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Portland Ranks 11th in US Carfree Cities

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

 

Portland is among the leaders among cities where people live without cars.

Portland is among the top cities in the country for people who live without a car. In a new study, Portland came in at number 11 for carless households, beaten to a spot in the top ten by neighboring city Seattle. 

Car ownership in the nation per household, per person and per driver has been declining for years, according to the new study by Michael Sivak from The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. And households without cars have increased across the nation from 8.7 percent in 2007 to 9.2 percent in 2012,  the report, entitled  Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked? makes clear.

Slideshow Below: Top 12 cities for carless households

The study looked at data between1984 through 2011. Sivak says, even when the impacts of the "Great Recession" are factored in, the country’s car ownership, gas consumption and miles driven peaked around 2006 and 2007.

While 9 percent might not seem like much, in major cities the numbers get significant. Carless households make up to 12 percent of the population in Memphis and 37.9 percent of the population in Washington D.C.

Of the nation’s 30 largest cities, 21 have seen declines in car ownership over the last five years.

Telecommuting, changing attitudes towards transit, the availability and quality of public transportation, walkability and urban density were the largest factors in whether or not people chose to go carless. Five of the top carless cities are also among the nation’s densest places to live.

Poverty can also be a factor; perhaps explaining why a poor city like Detroit might sit in the top ranks alongside wealthy San Francisco.

That said, Sivak’s study would lead one to believe that a significant number of people who go carless do it by choice.

The Portland metro area is well known for promoting automobile alternatives. The region has a wonky urban planning culture and isn’t afraid to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to transit and bike projects.

In the last five years, public officials have committed more than $2 billion to just three alternative transportation projects alone. That includes $1.5 billion for the Orange Line light rail extension and car-free bridge across the Willamette, a $148.3 million streetcar-system extension on Portland’s east side and a $600 million bike-path plan.

Even with that, Seattle edged Portland out the No. 10 spot, but just barely. More importantly Portland came in ahead of Los Angeles. So, take that, L.A.!

Here’s how the top cities for carlessness stacked up.

*density information from U.S. Census urbanized area records for 2010

 

Related Slideshow: Top 12 carless cities in the U.S.

Portland ranks among the top cities in the nation where residents live without cars. Check out the other cities that scored highly.

Prev Next

1. New York City

City rank by population     Largest        
Carless population            56.5 %
Metro area density            2,054 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Leo-seta, CC

*density information from U.S. Census urbanized area records for 2010

Prev Next

2. Washington D.C.

City rank by population     24th largest
Carless population            37.9 %
Metro area density            1,150 people
per kilometer *

Photo by robposse, CC

Prev Next

3. Boston, Mass.

City rank by population     21st largest
Carless population            36.9 %
Metro area density            862 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Darron Schall, CC

Prev Next

4. Philadelphia, Pa.

City rank by population     5th largest
Carless population            32.6 %
Metro area density            1,060 people
per kilometer *

Photo by by Tony Fischer, CC

Prev Next

5. San Francisco, Calif.

City rank by population     14th largest
Carless population            31.4 %
Metro area density            2,419 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Christopher Chan, CC

Prev Next

6. Baltimore, Md.

City rank by population     36th largest    
Carless population            31.2 %
Metro area density            1,187 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Tim Shahan

Prev Next

7. Chicago, Ill.

City rank by population     3rd largest
Carless population            27.9 %
Metro area density            1,361 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Bryce Edwards, CC

Prev Next

8. Detroit, Mich.

City rank by population     18th largest
Carless population            26.2 %
Metro area density            1,078 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Sam Beebe, CC

Prev Next

9. Milwaukee, Wis.

City rank by population     30th largest
Carless population            19.9%
Metro area density            974 people
per kilometer *    

Photo by Peter Alfred Hess

Prev Next

10. Seattle, Wash.

City rank by population      22nd largest    
Carless population            16.6 %
Metro area density            1,169 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Bala Sivakumar, CC

Prev Next

11. Portland, Ore.

City rank by population     28th largest        
Carless population            15.3 %
Metro area density            1,362 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Ian Sane, CC

Prev Next

12. Los Angeles, Calif.

City rank by population      2nd largest 
Carless population             13.6 %
Metro area density             2,702 people
per kilometer *

Photo by Jeff Turner, CC

 
 

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