“Young people” today — that’s 16- to 34-year-olds, so Grist List qualifies — drive less than they did 10 years ago. Between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles that us young’uns spent tooling around in a car dropped by almost 25 percent, from 10,300 miles per capita to 7,900.
That’s according to a new study from the Frontier Group, a California-based research group, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report also found that we take 40 percent more transit trips and 24 percent more bike trips. In other words, we rock at shifting transportation preferences.
The reports cites a few reasons for this change, but to me it boils down to two explanations, one of which I buy and one of which I believe not at all. The first one — the one I buy — is that young people are choosing to live in cities or dense communities with access to public transportation. Yes, we are! Because those places are awesome to live in.
The second explanation is that people with access to Gchat and Facebook do not need to drive to see their friends. This idea is drawn from, I believe, one survey that Zipcar did awhile ago, which found that young people were more likely than older people to agree that sometimes they used the internet to communicate with their friends instead of driving to see them.
I don’t really think this is why we are driving less, though. I mean, sure, young people use the internet more than old people. We’ve all spent time Gchatting our friends at work instead of driving to see them, right? But no person of my acquaintance has ever said anything like “Hey, let’s hang out! What do you want to do, meet for coffee or get on video Gchat?” They’re different activities!
Maybe it’s time to revive the “Don’t trust anyone over 30” rule, except make it “anyone over 35.” They’ll try and hustle you into a car, and if you say “want to bike instead?” they’ll try and text you a Facebook message in a weird attempt to show that they “get it.”