exercise. We'd use less oil. We'd consume a lot less. We'd have a cleaner environment. We'd have safer roads.

It will never happen, our corporate overlords have little to gain from this.
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:28 AM   #11
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i just saw this on tv
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:08 AM   #12
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The concept of this neighbourhood is pretty damn mind-boggling in its thoroughness. There's solar-powered multi-story car park, a car sharing service, grocery delivery service, a tram line, a co-generation plant running on woodchips and way more.

http://www.vauban.de/info/abstract.html
http://www.vauban.de/rundgang/rundgang2.html
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Old 05-13-2009, 08:59 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Mike Wevrick View Post
It would work fine in many part of the northeast and anywhere else with fairly high population density and good public transit. When I lived in Toronto, I rarely drove my car during the week and I knew people who didn't own one at all and just rented once in a while if they needed a car for a trip.
Why is a high density required? Sure most stores today like, Wal-Mart rely on 1000 different people walking through their doors every hour, but why wouldn't having 1000 people a week be bad?

I think being completely without the convenience of a car is a bit much, but I think our reliance on the car for doing everything is a bit much too.

Imagine if you took your bike (bicycle, that is) on any trip that was less than 10 miles? who only goes 10 miles these days? A lot of people. I can tell you one thing, the gym would be a lot more empty.
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:41 AM   #14
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...but why wouldn't having 1000 people a week be bad?
Simply put, a Walmart couldn't survive on that kind of (low) volume... there would be no money in it for them at that pace. Only "mom & pop" and "main street" type of stores could survive with that kind of reduced sales traffic. And I sure as hell am fine with that. Walmart can go screw.

(unless I totally missed your point)
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Old 05-13-2009, 09:52 AM   #15
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Imagine if you took your bike (bicycle, that is) on any trip that was less than 10 miles? who only goes 10 miles these days? A lot of people. I can tell you one thing, the gym would be a lot more empty.
While a lot of places might only be 10 miles from point A to point B and back the roads usually don't work that way. I can tell you right now it would be damn near impossible for me to go to Walmart and back, and not have it take up my whole afternoon, or riding through dense woods, or me riding my bike on the freeway with cars flying by me at 70 miles per hour. Also the fact of how limited the bike can be, you can't carry a load of groceries, especially from a trip to Costco. There is no infrastructure for this, and unless you start stacking people ontop of one other would never work. City life is the best example of this, but then people don't want to live in the city, people don't make enough to live in the city, people want peace and quiet, etc etc etc.

It would be giant change in how we live, now whether that is the way to go or not depends on who you ask. But considering we just came from mom and pop and small town, it would seem like a step backwards to go back to that, wouldn't it? Maybe not morally, cause I like those older values, but commercially.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:00 AM   #16
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While a lot of places might only be 10 miles from point A to point B and back the roads usually don't work that way. I can tell you right now it would be damn near impossible for me to go to Walmart and back, and not have it take up my whole afternoon, or riding through dense woods, or me riding my bike on the freeway with cars flying by me at 70 miles per hour. Also the fact of how limited the bike can be, you can't carry a load of groceries, especially from a trip to Costco. There is no infrastructure for this, and unless you start stacking people ontop of one other would never work. City life is the best example of this, but then people don't want to live in the city, people don't make enough to live in the city, people want peace and quiet, etc etc etc.

It would be giant change in how we live, now whether that is the way to go or not depends on who you ask.
It is a giant change for some people. You don't have to shop at walmart and costco. Buying 90 rolls of TP, 5lb bags of chips and foods loaded with preservatives isn't the only way to shop. Many of the traditional towns in America could easily support a less car centric culture by reviving mainstreet businesses.



Bikes can carry plenty of goods. Americans are just too lazy and self-defeatist for this to work on any meaningful scale.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:11 AM   #17
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It is a giant change for some people. You don't have to shop at walmart and costco. Buying 90 rolls of TP, 5lb bags of chips and foods loaded with preservatives isn't the only way to shop. Many of the traditional towns in America could easily support a less car centric culture by reviving mainstreet businesses.



Bikes can carry plenty of goods. Americans are just too lazy and self-defeatist for this to work on any meaningful scale.
I would think that the more traditional towns would be the one's where it would be more difficult to change, since they are the ones who have so many things farther apart. But the thing here that tickles me is that these very people decided with their dollars who they wanted to win, and it was the big chains and products from china. Hell we can't even put regular sugar in our drinks, it has to be high fructose, because of cost. Everyone could have bought from mom and pop, but they didn't, and now they want it back? Do they really? People may say this is what they want, but I think actions speak louder then words.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:21 AM   #18
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I would think that the more traditional towns would be the one's where it would be more difficult to change, since they are the ones who have so many things farther apart. But the thing here that tickles me is that these very people decided with their dollars who they wanted to win, and it was the big chains and products from china. Hell we can't even put regular sugar in our drinks, it has to be high fructose, because of cost. Everyone could have bought from mom and pop, but they didn't, and now they want it back? Do they really? People may say this is what they want, but I think actions speak louder then words.
Salem witch trials. People aren't individually stupid. They are easily manipulated by predatory institutions like religion and corporate media. That makes the collective actions of people look stupid. A perfect example of this would be the witch trials, or the blessing to corporations to eviscerate mainstreet businesses.

Actions do speak louder than words. I commute by bicycle as much as I can. I support my local community businesses as much as I can. I'm not suggesting going car-free or never shopping in chains. Just make an effort when you can. Mainstreet was making a good come back in many of the towns in New Hampshire. Google Portsmouth or Dover. They are decent examples of a vibrant mainstreet and what they bring to a community.
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Old 05-13-2009, 10:31 AM   #19
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Its cool that bikes work well for that community. I'd bike to work if the citizens here didn't drive so recklessly... the major intersection I'd have to bike through is intimidating also since it has people coming both on and off the highway. I like the idea though; this could work out well if smaller towns gave it a shot. My folks in VT said their town is starting to rent bikes out to people for a day to get around town and run errands, and then they drop the bikes off at the end of the day; its been very successful thus far.
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Old 05-13-2009, 11:31 AM   #20
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I would think that the more traditional towns would be the one's where it would be more difficult to change, since they are the ones who have so many things farther apart. But the thing here that tickles me is that these very people decided with their dollars who they wanted to win, and it was the big chains and products from china. Hell we can't even put regular sugar in our drinks, it has to be high fructose, because of cost. Everyone could have bought from mom and pop, but they didn't, and now they want it back? Do they really? People may say this is what they want, but I think actions speak louder then words.

Thing is, this kind of lifestyle depends on cheap energy. Driving your Excursion to a Wal-Mart 20 miles away to buy products shipped in from China and trucked across the whole country is only attractive because it's cheap right now, not because it's particularly convenient.
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:41 PM   #21
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Thing is, this kind of lifestyle depends on cheap energy. Driving your Excursion to a Wal-Mart 20 miles away to buy products shipped in from China and trucked across the whole country is only attractive because it's cheap right now, not because it's particularly convenient.
Very good point my friend but I should stop before I go completely off topic.
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:48 PM   #22
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Why is a high density required? Sure most stores today like, Wal-Mart rely on 1000 different people walking through their doors every hour, but why wouldn't having 1000 people a week be bad?

I think being completely without the convenience of a car is a bit much, but I think our reliance on the car for doing everything is a bit much too.

Imagine if you took your bike (bicycle, that is) on any trip that was less than 10 miles? who only goes 10 miles these days? A lot of people. I can tell you one thing, the gym would be a lot more empty.
I do walk or bike within my local area. But 10 miles each way with a week's groceries on the way back is a bit much. (When I lived in Toronto I used to bike to work most days and hit different grocery stores after work each day.

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Only "mom & pop" and "main street" type of stores could survive with that kind of reduced sales traffic. And I sure as hell am fine with that. Walmart can go screw.
Are you fine with less selection and much higher prices?

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Well there's your problem.

Doesn't work in a country with the urban sprawl that we somehow find acceptable here in the US.
Depends where you live I guess. I am in Concord, MA. Within a mile of my house is a commuter rail station (into Cambridge and Boston), elementary school, high school, several parks, grocery store, various other stores, library, a dozen restaurants, etc. If my kids didn't go to a private school, I could probably do almost everything by foot or bike. (I work at home and my wife uses the commuter rail). And that's in a small town; closer in to Boston it gets even easier.
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Old 05-13-2009, 12:59 PM   #23
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Utah is definitely not good for this kind of thing. Our population is too small and spread out and public transportation here sucks like no other.

That being said, even here it can be made to work.
I bought a condo that is very close to a major grocery store, a hospital, a few parks, my university, and several eating establishments. (actually now that I think about it, a lot of college towns are a good example.)
Really, 90% of my driving is to and from work. I would ride my bike to work, but I have to take a highway past a canyon that regularly has winds strong enough to blow me right off the road.


The solution for the people complaining about hauling a weeks worth of groceries on a bike is simple. Shop for a day or two instead of a week.
I walk up to the store nearly every day. I get whatever I'm in the mood for at the moment and the produce is always fresh.
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Old 05-13-2009, 01:35 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Hazdaz View Post
Simply put, a Walmart couldn't survive on that kind of (low) volume... there would be no money in it for them at that pace. Only "mom & pop" and "main street" type of stores could survive with that kind of reduced sales traffic. And I sure as hell am fine with that. Walmart can go screw.

(unless I totally missed your point)
My point wasn't that walmart can sustain 1000 people a week, but small stores, that are more specific to one need can sustain a much smaller user base.

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I would think that the more traditional towns would be the one's where it would be more difficult to change, since they are the ones who have so many things farther apart. But the thing here that tickles me is that these very people decided with their dollars who they wanted to win, and it was the big chains and products from china. Hell we can't even put regular sugar in our drinks, it has to be high fructose, because of cost. Everyone could have bought from mom and pop, but they didn't, and now they want it back? Do they really? People may say this is what they want, but I think actions speak louder then words.
Well, it is funny. I didn't decide anything, my parents decided, and their parents decided. They wanted to have a house, with a yard. The urban landscape was forever changed, supermarkets started showing up, strip malls, etc. None of it was my choice. I've been suburban, I've waited in crappy suburban traffic at stoplights that shouldn't exist for 30 minutes just to travel 10 miles.

What's funny is that I live in the same neighborhood my Grandmother lived. At the time when they bought it was the outskirts of town, and considered suburban.

Now, the way I look at it, if I were any closer to downtown, I would be in downtown. It is interesting how perspectives change over the course of time.

I guess needs change, desires change, and what the population find important changes too. Is what I want what everyone wants? Definitely not, so it is impractical to assume that an environment of change is in the air.

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I do walk or bike within my local area. But 10 miles each way with a week's groceries on the way back is a bit much. (When I lived in Toronto I used to bike to work most days and hit different grocery stores after work each day.



Are you fine with less selection and much higher prices?



Depends where you live I guess. I am in Concord, MA. Within a mile of my house is a commuter rail station (into Cambridge and Boston), elementary school, high school, several parks, grocery store, various other stores, library, a dozen restaurants, etc. If my kids didn't go to a private school, I could probably do almost everything by foot or bike. (I work at home and my wife uses the commuter rail). And that's in a small town; closer in to Boston it gets even easier.
There are some grocers in my area that deliver for a minimal fee. If I had more than 3 bags worth of groceries to get a week, I'd use that service, but 3 bags fit my bike just fine.

I shop at a downtown safeway, I could get in my car and drive 3 extra miles to get to a bigger grocery store, to be able to choose a different brand of bread, but I don't.

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Originally Posted by Nico Flax View Post
While a lot of places might only be 10 miles from point A to point B and back the roads usually don't work that way. I can tell you right now it would be damn near impossible for me to go to Walmart and back, and not have it take up my whole afternoon, or riding through dense woods, or me riding my bike on the freeway with cars flying by me at 70 miles per hour. Also the fact of how limited the bike can be, you can't carry a load of groceries, especially from a trip to Costco. There is no infrastructure for this, and unless you start stacking people ontop of one other would never work. City life is the best example of this, but then people don't want to live in the city, people don't make enough to live in the city, people want peace and quiet, etc etc etc.

It would be giant change in how we live, now whether that is the way to go or not depends on who you ask. But considering we just came from mom and pop and small town, it would seem like a step backwards to go back to that, wouldn't it? Maybe not morally, cause I like those older values, but commercially.
Doing something without a car definitely takes more planning, but that is because they aren't as convenient as a car, but to say you would take the whole afternoon riding 10 miles to and from walmart? You are either crazy, or riding too slow.

You can't ride on the freeway.

You can't take your friends with you on the bike.

You're right, a lot of people value suburban life, with identical houses, and yards, and kids, and SUVs, and whatever else draws them out there.
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Old 05-14-2009, 02:25 AM   #25
AVANTI R5
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Default Driving less: A new trend for consumers and their cars?




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The automobile is said to be one of the most important modern inventions. From the early years of engineering in the late 1800s to today’s hybrids and future green machines, the car has gone through a number of face lifts and technological achievements, and consumers have continued to embrace the changing industry by buying more vehicles and hitting the roads increasingly each year. But is that trend may be changing. New analysis shows that Americans maybe be shifting their attitudes regarding their cars.

For example, according to the Department of Transportation, Americans are driving less. The Department’s statistics show that Americans drove 7 billion fewer miles in January 2009 than the year prior. Since November 2007, the number of miles driven has continued to decline each month compared to the year prior.

Another sign is the increase in public transportation usage. Public transit is at its highest level of ridership in 52 years--an increase of four percent over last year. We have also noted this year that traffic deaths have declined and there are fewer cars on the road.

Gasoline consumption is down despite the lower gas prices compared to last year. After gas prices hit the roof last summer, as expected, consumers drove less. However, driving hasn’t picked up again even though gas prices remain far below those levels, though clearly there are many related economic factors.

In a recent Esquire column, baseball analyst and stats whiz, Nate Silver discusses this idea further by building a model that looks at gas prices, unemployment data, and variations between the driving seasons with the expectation that he will be able to predict driving behavior. Silver determines that even with the higher unemployment rate and much lower gas prices that American’s should’ve driven more in January, not less.

However, Silver also notes that consumers have a delayed reaction to gas prices and that the cost of gas a year ago usually is a better predictor of current driving trends. So, the theory goes that our decrease in driving is still related to last summer’s high oil prices. We will know more if this trend continues to ring true in the coming months. Fortunately, gas prices are not expected to hit as high as last year. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts gas prices for the summer driving season to average $2.21 a gallon, down $1.60 from last summer.

In the end, much of the trend of Americans driving less can be attributed to the recession and economic crisis, plus, sluggish auto sales and the financial problems of Chrysler and GM. But there are a number of indicators outside those factors that could point to an attitude shift. Are consumers losing the love for their cars? Are we on the brink of a major change in driving habits?
http://blogs.consumerreports.org/car...eir-cars-.html
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