15 Cities for People Who Hate Driving and Long Commutes

Where to go if you don't want to spend a lot of time behind the wheel


Slide Show: Commuter-Friendly Cities

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Average commute time: 23.1 minutes
Non-car commuters: 33.5 percent Some cities, like New York, have uncommonly extensive public transportation systems but also uncommonly huge populaces. Delays are inevitable in any transportation system with so much demand. Pittsburgh is a bit of an anomaly in that it is not a massive city—the population is just over 300,000, with a metro area of 2.4 million—but it has a large public transit system for its size. Pittsburgh's transit system, the Port Authority of Allegheny County, has a daily ridership of 240,000 on its buses and light rail. The city also has one of the largest bus rapid transit systems in the country, with three bus-only highways. Its light rail system has the 16th-most passenger miles traveled of any light rail in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association.

Boulder, Colo.

Average commute time: 18.4 minutes
Non-car commuters: 30.6 percent Boulder tends to attract the kind of outdoorsy people who love biking to work. The city claims more than 300 miles of bike lanes, routes, designated shoulders, and paths. If you don't like traveling on two wheels, there are other options. Boulder's Regional Transportation District has dozens of bus lines. While other cities designate their bus lines with utilitarian numbers, the names of the downtown Boulder bus lines reveal a city with a more colorful approach to transit: HOP, SKIP, JUMP, BOUND, DASH, STAMPEDE, and BOLT.

Davis, Calif.

Average commute time: 20.3 minutes
Non-car commuters: 28.7 percent The home of the University of California-Davis is more than just a college town. Davis has a population of 60,000. In 2005, the League of American Bicyclists awarded the city a "platinum level" distinction as a biking-friendly community. Its the first and only city in the country to receive that title. According to the league, "bike lanes and trails permeate the community and enable people of all ages to ride to school, to work, and for recreation and errands."

Ann Arbor, Mich.

Average commute time: 18.4 minutes
Non-car commuters: 27.5 percent Since it is one of the best-known college towns in America, it shouldn't be surprising that Ann Arbor is not car-heavy. Many of the city's major employers, such as the academic journal service JSTOR, the weather service Weather Underground, and the headquarters for Google's AdWords service are based downtown. That centralized location and Ann Arbor's compact nature make commuting easy for walkers, bikers, and bus riders.

New Haven, Conn.

Average commute time: 21.6 minutes
Non-car commuters: 27.3 percent New Haven's commuting patterns are shaped by its unusual downtown. In many cities, downtowns fill up with professionals and other workers during the day, then turn into ghost towns at night. But according to the City of New Haven, 7,000 people live in the downtown area, making it "among the most populous downtowns in the nation"—with a population density greater than that of downtown Seattle, Chicago, or Baltimore. Jobs are in downtown New Haven as well, with some of the city's big employers like Yale University and the Knights of Columbus headquartered there.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Average commute time: 20.1 minutes
Non-car commuters: 26.2 percent North Carolina is not usually thought of as a mass transit state, and with good reason—only 16 percent of workers commute without a car. But Chapel Hill is not typical. Triangle Transit provides bus and vanpool service throughout the entire Research Triangle area, which includes Raleigh and Durham. According to the census, more than 10 percent of Chapel Hill commuters walk to work.


Average commute time: 21.9 minutes
Non-car commuters: 24.2 percent Long winters don't deter Minneapolis commuters from leaving their cars at home. Measured by passenger miles, the city has the 14th-largest light rail system and the 13th-largest bus system in the country, according to the American Public Transportation Association. The Census Bureau also ranks it second in the country for bicycle commuting among the 50 cities with the most commuters. For pedestrians, commuting in below-freezing temperatures is made easier by the fact that 80 blocks of downtown Minneapolis are connected by enclosed skyways that allow pedestrians to traverse the city in heated walkways without stepping outside.

Corrected on 11/13/2009: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Boston's MBTA rapid transit system has two stops on two different lines in Cambridge. There are five stops on the Red Line and one stop on the Green Line in Cambridge.