By Micheline Maynard
US PIRG, the advocacy group that has been studying the decline in driving, sent us a copy of their latest study. It looks at the role that universities are playing in creating more-walkable communities, and reducing their dependence on automobiles.
“Americans aged 16 to 34 years of age reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research based on the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration that is included in the study.”
Granted, the numbers are a little old (2009 was five years ago, believe it or not) but that’s a pretty stunning figure. It’s the millennial generation that car companies are expecting to fill in behind the baby boomers in car purchases. And if millennials are driving less, it’s less likely that they’ll be interested in car ownership, or at least at the rate that their parents owned cars.
The report itself is worth a read. It looks at how universities are providing a wider range of transportation choices. These include buses, biking, various types of vehicle-sharing such as Zipcar, and apps that make it easier to navigate the options.
One of the benefits is that universities don’t have to invest in increasingly expensive parking facilities. In fact, a number of universities are finding ways to keep students from bringing cars to campus at all. There’s another impact from a wide variety of transportation choices. Students and young people are likely to look at transportation as a portfolio of options, and work them into their lives. Of course, there are plenty of students who have cars, but many say they’d like to be able to get around without them, if the options are available.
Our Curbing Cars intern, Matthew Varcak, recently looked at how Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus in order to encourage walking and biking.
Do you think college campuses can play a key role in shaping transportation tastes? What are things like at your school? Be sure to read all of our student stories for a taste of what’s happening out there.