A Year Without Driving in Cincinnati

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Guest Post by Brad Thomas:

Just over one year ago I moved from Clifton to Downtown.  My new apartment didn’t have any parking and since I worked Downtown as well, I gave up my car and haven’t driven since.

There were several reasons for this decision.  I didn’t want to pay for parking; I wanted to help the environment. But mostly I made the decision because I have been advocating for better public transportation in Cincinnati and I wanted my actions to match my words.

Between walking, buses, the occasional taxi, biking, and my very understanding girlfriend giving me a lift I have managed to get around. Getting to the suburbs is very difficult without a car—without light rail I don’t see that changing.

There are countless times over the past year where the Cincinnati Streetcar would have been helpful: going to Clifton for a UC game, running errands in Downtown and Over-the-Rhine, hauling groceries back from Findlay Market, or even going to the courthouse from my office.

Cincinnati isn’t the best city to live in without a car, but for the 23.3% of Cincinnatians without an automobile, they don’t have another option.  The number of people without a car in the urban core along the streetcar line is even higher: 48.2%.

We have a hub and spoke bus system.  This works well if you live at the hub (Downtown) but if you are on one of the spokes, there are limited cross-town options.  Metro is doing the best they can with the resources they have, but we need a truly regional funding structure for the system.  Currently, Cincinnati is the only jurisdiction in Hamilton County that funds Metro; the other 48 jurisdictions in the County need to contribute to ensure we have a successful regional system.

You don’t need to stop driving for an entire year to give alternative forms of transportation a try.  Not only do you benefit from taking alternative forms of transportation (saving money, staying fit), everyone else benefits as well due to less congestion and pollution.

Take a bus to a Reds game this spring, walk to your neighborhood business district to run some errands, buy a bike (the hills aren’t that bad, just use a low gear).  Once you get out of your car you discover you meet a lot of new people you wouldn’t meet otherwise.

We need better public transportation in this City if we want to remain competitive.  Transit connects people with jobs, spurs new economic activity, and attracts new people to the region.  It decreases congestion and pollution as well. Support better public transportation in Cincinnati—Build the Cincinnati Streetcar, light rail and expand Metro.


4 thoughts on “A Year Without Driving in Cincinnati

    […] 2, 2009 by Laura If you haven’t checked out the guest post on the Cincinnati Streetcar blog by Brad Thomas on his year without a car, it’s a must read. He makes some memorable and compelling points about the need to enhance […]

    5chw4r7z said:
    December 2, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    One thing you don’t touch on, you’re probably saving a good $400 (if not more) a month not owning a car.
    And since every dollar you spend locally generates $4 in economic activity, you are contributing $1600 a month to Cincinnati’s economy.
    Now imagine 100 people, a 1,000 people giving up their car for public transportation. Makes that streetcar look pretty cheap now doesn’t it?

    Quimbob said:
    December 3, 2009 at 11:14 am

    I’m @ 9 yrs. Sort of what 5chw4r7z was saying – Have you noticed you don’t waste as much money because you have to make a conscious effort to go buy something? You’re not driving across town for a hamburger…
    The greater connectedness to the community thing is kind of intangible & you feel goofy trying to explain it but it’s real & for the better.

    t-storm said:
    December 4, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    My problem is that my job is never near a bus line.
    I moved to Newport in 2006 to work at Comair and you can’t get there from hear. I could get to the airport after about an hour and about a total of 1 mile walk, but not to the Comair offices.
    Even when I moved to their support facility there was significant walking involved and an extremely limited schedule.

    I currently am in Oklahoma City and it blows my mind that there isn’t a bus route on my street (Meridian) that goes to the airport (Also on Meridian).

    I understand that all jobs are not pedestrian friendly and for economic reasons can’t or won’t be. But it is frustrating because I would love to give up my car, even half the time.

    Oh well. someone will just have to hire me to do Engineering in downtown Cincy, Northside, or Newport and then I can kiss my car goodbye.

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