Good news for public transport/ bicycle planners – and certainly for our public health and environmental challenges like climate change. According to a graphic found on Visual.ly (see below) it looks like young people in the United States are less keen about the car than former generations – preferring instead the bike, the bus or by foot. (Or, as other research has indicated, young people spend more time interacting on social media exchanges). “American youth have fallen out of love with automobiles” because of the rising cost of driving and the fact that they are “living their lives online,” says Wall Street Journal auto columnist Dan Neil on Calculated Risk Blog. Social media addictions aside… bikes, trains and buses are just more fun than being stuck in car traffic for daily commuting (at least for me!) The romantic dream of freedom on the open road just doesn’t equate with reality in a daily commuting situation. These days, this same ‘freedom’ is often painted with a picture of a bicycle – see Copenhagen Cycle Chic for example. For my commute, every day, I combine the train and the bike, coming to the office prepared (e.g. reading on the train, reviewing lecture notes or preparing for a meeting) and refreshed from a bit of morning exercise (30 minutes of cycling each way, rain or shine).
Maybe someday, those pesky traffic jams clogging America’s cities and suburbs will be a thing of the past, and American rush hour (i.e. standstill freeways… yuck) will transform to the bike/ train rush hours I witness on my daily commute in Amsterdam… With statistics like this, it may be in the cards. (As a disclaimer, not all Dutch people bike, and the Dutch highways are also clogged with car traffic, that we wizz by on the train.) I would be curious to know if similar trends are shaking other car-invested communities and countries around the globe. Here’s hoping…
- Updated article (dated 14 November 2014) on the Atlantic’s Citylab: The 10 Biggest Factors Changing Millennial Driving Habits.
10 thoughts on “America’s young people: drive less and bike more”
I wonder what constitutes a “bike trip” in the info graphic? Just imagine what it would do for American obesity to build some (more) practical bike infrastructure in every big city complete with green lit bike and bus ‘express ways’, then increase the duration of red lights for autos.
I think it will happen… eventually! And some cities are on their way. Behaviour research does indicate that in order to really promote change you have to increase the barriers for the sub-optimal behaviour and increase the incentives for the preferred behaviour. And yes, as one who pretty much only exercises on my bike (i.e. transport) and eat what I want, I certainly feel fit & healthy enough to skip the gym. (Excuses, excuses!)
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