Is Car-Free Living Possible in the Suburbs?

"suburban transportation green"How can eco-friendly transportation be improved in the suburbs?

When contemplating whether to live in a city or in the suburbs, most people weigh the pros and cons of having more space or less space, being closer to better schools for their kids or having the convenience of everything nearby in an urban environment.

But not normally at the top of everyone’s list of issues to consider is the environmental impact of living in the suburbs.  Suburbs mean more space, remoteness from the city, and therefore also necessitate more transportation (and often wastefulness).

Chances are, if you are moving out of the city and into the ‘burbs, you will have to give up your urban car-free existence (like Green Prophet’s Arwa) and get a vehicle (with so many cars going green now, hopefully an energy-efficient one).  You can try to cut your car costs a little searching around for some cheap car insurance, but at the end of the day your carbon footprint costs will still be much higher than when you lived in the city. Here’s why:

Urban dwellers can usually get around fine with a combination of walking and public transportation.  The density of city living means that distances are smaller, and there are usually multiple forms of public transportation to accommodate folks without cars (such as buses, trains, taxis, and sometimes bike rental services).

Living in the city can be expensive, but when you take into account the seriously reduced costs of urban transportation it seems to balance out a little.

When walking and public transportation don’t cut it, city folk have more car-sharing (and now bike-sharing) options than suburbanites.  But maybe these options could be brought to the suburbs.

Bringing the idea of collaborative consumption (or, in other words, sharing) to the suburbs where people often take great pride in their possessions may not be easy, but it could be possible.  A combination of car-sharing services such as Car2Go, carpooling into work, or even renting out/sharing personal vehicles with neighbors could significantly reduce the environmental impact of commuting from the ‘burbs.

Read more about sustainable transportation:
Doha and Tel Aviv Launch Two-Wheel Options for Urban Transportation
How to Live a Car-Free Existence
My Parents and the Pleasures of Owning a Prius in Israel

Image via: Chris Willis

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