Detroit may be feeling wind in their sails today, but they have a much bigger problem on the horizon.
A confluence of events — environmental worries, a preference for gadgets over wheels and the yearslong economic doldrums — is pushing some teens and twentysomethings to opt out of what has traditionally been considered an American rite of passage: Owning a car.
Industry watchers are obviously concerned about this development. As transit improves and hand-held gadgets keep people connected, young people are in the USA are catching up with their cohorts in Europe and Japan where youth auto-ownership rates have been falling for decades.
‘I didn’t need it’
McVeigh didn’t make a conscious plan not to drive. After living overseas as a teenager, she went to college in a small town and then moved to bigger cities for graduate school and work.
At first, a car seemed both prohibitively expensive and unnecessary, because she could walk or take public transportation. Then, she just decided she didn’t want one.
"I just kind of came to the realization that I didn’t need it," she said.
McVeigh uses public transportation to get to work and likes that she can spend her commute time reading or grading papers.
McVeigh also likes getting the extra exercise when she chooses to walk to work or to the grocery store, and is happy to be saving money and not adding any more pollution to the planet.
AdAge notices this trend and its connection to America's re-urbanization.
Mr. Draves, however, notes that the shift began well before the recession or the preceding run-up in gas prices. The real-estate markets most profoundly affected by the bursting housing bubble -- such as Las Vegas and other Sunbelt metro areas -- are boom towns built around highways with no substantial train transportation. Real-estate markets that have been less affected or quicker to recover include Boston and San Francisco, which have strong urban rail systems. In New Jersey, Connecticut, Boston, Denver and Chicago, housing prices near new or existing train stations have either been among the first to recover or have seen less depreciation during the bursting of the housing bubble.
In fact, Mr. Draves predicts a resurgence of urban living in denser housing surrounding train stations. As a result, suburban shopping malls and big-box stores such as Walmart, Target and club stores that rely on people hauling big purchases away in cars stand to suffer.
Perhaps one of the reasons young people don't desire cars anymore is that they don't view them the way their elders did.
Mad Men's Peter Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) is one of the most famous carfree people in Los Angeles. His take on the youth rejection of car ownership is that they are no longer a status symbol.
He recently told the NY Times...
They’ve done a study and they’ve found that people under 30 no longer view cars as status symbols or even positive things," Mr. Kartheiser said. "They look at them as pollutants."
Carfree life is also getting a boost by cities across the country who are setting up carfree day festivals based on Bogota's original Ciclovia (bikeway). New York City's first experiment with this back in 2008. It is now an annual thing and a real tourist draw. Carfree celebrations are now taking off around the world.
An entire movement is growing in the USA of Carfree People.
It's the new vegetarian.
Here is one of their main websites with links to groups around the country.
Folks who own a car but seeking guidance to the carfree lifestyle are picking up this excellent guide.
"How to Live Well Without Owning a Car: Save Money, Breathe Easier, and Get More Mileage Out of Life"
What do you think?
Would you ditch your car if you could? What would have to change in your community to make that possible?
Here's another interesting tool.
Find out your neighborhood's WalkScore. http://www.walkscore.com/
Most experts consider places with a score of 80 or above good areas for carfree living.