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The Green Life: Car-Free and Loving It

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May 13, 2009

Car-Free and Loving It

Bike town Many argue that typical sprawling suburban infrastructure make it impossible to get by without a car, but a town in Germany proved that living outside the city doesn't have to be typical. The suburb of Vauban is thriving as a pioneer of "smart planning," utilizing a sense of community to eliminate the need for cars.

With only two places to park -- a garage outside the development or a reserved spot for $40,000 -- 70 percent of families there don't own a vehicle. A regular tram carries residents to the neighboring city. Stores, restaurants, banks, and schools are interspersed between homes. Neighbors share rented cars to haul big items like furniture. Bikes trail carts to bring groceries home or children to play dates.

Removing cars from existing American suburbs has been a tough sell, but new communities like Quarry Village on San Francisco's outskirts are planning to make it happen. The community is designed around people, walking, transit, and quality of life rather than parking and streets for cars. Transit vouchers would be included in homeowners' fees. Quarry Village is still looking for enough support to set the bike wheels spinning, but could evolve into an exciting precedent.

--Jordana Fyne

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