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Carless: Young People Not That Into Driving

  • April 10, 2012

by Shilpi Paul

Carless: Young People Not That Into Driving: Figure 1
Courtesy of Capital Bikeshare

In Atlantic Cities this morning, Richard Florida compiled the results of several different studies that all support the same conclusion: Americans under 35 are driving a whole lot less than their parents.

First, the facts. According to U.S. PIRG, young people (16 to 34-year olds) significantly reduced the number of miles they drove between 2001 and 2009. In 2001, that group was averaging 10,300 miles per capita per year; in 2009, the mileage fell to 7,900. The number of young people who have a driver’s license — once considered that ultimate symbol of independence — is also dropping, according to the Federal Highway Administration. Statistics from 2010 reveal that 26 percent of 14 to 34-year olds do not have a license, compared with 21 percent in 2000.

So how are young people getting around? With the shift towards city living and smaller homes, the preferred methods appear to be by foot, by bicycle and using mass transit. Bike trips increased by 24 percent between 2001 and 2009, and passenger miles on mass transit trips rose by 40 percent, according to the PIRG study.

We’ve reported on studies that illustrate this group’s shifting values before: Generation Y is more likely to be drawn in by the right neighborhood, rather than a dream home. Also, an overwhelming number of Gen Y’ers want to be in an urban setting, willing to live in a smaller unit if a building has cool common areas.

All these numbers mark a definite cultural shift. These days, young people’s values are eco-friendly, economical, and DIY. People are starting to see cars not as a vehicle of freedom but as a burden that drains their wallet and contributes to a smoggier world. From Atlantic Cities:

“Whether it’s because they don’t want them, can’t afford them, or see them as a symbol of waste and environmental abuse,” [Richard Florida] wrote, “more and more people are ditching their cars and taking public transit or moving to more walkable neighborhoods where they can get by without them or by occasionally using a rental car or Zipcar.”

While it’s easy for young, single people to get themselves around on foot or a bike, we wonder how true the trend is for young families. Does toting children around and stocking a home full of groceries necessitate having a car? How true is this trend for urban couples with children? Readers, whether you are single or have children, let us know.

See other articles related to: transportation, metro, generation y, biking

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/young_people_not_that_into_driving/5394

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