Car-light Living in Raleigh

Clearly how we develop going forward matters. We need to build upon places that already have the bones of a car-light neighborhood. IMO, this means the entirety of the downtown footprint, certain nodes throughout the city like NC State/Hillsborough, The Village District, North Hills/Midtown, etc.
I am not suggesting we prioritize going into random ultra-car dependent neighborhoods and try to transform them as a priority. IMO, these are the least of my concerns. We have to start by asking ourselves where could we make the biggest and quickest impacts. That’s why the NIMBY shit on the edges of our best opportunities needs to be squashed.

For me, the densification of suburban, single family neighborhoods by inserting duplexes, cottage courts, ADUs, etc. is a completely different issue altogether and should not be confused with the more impactful actions of making our urban places better. I’m not saying that I’m against duplexes, cottage courts, ADUs, etc., I’m just saying that it’s a different thing in my book. I just don’t see it moving the needle on car dependency in the context of a traditional suburban form.

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Agree with priotizing “car lite” infrastructure on Hillsborough and Village district but i think North Hills / Midtown is probably a lost cause. It’s too far away and car-centric neighborhoods like Hayes Barton form an impenetrable barrier. Those other neighborhoods are at least adjacent-ish to downtown.

Luxury people were not NIMBYs but we don’t want transit. It’s a class thing I prefer NH to be car centric anyway.

Sadly - They N. Hills NIMBYs complained and blocked the rezoning of the current surface parking lots in front of the original North Hills Mall recently. Among the things that they didn’t like, was Kane’s offer to build a new fire station, and a N Hills bus station.

They in particular got out the pitchforks about the bus station. Because "nobody’ uses the bus anyways, and it will just bring in the Riff Raff to the area.

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Though not downtown, the area where I live is actually fairly walkable. I can get from my front door to a Harris Teeter in 7 minutes and Food Lion/Sola/Gonza/Two Roosters in 20 minutes the opposite direction. While vastly suburban with minimal sidewalks ( :frowning: ), the Greystone neighborhood is actually really walkable and incorporates a lot of “park land” with corridors for future greenway expansion. Walkability was a high priority when we moved there in 2018. It has also been great for my kids to get some independence to run up to the store for a missing ingredient, or $5 sushi on Fridays, etc. During the pandemic, I walked to the bank, Walgreens, grocery stores, and places to eat regularly. Sadly I have gotten away from walking as much in the last few years.

The large shopping center on Creedmoor between Stonehenge and Bridgeport is ripe for redevelopment IMO. Its heyday is clearly behind us. Additionally, there is a massive sprawling 1980-style apartment complex between the shopping center and the townhomes behind followed by single family homes. The apartments are currently undergoing renovations, but I doubt they will still be there in 10 years. These apartments will likely be razed and developed with Texas donuts and many more residents. The tired shopping center will ultimately follow the same fate with either massive renovations or become a mini version of the Village/North Hills. I just hope I’m still able to walk and enjoy it when that finally happens.

Back to the topic. This is one of those little nodes that could be an easy win for density and walkability as a mini village within the greater city. Also, it is on a bus line, as infrequent as it is. Hopefully with added density in the future, the bus frequency will increase as well.

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I’m about ten to twelve minutes (on foot) from that shopping center in the other direction. So, I’m jealous you don’t have to cross Creedmoor! And the fact that we are just getting another bank and another gas station along Creedmoor in front of the mall is much to my chagrin.

I would love it if we got to the density where we could support another coffee shop or an eatery so I don’t have to schlep to Sola or NoRa… #sprawlgoals

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The HT gas station kills me when there is a BP within the same shopping center. I had very high hopes for the old bank, but now it is being turned into another bank :frowning: . I also really wish the Burger King would just close and be torn down/redeveloped into something else.

I feel you on crossing Creedmoor on foot. Our bank is on the wrong side from us, so I have to cross it when walk to the bank. It is not the highlight of my day for sure.

Not to mention 2 additional Harris Teeters within a few miles on the same damn street (Creedmoor Rd)

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I’d expect that there are lots of places in the burbs where certain things/places are close enough to walk and have some infrastructure that supports it. I applaud those who actually recognize that opportunity and partake.
However…I think the issue is bigger than that, and I suspect that not many people are actually walking to your grocery store for their regular shopping trips in the way that plenty of folks do with the Publix on Peace. While folks still drive to Publix on Peace, often from places that are too far to walk, there are a surprising number of local folks who are carrying home their goods on foot.
We can’t help but take signals from what our built environment is telling us to do, and giant strip malls with a sea of parking are screaming at us to drive there.
As for North Hills, I doubt that many residents of NH-East are driving to that Harris Teeter. They are undoubtedly walking there. This is an example of reducing our need to drive for everything, even in a place like North Hills.

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Agreed, but you might be surprised by the number or folks carrying shopping bags down the street, even those who live in the SFHs further away. Yes it is a drive’s paradise, I have hope that eventually that may shift as more and more folks decide to walk. There are also a lot of residents at Springmoor that regularly walk to the shopping center.

@Jake While I completely agree that there are 2 other HTs on Creedmoor as well as several other grocery stores in that same 3 mile strip, the one at Stonehenge seems to have the biggest potential walkshed. :tipping_hand_man:

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My sister and I used to walk from seven oaks to the six forks plaza and gray stone neighborhood all the time when we were in our early teens. It definitely has a fair density of places to walk to within 20 mins of each other, but the walking experience could be much better.

Does anyone have a comprehensive Raleigh streetcar map circa 1920? There’s that downtown map that’s circulated a bunch but I’m interested in the arterial lines down Glenwood and Hillsborough (or possibly others?) Raleigh’s streetcar suburbs tend to be walkable, “transit-oriented development” by virtue of necessity.

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Also the fact that a neighborhood is “walkable” doesn’t mean people will actually walk, especially if the built environment is sending mixed signals. Don’t know if anyone has seen University Place in Chapel Hill recently. Their planning department has been pretty aggressively in pushing the limits on development policy. So far they’ve built a couple thousand units on top of the mall and adjacent shopping center. It checks all the boxes (urban infill, density, sidewalks, etc) but foot traffic remains negligible. People still drive across the street to get their groceries because at the end of the day, they live in a glorified parking lot just off an arterial stroad.

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sometimes i think it is just getting walk or bike aware, maybe?? in my families case we couldn’t drive but some old examples…late 60s from wexford dr to grocer, a little over a half a mile walk or ride on a old sears 3-speed. mid seventies, a walk on clarendon crescent to winn-dixie on new bern was just about half a mile by bike. in the 80s in Brentwood, less than half a mile to a grocer, steak house, barber, radio shack, etc. in the 90s from wingate drive it was easy walking to grocers and some restaurants on falls of neuse. later, in north ridge villas i could actually hop my fence and cross a street and be at a harris teeter or at saint jacques or a little farther to tasca brava or amantes. I’m not certain about some of the newer suburban plots if they provide the same level, of what was to me and at the time, seemed rather easy walking and biking. and often different and adventure like?

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Anyone else who is car light? What would be considered car light?

We have 2 of us in a 2BR apt near Crabtree with only 1 car. I commute on my ebike during the week 3 times a week. I will bike to the breweries downtown. If I want to go further out, I typically carpool.

It could be quite easy to have car-light living if we had safe biking infrastructure. “Safe” being the definition where you would feel that kids could ride on. Raleigh severely lacks in this infrastructure. Yes bike lanes get put in, but they are typically the type of infrastructure where you would not want a kid to ride in. Part of the reason we want safe infrastructure is because it is a good kick off point for those who are new to it and are uncomfortable with it. As they progress, they may start to feel safer riding on other roads.

Ebikes does a lot for living car-light. It makes it easier to places when you don’t want to sweat as well as making it easier when you do have heavy groceries to carry. I’ve been pretty car light for a few years. Our car gets about 10k miles per year for 2 people (so 5k/person average). This number is quite low.

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We just made a lifestyle move from living the high-rise life in Skyhouse for the past six years in a car-light manner with occasional trips to grocery stores supplemented by DGX shopping. Had an office on Fayetteville a block away until I closed it for WFH and even our physicians were a stroll down the block away.

However when our car lease and apartment lease recently ended within a month of each other we moved to the Village District for complete car-free living. Pretty much everything we need is now in easy walking distance including two grocery stores one of which is practically next door.

In the rare occasions we need a car we simply rent one like during the move. Bus stops just a few steps from our door provide rides to downtown or Crabtree Mall (we never go) the other way.

Lost what we considered to be the best view in Raleigh from our SE corner unit with a 15-mile panoramic viewshed. But still have a nice view of the downtown skyline about a mile-and-a-half away from our southern windows. And saving a ton of money with no lease, car insurance, parking, or gas expenses.

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At my “peak driving” when I owned my first condo on Duraleigh Rd., I think that I was pushing about 1500 miles a month. I was filling up my tank every week and that was with an economical 4 cylinder car. Today I go several weeks without filling up and am driving fewer than 50 miles in a typical week. That’s what my car light looks like.
That said, I don’t think that it’s reasonable to expect everyone to be doing what I’m doing. If enough folks who drive 1800 miles a month were able to reduce it to just 1200 miles, it would make a difference. If even 10% of the city’s high mileage population was able to halve their driving by moving into more urban and walkable neighborhoods, that would be fantastic in my book.
It all starts with prioritizing and creating compelling places that naturally affect our walking, cycling, and driving behaviors.

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I love that, that is what living sustainably looks like and not too many people have that luxury. We need more small scaled development around downtown with car share options, ample bike parking, and minimal car parking spaces (if any).

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