How Car Dependent Are You?

Updated on September 15, 2014
S.G. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
43 answers

An answer to one of yesterdays questions got me dependent is everyone on their car?

I consider my family fairly car dependent. We are a two car family. We do drive somewhere at least once a day, and I schedule our activities based on the fact that we will be driving, therefore I often do not leave enough time between for walking. I do make an effort to choose active transportation when I can for the health benefits and the environmental benefits.

We are fortunate to live in a very walkable neighbourhood, with sidewalks, lots of bike trails and easy access to a city transit system. Biking is a great option six months of the year, but for the other six months it is only for the real die-hards who buy the expensive snow tires etc.

My kids walk to school every day, unless it is colder than 40 below with wind chill, then I will drive them. My husband can walk or bike to work, but he usually drives because he comes home late at night. I sub at different schools so I usually drive to work unless I am starting later or working at a closer location.

We often walk to church. We often walk to the bank, doctors, dentist, chiropractors, orthodontist and physiotherapist office. We can walk to the hospital. We have three convenience stores we will walk to.

We usually drive to the grocery stores, the library, the Y and the city pool. We can ride our bikes to all of those places and sometimes do. We ride our bikes to the zoo in the summer and drive in the winter.

We normally drive when we go to other parts of the city, but on occasion we will take the bus if we want to avoid parking congestion. In the summer we do a lot of driving outside the city to beaches and campgrounds.

We could definitely go a short period without a car, but I don't think we could do it long term without some serious lifestyle changes.

So, how dependent are you on your car? Could you live without it?

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So What Happened?

We also have pretty extreme temps here. 90 in the summer and minus 40 or 50 in the winter!

Why are there so many neighbourhoods without amenities? When they build new developments here my city they always factor in commercial development (strip malls with convenience stores, doctors offices, restaurants etc.) and space for schools. I can't think of any areas where people are miles away from everything unless they are out in the country.

I kept the bike trailer from when my kids were little and I still use it for carrying things like groceries, chairs, picnics, sports gear etc.

Jill K-I have a dew friends who have really expensive bikes with snow tires and ride to work year round. Not for me though! I am happy that I can stay upright on clean pavement! I also wouldn't let my kids ride in the winter, at least not until they are older. I too do not have a cell phone. Haven't needed one yet. I could probably get by without a car, but it would take lots of planning and lifestyle changes.

I don't understand why planners would allow these communities to be built without supporting infrastructure,

I live in a small city of about 750 000. The city is split in about 8 sections and each section is well serviced by hospitals, doctors, dentists, church's, restaurants, schools, community clubs, stores, malls etc. The next time I hear people complaining about our city planning I'll be sure to tell them just how lucky we are!

In the 80's a couple of new developments were built without sidewalks. I think the city saw the error in that and all new developments must have sidewalks.

I thought we were on the small side. The big Canadian cities have populations over a million. We rank #7. We only recently grew big enough to get an Ikea and an H&M.

Featured Answers



answers from Detroit on

In my area there is no mass transit, so a car is a necessity. I could walk or bike, but almost everyone who has a driver's license drives here. The Metro Detroit area is nothing like Chicago or NYC where you have more transit options.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lawton on

Basically drive everywhere. We do not live close to anything to walk. We live in the outskirts of town.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Extremely car dependent. No public transportation in my neighborhood, no busses, nothing. Kids school is 4 miles away across the freeway, can't walks or ride bikes. I could walk to grocery store, but because we're so car dependent I don't have the means to get the groceries the mile or so home. Kids sports practices and games are 6 to 45 miles away, need a car to get there. Hubs travels 2-3 weeks a month, no public transport to the airport and I can't drop him off due to timing so we are not only car dependent, we are 2 car dependent.

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Wausau on

We are a one-car family. I do not drive, by choice. I did go through drivers ed and passed the tests, so I do know how to drive.

When you never become dependent on having a vehicle sitting there waiting for you at all times, you do things a little differently. You plan ahead for your shopping and errands. When buying a home, you consider accessibility - grocery stores, hospitals, pharmacies, parks, schools, library, salons, etc.

While my friends will take off to Target on a whim to pick up that one thing they forgot, I don't do that. Not driving means no gas, car or insurance to pay for, so I think the occasional inconvenience is minor when compared to that.

I've held jobs in various cities and towns. I went to college. I got married and have kids. I've walked, biked, taxied, bused. Until I married, having a vehicle around was just not something I had in my life.

In the city I live in, there are many non-drivers. Did you know there are snow tires for bicycles? I personally prefer to walk in the winter - I have ice cleats for my boots - but I know people who bike 7 miles everyday for work in sun, rain and snow.

My kids walk to school, regardless of weather. Next year my older child will take a bus to the high school, which is on the far end of the city. When they were little, I used a nice jogging stroller to take them places.

I walk to appointments and to work, when applicable. The job I'm currently interviewing for is 1.5 miles from my home. To my mother, who never walks anywhere, it sounds like a huge distance. For me, that is less than half of the distance I regularly choose to walk for my own enjoyment.

Having a spouse who drives does give us more choices. For example, my kids' karate dojo is in one of the few areas around here that is not safely pedestrian accessible. There are other dojos that are, but we like this one. Also, vacations are easier with a driver than without one. There are obvious transportation perks that I have now that I didn't have before marriage.

The only thing that bothers me as a non-driver is when drivers look horrified and can not comprehend how I can possibly "live like that". Or when they feel sorry for my kids because they walk places too. My kids have endurance and can run circles around their child, who starts complaining about tired legs after walking one block, so which kid is really worse off?

I might as well add that I do not have a cell phone. (Cue second round of wondering how I can live like that.)

When I am not at home, I am not reachable. I do not need to be reached. I LOVE technology. Computers, my MP3 player, my Kindle, video games, etc. but the idea of being connected and reachable 24/7 no matter where I am does not appeal. "What about if something happens with the kids?" is the usual question. The school has contact info for my husband as well as three other local people with cells and vehicles at their disposal. Those numbers have never been used. Someday, I may get a cell. It isn't off the table forever. It's just that so far, there has not been an actual legitimate need for one.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Totally dependent. My husbands work is many miles away. When he worked Downtown, he rode his bike 5 days a week. He loved it, But now he has to drive highways to get there.

The grocery store is only a few miles away, but I would not be able to carry it all and when the weather is mostly in the 80's or higher, it would be impossible. I cannot ride a bike because of my vertigo.

I wish our city had better public transportation. It is something we are always begging for, but it is still a big old mess.

My business is actually based on this service. I pick up[ and deliver things from all over town. So needless to say, I am in the car a lot.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm rather independent of cars. I've never had a license, never owned one. Have zero desire to drive. We have wonderful public transport here in Portland.

During the weekdays, I usually take one car trip: my husband picks us up from Kiddo's judo class (we bus there from school, crosstown) and brings us home. Weekends, we'll run errands together. In the summertime, Kiddo and I walked everywhere or took the bus. I mostly walk otherwise. Stores are close, school is close, library- close.

Husband takes the car in to work; he's regularly taking IT equipment/servers to a co-location a bit out of town. I don't miss having a car during the week. The walk to and from school is a great chance to connect with Kiddo.

I made it well into my thirties without access to wheels of any sort. Figure it keeps me healthier. And yes, things are relatively temperate here. 90s in summer? Sure, but the winter is rarely awful-- the one mile walk to the store in slush and snow last winter was doable.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

There is no way we could live without at least 1 car. We don't use the second car as much as we once did now that my husband does not commute to work every day and instead works at home.
Even the nearest grocery store is not in walking distance and is along a major old freeway road with no sidewalk. We could walk to a 7-11, that's about it. Absolutely everything else you need a car to get to.
Public transit is a joke and completely useless around here. It can take several hours one way with multiple changes on public transit to go somewhere that takes 15-20 minutes by car. You can use public transit a little better around Downtown, but only by a little bit. We never use it anywhere.
We plan all our errands and running to do as little zig-zagging and extra running as possible because the cost of gas and general car wear and tear adds up. If we have nowhere to go we stay home and don't drive. We made sure to buy cars with good gas mileage and reliability to limit our impact when we do drive around.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

When I lived in Idaho, I barely used my car. I rode my bike anywhere I needed to be in town, and only really drove if I was leaving town or needed to haul something that wouldn't fit in my backpack. (Or once there was too much snow to ride...) I had an awesome Jeep stroller that I could take anywhere when I was caring for my baby brother, and we used it.

Where I live now, the roads are VERY narrow, with literally no shoulder, and there are very few sidewalks. I don't feel safe walking on them myself, let alone try to push a stroller, or ride a bike! There is no convenient public transportation system. So I have become pretty car dependant.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Completely dependent. We are a two-income full time working family with two cars. Our jobs are 15-20 miles away from where we live and the public transportation system is not very good. So, yeah it would be pretty tough to do without a car...

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

We live about 3 miles outside of town and about 3 miles away from the grocery stored. No public transportation, and we live on a state highway. Yep, 100% dependent on our vehicles.

We live in a bedroom community with a population of about 4000 just outside of the larger metropolitan city (that does have public transportation). When we first moved here there was a gas station and a couple of restaurants, but no drug store and no grocery store. We have both now.

I think it's great that everyone around you has amenities and the opportunity to do so much without their cares. It's just not reality for many of us.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Unfortunately we have no choice. I live in a beautiful area but it is hilly, with long winding roads that are dangerous to walk or bike on so we have to drive everywhere. Plus every place we need to get to is several miles away. I'm hoping when the kids are finally all off to college (in a few years) to relocate to an urban area where we can walk more and have access to public transit.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

The house we live in right now was supposed to be temporary--but we've been here for 8 years now. The places we need to go to every day are at least 10 miles away (school/church) and 20 miles away for my husband's job. We do live in walking distance to a dry cleaner, grocery store, dentist, chiro, bank, a few restaurants, Walgreens, the YMCA, etc., but our village simply didn't build the sidewalks very well. If it were just me, I could walk just about anywhere, but the sidewalk is slanted at an angle and I can't keep the stroller on it very well without tipping it.

So, I am 99% car dependent ;-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

could we live without it? Probably. Would I want to? No.

We have public transportation here. We have bus stops right out our back door. We just got a metro station in our town. Which, unfortunately, sucks. We were VERY excited about the metro but the way it was built was bad, poorly thought out. It's a single line system instead of double and one area forced the issue (which cost us HUNDREDS of MILLIONS and 5 years in construction time - and it STILL does NOT go to Dulles Airport yet!! Which it was supposed to do!! URGH!!) My husband's commute on public transportation was 65 minutes from back door to his desk. Now? It's 110 minutes or as much as 145 minutes. And driving? Is 55 minutes. so guess what he's doing more of? DRIVING!! When the metro was supposed to cut back on traffic...stupid bureaucrats!! who don't use the system they put in place!! The only way to fix it? Build ANOTHER line from West Falls Church to's long and complicated...damn, I digressed - sorry!!

Any way - our schools are not walking distance. And even though our town is supposed to be a walking town? We don't have a lot of sidewalks (again - politics and "thoughts" on how we should "see" things...) not to mention lack of lighting (might impede our view on the night sky - you know? Light Pollution?? Yeah...

We USED to be walking distance from a grocery store and dry cleaner - it was GREAT!! We would bring our wagon and do our grocery shopping - the boys LOVED IT!!! Now? We've not had grocery store there in about 3 years maybe 4. Company that owns the building is pushing hard for higher rates and driving businesses out so they could tear down and make apartments for the metro that was just done...yeah...

If we wanted to go to the beach? MUST take car.
Mall? Bus and metro will get us there. We can walk to the metro - it's about 1.25 miles.
Pool, we can walk.
Library we can walk - but it's about 1.5 miles and again no sidewalks so we drive.

wow...this is longer than I thought. Sorry. We are car dependent due to circumstances beyond our control. We, along with others, were able to get the county to lay a sidewalk almost all the way to the metro! YAHOO!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

Completely dependent.

We live rurally. My husband (sole breadwinner) commutes 48 miles one way to work 5 days a week. There is no public transportation where we live. NONE. Bus service for the kids to go to school... the neighborhood bus picks up at 6:15 a.m.--school doesn't start until 8:00. So I drive them 2 1/2 miles down the road to a different stop on the same bus route, and they get picked up at 6:50 a.m. instead.

Daughter takes piano and karate... and both are over 15 miles from our home. Again--no public transportation. She couldn't ride a bike, either--- the main roads to get to town is an interstate highway. No bikes allowed on the shoulders. Church is also 18 miles into town.

Shopping for groceries? The nearest grocery store is approximately 10 miles from home. And it isn't the one in which I prefer to shop.

About the only thing within walking distance of our home (3 miles away) is an overpriced gas station with the minimal "emergency" items--quart of milk, beer, charcoal, candy bars. And the locals don't stop there, b/c the next exit up the interstate (3 more miles) has gas 50 cents a gallon cheaper.

Oh, and we currently own 3 cars. Son is 16, so he can drive to some of his school activities now... he wrestles, and for travel for matches he has to go to the high school (25 miles away) to ride the bus with the team to out of town events.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Very dependent.

My closest grocery store is about 1.5 miles away and yes, I can walk there but I can't push or pull a buggy load of groceries back to my house ( I'm in the Dallas area).

I am out and about at least 4-5 times a day in my car. I work from home with my hubby as a distributor/broker of raw materials. I am often running to and from FedEx with samples to send to customers. I am at the bank and post office at least twice a day.. morning run and afternoon run and grocery store daily.

We have 3 cars. Daughter lives in her own condo about 20 minutes away and she commutes to college daily which is about 15 minutes from her house. Hubby is the one who makes all the sales calls, follow ups and consulting so he is out and about a lot in his car. We both fly a lot and are frequently parked at the airport.

I plan my outing time based on the traffic times because traffic is bad here. I like to be out by 10 and home by 3:30 to avoid peak traffic. Of course that is not always easy to do. We drive a lot of toll roads and I am charged about $80 a month just to replenish the 3 toll tags we have.

We are about 10 minutes from a major train station for getting around the city. There are certain times, we will park there and take the train into Downtown Dallas for concerts, State Fair, etc where we know parking and traffic is brutal. We are picky about where we park our cars and we will take the train to protect our cars as well. DART just started a line directly to DFW airport and we plan to take that in the near future to try it out and see how fast we can get to the airport vs driving. A typical drive to either airport is less than 45 minutes if you plan it correctly but it has taken up to 2 hours when there has been an accident or construction.

SO, yes, we are all 3 very dependent on our cars.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

This actually just happened to me. We have always each had a car. I have been a WAHM/SAHM for the last 7+ years and my kids are older. Recently I decided to go back to work full time to pay off some attorney fees. No sooner did I decide that than my mini van blew it's engine. That was 2 weeks ago and it hasn't been replaced yet. I decided to get a job then a car. We have managed ok without it. My kids take the bus to school so that hasn't been an issue. And I have women friends who are home during the day so they have taken me grocery shopping when they go and have taken me to a doctor appointment. They will also pick up the kids if I need them to. My husband has an extended cab truck so it's pretty crowded when we all go to church and have to cram in there with all his work stuff in there too. So technically, I would say we are pretty dependent on our vehicles and I miss not having one. My hubs took me to the grocery store on Saturday and I had to laugh when he had a fit that it cost $180 for groceries when he normally doesn't know how much I spend. Sometimes it's better to have your own wheels for sure. lol

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lakeland on

I live in the country so yes we are car dependent. We also used them to do work on the property.

I have seen plenty of neighborhoods with amenities but they are usually in city or urban areas. Once you get to the suburbs then that's a different story. Plus I don't see Americans giving up their freedom of being in their own vehicles.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I live in an area where if we want to go somewhere it might be 10 miles to get there. I often drive 15 miles one way to an appointment.

I drive everywhere. We have 2 cars we regularly drive with an extra that I'd rather walk 15 miles or stay home instead of getting in that

I think people who live in tiny towns or large cities have it easier because they are able to move within a small neighborhood and have everything they probably need. And if they need to go across town in a big city there is always public transit for them.

For instance, if I lived in SW OKC and needed to go to Children's Hospital in NE OKC I could get on 240 and drive with thousands of other vehicles or I could go to the bus stop and wait for a city bus.

I couldn't walk because of the distance plus the neighborhoods I'd have to walk through.

BUT if the local doc was across the street or a few blocks away we might drive but in Oklahoma it's either 105 or 5 Not really but we have extreme seasons here and we don't go anywhere without our cars. If we want to go for a walk we go to Earlywine Park and use their paths and facilities.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

Very car dependent. I travel about 50RT to work and that would include a stop to the grocery store on the way home. I live in one town and work in another and there is no public transportation. There is talk about putting in a bus route to both towns but that might happen in 30 years.

Hubby is home but has a vehicle if he wants to go out. I sometimes use that vehicle if I have a problem with mine so that I can get to work.

The local convenience store is a half mile from the house and could be walked to. The closed grocery store to home is two miles and you need a car to bring things home due to heat. When my daughter was in school it was just under a mile and she had to walk to junior high because the rule then was a mile and over and you could ride the school bus. Other places that we need to go to are about 100 miles one way to the doctors for visits. Again no public transportation.

So being in the southwest you are dependent upon vehicles and they must be kept in good running order at all times. The same was true when we were stationed in Quebec and the winter temps were 30 below. However, my son did catch a school bus to school in those temps.

It would be nice to have everything within walking distance but every town and city have their own zone planning board and they make no sense many times.

Have a great day.

the other S.

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answers from Washington DC on

Very car dependent. I "could" ride a bike to work, but the roads are not safe from my home to my office for riding/walking. My husband travels for business, so he has to have a car. My daughters dance studio is 15 miles one way from our home, and the boys football is at least 5. It's not feasible for us to walk to these places.

Most things are 15-20 minutes for us.

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answers from Reading on

I use the car more than I need to or should, and I'm trying to use it less. There is literally very little we need daily that I couldn't walk to, but we often choose to drive - everything around we need is within 2 or 3 miles, except for my husband's work, which he could take a bus to, if he wanted. So we make the choice to drive too often. It makes me sad. I really liked Jill's answer about living without.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We couldn't do it full time or for everything.
We can walk to school & take a very long walk to the grocery store.
Hubby works an hr away.
Library is too far for little people but I can bike there & do when I have

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

We have two cars as well, but have been talking about going to one. I would lovetohaveone less car! recently my son started school at the elementary school across the street, I changed job locations to 3 blocks away, and my wife started working from home 3 days a week. Our preschooler still attends full day program across town though. We think it is doable and are seriously considering it. Definitely once our youngest starts school at the same school across the street.

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answers from Iowa City on

I live in Iowa....that should say it all. Even the "cities" are rural. Pretty much everything is at least 2 miles away. Which would be ok if there were bike paths or sidewalks, but there aren't.

So we are very car dependent. My husband travels throughout the day for his job and uses his personal vehicle to do so. I am required to provide transportation to and from school for my children so I require a car 5 days a week (my kids wouldn't be able to walk 5 miles round trip even if there were sidewalks).

As for entertainment, we have to travel quite a ways if we want to visit a zoo or a history or science museum. Like, 60 miles minimum.

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answers from Beaumont on

We are extremely car dependent. No walking for us because everything is several miles away. I would love it if I could walk everywhere but I think that is dependent on how far your stores etc. are away.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I use my car every day, usually more than once. I do walk my son to school and back and very rarely drive him. My daughter goes to preschool 3x per week and we always drive there. I drive for all of my errands and most extracurricular activities.

We have a strip mall that I can walk to, which I sometimes do, but most of the stores I go to are in other strip miles that are farther away. While I could walk (about 3 miles), it would add too much time to the errands and I don't have a good way to get my purchases back home.

We do have buses here, but not like bigger cities where they come every five minutes. We do not have a train system at all.

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answers from Washington DC on

It depends. Could I get away without a car or with just one car? Absolutely. Would it take a lot of work? Absolutely. We have a decent mass transit system here, availability of grocery delivery, and I am within walking distance to a small shopping center and my child's school. When I was a kid, we walked to church in decent weather and we still joke to this day that Mom would park in one place and we'd walk alllll over town for our errands. When we lived in a city, we sold the car because it was cheaper not to use it. They had a great bus system. When I first moved here, I could not afford the parking at the temporary job I had, so I walked a mile to take transit. I often prefer to drive but when I need to, I am glad for the buses.

However, where my mom lives now, you pretty much do need a car. They have just one bus route that comes once an hour and is not really useful to most people. She can walk to a church and a bank, but there is no grocery store nearby. It is a very very old, and very small town.

DH thought about biking to work PT but he would have to ride on a highway that is not safe.

There are pros and cons to development. One of the cons I see in my own area is that if they haphazardly try to stick in "town centers" without thinking about the people that come in from other places and offer no additional parking, then who wants to go there? Sure, they cater to the people that live above the grocery store, but there's a whole shopping center I don't visit at all because parking stinks in town. They didn't seem to consider the whole area and mixed transportation. You can't just take away parking and tell people to walk. You have to look at your community. I would be fine with parking and walking, but give me a means to GET there.

And, frankly, not everyone wants to live in a citified area and that's fine. I don't want to live IN the city. I'm happy in the suburbs. My mom is happy in a rural town. It just means, though, that she does need a car.

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answers from Seattle on

Nope, I couldn't live without mine.
I drive everywhere. I probably could take the bus if I absolutely had to, but I wouldn't be able to even do 1/4 of the things that need to get done. The main bus here only passes by every hour. My boys both play competetive soccer, I am driving anywhere from 1/2 hour to 4 hours every weekend to get them where they need to go.
Practice every night, grocery store, dentist, orthodontist, my husband works in the city and needs a car to get to different job sites, the gym...
I need my car and he needs his.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Public transportation where we live is VERY limited.
Our school district does NOT permit the kids to walk to school, no matter how close by they live. Safety concerns.
We could drive to a park & ride lot for work but we don't.
Needing to stop for errands, etc on the way home for both if is makes that very inconvenient.
No stores, banks, etc. within walking distance for us.
So, yeah, very car dependent.

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answers from Los Angeles on

We are 100% car dependant. My work commute is 25 miles one way. There is a train I could take but it would take 3 hours because of the schedule and switching trains/taking the shuttle. I will drive 45 mins instead. My kids school is 4.5 miles away. Not walkable. I think it is unsafe for them to bike (and a little far). If only we had a horse (yup there are horse trails but I guess no where to "park" your horse while at school. But some kids who are closer do go on horseback and parents take the horses home.) We recently got the bus option so my kids take the bus. But the bus stop is 1 mile away so I have to drive them there. (no walkable option.) I could walk to the grocery but would need a wagon to walk back and I think my food would spoil. My daughter's soccer games are just about 1 mile away this year. If only we didnt need to carry banners and easy ups and chairs, etc I would consider walking. My brother in law lives in our neighborhood so we can/have walked there. But other than that cars all the way. Walt Disney actually developed a mass transit system for CA but was told NO CALIFORNIA is for CARS. Cars were really starting to take off and they need an area for them to thrive. THUS California is for (too many) cars.

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answers from Springfield on

You consider 750,000 people to be a "small city?" Compared to what, Chicago? LA? There are less than 20 cities in the US with a population over 700,000. Most people do not have the amenities you are accustomed to.

I live just outside of Springfield, IL, which has a population just over 100,000. If you live in Springfield, there is public transportation. But most people prefer to live in the outlying school districts. No public transportation and often no amenities. Springfield is still the center of most people's lives, but you do need a car to get there.

ETA - Well, I think if you're #7 out of thousands, that makes you very, very big. I'm thinking of all the cities in the US that have professional sports teams (plural) that are less than half the size of your city. So, yeah, I consider 750,000 to be a big city!

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answers from Chicago on

the city I live in has no public transportation system. It is a fairly small town although growing like crazy. My subdivision has a grade school in the middle. most of the children walk to that. but all other levels of school (middle and hgh) are bussed as they are to far to walk. There is a strip mall like you talk about but it is more than 3 miles away. the main business district is to far to walk. we do have a lovely bike path and it runs for many many miles but is is miles away to get to. so we are pretty car dependent. we do walk the neighborhood. and on occasion will walk to down town area but it is a good hike and not really accessable unless you walk along the highway

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answers from Boston on

Fairly dependent. We both work at home so we aren't often out for work purposes. I do have meetings and trainings a couple of times per week.

However, the nearest grocery store is 5 miles away, as is the gym. The nearest convenience store (even if I wanted to pay their prices), is 3 miles away, with 2 miles of that 3 forming an uphill walk home with purchases. So it's not practical.

I do combine trips very carefully - the town dump and recycling center is en route to downtown, so I stop there, then go to the gym, then hit the grocery store. If I have other errands, I do those before the grocery store and then bring the perishable food home.

That said, we have a great neighborhood and there are low-traffic streets for walking the dog, and we're near the state forest so we have tons of animals and nature about. About half the kids play in the neighborhood, and the other half are in heavily scheduled activities that have their parents on the road constantly.

One family sold their house and moved downtown 3 miles so the kids can walk or bike to school, everyone walks to the doctor's office or the dentist, the library, the farmers' market, etc. Can't say I blame them!

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answers from San Diego on

We are 100% dependent on our cars. I drive 50 miles RT each day including some days when I'm off work and my husband drives at least 60 miles RT each work day. Our public transportation sucks. Last week my oldest missed her school bus so she had to take public transportation home. She got out of school around 2:30pm and made it home around 6pm.

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answers from Kansas City on

I work 30 minutes away by car, so does my husband in the opposite direction. Our city is not very public transit friendly, or I'd love to take it. My daughter's school is directly behind our house, so we walk to events but she goes to daycare before and after school due to my work schedule and they drive her to and from. It's also at least 2 miles to a grocery or anything, so not really convenient to walk to.

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answers from San Francisco on

I work about 35 miles from home, so I am very dependent on my car. On the weekends, I usually only drive to the grocery store and hubby and I do go for a daily walk.

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answers from Austin on

We are very car dependent. With my daughter (age 30) living with us temporarily, we each have a car. Hubby works 7 to 3, I work 8 - 4, and daughter is subbing in different schools.... ride sharing just doesn't work for us.

I live in a fairly big city, but there is no public transportation. It is not walker friendly, either, at least in the area we live in. The closest grocery store is several miles away, and church is 10-15 minutes by car. Theoretically, I could walk to work (2-3 miles), but that is just a bit too much for me.

When my kids were in school, the schools were pretty far away, and across a very busy street. We do have a good school bus system, though, so they all rode the bus (unless they had early or late practices).

The closest convenience store is about 1 1/2 miles away.....

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answers from Washington DC on

It's great that you live in an area where you can walk to practically all that you need -- school, your husbands job (if he chooses to walk), church, doctor's offices, shops and the hospital. Wow. I can't picture anyone being able to score that level of walkability unless they're in either a large city center or a tiny town that hasn't begun to sprawl.

But where I grew up, though it's not a huge city or a tiny town, we couldn't walk to everything even when I was a kid. The hospital needed space and therefore was built on the edge of town. Schools weren't walking distance. Church was on the other side of town because our particular choice of church was there -- there was one a block from the house but it wasn't the one we felt led to attend.

So you're actually very, very lucky and I think the ability to walk to virtually everything is very rare and growing more rare all the time.

In our area today (outside DC), there is good public transportation but taking it adds so much time to many trips that it is more efficient, in terms of time, to drive. I could take the bus up to the grocery store and back, but it would at least triple the time it takes to get there, shop and get home; I can't do that with a kid to pick up at school. And yep, I drive her to her middle school -- she could take a bus but it would mean about 40 minutes each way (because of the many stops and the roundabout route into residential neighborhoods) when I can get her to school in 10 minutes or less by car. That's a huge difference -- an hour a day that we gain by driving means another hour for her homework etc.

Taking public transport to work would mean my husband would spend 90 minutes to two hours each way when he can do it 30 minutes by car--even in our bad traffic. We gain two hours of his time by his driving. Not very "green" of us but it means we actually see him each day.

Of course we could live without a car. But it would be a life spent with a lot of time on buses and subway trains.

I do envy you being able to walk to everything, but that is just not doable in many places. And I see our towns and suburbs sprawling and sprawling so it's less likely to be doable in the future too. Builders here don't give a darn about "amenities" -- we're lucky here if they even have schools anywhere near the vast tracts of houses going up all over the place. A grocery store in walking distance? No way. And doctor's offices increasingly want to locate to huge office buildings full of other doctor's offices -- all located across the street from hospitals, which are not in residential areas.

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answers from Las Vegas on

ETA: This was a very interesting post to read! Really impressed with Jill K. and Nervy Girl and how they have created their lives to work for them without vehicles.

We're quite dependent. It's how our lives have evolved. When I was working full-time, I drove over 60 miles a day round-trip. Then, even more after I added stops to and from daycare. I was also on call several nights a week, so I had to have a vehicle available at all times.

My husband travels nearly every week. We live in NV, but his home office is in PA, and he's there at least twice a month. Other times, he's out of the country, and his flights depart and arrive at all hours, so he generally takes himself to the airport.

Our older kids did not get drivers licenses until they were at least 17, so I was also driving them to practices, games, jobs, friends, etc.

Our youngest's sports schedules take him all over the the city, so he wouldn't be able to be in these activities if I didn't have a car to get him there. His current flag football practices and games are about 10 miles away from home.

Now, that I'm out of the work world for a while, I still must take continuing education to keep my license and also volunteer pretty much on a full-time basis. I don't see how I could get to all of my appointments, meetings, conferences, and volunteer commitments without my car. Even though there are all kinds of restaurants, grocery stores, retail, etc. within 1-3 mile from our home, because of busy schedules and time constraints, I almost always drive. Sometimes, on weekends, I'll walk to the pharmacy or ride bikes to the bread store with my little one. Haven't done that lately, though. It was still 100 degrees at 7:00 the other night.

So, in all, I'd say our lives right now are very car-dependent.

J. F.

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answers from Washington DC on

I drive 100% of the time.

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answers from Dallas on

Pretty dependabt.. now that we have no working car and depend on relatives for my husband to get to work... it gets too hot here (100 in Tx humid heat.. ugh). biking would be killer since distance, too, and a four year who doesn't ride well..

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answers from Boston on

No, we couldn't live without two cars and are now at a point where we have to hire a third driver a few nights a week to get to activities. We have no public transportation where I live. There is a train station maybe 8 or 10 miles away that goes into Boston so I suppose it would be possible to bike to the train if either one of us worked in the city but we don't, we work 15-20 miles away in other towns that also don't have public transportation.

My younger kids walk to school, my older kids catch a ride with my husband, who is literally driving past the building on his way to work at the same time so it's a favor we do them in the morning. Everyone walks home from school. When the kids play soccer and lacrosse, they can walk to their practices but for hockey, the rinks are a 10-30 minute drive so obviously we drive to that (that's what we hire someone else to drive for on nights when we have to be at three places at the same time).

I do walk and bike a lot, but it's more for exercise than transportation. Grocery stores and other shopping are not within walking distance, while a convenience store is a couple of blocks away. We can walk to church and the library, the park, and that's about it. Everything else is a drive.

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answers from Norfolk on

We live way out in the country in the middle of a soybean field and nothing is within walking distance.

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