Have Internet, Will Travel—Just Not By Car

A new report from the U.S. PIRG Education Fund looks at how innovations in technology and social networking are changing the country's transportation landscape, and contributing to the decline in driving.

1 minute read

October 2, 2013, 6:00 AM PDT

By Jonathan Nettler @nettsj


Teleconferencing, e-commerce, transit apps, social media, and smartphones are among the emerging technologies having a profound impact on how, and how often, Americans travel (especially young ones). That's the conclusion of a new report out this week from Phineas Baxandall and his colleagues at the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

But just how much of the an impact has technology had on the decline in vehicle travel? "It's virtually impossible to quantify the cumulative impact of all this technological change on the decline in driver's licenses or car registrations or miles traveled (is 'new technology' responsible for 15 percent of the drop? 30 percent?)," says Emily Badger. "Baxandall reasons, though, that 'it’s definitely a significant piece of what’s behind the driving trends. But if you look to the future, it seems even more significant. All of these things are really just in their infancy.'"

But on the related question of how lasting the accompanying urban revival will be, the report includes some interesting findings. "Notably, only 27 percent of child-less Millennials said they picture themselves residing long-term in an urban setting, a decision that dictates many of the transportation modes available to them (there's no point in using a transit app if you live nowhere near transit)," notes Badger. "And so this is reason for caution in tracing these trends out into the future."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 in The Atlantic Cities

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Pumping Gas

10 States Where the Gas Tax Is Highest

As the gap between gas tax revenue and transportation funding needs widen across the country, the funding mechanism is drawing increased scrutiny from both public officials and consumers.

June 9, 2024 - The Ascent

Concrete walkway with landscaping, decorative tiles, and picnic tables in a Los Angeles County park.

Wish Granted: Former Brownfield Transformed to New Park

Wishing Tree Park in West Carson, California officially opened last month, replacing a brownfield site with a much-needed green space for recreation and respite.

June 14 - Urbanize LA

"No right turn on red" and "Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians" sign.

The Tide is Turning on Right Turns on Red

The policy, which stems from the gas embargo of the 1970s, makes intersections more dangerous for pedestrians.

June 14 - NPR

Thick green forest on edge of lake in Louisville, Kentucky.

Louisville Begins Process to Clean Superfund Site

A public forest is home to dozens of barrels that have been leaking toxic materials for decades.

June 14 - Inside Climate News

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.