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The 5 Best (and Worst) Cities to Live Without a Car in 2023

With car ownership more expensive than ever and gas prices averaging $3 a gallon, many city dwellers are ditching their wheels for their heels. This may be good for their wallets and their health.

“Car-free days inherently reduce environmental impacts such as energy consumption and vehicle emissions, as well as health impacts such as driver stress and resident exposure to pollution,” said J. Patrick Abulencia, Associate Professor, Chemical Engineering at Manhattan College.

Related: Buying a Car in 2022? Here Are 5 Ways To Get the Best Deal.

With that in mind, LawnStarter recently ranked the best cities to live without a car in 2023, measuring them on 19 indicators of car-free-friendliness, including walkability, transit ridership, climate, pedestrian safety, and weather.

Some of the results were expected, but others were surprising.

Big cities ranked high

Densely populated cities like San Francisco and New York ranked high on the list. Why? The more packed a city, the less distance to travel and the more transportation options available. In big suburbs or sprawling cities, commuters often have to own cars to get around.

LawnStarter ranked San Francisco as the number 1 city to live without a car. The city got high marks for walking, biking, and public transportation.

Here are the top 5 cities on the list:

  1. San Francisco, CA
  2. Boston, MA
  3. Washington, DC
  4. New York, NY
  5. Seattle, WA

Some surprises

Minneapolis ranked number 8 — the same city that, just last week during an arctic blizzard, was a crisp minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit. But Minneapolis workers don’t have to brave the cold. Downtown is connected through a system of glass-enclosed footbridges called Skyways, allowing people to move warmly through the city without going outside. When temps warm up, Minneapolis is a “cyclist’s paradise.” The city has the 16th best access to bike rentals, the eighth highest share of bike commuters, and way fewer pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 residents than in 177 other cities.

On the other side of the car-free spectrum is Memphis, which was ranked the fifth-worst city to go without wheels.

LawnStarter gave the city low marks for biking, safety, and walking. So much for Walking in Memphis.

Memphis’s weather also isn’t favorable for a carless existence.

“Although Memphis ranked a decent 56 in air quality, its relatively punishing climate (No. 181) makes it uncomfortable to be outdoors,” according to the survey.

Most of the worst cities to live without a car were in the South. Why? Bad weather and bad public transportation. Also, the cities down South are mostly built for cars. The exception was Alexandria, Virginia, at #31 — if you can call that the South.

Here are the worst cities to live without a car:

  • Memphis, TN
  • Shreveport, LA
  • Little Rock, AR
  • Clarksville, TN
  • Mobile, AL


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