For teens and 20-somethings in America, driving is much less of a daily thing than it was, say, 20 years ago. Car usage for other age groups has also declined, according to a new study by U.S. Pirg, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, which found that decisions localities make about roads and transit today will either continue the trend or reverse the effects.
Here in Montgomery County, are we on the road to fewer cars, or will things stay the same?
Car usage has flat-lined nationally, the study found, with Americans driving the same numer of miles today that we did in 2004. Historically, people have driven more and more miles each year since World War II, the organization's data showed.
According to Pirg's study, Americans are finally getting the hang of this public transit thing, too, taking almost 10 percent more trips on buses and trains in 2011 than in 2005. More people are also getting around by walking and biking, the study found.
Part of that decline is a smaller workforce, according to The New York Times. An economic recession, slow recovery and retiring Baby Boomers mean less people have jobs and don't need to commute everyday.
More impactful, though, is a cultural shift that finds younger people wanting to walk, bike and hop on buses more than when their parents were the same age, Phineas Baxandall, senior analyst for U.S. Pirg and one of the report's authors, told The Times.
“Millennials aren’t driving cars,” Baxandall said.
Locally, advocates of transit and biking are making big pushes to Montgomery County and Maryland governments for more money to further expand the network of commuting options beyond cars.
An increase in the state's gas tax approved earlier this year with the potential to raise $4.4 billion for transportation projects over the next six years was seen as a major victory for supporters of The Purple Line. If properly funded, the light rail project would open in 2020, running from Bethesda in Montgomery to New Carrollton in Prince George's and connecting to existing stops on the Metrorail system.
Bike advocates continue to make the case for more bike lanes and more connected bike routes throughout the county. The Montgomery County Sierra Club submitted a bike statement to county elected officials that calls for a set of changes, while the Washington Area Bicyclist Association leads the region's Bike to Work Day each year. (It's .)
So, what do you think? Is it easier to abandon your car in Montgomery County? Are roads and transit options suited for non-car commutes? Do you think driving is generational? Tell us in the comments.