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5 things you didn’t know about living Car Free in Mt. Vernon

Today’s guest post comes from Paul Day, enthused yuppie, transit cheerleader, and Most Distinguished Scholar of Sociology at Towson University. He’s a Mt. Vernon resident who lives a largely car free lifestyle. The driving force in Paul’s life is a commitment to urban living, which he says “is more patriotic than the alternatives”. “Being car-free for me is part of the larger protest against suburban living.” says Paul who has lived car-free all over Maryland, from the rural backwaters of Hagerstown, to the sprawling suburban dullopolis of Frederick.

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Mt. Vernon

You probably think that the Mt. Vernon neighborhood is a paradise for the car free. Truth be told, there are other neighborhoods that offer a more comfortable car free lifestyle. Here are 5 things holding Mt. Vernon back…

  1. Too many vehicles. Congestion is pretty bad in Mt. Vernon, particularly for pedestrians who have to cross many busy streets to get downtown. Unlike Bolton Hill, which has plenty of two-way streets with stop signs, Mt. Vernon can be a dangerous place for pedestrians and cyclists commuting to work downtown or anywhere else.
  2. Expensive restaurants, grocery shopping. Other than Eddies, which is expensive and lacks selection, there are no grocery stores in Mt. Vernon. The Superfresh on Charles Street Downtown is pretty crappy and has limited hours. There are also plenty of places to eat out, but few places worth trying that are both cheap and good. You’ll be spending a lot more on food and eating out living in Mt. Vernon. Some say it’s worth it, and they might be right.
  3. State Center and Cultural Center. It’s the most transit-oriented place that is completely unwalkable. To access the light rail or the Metro means crossing some pretty dangerous traffic on Martin Luther King and Howard Streets. It’s a trek up to State Center Metro, which you can take downtown.
  4. Tiny apartments. The apartments are tiny in Mt. Vernon and there is a lack of decent two bedrooms, so where are you going to store your bike? My wife’s bike is out on the fire escape.
  5. It’s not a party on the weekends. Unlike Fells Point, Charles Village, Harbor East, or Belvedere Square, Mt. Vernon is relatively dead most of the time as it lacks a really vibrant main street. There’s more activity when there’s a concert in the square or Gay Pride, but other than that it’s pretty subdued. You’ll find yourself venturing out of the neighborhood to be in the center of it.

But here are the perks of Mt. Vernon: lots of bus access, the Charm City Circulator, lots of young professionals, diversity, a huge selection of fine dining, great architecture and history, the square, and it’s in walking distance to the downtown.