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The Many Reasons for the Decline In Car Culture

February 5, 2015

Car culture seems to be declining worldwide, and urbanization and technology may play a big part in that. Millennials are more willing to live in cities and stay there rather than move to suburbs, unlike the previous generation. This means that they’re less likely to own cars and more likely to take public transit, walk, or use private taxis like Uber. Not only that, social media allows people to stay in touch without ever leaving their home, and e-commerce makes it possible for people to purchase things online, decreasing the overall number of trips that people need to make. The number of cars per driver in the US has fallen from 1.2 in 2007 to 1.15 this year.

This trend is global. For instance, in London, cycling levels have risen rapidly over the last couple years, to the point where cycling now makes up one-sixth of all traffic in central London. This is a record-breaking level of cycling in the city, and part of it is due to the increased availability of bike share docks and bicycles. In San Francisco, the majority of trips are made without private cars, and it’s been that way for several years. In addition, the prevalence of shared-use structures like pedestrian and bike bridges has grown all over, and we’re only going to see an increase in infrastructure dedicated to car-free transit in the coming years.

Another major reason for the decline in car culture is that automobiles are simply not sustainable. Global leaders, such as Al Gore and former Mexican president Felipe Calderon, have proposed a radical idea: why don’t we spend the $90 Trillion that will be invested in infrastructure over the next 15 years toward developing cities that aren’t car-centric?

Some will argue we’ll never get there, but the times, they are changing.

Right now is a crucial time in shaping the future of urban transportation. 75% of the infrastructure that will exist in 2050 hasn’t been built yet, so the decisions that we make about the direction of our cities’ transportation systems over the next few years will be critical.  Let’s not take them for granted


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