The Car-free Community

A suburb without cars? It's happening in Vauban, Germany, an experimental community near Freiburg where there are no garages, street parking, or driveways. If you have a car and move to Vauban, you purchase a space in a parking building at the edge of town when you buy your home. Most residents do not own a car.
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.

A few experimental car-free communities are trying to get off the ground in the US, but not many people live in them so far.
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.

Link -via Digg

(image credit: Martin Specht for The New York Times)

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We can thank GM for some of the reasons modern American cities demand that you drive everywhere.

And also Robert Moses. Toronto has a Jane Jacobs day to celebrate the champion of the walkable city.

There's a really good/depressing book about why contemporary American cities are the way they are called The Geography of Nowhere by James Howard Kunstler
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I once bought a house within walking distance of my workplace. Then the workplace up and moved several miles out of town! The next house I bought was in walking distance of the kids' school, since I work at home. I still have to drive to buy groceries, now that all the mom and pop shops downtown are gone.
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I grew up in Freiburg and I can tell you that the public transport system there is fantastic. Even before building Vauban the tram and bus system in Freiburg supported leaving your car outside the city and get in by tram (parking lots outside city = free, parking in city = hard to find and VERY expensive). Trust me, you don't need a car in Freiburg, not even in other parts of the city. You can go even skiing in winter by train and bus in the black forest, no car needed at all.
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Where I live, the community is not laid out tightly enough and the jobs and shops aren't close enough to the homes to make it work very well for most people. Car free would work in tightly packed communities,like urban areas or places that are very close to a source of a bunch of jobs, like next to a couple of big factories.
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