Amish; horse and buggy; environmental impacts; mobility; trip purposes; transport motivation


Car ownership is growing in many countries. While beneficial to individuals in many cases, this trend has often resulted in significant economic, social, and environmental costs to society more generally. In researching possible solutions, one approach is to look at particular areas or communities that exhibit less reliance on the car or are even ‘car free’ to some extent, in order to see if lessons can be learned. Accordingly, this study seeks to define and characterize transport practices in Amish communities—in groups located across the United States and Canada—which for religious reasons have eschewed the car. Specifically, the paper draws on a comprehensive literature and archival review, supplemented with expert interviews, to briefly outline Amish beliefs and traditions, and then relate how these influence people’s mobility by mode, journey purpose, community, and stage of life. The study considers mobility by utilizing twelve broad mobilities as motivations, along with examples applied across six suggested stages of life. The twelve motivations considered are: migration; business / profession; discovery; medical related; military related; post-employment; trailing travel; travel across modes; travel for service work; tourist travel; visiting friends / relatives; and work / commuting. The six life stages are infancy, preschool, scholars, young people, adults, and old folks. The impacts of Amish transport are then considered with respect to society more broadly but also for each of the life stages.


We are thankful to those at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietistic Studies, Elizabethtown College, who have been so helpful in locating articles and references, and providing time for interviews. We also thank the editors for their helpful comments and Jane Collinson for her support as librarian. Any mistakes or omissions are ours and should be forwarded for corrections.