The Best Cities to Live in Car Free

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5. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA
> Transit coverage: 85.3% (11th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.8 (15th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 33.4% (35th highest)
> Walk score: 73.6 (6th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.07% (9th highest)

Seattle’s public transportation system not only includes bus and rail transit, but a monorail in the city center, as well as ferries. The city also has the sixth highest walk score in the country, due to its high number of easily accessible amenities. According to Bicycling magazine, Seattle is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and “has a 10-year, $240-million bike master plan that seeks to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths.”

4. Honolulu, HI
> Transit coverage: 97% (the highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 9 (18th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 59.8% (the highest)
> Walk score: 63 (19th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.95% (12th highest)

Honolulu currently does not have an urban rail system, but its bus system helps cover 97% of neighborhoods — the highest rate in the country. Additionally, almost 60% of jobs are accessible within 90 minutes to those who live in neighborhoods covered by transit. This is also the highest rate in the country. Nevertheless, the city is planning a $5.5 billion rail project called the Honolulu Rail Transit Project. This will include 20 miles of track, connecting East Kapolei with the Honolulu International Airport and downtown Honolulu and will end at Ala Moana Center.

3. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
> Transit coverage: 89.6% (7th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 4.5 (the highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 36.6% (25th highest)
> Walk score: 85.3 (the highest)
> Commuters who bike: 0.52% (32nd highest)

New York City ranks first in the nation for total number of passenger trips and government spending per capita on public transit, according to US News. It also has the highest rate of service frequency. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s 2010 operating budget was $13.4 billion. The average weekday ridership for the city is estimated to be over 8.4 million trips. The city also has the highest walk score on this list, thanks to the ability of city dwellers to reach just about any amenity on foot.

2. Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton, OR-WA
> Transit coverage: 83.5% (13th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 7.4 (8th lowest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 39.9% (16th highest)
> Walk score: 66.3 (13th highest)
> Commuters who bike: 2.23% (2nd highest)

Portland is such a good place for people to live without a car due to both its public transit system and the ease of walking and biking around the city. The metropolitan area is served by TriMet, which in addition to other services offers a Free Rail Zone — a region that includes most of downtown Portland and where light rail and streetcar rides are always free. The city has a number of benefits for bike riders, including designated bike-only areas at traffic signals and free bike lights. It has the second highest rate of commuters who ride bikes to work in the country.

1. San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA
> Transit coverage: 91.7% (5th highest)
> Service frequency (minutes): 8.5 (12th highest)
> Jobs reachable in 90 minutes: 34.8 (30th highest)
> Walk score: 84.9 (2nd highest)
> Commuters who bike: 1.65% (6th highest)

San Francisco is held in high regard for its many successful transit systems, including the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority and the Bay Area Rapid Transit district. These systems cover nearly 92% of neighborhoods — the fifth highest rate in the country. San Francisco also has the second highest walk score and is excellent for bicyclists. Commuter rails within the city allow bicyclists to mount with their bicycles, and there is a bike shuttle across the Bay Bridge to help cyclists during rush hour.

Charles B. Stockdale