Has Alternative Transportation Received Too Much Attention?

Joseph Stomberg of Vox has initiated a series of articles on commuting in America, the first based on the issues explaining the domination of the auto, the second on the debate about the driving decline associated with millennials.

May 3, 2015, 5:00 AM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Bicycle traffic light in Berlin

Copenhagenize Design Co. / Copenhagenize

"This new series will look at the surprising history that explains why our commutes look the way they do," writes Stromberg in the introduction to the commuter series. "It'll examine the hidden trends that are slowly changing commuting, and the people and projects trying to redesign it for the better."

Much of the factual information for the first article, "The Utter Dominance of the Car in American Commuting," comes from transportation consultant Alan Pisarski, author of the National Academies' Commuting In America seriesThe message Stromberg lays out is clear if not controversial: Not only does the auto dominate all other modes, it will likely get larger:

In 1970, the average household had 1.55 cars. In 2013, it had 2.08. And the number of cars a person owns is the best predictor of the likelihood of driving alone to work.

It's easy to see why, armed with this type of data, Stromberg begins the article by writing that a "disproportionate focus on [some] cities has led advocates and journalists to celebrate the resurgence of car-free forms of transportation."

Elano Shor, now a transportation reporter for Politico, wrote in Streetsblog almost six years ago, "Pisarski, respected as an "expert" in the mainstream media, is even more dedicated to keeping America yoked to highway dependence, and he has a litany of influential supporters in his corner."

Fortunately, Stromborg acknowledges the decline in driving that began in 2007 (if not earlier) in his second article on the commuting series, referencing Vox senior editor, Brad Plumer (then writing for Washington Post Wonkblog) whose 2013 piece is posted here.

Stromborg presents both sides to the debate regarding the driving decline associated with millennials. Bloomberg News just reported that "Americans under 35 are almost twice as likely as those above that age to report driving more because of the $1-a-gallon drop in prices at the pump over the past year."

Readers might want to initially bypass the Stromberg's first piece and go straight to "Young people are driving less than their parents. But why?" as it is an excellent read with much to comprehend.

His conclusion:

So, yes, it seems that young people today are driving slightly less and are somewhat less enthusiastic about cars than their parents. But that small shift in preferences, on its own, isn't likely to significantly transform America's car-centric culture.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 in Vox

Stylized rendering of the Midwest Regional Rail Network

Federal Railroad Administration Proposes New Midwest Rail Network

If built, regional high-speed rail networks could provide an alternative to uncomfortable air travel and prevent travelers from becoming stranded at airports during extreme weather.

January 17, 2022 - The Urbanist

A silhouette of construction workers lowering larger numerals into place to form 2022.

Planning Trends to Watch in 2022

Building a framework of understanding for the year to come.

January 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Rendering of the proposed Farm Hub at The Great Park, Ontario

Massive New Park Coming to the Inland Empire

A 3.5-mile long greenway will bring trails, recreational facilities, and open space to Ontario, in San Bernardino County, California.

January 11, 2022 - Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Glenn Youngkin gesturing with his hands while speaking to the media and the public while campaigning for governor of Virginia at the Alexandria Farmers Market.

New GOP Governor's Anti-Climate Agenda Takes Shape in Virginia

New Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin made promises on the campaign trail to reverse the state's commitment to climate reductions.

January 21 - The Virginia Mercury

Houston Sprawl

Houston Area's Center of Gravity Shifts Outside the Loop

The population center of Harris County is now outside central Houston, a shift that occurred over the last two decades as the region's suburbs blossomed.

January 21 - Rice Kinder Institute for Urban Research

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

ITE Quickbites: New Transportation and Health Resources

Transportation planning decisions affect our lives in many ways. New Quick Bites (short reports) published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers can help create healthier and happier communities.

January 21 - ITE Transportation and Health Resources

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Case Study posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

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.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.