Tipping Point: More Chicago area residents choose to go carless - FOX 32 News Chicago

Tipping Point: More Chicago area residents choose to live without cars

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

In the world of cutting edge technology, "early adopters" are the ones who try a gadget first.

On the leading edge of transportation, you might say there are early "ditchers" - people who are ditching their cars and the presumed concept that we each need one. FOX 32 News took a look at how the carless life works.

"I was a student and I had a junker car that broke down and I needed to get around," commuter Christopher Hansel said. "So I moved to the city because I knew there was transportation."

Hansel, a River North hair stylist, has been living without a car for 10 years now. The lifestyle impacts where he chooses to live. Proximity to Chicago Transit Authority stations are a big factor.

"Usually I try to park myself closer to one of the train lines, either the Red or the Blue or the Brown," Hansel explained, "just because it's easier to get to and from wherever."

Living without a vehicle requires a lot of plotting and timing, to figure out how to go about your day. Going carless is more of a challenge for those who do it in the suburbs.

Veterinarian Cia Johnson and her husband Robert have been carless for seven years. Robert is a consultant who works from home. The Johnsons chose this lifestyle while living in Missouri.

But it became a challenge when Cia was offered a job in Arlington Heights. The Johnsons decided to move to Barrington.

"We were looking for something where I wouldn't have a horrible commute, time wise," Cia said. "But the community where our home would be would be very accessible by bike and by walking."

Cia's daily journey home consists of a trek from work to the Pace bus stop, a 20-minute bus ride, a quick Metra ride to Barrington and a half-mile walk uphill to the house. She uses apps like the ones Pace Bus and Google offer to time out her travels.

So many people are skipping on car ownership that the trend has created a whole new transportation industry: Car-sharing.

The practice is a good option for those who are tired of dealing with the elements, but are also without a vehicle or regularly take public transportation or cabs. Services like Zipcar are sprouting up all over the country and world. They give non-car owners access to for a limited time when they need them.

"Chicago is going through a very tangible renaissance in a lot of different ways," Chicago Zipcar General Manager Charles Stephens said. "We have a lot of different modes of transportation that have come up, just in the last couple of years."

Jessica Frey works in the marketing industry and has been using Zipcar for the past two years after ditching her car.

"Right now from a cost standpoint, it is much more cost effective for me on a monthly budget to have a Zipcar membership and to rent the cars as I need them," Frey said.

According to the National Household Travel Survey, the average number of miles driven by people between the ages of 16 and 34 dropped by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.

"I definitely don't see myself owning a vehicle until it would be absolutely necessary," Frey said. "Even then, it would be like pulling teeth."

Going carless may not be a feasible option for everyone, but the trend is growing.

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