Washington, DC

Washington D.C. named one of the best cities in America to be car-free

Ellen Eastwood

The United States is in many ways built for cars - there are suburbs without sidewalks, public transportation can be questionable and many people live far from where they work. But there are some places where it's a lot easier and more convenient to go without the expense of a car.

A recent study looked at the best places for the car-free using four different criteria:

  • Ease of access - walkability, cyclist-friendly, ease of access to scooters, ride apps
  • Commute culture - number of residents who walk, bike, or take transit to work, average commute time
  • Safety - incidents of crime in general and to pedestrians and cyclists
  • Climate - number of very hot or cold days, rain, air quality

When all criteria were considered, Washington D.C. placed third out of a whopping 200 American cities in terms of the ease with which you could go without a car. This places it behind only San Francisco and Boston.

One of the primary factors for its high placement was the capital's commute culture. The city placed number one in terms of the number of people who get to work by means other than a car.

Only about 45% of Washington D.C. commuters drive to work alone. About 14% carpool, while one-third take public transportation. Another 5% walk to work.

There are solid public transportation options in the city, between The Metro, The D.C. Circulator Bus, and express airport bus routes.

Washington D.C. was also ranked highly in the ease of access category, at number 7. The city is highly bike-able, as this passage from Lonely Planet attests:

With its waterfront parks, off-street trails, and growing web of bike lanes, Washington, DC, is a surprisingly brilliant place to be on two wheels. Where else can you get your daily cardio while zipping past some of the nation's most iconic sights? (Hello there, Washington Monument! How's it going, Lincoln Memorial?)

Capital Bikeshare, with its hundreds of stations, makes access to non-car transportation even easier.

However, Washington is ranked much lower in the other two categories. It was number 135 in terms of safety, meaning that pedestrians, cyclists, and those taking transit should be careful of the routes they take and at what time of day.

Also, the city was ranked 110 in terms of climate, likely a nod to the more extreme temperatures in the height of Summer or Winter.

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