Going car-free is a definite trend. Cars are expensive to own, maintain, and insure. They take a heavy toll on the environment. And not having a car can say something about a person’s identity. But being able to go without a car isn’t just a matter of personal commitment—it depends a lot on where you live. Some cities are denser, have much better transit, and are more walkable and bike-able than others. My colleague Charlotta Mellander and I have developed a Metro Car-Free Index. It’s based on four key variables: the share of households that don’t have access to their own vehicle, the share of commuters who take transit to work, the share of commuters who bike to work, and the share of commuters who walk to work. All of the data we used are from the American Community Survey ’s five-year estimates for 2017, and they cover all 382 U.S. metropolitan areas. We classified metros into four size groups: large metros (with more than 1 million people); medium-sized metros (between 500,000 and 1 million people); small metros (250,000 to 500,000 people), and very small metros (population less than 250,000). Mellander also ran a basic correlation analysis to identify […]


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