Sunday, 25 September 2016

More evidence we've reached Peak Car?

America is car central, the nation most wedded to the wonders of the private motor vehicle. The target of this sort of hyperbole:

Cars for everyone was one of the most stupid promises politicians ever made. Cars are meant to meet a simple need: quick and efficient mobility. Observe an urban artery during the school run, or a trunk road on a bank holiday weekend, and ask yourself whether the current system meets that need. The vast expanse of road space, the massive investment in metal and fossil fuel, has delivered the freedom to sit fuming in a toxic cloud as your life ticks by.
Now, leaving aside that politicians never promises cars for all - the market delivered cars for everyone all by itself - this is a typical reaction. George Monbiot even uses the phrase "carmaggedon" to describe how the ever increasing numbers of cars is destroying our health and the planet.

I've mentioned 'Peak Car' before and there's an ongoing debate in the USA about whether total car mileage is rising or falling. Nevertheless, in a land designed around the car, this is significant:
About 87 percent of 19-year-olds in 1983 had their licenses, but more than 30 years later, that percentage had dropped to 69 percent. Other teen driving groups have also declined: 18-year-olds fell from 80 percent in 1983 to 60 percent in 2014, 17-year-olds decreased from 69 percent to 45 percent, and 16-year-olds plummeted from 46 percent to 24 percent.

However, for those in their late 50s and older, the proportion of those with driver's licenses is up about 12 percentage points since 1983—although down more than two percentage points since 2008. The only age group to show a slight increase since 2008 is the 70-and-older crowd. 
The cost of cars and the concentration of young people in ever denser cities means that those generations simply aren't bothering with the expense at all. It would be helped if cities liberated public transport from unions, special interests and the antediluvian thinking of authorities but this shows that cost and convenience still lead to different decisions. We may indeed have passed Peak Car.

No comments: