Monday, August 29, 2016

Like Peak Oil, "Peak Car" was wrong

Fourth Of July Holiday Weekend Travel To Be Busiest In At Least 16 Years
Dang, wrong again! Streetsblog brings the bad news (We’re Driving Our Cars More Than Everto the "alternative transportation mode" folks (Revisiting the Peak Car Debate):

...When we addressed the issue of long-term trends in vehicle travel in our 2013 report, A New Direction, we argued that America had reached the end of what we called the “Driving Boom.” 

We chose our words carefully, and what we meant by them was this: America had experienced a historical period from the end of World War II until sometime in the early 2000s in which an array of big societal forces had aligned to drive consistent, rapid increases in [motor]vehicle travel. That historical period, we argued, was over. What was going to come next was uncertain.

But we suspected that, whatever came next, vehicle travel over the long-term was unlikely, under then-foreseeable conditions, to exceed the level of per-capita vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) that prevailed in the peak year of 2004.

Fast forward to 2016, and we now find ourselves at the end of a second year of blistering growth in VMT, even by the standards of the “Driving Boom” era...

Even anti-car Planetizen is downbeat:

One of the key conclusions of peak car-style analysis is that our traditional transportation models are less effective at predicting the future than we’d assumed they were. If anything, the recent surge in VMT---which was just as surprising as the preceding fall, and came more suddenly---validates, rather than undercuts, that conclusion. If, every five years or so, forecasters find themselves saying “boy, we didn’t see that coming,” you really have to wonder whether forecasting trends 10, 20 or 30 years into the future has much utility at all in policy setting...

Yes, the value of "forecasting trends" is particularly useless when wishful thinking is your basic assumption.

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