Stay on the train, or join the traffic? Some young adults are rejecting cars.
Isaac just turned 18. (Yeah, I know.)
Anyway, I was talking to him about getting a photo ID that shows his age, so (if he should choose to) he can exercise his rights as an adult.
Many his age would get a Learner’s permit as part of learning to drive. But he has zero interest in doing that — in fact he has firmly said he doesn’t want it. And I’m not about to argue against that. Not me, who likes to avoid driving, and who didn’t get a driver’s licence until the age of 27.
I wonder if not being interested in driving is becoming a Thing?
Looks like it might be in some circles.
Young people are shying away from getting their driver’s licence because they are keeping in touch with their friends online rather than in person, a new (US) study has found.
– Fairfax Drive: Young people choose computers over cars
What, Facebook is killing cars? Surely not — at least, not on its own — though it does seem that my kids go and visit their friends less than I used to when I was a teenager.
The article continues:
The figures tally with some recent Australian findings, which show that public transport use is booming as car use declines.
Twenty years ago, almost four out of five people between the ages of 20 and 24 had their full licence. By 2009, that figure had fallen to 51 per cent.
Social analyst David Chalke says that in Australia the increasing number of young people attending university for long periods of time in major metropolitan areas means that cars are more of a hassle than a convenience.
“With kids staying at university for longer, they’re more likely to want an iPad than a car,” Chalke says.
He says mobile devices mean people can also use their travelling time more effectively on public transport.
Good point, that last one. And Mr Chalke also notes that university life doesn’t mix well with cars — at many campuses, parking is expensive or scarce or both.
This trend ties in with some parts of the USA:
The latest generation of young adults has more alternatives to the car, Sheryl Connelly (Futurologist at Ford) suggests. Cities such as Portland, Oregon, have successfully encouraged far greater bike use, while public transport is far better in some places than 30 years ago.
“The car doesn’t hold the same imagery that it did in the Sixties or Seventies,” she says.
…and it seems to be borne out in other western countries as well:
The ﬁndings indicate that since the turn of the millennium, access to cars, measured in terms of drivers’ licences and household car ownership, has decreased in most study countries—especially for men. Moreover, average daily car travel distance has decreased in most study countries, again especially for men. In France, Japan, and most signiﬁcantly in the USA, the decrease in car travel has led to a reduction in total everyday travel by young travellers. In Great Britain, the decline in car travel was partly, and in Germany fully, compensated by an increased use of alternative modes of transport.
Obviously there are a lot of factors, and it’s only a specific demographic, but I think this makes some sense.
If you live in a walkable neighbourhood, if your friends and the places you go are either local or easily accessible by bike or public transport, then why would you be interested in cars, especially given the costs of running them?
Opting out of using a parent’s car as well? That’s a step further that I find that really interesting.
In many cities, including Melbourne, of course it’s going to be different in different areas. We in Bentleigh do have a walkable suburb, with no roads more than 4 lanes in total (certainly no freeways), mostly straight and easily navigable streets, few cul-de-sacs and while the buses are nothing special, the trains run every 10 minutes every day of the week.
But some suburbs are really pedestrian-hostile, with very wide fast roads to cross, little within walking distance, and appalling public transport. I really doubt the reluctance to join motordom is a Thing in most outer suburbs.
- A previous blog post on this topic — where one commenter thought that by my documenting of a possible pattern, I was somehow trying to convince him to stop driving. Ummm…
- And the ID card? That’s the next post.