Most Americans still need cars to get practically everywhere. But one new project is aiming to change that.
A real estate development in Tempe, Arizona, is touting itself as “the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the U.S.”
The development, called Culdesac Tempe, broke ground in 2019 and welcomed its first residents this spring. All residents are banned from bringing their own cars — or, at least, from parking them onsite or in the surrounding area.
The community still makes ample use of cars but in the form of rideshares via Lyft and car sharing via Envoy, a community-based electric car-sharing service and platform. Both companies are official partners of the project.
However, personal cars are not allowed, which means that Culdesac Tempe does not have to devote any space to parking, creating “ample open space for a large dog park and pool.”
Residents also have access to over 100 Bird scooters, over 1,000 bike parking spots, and free rides on the metro.
The idea of the 15-minute city — an urban area where residents can reach all of their daily needs, such as stores, work, school, and cultural sites, within 15 minutes by bike, on foot, or personal mobility devices — has been gaining popularity recently. Tempe Culdesac is claiming to be three times as good as that ideal, calling itself a “five-minute city.”
Passenger vehicles are one of the biggest contributors to worsening air quality in the United States. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, cars contribute “significant amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and other pollution.” On average, each car in America adds five tons of carbon pollution to our air each year.
But with projects like Culdesac Tempe attempting to help people move away from personal car usage by giving them another, healthier option, we may finally see those trends start to reverse.
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