Being a Non-Driver in a Car-Dependent World

A third or more of Americans cannot drive due to their age, ability, or other factors. How can their travel needs inform our transportation systems?

2 minute read

May 23, 2024, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Close-up of person with vision impairment wearing jeans and white sneakers crossing yellow and white striped crosswalk with cane.

Михаил Решетников / Adobe Stock

In an episode of The Brake podcast, Streetsblog staff interviews Anna Zivarts, author of When Driving is Not an Option: Steering Away From Car Dependency. Zivarts’ book outlines how paying attention to the needs of people who can’t or don’t drive — a population she says is likely undercounted in the United States — we can make transportation systems better for everyone.

I started really trying to figure out: how many other people are there out there who can't drive? How many people with disabilities? How many people who can't afford cars? If we talk about young folks, or folks who have their licenses suspended, and folks who are undocumented, and folks who are aging out of driving — how many of us are there?

Zivarts focuses on people who are non-drivers by necessity, meaning that they often may not have the ability, energy, or skills to use bikes or other ‘active’ transportation. “I think there's so much emphasis on efficiency in many of our systems; the piece that’s often overlooked [is] thinking about things from more of a disability perspective, and focusing instead in prioritizing inclusion [and] access.”

The book also urges the reader to assess the broader costs of car dependency. “At the end of the day, when we think about how much vehicles cost, the environmental costs, the climate costs, the public health costs of your air and noise pollution, the public health costs of crashes —  these are all significant. Perhaps we'd all be better off if we start to think about transitioning away from car dependency?”

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 in Streetsblog USA

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