Carfree in Atlanta on CNN

Here’s the article

Thanks, Zach!

16 replies
  1. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    I remain somewhat underwhelmed. This guy is not really car-free. He has a driver’s license and regularly rents cars.

    Meanwhile, here in Toronto Centre, car commute mode share is at 26% and falling fast. Over two-thirds of adults do not have a valid driver’s license. Being genuinely car-free is what most people simply are. It is not a big deal. So they don’t make videos about it.

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      If you had a friend somewhere in rural northern Ontario where the trains and buses don’t go, you’d need to rely on a car, yours or someone else’s, to get there. Car-free doesn’t work when you need to get to places with wicked low density.

    • Vincent Hsu
      Vincent Hsu says:

      The important point is that Chris has made major changes to his lifestyle and that is a big deal to the majority of us Americans who live our lives dependent on our vehicles. If just a fraction of us could emulate what he did, we could reduce our carbon footprint significantly. In my mind, reaching out via CNN and other media outlets is important, as changing the culture takes time and repeated messaging. Those on the fence may very well decide to take a “car-free” plunge as a result. While I applaud Kevin & the residents in Toronto, we don’t all have to give up our driver’s license in order to make a significant difference in reducing car commuting.

  2. Angelo
    Angelo says:


    I agree that at its essence, this video demonstrates problems as serious as its “solution”. Telling people to sell their houses so they can reduce their commute to 1 mile won’t convince anyone I know to bicycle, and I think it’s obscene that this journalist thinks that having motorists throw bottles at him should be acceptable to anyone (“a small price to pay”). It has happened to many bicyclist I know, but I think the obscenity is the lack of police concern.

    However, I do find your constant comments on the US needlessly antagonistic to those bicyclists that live here. Do you really want to have 300 million US residents to move to Toronto so they can give up their cars?

    I share your skepticism when the CNN piece basically says don’t own a car, renting one any time you want to drive is fine. Howerver, on my one trip to Atlanta, I can easily imagine the journalist may have wanted to take his son someplace difficult for the boy to reach by bicycle. (I saw minimal public transportation in Atlanta).

    Similarly, having a drivers license in the US is virtually a federal requirement for more than a minimal life. The war on drugs in the 80’s was the excuse for Federal laws requiring banks to “know your customer” and demand drivers licenses to have a bank account. With the PATRIOT act and war on terror it’s even more extreme. A few may, but no bank I could find would take a non-driver state ID or out of state license. Similarly, state police said they would not consider their own non-driver IDs for a variety of non-driver purposes (firearms ownership, voting, etc.). I agree that bank accounts, mortgages, credit, etc. for adults should not be limited to holders of drivers licenses, but US bicyclists don’t have the political ability to change this and the only changes proposed are further restrictions.

    While your comments on bicycle facilities on different sites may be true, they are irrelevant in the US. AASHTO standards virtually encourage 5′ bike lanes next to parked cars, and facilities installed often don’t follow these minimal guidelines. Planners are concerned that if bike lanes are 8′ (your legal minimum elsewhere) motorists will drive in them, so they prohibit lanes this wide. With facilities like this and mandatory usage (see enforcement of imaginary laws), do you really think we want planners like this trying to help us by saying many bicyclists aren’t comfortable with SLM/sharrows so they’ll build us DZBL to avoid frightening novices?

    With FRAP and MBL, the US effectively has strict liability for bicyclists. All the (mandatory) facilities in the US won’t offset the legal and (extralegal) damage caused by law enforcement bias.

    I am curious about some of your past comments about Dutch bicycle facilities. You mentioned that they had graded intersections so bicyclists were not on roads, but it sounded like these were bicycle express ways without pedestrians, residences or businesses. If bicyclists are kept off the roads, how do they get to destinations on these main roads?

  3. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    Hi Angelo,

    With the exception of “car-only” expressways, virtually all roads have been adapted to be cycle-friendly. And even “car-only” expressways will almost always have alternate cycle routes. Here are some key features:

    1. Intersections must be engineered to avoid conflict with turning movements. See this video for examples:

    2. Residential streets must be traffic calmed with semi-permeable barriers to eliminate “rat-running.” Semi-permeable means cyclists and pedestrians can go through, but not cars. There is a video here that shows where and what quality of cycle infrastructure is needed:

    And here is a video showing semi-permeable barriers at work keeping local neighbourhoods free of “rat-runners.”

    You asked about cycling on main roads. Here are some videos showing the main roads in a typical Dutch city. Follow the links to see how to cycle to the city centre from different neighbourhoods.

    I hope that watching these videos will give some idea of what proper cycle infrastructure looks like. It is actually quite cheap too. Dutch capital and maintenance spending together is only about 11 euros per capita.

    In the 1970’s, many Dutch cities were car-clogged nightmares which would be all-too-familiar to people in North America. The Dutch were able to transform their cities. We can too.

  4. danc
    danc says:

    @ Kevin Love, OK, Mr. Hrubesh a no longer a “car owner” and therefore he only “car owner free.” Is part of underwhelm-ism due to the writer’s dream for a low-emission-vehicle? Pardon me, is there some ideological car-free purity test I missed? No driver’s license?

    @ “Being genuinely car-free is what most people simply are” Possibly in cities with excellent mass transit (NYC) or short commute (i.e. 2.2 mile = 4 Km Copenhagen). According to the World Bank, World Development Indicators 2002, the Dutch still have nto kicked the need for cars: 383 per 1000 people (#15 in the world). For comparison: #9 Canada 459/1K , #7 US 478/1K and #17 Denmark 353/1K.

    @ “1970′s, many Dutch cities were car-clogged nightmares which would be all-too-familiar to people in North America. The Dutch were able to transform their cities. We can too.” No so fast on this line of “bovine effluent”, see Dutch traffic jams which discusses a Time magazine article, quote “The Netherlands may be known overseas for its cycling culture, but outside the country’s city centers, gridlock is the more dreary reality. Vehicle use has risen sharply over the years, but road capacity has yet to catch up — in part due to lack of space.”

    European countries with high bicycle commuting in cities are primarily quasi-voluntary cyclists due to economics and geography. Motor vehicle ownership: license, tax, gas, parking are extremely high compared to North America and commuting under 5 miles or in conjunction with mass transit makes driving a bicycle is sensible, economical, convenient and other reason greener/healthier.

    I generally agree with Angelo, please save the “Double Dutch”, this is North America, eh?

    • RC
      RC says:

      Note the line, “outside the city centers,” gridlock reigns. So inside the cities, where investments have been made in bicycle facilities, things are good. How does this prove your point? To me it says the Dutch are likely to seek and find new solutions outside their city centers to achieve their goals.

      Also, if cleaner air and halting climate change are the goals, who cares if people are reluctant cyclists? I reluctantly eat broccoli instead of ice cream but it doesn’t mean I’d be better off eating more ice cream, or only ice cream. I see driving the same way – do it in small quantities and things will be fine.

  5. Kevin Love
    Kevin Love says:

    I saw a survey of cyclists in Denmark. Those who cycled because they cared about the environment were less than 1%. The #1 reason for cycling was because it was the fastest and most convenient way of getting from A to B. And that is as it should be.

    It is interesting to see the “before and after” films of cities that were car-clogged in the 1960’s and livable cities today. Here is an example:

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