One of the great advantages of walkable, liveable streets is that they reduce the need for each person in a household to own and operate their own car. In Yarra, 21% of households don’t own a car, and the trend is increasing. Eliminating the need for a car means that the household has more money to spend on paying off their mortgage, putting their kids through school, or saving something extra for retirement. The trend toward fewer cars can be accelerated if we improve our streets, and bring them alive for people.
Car dependency is a spectrum
a community is not simply car-dependent or not – there is a spectrumMatt Pinder
Simple lifestyle changes
For those who are willing to have a go, the following article discusses some of the adjustments to deal with life with one less car. It’s American, but most of the tips translate well to Australia:
The article describes nine simple lifestyle changes, including:
- Sell your car when you move – and be smart about the location of your new residence
- Get maximum value from mass transit
- Get your exercise on a bicycle equipped with a bag, pannier, or rack
- Get additional exercise from walking/rucking
- Shop with friends and share resources
- Consider carpooling, too!
- Rent a car for longer trips
- Get an ‘everyday carry’ bag and stock it appropriately
- Canvas your nearby area thoroughly for entertainment and social options
Car sharing is another possibility, allowing convenient rental on an hourly or daily basis. GoGet, Flexicar and GreenCarShare are commercial companies operating in Yarra, and there is also peer-to-peer sharing via Car Next Door.
Often proposals to change a street layout to reduce the number of traffic lanes or relocate parking to side streets results in the claim that ‘we need the traffic lanes and on-street parking’, or that it will ‘result in traffic chaos’. The reality is quite different, because much of the traffic evaporates.
Research findings suggest that when street space is reallocated to active transport, “predictions of traffic problems are often unnecessarily alarmist, and that, given appropriate local circumstances, significant reductions in overall traffic levels can occur, with people making a far wider range of behavioural responses than has traditionally been assumed.”