Top 10 U.S. Cities To Live In Without A Car

By Jenny Powers

Over the years, owning a car has gone from being considered a luxury to being deemed a burden for many. When you take into account the rising costs of insurance, gasoline and maintenance paired with the increased levels of traffic congestion around the country, it’s no wonder more and more American’s are opting to live in cities that don’t require them to have a car where they can rely on their own two feet, two wheels or public transit.

Whether you’re looking to save money, reduce your carbon footprint, or avoid parking nightmares, here’s a comprehensive list of the top 10 U.S. cities to live without owning a car.

1. New York, NY
     Walk Score: 89.2
     Transit Score: 84
     Bike Score: 68

It should come as no surprise that the Big Apple ranks first when it comes to the best city in America to live without a car. According to a 2018 Census Report, only 22% of households in Manhattan own a car, the lowest within the five boroughs.

The highly walkable city of New York, NY is also home to The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). The MTA is the largest rapid transit system in the world, based on its number of stations (472). It accommodates nearly 1.7 billion subway riders and nearly 570 million bus passengers annually.

In addition to the MTA, there are a host of other options as well. There are ride-sharing services such as Uber, Lyft and Via. New Yorkers also have access to the privately-owned bike share system, Citibike, in addition to Revel, a start-up that brought electric mopeds to the NYC scene.

 

2. San Francisco, CA
     Walk Score: 86
     Transit Score: 80
     Bike Score: 71

Ranked one of the most walkable cities in America, the City by the Bay is an ideal place to live if you don’t have or want a car. Residents use Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) to get around, which connects the San Francisco Peninsula to Berkeley, Fremont, Oakland, Dublin/Pleasanton, Walnut Creek, and several other East Bay cities. Additionally, San Francisco is home to a robust network of fuel-efficient mini-buses and the commuter rail line called Caltrain.

Considered a great city for cyclists, Bay Wheels bicycles and E-Bikes can be rented through Lyft. Lyft also operates ride-sharing services, along with Uber and Wingz, a flat-fee, no surge pricing service popular for airport trips. San Fran also has an iconic cable car system for easy transportation within the city.

 

3. Boston, MA
     Walk Score: 81
     Transit Score: 72
     Bike Score: 69

Boston, coined “The Walking City,” is a pedestrian’s paradise—residents can do most errands on foot. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), often referred to simply as “The T” is responsible for running a majority of the public transit services in the Greater Boston region. The MBTA includes the subway, bus, rail, and ferry. It’s one of the oldest operating public transit systems in America. 

The city is considered somewhat bikeable and the city’s public bike share system, BlueBikes, offers 2,500 bikes in over 260 stations and covers four municipalities. As for rideshares, the usual suspects Uber and Lyft operate in Boston, as well as Safr, a mission-driven rideshare for women.

 

4. Miami, FL
     Walk Score: 79
     Transit Score: 57
     Bike Score: 63

Miami offers three types of public transit services—Metrorail (25-mile elevated rail system), Metrobus (with 95 routes and nearly 1,000 buses), and Metromover (a free service that serves as a connection between the bus and rail lines). The Miami Beach Trolley is another nice form of transportation and covers South Beach Loop, North Beach Loop, Middle Beach Loop. Collins Express Route is another option and is free.

In terms of rideshare, Miami has plenty of options—Uber, Lyft, Wingz, Tryp Rides, and Carol Drives.

Miami is also great for cyclists, as the city has a popular Citi Bike Share Program. Other personal transportation options include Uber E-Bike rentals, along with a recent scooter pilot program run by several different companies including Lyft, Lime, Bird, and Jump.

 

5. Philadelphia, PA
     Walk Score: 79
     Transit Score: 67
     Bike Score: 66

Philadelphia, known as the “City of Brotherly Love,” is another city that’s known to be easy to get around on foot. The most walkable neighborhoods often cited are Center City West, Center City East, Avenue of the Arts, Rittenhouse Square, and Washington Square West—areas that are often close to public transit.

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) is used by nearly 4 million people annually. It services individuals in five counties in and around the Philadelphia area via bus, rapid transit, commuter rail, light rail, and electric trolleybus.

Bicycle and E-bike rides are available through a service called Indego, and Uber and Lyft are available for standard rideshare services.

 

6. Chicago, IL
     Walk Score: 78
     Transit Score: 65
     Bike Score: 72

Residents of Chicago, particularly those on the Northside, West Loop, and East Ukrainian Village will find that they can get most things accomplished on foot. For the times when your two feet can’t get it done, Chicago’s Transportation Authority (CTA) is available. CTA is America’s second largest public transportation system and operates eight “L” train lines, 129 bus routes, and the Metra Rail connecting the suburbs to downtown.

Divvy Bikes’ rideshare program, operated by Lyft for the Chicago Department of Transportation, operates 6,000 bikes in nearly 600 stations. The city has recently piloted scooter ride shares as well, in addition to the availability of Uber, Lyft, Via, and Zipcar.

 

7. Washington, DC
     Walk Score: 77
     Transit Score: 71
     Bike Score: 67

The nation’s capital offers residents an abundance of walkable neighborhoods and bike-friendly roads. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, commonly known as “The Metro” runs Metrorail. It’s the second busiest rapid transit system in the country and serves approximately four million passengers annually. In addition to the metro, there are two commuter train lines—the MARC Train Service and Virginia Railway Express.

The city has two main bus options, The DC Circulator and Metrobus. The DC Circulator offers frequent service around the National Mall, between Union Station and Georgetown, and between the Convention Center and the National Mall. The Metrobus is the area’s regional service and connects all Metrorail stations and local bus systems.

Metro DC also has Capital Bikeshare, which operates 4,300 bicycles in more than 500 stations. Additionally, individuals have the option of using Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar.

 

8. Seattle, WA
     Walk Score: 73
     Transit Score: 60
     Bike Score: 70

Seattle is both walkable and bike-friendly, though there are several hills. When your legs can’t get you to your destination, Seattle’s network of buses can. King County Metro can take from downtown Seattle as far as north as Montlake Terrace and as south as Federal Highway. Sound Transit offers buses and a commuter train, in addition to a link light rail that operates in conjunction with King County Metro, which goes as far south as DuPont and Tacoma, as far east as Sammamish and Issaquah, and as far north as Everett.

Some destinations require you to go over water due to Seattle being on the Puget Sound. In those instances, ferries and water taxis are available.

Seattle also has two streetcar lines and a monorail, which allows a fast trip between Seattle Center and downtown’s Westlake Center. Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar are all available here.

 

9. Oakland, CA
     Walk Score: 72
     Transit Score: 56
     Bike Score: 65

Nicknamed “The Bright Side of the Bay,” Oakland is considered to be a walkable city and regarded as one of America’s most bike-friendly destinations.

Bay Art Rapid Transit (BART) offers sustainable, all-electric train services for passengers in 45 centrally located stations. AC Transits offers bus services in Oakland along with Transbay connections to San Francisco. Travelers can also make their way to and fro San Francisco as well as Alameda by using The San Francisco Bay Ferry.

For those who want to break a sweat, Lyft operates “Bay Wheels,” the city’s bike and e-bike share program. The city is also currently testing a free adaptive bike pilot program for people with disabilities. Uber, Lyft, and Zipcar are also all available in Oakland.

 

10. Long Beach, CA
     Walk Score: 70
     Transit Score: 52
     Bike Score: 61

With year-round warm temperature, residents often find they can accomplish lots of foot and by bicycle.When the need arises for a more substantial means of transportation, residents turn to Long Beach Transit for bus services, Metro Transit Light Rail and water taxi services, Aquabus and Aqualink.

In 2016, the city launched a bike-share program that recently announced a move to double its number of bikes from 500 to 1000 by 2020 due to its popularity. Ride shares include Uber, Lyft and Wingz and Zipcar is also available.

Methodology

All walk, transit, and bike scores are based on a ranking of up to 100 and were sourced by Redfin’s Walk Score. These annual rankings cover all U.S. cities with 300,000+ inhabitants. The rankings are derived from Walk Score’s methodology; assigning points to individual addresses based on distance from amenities, density of population, block length, and intersection density.

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