Preparing for "Peak Car"

Shifting demographics combined with changes in lifestyle preferences and growing frustration at the limitations of auto-oriented living is leading to a shift away from car use and ownership, some experts say.
October 24, 2011, 10am PDT | Michael Dudley
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The Globe and Mail reports on a surprising -- but apparently inevitable -- trend: that we have "hit a wall" in terms of our use of cars, and that people are making a rational choice towards other alternatives.

"The most detailed picture of the trend comes from the United States, where the distance driven by Americans per capita each year flatlined at the turn of the century and has been dropping for six years. By last spring, Americans were driving the same distance as they had in 1998. The data are similar in Europe, Australia and Japan. And, although Canada doesn't keep national statistics on individual driving habits, Australian researcher Jeff Kenworthy has found that driving in the nation's five largest cities, combined, declined by 1.7 per cent per capita from 1995 to 2006.

[T]he shift is so gradual and widespread that it's clearly not a product of any "war on the car" or other ideological campaign. Rather, it's a byproduct of a stage of development that cities were probably destined to reach ever since the dawn of the automobile age: Finding themselves caught in an uncomfortable tangle of urban sprawl, population growth and plain individual inconvenience, people, one by one, are just quietly opting out."

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Published on Monday, October 24, 2011 in The Globe and Mail
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