6 Ways to Go Car-Free if You Don’t Live in a Big City

There are many reasons to consider going carfree for World Carfree Day, annually celebrated on September 22. Diminishing your contribution to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, saving money and even getting in more exercise are all positive factors to alternative methods of transportation. Experimenting for a day could lead to a more permanent lifestyle change. But if you live in an area outside of the traditional suburban or city environment, is this possible?

Fortunately, with levels of car ownership reaching a plateau, there are options for those wishing to go carfree without living in a larger city. While there are the typical methods of biking and walking for communities that are close enough to allow this, there are other alternatives that allow traveling without owning a car more realistic.

1. Sign up for a car sharing service.

Although more traditional methods like public transportation arenít always available in less urban areas, car sharing services are a viable option in some communities. In cities, services such as Zipcar provide a less expensive option than traditional car rentals. But the services are taking off in some green-minded communities, such as Rutledge, MO, as well. In rural communities, these programs often rely on volunteers and local advocates so a network of like-minded individuals is a key component to their success.

2. Utilize Greenway trails.

While many Greenway systems only link points of interest within a town, it is a great way to get around doing errands in smaller communities. Trail Link is a great resource for finding your local Greenway. If travel beyond the city limits is necessary, Greenway trails typically have easy access to bus stops or larger transportation hubs. The East Coast Greenway project also hopes to create a pedestrian and cyclist trail going down the entire coast, meaning that carfree travel has the potential to expand beyond local borders.

3. Ask about working from home.

If your job allows you to telecommute, this is the perfect opportunity to cut down your time behind the wheel. Many smaller communities have points of interest such as local grocers or post offices within walking or biking distance, but commuting to work can take a toll. Staying home once a week may even increase productive working hours since you no longer have to take the extra time to commute. If you have a family, this will also allow your children to take the bus home instead of relying on a car for picking up and dropping off from school.

4. Arrange a carpool.

If you and your friends and loved ones need to go to the same destination or direction, then carpooling is a great solution. Although it may take a little negotiation in order to make it work best for everyone, conscientiously planning out a schedule helps cut down miles. There are also options for those without a wide network of people they know, such as several dedicated websites to organizing carpools. Who knows, you may even end up with a new friend!

5. Consume consciously.

In many smaller communities, there are locally owned options for pharmacies, grocers, hardware stores and eateries. These are usually located closer to the heart of town and more central than the chain store counterparts. Rural communities that offer agriculture as their main export are typically more spread apart, but why not organize a swap with your neighbors if you grow apples and they grow peppers?

Furthermore, many car trips are the result of needing to run quick errands or pick up miscellaneous items from stores. Instead of immediately hopping behind the wheel to grab snacks or school supplies, taking the time to make comprehensive lists of the items you use most and buying in bulk will make these small side trips less frequently needed.

6. Get involved.†

While the infrastructure of many smaller towns or rural communities does encourage a carfree lifestyle, there are options to make it a reality. Discussing bike lanes with local government or hosting fun, carefree events like Open Streets is a great way to get started changing minds about car overuse.

†11 Ways Carless Transport Helps America’s Future

The Case for Slowing Down in 2015

Do Men Drive Too Much?

42 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Ricky T.
Ricky T3 years ago

Thanks, I'm already car free. But if you live in a big city, always campaign for better rural public transport.

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Bernadette Bultman
Bernadette B3 years ago

Invest in a bicycle....not only better for the environment but good exercise too.

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Alina Kanaski
Alina Kanaski3 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

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Anna Dayton
Anna Dayton3 years ago

My kids and I were going to try going car free but we realized the bus didn't go to either school and we can't walk to both in time. Next year they will be in the same school and are very excited to able ride bikes every day. We get to save money, the environment, and be healthy all at the same time and its a great lesson for them.

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Jim Ven
Jim Ven3 years ago

thanks for the article.

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Jessica K.
Jessica K3 years ago

Good to be conscious and aware of one's driving as it does have impacts. Thanks.

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Govannon Thunorwulf
Govannon T3 years ago

We live in a urban area that is "supposed" to have options, but in reality they don't. Yet, we have been car free since Samhain 2006.

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Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

thank you

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Sonia Minwer Barakat Requ

thanks for sharing

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