Tag Archives: driving less

10 Big Transportation Ideas: Why Own When You Can Rent?

In 2008, Zipcar had 200,000 members. This year, it has more than four times that many as car sharing catches on.

In 2008, Zipcar had 200,000 members. This year, it has more than four times that many as car sharing catches on.

By Micheline Maynard

Back in 2009, just before General Motors filed for bankruptcy, I wrote a story for The New York Times called, “Industry Fears Americans May Quit New Car Habit.”

This was a very real concern for the Obama administration, which was in the midst of investing $82 billion in reviving two car companies and restructuring other parts of the auto industry.

The story included an interview with Scott Griffith, the CEO of a fledgling company called Zipcar, which rented cars to customers by the hour. In 2008, Zipcar had signed up 200,000 members. In 2009, the company was aiming for 300,000.

Flash forward to 2013. Zipcar was sold this spring to the Avis Budget Group for $500 million. Zipcar now has 810,000 members. And the opportunities for expanding its network seem boundless.

But Zipcar is far from the only car sharing company out there. As you can see from our car resources page, there are all manner of places, both for-profit and non-profit, allowing people to use a car for short periods of time. Continue reading


Filed under car sharing, Curbing Cars, Driving

10 Big Transportation Ideas: Why Teens Are Driving Less

My nephew, Parker J. Maynard, a 2013 graduate of Novi High School in Michigan.

My nephew, Parker J. Maynard, a 2013 graduate of Novi High School in Michigan.

By Micheline Maynard

I got my license the fall that I turned 16. I took driver’s ed from my high school during the summer, practiced a bit with my family, and then went down for my driving test. Voila! I was licensed to drive.

That was back in the 20th century, and getting a license isn’t that easy for many teens. For one thing, schools are by and large out of the driver’s ed business. And, many teens aren’t motivated to get their licenses, at least not the moment they are eligible. That’s one of the 10 big ideas we’re exploring at Curbing Cars. (See our previous story here.)

The latest statistics show that only 28 percent of 16-year-olds have their licenses. That’s down from 46 percent in 1983, according to federal state and an analysis by the University of Michigan.

The numbers go up after high school graduation. About 70 percent of 19-year-olds have their licenses. But that’s still down from 87 percent in 1983.

This is a factor in why driving is down for the overall population, one of the major issues we are studying at Curbing Cars.

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Filed under Curbing Cars, Driving

Curbing Cars: As Seen In Monday’s New York Times

By Micheline Maynard

You’ve come to the right place. This is the Curbing Cars project that was mentioned in Monday’s New York Times Wheels blog.

Jim Motavalli looks at the University of Michigan study that says driving has been declining in the United States since 2004. There are a number of reasons, which make up what we’re studying at Curbing Cars, and Jim called to ask me about it.

Here’s some of what I had to say:

In an interview, Micheline Maynard, former Detroit bureau chief for The New York Times and author of a coming book called “Curbing Cars: Rethinking How We Get Around,” said, “Driving is definitely down, though I would certainly not say the auto industry is going away. I think it can maintain 15-million annual sales years in the United States for some time to come, although some people were predicting we’d be at 20 million vehicles by now.”

If you’re interested in this all-important subject, please support our Kickstarter, which is providing seed money for our ebook and research. We’d also love to hear your personal stories about driving less. And thanks.

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Filed under Curbing Cars, Driving, Kickstarter

10 Big Transportation Ideas We’re Exploring At Curbing Cars

Photo courtesy of The Hubway.

Photo courtesy of The Hubway.

By Micheline Maynard

The Curbing Cars project is looking at one of the biggest changes in North American society in the past century: rethinking our use of automobiles.

We’re starting with an ebook. You can help by making a pledge to our Kickstarter. We’ve already heard from almost 50 people who believe in what we’re doing.

But maybe you aren’t familiar with what’s happening beyond your community. You’ve never rented a Zipcar, or taken a ride on a Citi Bike. As for walking to the office, that’s not going to happen.

Over the next few days, we’ll talk about the 10 Big Transportation Ideas we’re exploring at Curbing Cars. That will help you get a handle on our work, and understand how significantly things are changing.

1) People are driving less.
According to a new University of Michigan study, the number of miles driven in the United States is down 5 percent since it peaked in 2006. The average miles driven per driver, the average distance, and the number of vehicle driven per vehicle are all down. Continue reading


Filed under Curbing Cars, Driving

Welcome To Curbing Cars!

Curbing Cars LogoBy Micheline Maynard

For more than a century, automobiles have been at the center of American life. They provided mobility, freedom, pizzazz and of course, millions of jobs. Since the Great Recession, however, people have begun to rethink the ways they get around.

Some are simply driving less, or switching from big vehicles to smaller ones. Others are downsizing their family fleets, either because their kids have moved out, or they can’t afford as many vehicles.  People are trying out bike sharing programs, like the ones in New York, Chicago and very soon, San Francisco. Car sharing systems and ride sharing systems are growing in popularity.

Nobody is quite sure yet whether this is a fad or a significant social change. But Curbing Cars is making it our mission to find out.

Welcome to our project. We’d like to know whether you’re changing the way you get around, or just wonder what it means for the auto industry. Come back any time to share your ideas.

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