Many who presently live in the car-centric White Flint area have trouble envisioning our lives without our vehicles. But, as I share with some frequency, there is a rising trend among the younger generation to avoid cars altogether. Young adults and, particularly young professionals, are graduating from school with mountains of debt and find themselves reluctant to assume more in the form of a car. They’d rather use any extra funds on technology and socializing. But, they also cite environmental reasons and connecting with their communities as reasons to eschew the car.
“The share of 14- to 34-year-olds without a driver’s license was 26 percent in 2010, up from 21 percent in 2000, the study says, quoting the Federal Highway Administration. In 2009, the 16- to 34-year-old age group took 24-percent-more bike trips than in 2001, even as its population shrank by 2 percent. The same age group walked to more destinations in ’09 than in ’01, and the distance it traveled by public transit increased 40 percent,” according to Motor Trend Magazine.
Phineas Baxandall authored a report on this very concept and the underlying factors. “There has been ‘an extraordinary shift’ in how people travel… For eight years in a row, Americans have been driving less on a per-person basis than the year before,” he said. This shift has come at the same time as “increases in the use of the Internet, cellphones and smartphones, with younger Americans more likely to own a smartphone,” he says.
This demographic of young people is looking for urban, walkable settings where they can reach their destination with ease and via a variety of modalities. Although we’re seeing it most among Generation Y, these trends are popping up all along the lifespan. Not everyone wants to get behind the car for every trip. Having a choice is important to many people. Between the community we’re working to build in White Flint and the improved connectivity offered by Rapid Transit, we’re on the way to being the destination people seek.