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“The ‘driving boom’ is over”

June 20, 2013

Robert Steuteville in Better! Cities & Towns explores what ‘peak car’ means for urban places, transportation, and policy:

Per capita driving (in the U.S.)  is down 8.75 percent, and is now at 1996 levels. The decline has no end in sight. …
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The trend is most pronounced among the young. “Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent,” wrote Brad Plumer of The Washington Post. This cohort includes both Millennials and Generation X, but the trend is strongest among Millennials.
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Ollder drivers are (also) contributing to the end of the driving boom ….
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A US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) report looks at three scenarios: “Back to the Future” where driving starts to rise again at historical levels, “Enduring Shift” which assumes the decline “is real and lasting,” and “Ongoing Decline” where today’s VMT trend grows into a bigger change. …
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Assuming walkable neighborhoods and driving trends are mutually reinforcing, some version of Enduring Shift or Ongoing Decline seems likely going forward. Among 16 to 34 year olds, transit use is up 40 percent since 2001, Plumer reports. …

PIRG-2

Other factors are “new mobility” programs like carshare and bikeshare, which only work in walkable places. These services are centered on downtowns and close-in neighborhoods, with a handful scattered in the densest suburbs. The neighborhoods served by carshare will grow over time, and you can chart the spread of high-value areas by Zipcar locations. Bicycling, overall, rose by a quarter from 2001 to 2009. …

Full article here.

In a theme that you’re going to hear repeated frequently from now on, Metro Vancouver could well be voting in less than a year and a half as to which direction we are going to take: moving forward into a transit-oriented future or locking ourselves into a roads-only strategy.  The stakes couldn’t be higher.

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