Streetsblog's fistful of straws
The hed on Monday's story in Streetsblog: Cities Lead the Way as U.S. Car Commuting Takes Historic Downturn. The writer desperately searched 2013 census data for evidence that Americans are turning away from those wicked motor vehicles:
The decline is small in number, but in the scheme of things, it’s huge: New census data out last week show car commuting among Americans is finally, after decades of growth, starting to reverse itself.
Driving to work is still the predominant mode to a depressing extent. Almost nine in 10 Americans get to work by car and about three in four drive alone. But those numbers are beginning to fall.
Since 1960, the percent of Americans driving to work rose from 64 percent to a high of 87.9 percent in 2000. Since then, it has declined slightly but meaningfully to 85.8 percent. The percent of the population commuting by car ticked down again in 2013, the latest year for which numbers are available.
Even solo car commuting is down from its high in 2010 of 76.6 percent. Despite a precipitous decline in carpooling, solo car commuting was down to 76.4 percent in 2013, after two decades of rapid growth.
This biased reporting was too much even for Streetsblog's readers. A comment to the story:
Title says this: Cities Lead the Way as U.S. Car Commuting Takes Historic Downturn. Data says the following:
2010 Solo Car Commuting: 76.6 percent.
2013 Solo Car Commuting: 76.4
Where is the historic downturn? 0.02% is a "Historic Downturn"?
The link the story provides to the ACS report has more "depressing" news for Streetsblog: only 0.6% in the US commute on bikes!
From the report:
In recent years, the percentage of workers who commute by private vehicle remained relatively stable after decades of consistent increase. For several individual years since the mid-2000s, the average number of vehicle miles traveled in the United States has either increased at a slower pace than in previous decades or declined.
What happened in "the mid-2000s"? The Great Recession, during which of course people drove less.
Calculated Risk provides more recent data from the Department of Transportation on driving in the US. Not surprisngly, people are driving more as the economy recovers:
Also see Randal O'Toole's Peak Automobile?