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Yet another post on Peak Car

March 19, 2013

They’re coming in with such frequency, it’s getting hard to keep track.  This one is from Better! Cities & Towns:

A recent blog from Twin Cities Sidewalks highlights growing evidence that vehicle miles may have peaked. If the right policies are put in place, vehicle miles can go down even as the population and economy rises.

The graph dramatically shows the historical trends of vehicle miles traveled in the US and how they have changed in recent years. Young adults, who may set the direction for generations to come, are on a steep downward trajectory.

US VMT projections

.

After that graph came out, the Federal Highway Administration reported that only 67 percent of 16-to-24 year olds had driver’s licenses in 2011, the lowest level since statistics have been kept.

For cities, where more alternative transportation options are available, the trend is potentially stronger: from 2005 to 2009, as the population of Washington, DC, grew by 15,000, car registrations in the District dropped by 15,000, according to Jeff Speck in Walkable City.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael Kluckner permalink
    March 20, 2013 8:52 am

    I’m a cynic, Gord. How much of “peak car,” in a city like Vancouver, can you put down to the unaffordability of the city? If young people had more money I’d bet they’d buy cars, just because they buy all sorts of things that are pretty and semi-functional. Even if they only used them on weekends. To me, that’s a feature of the new Vancouver: the traffic is heaviest Saturday and Sunday around midday.

    • March 20, 2013 9:51 am

      Why buy a car just for weekend use? With car sharing and rental options you can have access to a vehicle whenever you want without the obligations or cost of ownership.

      I could afford a car. I choose not to because it’s easy to get around without one and I’d rather spend that money on more important things (like travel, good food, electronics, etc). Most people I know in Vancouver are in the same boat. Late 20s, early 30s making good money (especially in the tech industry), and living car-free. It’s a matter of priorities, and car ownership isn’t the necessity it once was.

      What is amazing is that car use is dropping in North American cities that are heavily car dependant. Imagine what would happen if public transit, cycling infrastructure, and car sharing options improved across the board.

  2. March 21, 2013 5:40 pm

    I enjoy having a car, and as long as I can afford one I probably will continue to have one. However; my car use has shifted from being a transportation primary to a recreation primary. For everyday travels I would much prefer to take the bus, or better still walk or ride my bike. I don’t have to worry about parking, I don’t have get frustrated with traffic or other drivers, well I suppose I still do but not as much.

    I think the city’s development through the 1970s rejecting a highway system that went through the core has a lot to do with these trends today. Relatively small land size, increasing density it’s not just about the cost of living it’s about the practicality of a car in the city. 3/4 of the residents of new york city are not car owners.

    I think Vancouver could look to the NYC, which not only has a good transit system, but also has good taxi service as well. It’s one area where Vancouver could improve, is increasing the number of taxi licenses in the city, and this could be done on the mass scale with existing companies or looking at a mini-cab style system like they have in London.

  3. July 17, 2013 2:27 pm

    Thanks for the plug. We need to get engineers to stop projecting VMT growth.

Trackbacks

  1. The Buzzer blog » Life on Transit: Young people chosing public transit over a driver’s licence
  2. Peak car: where are we moving to? | Maximum Headway

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