Driving Declines in US Urban Areas, Public Transit and Biking on the Rise
A new report by the U.S.PIRG Education Fund details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in America's most populous urbanized areas. The study also finds a greater use of public transit and biking in most cities.
The report, "Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America's Biggest Cities," is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America's largest cities and lists results for each. Among its national findings:
- The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America's most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
- From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America's largest urbanized areas for which up-to-date and accurate Federal Highway Administration data are available (54 out of 74 urban areas).
- The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized 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 urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
- The number of passenger-miles traveled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America's large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010.
Despite the recent recession that may have impacted jobs and driving use, the study found that these declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the economy according to unemployment, income, and poverty indicators.
"There is a shift away from driving," said Phineas Baxandall, Senior Analyst for the U.S. PIRG Education Fund. "The cities in this report are home to most of America's population and are engines of the economy."
"Government should support transportation initiatives that reflect these travel trends," Baxandall continues. "Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather's Interstate Highway System, we should invest in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors." These could include focusing on expanding public transit and bike lanes.
Read more at the US PIRG.
Bike lane image via Shutterstock.