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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 7:42 PM
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America Still Loves Cars, But Some Cities Are Starting to Ditch Them

America Still Loves Cars, But Some Cities Are Starting to Ditch Them


DECEMBER 5, 2017

BY MIKE MACIAG

Read More: http://www.governing.com/topics/tran...ds-cities.html

Car Ownership in U.S. Cities Data and Map: http://www.governing.com/gov-data/ca...-city-map.html

Quote:
.....

The vast majority of Americans aren’t ready to ditch their vehicles. According to the latest Census Bureau estimates, only 8.7 percent of U.S. households reported not having any vehicles available last year. That’s actually down slightly from a year ago and is at about the same level as before the Great Recession.

- A stronger economy explains, in part, the small decline in car-free households. Demographics, fuel prices and where people live -- more Americans are migrating from cities to less dense suburbs -- also play a role in whether a household goes car-free. Still, many individual cities are seeing more of their residents forgo vehicle ownership. Several mid-sized cities recorded notable increases in shares of car-free households when averages from the 2015 and 2016 American Community Surveys are compared with those for 2009 and 2010.

- In other cities, only 1 or 2 percent of the population might forego car ownership. That largely has to do with whether or not it's feasible to get around without an automobile. More suburban settings typically offer few transit options or aren’t conducive to walking. It’s also a matter of demographics. In some neighborhoods, residents simply can’t afford all the costs that come with vehicle ownership. Poverty rates have a strong negative correlation with numbers of vehicles per household. Younger couples and one-person households are less car-dependent as well.

Mid-sized cities include:

Paterson, N.J.: The city of about 147,000 is one of the most densely populated in the country, making getting around without a car much more practical than other places. Its large immigrant population, which often lacks access to cars, is another possible reason for its lower reliance on automobiles. A third of city households are without vehicles, up from an estimated average of 29.5 percent in 2009-2010.

New Haven, Conn.: About 30 percent of New Haven households are without access to vehicles, an increase from about 27 percent in 2009-2010. Part of the reason so many residents can go car-free stems from the city’s fairly residential downtown and pedestrian-friendly street grid layout. New Haven’s high poverty rate is also a likely contributing factor, with many families unable to afford cars.

Davenport, Iowa: Car-free households are somewhat less prevalent in Davenport than a lot of other cities, but they're growing. The city has one of the smallest population densities of any larger city, so it's not surprising that only about 5 percent of its households were without vehicles in 2009-2010. But that's since ticked up to about 8.5 percent.

Elizabeth, N.J.: Elizabeth is one of the more densely populated U.S. cities, making it easier to go car-free in the city. The share of households without vehicles increased from an average of 24 percent in 2009-2010 to 27 percent in 2015-1016. One possible explanation is that the city’s poverty rate remains slightly higher than it was the first few years of the recession.

Peoria, Ill.: Car-free households have similarly proliferated in Peoria. Census estimates suggest that nearly 16 percent of households there are without vehicles, up from approximately 12 percent in 2009-2010.

.....



Most of the cities where households rely least on vehicles are older Northern cities, particularly those in the New York metropolitan area. The following jurisdictions with populations exceeding 100,000 recorded the highest percentages of households without access to any vehicles last year


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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 8:15 PM
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That's great info.

The stats show a lot of variation between 2015 and 2016 on a per-city basis. I guess even the Census Dept. ACS surveys don't cover enough people to be really precise. But they should all be in the ballpark. My real question is whether a change year-to-year is really a change, or a statistical wobble.

I wish we had info on incomes or net worth for the people in each city that have or don't have cars. City average/median stats are almost worthless for drawing conclusions.

I'd like to understand how specific demographics affect the stats. For example Cambridge is great, but how much of those stats are college students, and what's the percentage for households led by someone above a certain age? What's Newark's number for people above a certain income level? Or the flipside...what's the median income for people without cars in Newark vs. people with cars in Newark?

PS, what about car ownership suggests a love for cars? Do we also love our vacuum cleaners, since most of us have them?
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 9:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post

PS, what about car ownership suggests a love for cars? Do we also love our vacuum cleaners, since most of us have them?
While most cars are point A to point B appliances, is there an enthusiast culture surrounding vacuum cleaners? If there is, I am not aware of it. Maybe not on SSP but most people do love their cars and take pride in them...meanwhile the vacuum gets tossed in the closet.

In places like New York, San Francisco and areas with little space to park them at night, they are a liability and a pain in the ass to own but for 98% of the rest of the country, they are still preferred way to go.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 9:28 PM
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Yep, most of the country you cannot live without a car without hardship. Plus most people just like the freedom they give you.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 9:51 PM
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You could also not own a vehicle and still have access to vehicles if you car share.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 10:52 PM
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Zipcar etc is a good model for people that only need access to a car once or twice a week or less, but it's not much use for people that need a car for a daily trip to work.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 11:01 PM
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While most cars are point A to point B appliances, is there an enthusiast culture surrounding vacuum cleaners? If there is, I am not aware of it. Maybe not on SSP but most people do love their cars and take pride in them...meanwhile the vacuum gets tossed in the closet.
Is there evidence of how many people love their cars or take pride in them? Or are you projecting?

There's evidence that some people do, as you say. But I haven't seen evidence that it's a majority.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 11:43 PM
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Cities don't ditch cars. People do. San Francisco is a good example. For years now the city has been trying to push people out of private cars by making it ever more annoying to own one. What they haven't done is make public transit really attractive to use. So the result has been traffic that gets ever worse as vehicular lanes are converted to use by bikes and made the exclusive zone for the ever more passenger-unfriendly busses. Also, there are already more vehicles in the city than legal parking spaces so people park every which way, blocking more lanes and providing the city a steady source of revenue in parking fines on which they now have come to depend.

It's no accident Uber and Lyft come to you from San Francisco. The city long ago caved to its taxi operators and too-stringently limited the number of medallions making taxis a not very practical alternative to car owning. But the need is there and private enterprise has filled it. But now the grandees are complaining about how many Uber and Lyft vehicles roam the street and blame THEM for the traffic that is now crammed into one lane where it used to have 2.

And the city is about to do a little more entrepreneuring: An app like the ones that tell you where the traffic is bad except this one tells you where there's an open parking space (if you can beat everyone else with the same app to it). At the same time, the city is now immitating Amazon or the airlines by varying parking meter rates by time of day and how busy the location is.

When it comes to public transit, you feel like a fool actually paying to ride because so many people don't. And the drivers sit stoney-faced rooted to their seats at the wheel, pretending not to notice anything from fare evasion to murder happening behind them. To notice would be dangerous and their union tells them they are paid to drive; nothing more. As a passenger, you can enjoy your ride, if you survive it, sitting next to an unwashed street person staying out of the cold and wet on the bus all day long. And you'll get to breathe the germs emmitted by your fellow passengers crammed in tighter than sardines.

The bottom line for all this: Some people find they can live with a combination of transit, Uber/Lyft and car sharing (ZipCar etc) and have given up owning their own. Some haven't yet gotten to that point. My best friend in the city doesn't own a vehicle but still won't ride busses (he will ride rail transit) because of the horrors. I have a scooter for trips away from downtown, on the edge of which I live, but no car (my condo has a parking garage). And when I need to carry a passenger or more cargo than the scooter will carry, I belong to ZipCar which keeps several vehicles in my building garage.
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Old Posted Dec 10, 2017, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonesy55 View Post
Zipcar etc is a good model for people that only need access to a car once or twice a week or less, but it's not much use for people that need a car for a daily trip to work.
For that there's Chariot:

[img]Chariot is a commuter shuttle service owned by the privately held firm Chariot Transit Inc. that is currently in the process of being acquired by the Ford Motor Company. The company's mobile-phone application allows passengers to ride a shuttle between home and work during commuting hours. Chariot currently operates in several neighborhoods of San Francisco, and plans to expand rapidly to other cities in the United States. New routes are determined based on demographic information and crowdsourced data.[1][2][/img]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chariot_(company)



Chariot routes


Imagine: A guaranteed seat! No invasion of your space! Drivers who make sure everybody who rides pays so no street people or misbehaving teens!
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 12:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Is there evidence of how many people love their cars or take pride in them? Or are you projecting?

There's evidence that some people do, as you say. But I haven't seen evidence that it's a majority.
How am I projecting when I say most people take pride in their cars? How is this even a debate? If we truly treated them as a dishwasher, why drop $80k on an Audi S7? Either buy a no frills Corolla or take the bus. The car culture is huge as well as people's affinity towards them, their own or in general. Other than not be able to shop, my 93 year-old grandmother complains most about not being able to drive and my other grandmother who passed way last year at 94 missed her old Toyota.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 12:25 AM
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The car culture is well and alive. A lot of people don't want to take the bus. For long distances, train is acceptable, but for short distances or intermediate distances, the car is still the way to go.

Cars are loved for the privacy and privilege of having one. The U.S. as a whole bar a few select places has very bad transit options. Cars provide the means to get around the landscape that we have built. Even in cities, with the exception of a select-few, the car is still the way to go.

The presence of business and job-centers outside of your transit friendly core also fuels the need for vehicle ownership.

And yes, people take pride in cars. That's why one buys a Benz or an Audi or drops all that cash. For most, 40k is a big investment, so rest assured they take pride in their investment.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 12:32 AM
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I love my car.

I don't love paying for my car.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 12:37 AM
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I think the perception of the car culture dwindling could be influenced by where you live. For example, if you live in D.C. , SF or NYC, which generally have a much better climate when it comes to transit and how its integrated onto the grid, you might be forgiven for thinking that the rest of the U.S. is like that. A bubble per say. But all you have to do is travel outside of our friendly transit "coastal" cities, and for the most part, you are left with a system that is heavily relying on an automobile.

Just look at the link that harbors the title of the OP. They pick a Manhattan street as the illustration. The percentages presented in the second link I'd argue is not enough to proclaim that cities are ditching them. If would have to be a much higher percentage year after year over a long term period to state that cities are ditching them.

Also, some of those cities on that list are heavily reliant on the bus. Paterson NJ for example is not what I'd call a rich place. Some places listed also have the luck of being near one of those select few coastal cities. 10-20% is not an effective lead indicator with this trend. A 2.4% change from 2015 to 2016 is negligible. Also with Paterson NJ, there is a heavy undocumented population (just drive around the place to see what I mean).
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 12:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
How am I projecting when I say most people take pride in their cars? How is this even a debate? If we truly treated them as a dishwasher, why drop $80k on an Audi S7? Either buy a no frills Corolla or take the bus. The car culture is huge as well as people's affinity towards them, their own or in general. Other than not be able to shop, my 93 year-old grandmother complains most about not being able to drive and my other grandmother who passed way last year at 94 missed her old Toyota.
Yeah you weren't projecting, you were using common sense that doesn't need some random study to back up your claims.


https://www.freep.com/story/money/ca...2016/96153138/
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 1:42 AM
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How am I projecting when I say most people take pride in their cars? How is this even a debate? If we truly treated them as a dishwasher, why drop $80k on an Audi S7? Either buy a no frills Corolla or take the bus. The car culture is huge as well as people's affinity towards them, their own or in general. Other than not be able to shop, my 93 year-old grandmother complains most about not being able to drive and my other grandmother who passed way last year at 94 missed her old Toyota.
This isn't logical at all.

Do most people pay $80k? Even then, is it comfort or love/pride?

Lacking any evidence, I'm assuming that you're projecting.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 1:44 AM
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Yeah you weren't projecting, you were using common sense that doesn't need some random study to back up your claims.


https://www.freep.com/story/money/ca...2016/96153138/
I'm amazed that you think this is evidence. Back to the vacuum cleaner analogy...how is "love" or "pride" involved in car sale stats?
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 2:13 AM
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Um, most people DO buy a no frills Corola or Civic or Focus or whatever. Pretty sure many more of those are sold each year compared to $80k Audi S7s...out of the 17.5 million above, how many are luxury/fancy/sports/etc compared to workaday? Most people buy cars because they need a car, not because they're some car enthusiast.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 3:10 AM
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I'm amazed that you think this is evidence. Back to the vacuum cleaner analogy...how is "love" or "pride" involved in car sale stats?
I didn't say it was evidence and I'm sorry I forgot I was on SSP. I made the assumption that the discussion would understand that the picture was provided to show that Americans are buying cars at record rates despite the OP that states that some cities are starting to 'ditch' them. Despite the trend to ditch cars, Americans continue to buy cars -- at an all time record.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 3:11 AM
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I drive a Nissan Altima because I just don't give a shit. It's gray. I walk into a parking lot and it's not unusual to see no less than four of my exact same car. I assure you, those people aren't taking any more pride in theirs than I am in mine. Glorified vacuum cleaner is right.

Of course there's a car culture, too. I remember living in California years ago when I was a 20something driving a Subaru WRX. I just thought it looked sexy but I didn't race it or care about its specs or anything. But it got a lot of praise that I thought was sorta weird. I remember walking out of a store and getting into the car when someone ran up to me and asked if I wanted to hang out with the other WRX owners at a Barnes and Noble parking lot every Friday night. "No one around here has a red one!" But even then, as a 25 year old with a very "cool" car, I was still 10000% more interested in getting drunk and trying to get laid than I was sitting around talking about carburetors or whatever. And obviously with age I care less and less about how my car looks.

All that said, I'm biased- like most people here- because I would give it up if I could. But the next time I work at a building that's NOT on some type of restricted access campus/base will be the first time in over a decade. And while there's some commuter rail with an employer shuttle service at the office I work at now, I often have to meet people in other places in the metro area for meetings and coordination. Not having a car simply isn't an option. It's an appliance that I need, period.
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Old Posted Dec 11, 2017, 3:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JManc View Post
How am I projecting when I say most people take pride in their cars? How is this even a debate? If we truly treated them as a dishwasher, why drop $80k on an Audi S7? Either buy a no frills Corolla or take the bus. The car culture is huge as well as people's affinity towards them, their own or in general. Other than not be able to shop, my 93 year-old grandmother complains most about not being able to drive and my other grandmother who passed way last year at 94 missed her old Toyota.
Nobody would buy a coat unless they lived in a place that required them to wear a coat. For people who do live in cold places, some may spend a couple of thousand to buy one, and some may spend $50. But nobody would buy a coat at any price point if they didn't need to have one.
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