We don’t know why a lawn care company decided to rate the best U.S. cities to live without a car, but we like LawnStarter’s list. The rankings include 14 California cities, with San Francisco topping the list as the best city in the U.S. to live car-free. The ability of Californians to get around by active transportation is something CalBike and thousands of local leaders all over the state have worked hard to achieve, and we’re glad to see that work bearing fruit.
Best cities to live without a car in California
Here are the 14 California cities in the top 50, with their ranks:
- San Francisco, 1
- Oakland, 7
- Los Angeles, 16
- Irvine, 17
- Santa Rosa, 18
- San Jose, 21
- Huntington Beach, 22
- Santa Ana, 23
- Oxnard, 27
- San Diego, 28
- Long Beach, 29
- Fremont, 31
- Sacramento, 41
- Glendale, 46
What makes a city ideal for car-free living?
LawnStarter evaluated the 150 biggest cities in the U.S. based on 20 metrics. Walkability, bikeability, and transit all figured into their calculations. The survey looked at the walk score, bike score, and the number of bike rental facilities per 100,000 residents. Other metrics were commute modes, safety including crime and pedestrian fatalities, and climate, which evaluated weather conditions that might discourage active transit.
California cities got a boost from the climate metric. San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles tied for the lowest number of days below freezing. And San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Fremont had the fewest days with temperatures over 90 degrees.
San Francisco ranked third in the percent of residents who commute by public transit, after New York City and Jersey City, NJ.
Not all the results for California cities were positive, however. Fremont, Moreno Valley, and Santa Clarita had some of the longest commute times. And, while no California city was in the bottom 10, Stockton was far down the list at 116.
More work to be done
While we are encouraged by the availability of transit options that allow people to live without a car in so many California cities, we have more work to do. We want more Southern California communities to rank high because of their terrific bike networks. And we’d like to see more communities in California’s interior expand active transportation options, as Redding is doing right now. With your help, CalBike will keep working to make California communities more bikeable and liveable.