On the surface, it still seems to me like most people use cars to get around town, and I have to admit that I, too, drive to work nearly every day. But more and more I’ve been thinking about options. I only live a couple miles from work, and maintaining a car is expensive! There was a time when I rode my bike to work about half the time. I also carpooled for a few years when I worked in Topeka. So I know I CAN do something other than jump in my car when I need to get somewhere.
Apparently others are realizing this too. Every year, between World War II and 2004, we were driving more, but a new study shows that the average number of miles driven by Americans has actually dropped since then. Part of the change is due to changing habits of younger people born between 1983 and 2000 (sometimes called the “Millenial Generation”). Since 2004, driving in this group has dropped more than any other age cohort. The Millenials are now the largest generation of people in the country, and if this Millenial-led decline continues, the number of miles driven in the U.S. will stay below the 2007 peak until 2040, even with expected population growth in the U.S. of 21 percent.
Why are Millenials driving less?
Part of the change is driven by economics. The AAA estimates it costs almost 60 cents per mile, or $8,946 per year, to drive a car. That’s a hefty chunk of one’s paycheck just to keep a car on the road. There also seems to be an openness among Millenials to other forms of transit, including public transportation and “active movement” like biking and walking. This isn’t true of just the Millenials, however. Older adults, another growing part of our population, also recognize that as they age some of them are less likely to get around safely by car.
I’ve never taken the bus to work, but I know I can … pretty easily. So look for me out there on the bus because I’m going to do it! And I live less than four miles from work, so I’m pretty sure I can safely ride my bike there too. With this beautiful weather we’re having, I really don’t have an excuse.
So … how did you get to work today?