Do cars = freedom? Maybe not as much as they used to

Interesting stuff:

There is also growing research that younger generations do not relate to the automobile as enabling “freedom.” Instead, their electronic and social media devices–whether a smart phone, small lap top computer, music player, etc.–provide an alternate means for self expression and being free to do what they want. In the United States, kilometers driven by 18-34 year olds is declining, and this is likely the case in Canada as well (Neff, 2010). Younger generations seem to have less interest in automotive use, making apartment living in dense, walkable and transit-oriented urban areas a more natural fit for their lifestyles.
Treehugger, quoting a study by GWL Realty Advisors

This isn’t universal by any means, but there does appear to be a growing demographic (perhaps more noticeable amongst the younger generations) who don’t want cars, particularly in the gentrified inner-city areas well-served by public transport and where there is plenty of nearby amenity in easy reach by walking or cycling.

After all, if you live in the inner-city, and you work in the inner-city, and all your friends live in the inner-city, and you like to go places in the inner-city, and the inner-city is plagued by traffic congestion and high parking costs and PT/walking/cycling is a viable option for most trips, why would you bother spending the money to have a car? You can probably find other things to spend your money on.

The opposite is true, of course, in other areas where car culture pervades. Like, well, Fountain Gate, and many outer suburbs where you really do have to have a car to get by.

(Spotted via Human Transit)

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

16 replies on “Do cars = freedom? Maybe not as much as they used to”

If I could do without a car, I probably would. The up side of this is that I prefer living in the outer suburbs and would ideally live in the country and even though this necessitates driving, it’s mostly on country roads, which are roughly several thousand times more pleasant than suburban ones.

The quote you provided is quite fascinating and definitely offers food for thought.

Daniel, nice try, but it won’t work! By posing the question whether cars offer freedom, and submitting some “study” or “report” that in actual fact, a survey of young African-American-Asian hermaphrodite puppeteer origamists aged 13.7 to 27.8 living in sub-Arctic tundras in Siberia think catching public transport is more liberating that driving a car, will change our minds about our driving habits- try again! No one else will influence me about how I get about- driving is the easiest and most convenient method of travel for me! Sure, I live in Dandenong North, so it’s easier for me, but that’s irrelevant! If I want to drive- I’ll drive, and that goes for everyone else too!

If you prefer public transport- great, and good luck to you! I hope Ted does a better job at PT than Bracksby did, and hope our services improve! But a person’s mode of travel is their own personal choice- we don’t need to be nannied or mentally manipulated by studies or surveys conducted by bored demographers! I know your dislike of automotive travel Daniel, but I think you’ll just have to get used to the fact that about half of us are more inclined to drive, and the other half are more inclined to use PT! Think of it this way- you ought to appreciate us drivers, as we take the burden off the PT system, thereby allowing more people to use it!

I want whatever drugs Andrew V is on :-)

But seriously as people get older they get lazier it’s a natural thing, when I was young I loved taking poublic transport and didn’t mind walking long distances to the train station or bus stop, now I’d rather take the car. Also my generation was told PT was for people who couldn’t afford a car like public telephones were for people who didn’t have a phone in the house (public phones were everywhere in suburban streets).
To change attitudes fuel will have to be much more expensive, as much as people think it’s expensive it’s cheaper than ever compared to income growth.

Haha. Andrew V’s reaction to this piece is quite hilarious!

Interesting but not overly surprising study. At least, not surprising to a Gen Y-er that lives in the inner suburbs where it takes about half the time to travel by train to work or ride my bike to most the other places I wish to visit….

To me a car is just a very big expense that I can’t justify for the one or two trips a week where it is more convenient than riding or catching public transport.

(and no one else will influence me about how I get about!)

I want to drive to work, but there’s no parking. Just 1P and 4P all over. I’m forced to take (very convenient) public transport (trains, tram AND bus!). I’d still rather drive. Cuts my commute in half, and I can actually buy things (try carrying big boxes on public transport).

Like most people, I drive most of the time but I’ll take public transport if it’s cheaper or more convenient than driving. I spent several years commuting to work by train because it took the same time as driving but worked out at half the price once I’d paid for parking. The few times I drove in, it was much more stressful than the train.

These days I only take the bus if I’m going to be drinking – it’s no fun being the designated driver all the time. The buses round here are terrible so I use them as little as possible.

“Younger generations seem to have less interest in automotive use, making apartment living in dense, walkable and transit-oriented urban areas a more natural fit for their lifestyles.”

Wishful thinking. While this guy and his inner-city friends might think they are the only people in the world, they are not.

Andrew V opines that public transport users ought to appreciate car drivers like him a bit more, because they “take the burden off the PT system, thereby allowing more people to use it”.

I don’t appreciate car drivers when it means that the government pays more attention to the road lobby than to public transport users, and finds the means to embark on new freeway projects while much-needed new rail lines rarely get off the drawing board.

I don’t appreciate car drivers when I’m the lone passenger on a bus, listening to the bus driver give the ominous news that the bus route may one day be shut down because more and more people are turning away from it and taking to their cars instead. It doesn’t seem to occur to the transport planners that it’s precisely *because* the bus service is so infrequent that fewer and fewer people are using it.

I don’t appreciate car drivers when I’m in a tram that’s crawling through traffic, unable to move because of all the cars waiting to turn right in front of it.

And I certainly don’t appreciate car drivers when they fail to stop as I’m getting off the tram, sometimes missing me by mere centimetres!

I’ve never driven a car (although I’m a little older than the demographic than the writer of the original article above had in mind). I also grew up in a family that didn’t have a car. The furthest out of the Melbourne CBD I’ve ever lived was 20km, although I currently live about 8km out. I manage perfectly well without a car: I walk, I take public transport (at night time too), and I cycle a little, although I’m a bit of a nervous cyclist in traffic. On rare occasions I’ll take a taxi. Most people who live in the inner suburbs of Melbourne who say “But I need my car” are deluding themselves. They may *want* a car, but most of them don’t *need* it. I’m proof of that.

And in case anyone is wondering: no, I don’t cadge lifts from family and friends. I’ll accept a lift if it’s offered, provided the driver isn’t going out of their way, but I’d never ask for one: I manage very well on my own. I’m probably inside a car less than a dozen times a year – and some of those are taxis.

I am quite dubious about the proposition that people drive less.
When I was first a university student, I was one of a fairly low proportion of students with a car. Almost none of the female students had a car and most of them could not drive.
When I was second a university student, the most noticeable thing was that everybody was driving. What was noticeable was that all the female students had taken up driving.
It would be interesting to see real statistics about what proportion of 20-year-olds have a license compared to 10,20 or 30 years ago.

Wow, Andrew V is totally losing the plot! Not even sure why he bothers reading this blog if it upsets him so much.

However, I do agree that people may use the transport system they prefer, but when it comes to my tax dollars at work, I want it spent on what is going to benefit the greatest number, not the self important tools with an overwhelming sense of entitlement.

Grant, wasn’t gonna revisit this, but have to set the record straight! I don’t have a problem with Daniel at all- I disagree with him on a number of things, but we are a free society, and free to disagree with one another. I actually support Daniel’s Public Transport advocacy, even if I don’t use it myself. I am someone who wants the best for this city, state and country, and I know PT is a significant part of it! Indeed, I hope Premier Baillieu ( I love saying that ) can address the issues properly. Only time will tell.

By the way, don’t people appreciate sarcasm anymore? I was trying to point to the fact that the poll Daniel referred to was some obscure poll by some obscure researchers, so I merely embellished the thing- IT WAS A JOKE!!! Maybe I’ve been listening to Dennis Miller too long (former SNL Weekend Update host, now radio host who uses obscure references in his humour).

What I was trying to point out is that Daniel has a habit, and he probably won’t admit to it, of posting columns every now and then trying to convince everyone that driving isn’t really all that it’s cracked up to be- high petrol prices, peak oil, people don’t believe it’s liberating, etc, and that people should only really use PT instead. I don’t begrudge anyone using PT, but I don’t need to be nannied on how I should travel- that should be up to the individual and his needs, whether it be train, tram, bus, car, plane, or foot! I don’t need to agree with Daniel all the time, on some things we do, but I only challenge him when I feel he has something incorrect, not when I necessarily disagree. I actually like reading his posts, sometimes to challenge my own beliefs. There, I’ll put it to rest now, and move on!

Like I said Andrew, you missed the point. I wasn’t trying to convince anybody to do anything, nor was I trying to claim everybody’s doing what was cited in the study. I’m just saying there’s a particular demographic which appears to be moving in a particular direction. I’m not part of it, you’re not part of it, Enno’s not part of it, and nor are most people in Melbourne, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

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