Americans are driving less

IMG_6234A new study shows that people are driving less in America’s largest cities and are instead making great use of public transit and biking.

“There is a shift away from driving,” said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst for the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report is the first-ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities. Among its findings:

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanised areas between 2000 and 2011.
  • From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanised areas.
  • The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanised areas from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two cars or more cars decreased in 86 out of the 100 of these areas during that period.
  • The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest cities between 2000 and 2011.
  • The number of passenger-miles travelled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America’s large urbanised areas.

The study found that cities with the largest decreases in driving were not those hit hardest by the recession. On the contrary, the economies of urbanised areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators.

The Millennial generation – aged 16 to 34 years – is leading these trends and have reduced their average driving miles by 23 per cent between 2001 and 2009.

“Policy leaders need to wake up and realise the driving boom is over. Instead of expanding new highways, our government leaders should focus on investing in public transit and biking for the future,” said Baxandall.

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