What is “Driving” New York and D.C. to have the Smallest Share of Cars?

What is “Driving” New York and D.C. to have the Smallest Share of Cars?

In our effort to make White Flint a walkable community, we like to find examples of trends or models throughout the United States and globally from which we can learn. Recently, it seems many other urban areas around the United States are also noticing a trend in their communities, declining presence of cars as their main means of transportation.

In a recent article by Derek Thompson, of The Atlantic, Thompson states that New York City and D.C. have the top two “highest share of non-car households in America”, with Boston and Philadelphia close behind, according to the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. These four cities have something in common: they are known for having relatively good public transportation, which allows residents to rely more on this than a car. But is this the real reason behind the decline in car-use? It is most definitely a factor but even more striking is the overwhelming presence of the millennial generation in these cities. Young, recent college graduates flock to these cities because of the amazing job opportunities and amenities available to them. As we mentioned in past posts, D.C. has become the “millennial capital” of US, something White Flint hopes to capitalize on with its new residences, retail stores and its proximity to public transportation. As groups of people flock to cities, these cities must provide infrastructure that can support them and allow them to thrive. That is why public transportation in cities like New York and D.C. must be effective, which in turn creates smart and productive places. When a city has an effective public transportation system, cars become “an expensive nice-to-have rather than a have-to-have.”

Though this trend may be true for our neighbors (D.C.), can urban areas around Montgomery County begin to see a decline in car-use too?   We certainly have many residents that would prefer option to get around beyond the car.  Our hope is that White Flint residents will not rely so heavily on cars as their means for travel. Many of their goods and services will be readily available to them in a walkable and safe community without the need for a car.

Rebecca Hertz

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Rebecca Hertz is the Assistant Executive Director of Friends of White Flint. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University, Worcester Massachusetts in 2012. She completed her Master’s Degree from Clark University, as well, in Community Development and Planning in 2013. She is interested in how built environments impact the health and growth of communities. Prior to this role, she worked as a youth worker and mentor for several non-profit organizations in Maryland and Massachusetts. She grew up in Rockville, MD and has recently moved back to the region.

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