QuickThing14: driving car companies crazy

Oregonians – and Americans – are car crazy no more

Here’s a surprising story . . .

Across the country, the generation coming up is driving less, owning fewer cars, and eschewing the idea of auto-mobility. Take in this graph of Oregon’s Vehicle Miles Traveled graph – it shows that present day VMT is at levels from the late 1980’s!

To be sure, some part of this results from the economic downturn starting in fall 2008. Nonetheless, this represents a dramatic turnabout in American culture.

Do you still need a hot car to score a hot date?

Almost half of 18-24 year olds would choose internet access over wheels.  I recall, now, a faint memory from about 20 summers ago:  beautiful day, a few kids out riding bicycles, running through the streets, being kids.  But there on the curb, oblivious to nature’s gift of a day and the sheer joy of play, sat two boys playing with their Gameboys.

It’s new generation!

Of course, there are a few explanations for this.  Increased density in the last 20 years has made mass transit a better deal.  Owning a car IS an expensive proposition.  Many young couples actually own a single car. My own children did not purchase a car until well into their 20’s, and only then when they had children.

The Portland Street Car routes have doubled, and are about to double again with the opening of the east side lines.

It’s taken a long time for all this feedback to take hold:  rising fuel costs, increased density in urban centers, improved mass transit, more convenient and low cost housing along those mass transit throughways, and a generation whose values differ from those previous relative to social freedom.

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