The people of this place petitioned against the 'dangerous horseless carriages' in 1898 because the horses on the island were scared when the cars sputtered.
Imagine a world before the invention of cars. Humans rode horses and camels and sometimes even donkeys were their rides. You do not have to imagine that world anymore because you can experience it firsthand if you like. A travel blogger—who goes by @povsadventures on TikTok—shared a video of his visit to the only town in the US where cars are not permitted. The video clip was captioned, "I visited the city in the USA that fully banned cars." It gathered 3.2 million views on TikTok. He went to Mackinac Island, located off the coast of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Although the island has a population of less than 600 people, it has become a popular tourist destination due to its charming and unique rules and structure.
The travel blogger explains that the very hilly city of Mackinac has pretty well-maintained roads, signage and intersections, yet there are no cars here. If anyone likes to travel anywhere, they can either walk or use a bicycle or a horse taxi. People have to hail one on their own. They have banned all cars, motorized and electric vehicles, including golf carts, ATVs and E-bikes, not to scare the horses.
They haven't made any exceptions, even for the police officers who used pedal bikes. As a lot of horses are used for transportation, a lot of waste is created, for that, the city hires people who consistently shovel and sweep the roads. A horse can also pull a street cleaner. If you get mail, you have to go pick it up daily. That being said, if you order from Amazon, you have the option of a horse pulling up to your house. Since there is no need for a garage, many people have their private horses and stables in their houses.
The largest hotel is located on top of a hill and all suitcases and goods are transported on flatbed horse carriages. There is not any issue of animal cruelty since they do understand that horses also feel overheated and exhausted. As they pull many people on steep hills on hot summer days, they work half a day with ample stops to catch a breath. They can also enjoy massive fans between trips. There is an exception to the car ban when ambulances are allowed, as horse carriages will not be ideal for emergencies.
People on TikTok are mesmerized by this livelihood and even share their opinions. "Probably a very stable city to live in," commented @honestpersonalfinance. "This is what life should be," praised @toneonlyphotography. "The first car accident in the history of the island was in the 21st century when the fire truck and ambulance bumped each other responding to a fire," added @deliciousoj.
Mackinac Island also had its best tourism year in 2021, shattering several records. Owners believe the spike occurred because many people could not travel abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Chris Shepler, who operates one of the ferries that transport tourists to the island, his company transported over 600,000 people to Mackinac that year. "We absolutely carried more than 600,000 people this year to the island, maybe 650,000," Shepler told the Detroit Free Press. "On the dock, we were working 60 to 80 hours a week. I took two days off between mid-June and mid-September. And it was the best staff we've ever had, hands-down."
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According to the official website of Mackinac Island, cars were once permitted on the island. People petitioned against the "dangerous horseless carriages" in 1898 because the horses on the island were scared when the cars sputtered. The council agreed to the petition and implemented the ban on July 6 of that year. Horses are now at the heart of the transportation system, but this hasn't stopped the city from enjoying industrial benefits.
This year marks the 125th anniversary of Mackinac Island's car ban, and tourists have continued to flock to the island to enjoy this aspect of their culture, particularly in recent years. As automobiles became more common in the twentieth century, the lack of motor vehicles on Mackinac Island has given the island a distinct personality that makes it feel like a vacation getaway. Visiting Mackinac Island allows people to leave their fast-paced life behind at the ferry dock for a few days and slow down to clip-clop speed for a well-deserved break.