yet more evidence for the decline of driving in the US

Another report from USPIRG on the decline of driving in US cities is out today. Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America's Biggest Cities combs through secondary data to assess changing mobility patterns. The big picture is clear: in nearly all of America's major cities, less driving is happening, as measured by miles traveled, journey-to-work mode, or share of work done from home. 

Some key statistics from the report:

  • The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving
    peaked in 2004.

  • From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanized areas

  • The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle – either alone or in a carpool – declined in 99 out of 100 cities studied

  • The proportion of residents working from home has increased in 100 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas since 2000.

  • The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas from 2006 to 2011.

A few illlustrative maps:

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Of course, the canned response to data of this sort is to attribute it entirely to the 2008 recession and its knock-on effects on personal income and unemployment. USPIRG's analysis seems to refute this idea, finding that unemployment in the 15 areas with the greatest declines in VMT actually increased less from 2006-2011 than in all other cities. The same holds true for declining income and increasing poverty. The bottom line is that in the cities where mobility patterns are changing most intensely, this shift cannot be handwaved away by pointing to the recession.

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Previously noted: USPIRG's report on the correlation of the market penetration of mobile communications technology and decline of driving.

by Evan Landman

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