Tag Archives: driving

The Recession From Which We May Never Recover

My parents went through the Great Depression. They were thrifty, to say the least, and we were recycling before we knew what the term meant. Curbing Cars (Cover)

Now, we and our children have been through another seminal economic event. Some call it the Great Panic, others the Great Recession.

No matter what you call it, the economic meltdown of 2007-2009 changed a lot of attitudes in the United States, including the way some people feel about the role of automobiles in our lives.

I look at the impact of the recession on driving in our new ebook. While it may not be the top factor why people are “driving light,” it’s definitely one of the considerations that plays into how they view cars.

The changes these consumers made during the worst of the recession have become permanent parts of their lives. Even as the stock market soared in 2013 and 2014, and as some economists declared that America had recovered (statistically at least), the feeling that all could be lost at any moment still resounds in a number of corners.

Read more about the economy and how it changed peoples’ attitudes in this excerpt from the book in Forbes.

You can buy Curbing Cars: America’s Independence From The Auto Industry at Amazon and Apple now.


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Filed under book, Driving, economy

A Stat To Ponder: Millennials And Driving

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

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. Continue reading

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Filed under Driving, student stories

You Offered Advice For Anne. Here’s What She’s Going To Do

Anne's 1998 Honda Civic. Will it stay or go?

Anne’s 1998 Honda Civic. Will it stay or go?

By Micheline Maynard

We had some wonderful responses to our request for Advice For Anne. She’s a Curbing Cars reader in Ann Arbor, Michigan, who asked for help as she figured out what to do about her 1998 Honda Civic.

Anne has read your suggestions, and here’s her message for everyone.

“Thank you to all the wonderful comments from the Curbing Cars readers.  They provided very helpful perspectives on going Car Free and very thought provoking ideas and experiences.

I am going to keep my car for now, but not use it except on rare occasions where a car is helpful – picking my friend up at the bus station, going to an appointment out of town, going to a friend’s house after the buses stop. Continue reading

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Filed under advice, Driving, public transportation

Can’t Bikes And Cars Just Get Along? Apparently, Not Yet

Chicago's bike lanes still result in bike-car conflict.

Chicago’s bike lanes still result in bike-car conflict.

By Micheline Maynard

Motorists and cyclists each have their own stories to tell about each other. Drivers complain that cyclists don’t obey traffic laws and dart out of nowhere without any warning. Cyclists feel like they have targets painted on their backs every time they’re out on the road.

Writing in Sunday’s New York Times, Daniel Duane tackled the situation in his op-ed piece, “Is It O.K. To Kill Cyclists?” Of course, the headline stretched things a bit. But for many of us, Duane nailed the issue in his lede paragraph.

“Everybody who knows me knows I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it,” he wrote.

After listing a bushel basket full of bike-car accidents, Duane made a salient point.

“The social and legal culture of the American road, not to mention the road itself, hasn’t caught up,” he wrote. “Laws in most states do give bicycles full access to the road, but very few roads are designed to accommodate bicycles, and the speed and mass differentials — bikes sometimes slow traffic, only cyclists have much to fear from a crash — make sharing the road difficult to absorb at an emotional level.” Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, Driving

Driving Is Dropping In Almost Every State: Is It Down In Yours?

By Micheline Maynard

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has been among those tracking the change in American driving habits. On Thursday, the group issued a new study showing that driving has dropped in almost every state.

What’s more, driving hasn’t rebounded along with the economy. The federal government recently released statistics for the first half of 2013 showing that people are spending less time on the road, even though unemployment is dropping and things are picking up.

According to the USPIRG study, driving is down in 46 states plus the District of Columbia since the driving peaks of 2004 and 2005.

Ten states showed double digit declines in driving: Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Georgia, Florida, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, D.C., Indiana and South Carolina.

Driving is up in just four states — Nevada, Louisiana, North Dakota and Alabama, according to USPIRG. One of the reason for the increase is that those states have experienced a flurry of economic activity, although in the case of Nevada and Louisiana, some of it was because of bad news. Continue reading

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Filed under Driving

We Mistakenly Think The Roads Are Safer. Why?

By Micheline Maynard

The American Automobile Association has a new survey that makes us scratch our heads. It says Americans perceive less of a threat from drunk driving, road rage and texting while driving, even though traffic fatalities have gone up.

AAA’s survey measures attitudes over the past four years. Some of the findings:

  • People  who consider drowsy driving a very
    serious threat declined from 71 percent in 2009 to 46 percent in 2012.
  • Those who believe that texting or emailing
    while driving is a very serious threat declined from 87 percent in 2009
    to 81 percent in 2012.
  • People admitting to texting while driving jumped to 26 percent, from 21 percent.

You can read my story about the survey at Forbes.com. Do you feel safer on the roads these days?

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My Transportation Diary: A Detailed Commute In Queens

By Micheline Maynard

Some people grow up driving, and find they change their ways once they move to the big city. Jason Reese, the director of strategic media at ArkNet Media in Garden City, New York, is one of them.

Here’s his contribution to My Transportation Diary. Check out his great photos and be sure to read all the way through for his detailed account.

Jason writes, “I am originally from rural eastern Tennessee, where the only way to reliably get anywhere is by car. Two years ago, I moved to Nassau County, Long Island to pursue graduate school. The town of Hempstead and its surrounding suburbs fall just outside of the borough of Queens and as such the NYC subway system.

The only reliable public transit option for local travel is the N.I.C.E. bus system, which is generally not so nice. As such, I kept my car for regular commutes to work and school, but often took the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) for trips into Manhattan.

Last week, I moved to Forest Hills in Queens, where I have a plethora of transit options available. Three blocks from my apartment are the E/F/M/R subway lines and a LIRR stop for Forest Hills, as well as several MTA bus connections. I still have my car, but to park in the garage around the block would be $300/month.

Parking around my apartment is metered 25 cents per 15 min from 9am-7pm and is very competitive outside those times, so I park free in a residential area about five blocks away.  Continue reading

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Filed under Curbing Cars, Driving, My Transportation Diary, public transportation, walking

My Transportation Diary: A Hodge-Podge Of Travel Habits

Up in Wisconsin, a fine ride.

Up in Wisconsin, a fine ride.

By Micheline Maynard

Aubrey Burleson-Sanford relies on a mix of transportation: he drives, is driven and relies on his bike.

Aubrey, a student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, checked in from Door County, Wisconsin, to share his transportation diary for last week. (That’s the Toyota Sienna he took to get to Wisconsin’s vacation land.)

Here’s how Aubrey puts it:

“My own car, a 2005 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is broken (busted transmission), so I have to use a hodgepodge of family and friends’ cars when I need a car.

I didn’t work or have class at all this weekend, so there’s not any sort of commuting pattern, but there are a few other patterns. I have a couple unusual key locations I go to and from, but it would be interesting to see how someone interprets this without knowing those.

(Editor’s note: We aren’t going to tell you what Aubrey is doing at some of these hours. We’ll let you guess.)

Looking at this, I wish I had biked more, but most of my traveling, since I didn’t really have any obligations, happened because I had a car and decided to go do such-and-such thing, instead of I needed to get to a thing and therefore got a car.  Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, My Transportation Diary, walking

My Transportation Diary: Driving And Cycling In North Carolina

By Micheline Maynard

We’ve launched a regular feature called My Transportation Diary, asking you to tell us how you get around. My Transportation Diary

It’s a great way to compare notes, see transportation trends in different parts of the country, and hear thoughts from people who are mixing up their transportation options.

In this episode, Dan Leinbach, who lives in North Carolina, shares his diary. He came to us through Jalopnik, the automotive enthusiast site, where Curbing Cars has a Kinja page. You’re welcome to read our posts and take part in the conversation. Dan’s Jalopnik screen name is Thunder.

Here’s Dan’s diary:

I work from home full-time.  I think the nearest office of my company is maybe Richmond, VA.  I’m in Apex, a suburb of Raleigh, NC.  My normal day consists of taking my daughter to school (about 2 miles each way); mid afternoon, she’s dropped back off at home.  Most evenings she has some kind of activity to attend, all very local.  Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, My Transportation Diary

Teens: What Would Get You Interested In Driving?

By Micheline Maynard

Driving is down five percent nationwide since 2004, and one of the biggest reasons is a significant drop in teens on the road. Only about 28 percent of 16-year-olds get their licenses, as we’ve told you before, and teens just don’t have the lust for automobiles that their parents and grandparents had.

The NPR logo

On Sunday afternoon, I talked about the quandary this poses for the carmakers on NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered. You can listen to the show here.

There are a lot of reasons why teens are getting licenses, but we’d like to hear from our young audience. Is there anything that would make you more interested in driving? Or is it just not on your radar?

One of my Twitter followers suggested that mobile phones fill the role that cars once did. True? And if we have any car buffs, we’d be happy to hear from you. Why do cars make your heart pound?


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Filed under Driving, media