Wiki Wednesday: Car-Free in NYC

If you live in New York City, chances are you’ve already done your part this Earth Day with a car-free commute to work. As this week’s featured Streetswiki article by DianaD reminds us, vehicle ownership in the five boroughs is far less common than in most areas of the U.S. — even in relatively auto-centric Staten Island, where 18 percent of households are car-free.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, only 8% of
American households do not own a car. Vehicle ownership is strongly
related to distance traveled. People in households with at least one
vehicle travel twice far as those in households without a vehicle. They
also use a car for more than 90% of their trips, while those without a
vehicle travel on foot or via transit 57% of the time. Households with
a vehicle walk or take public transit for only 1% and 8% of their
trips, respectively.

In addition to a more pedestrian-friendly street grid than most Americans enjoy, most New Yorkers owe their car-freedom, of course, to the MTA. However, even as the city looks to expand sustainable transportation options to complement its overworked mass transit system, the majority of its citizens remain at the mercy of motoring class lawmakers who spew anti-MTA vitriol like so much noxious CO2.

It would have been nice this April 22 to wake up to headlines announcing that the Fare Hike Four and their ilk had come to realize that they could, and should, promote a healthy transit system while reducing congestion and pollution. Unfortunately, news that good only comes on April 1.

  • Even in these days of economic crisis, people keep on buying vehicles. Difference is that they tend to purchase cheaper used cars, which unfortunately pollute even more than new ones. One solution I see is the President’s project to have 1 million hybrid cars on the streets by 2015.

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