Over the last decade – after 60-plus years of steady increases – the number of miles driven by the average American has been falling. Young Americans have experienced the greatest changes: driving less; taking transit, biking and walking more; and seeking out places to live in cities and walkable communities where driving is an option, not a necessity.
…Millennials (those born between 1983 and 2000) are the nation’s largest generation, making their transportation needs particularly important. They have the most to gain or lose from the transportation investment decisions we make today, as they will be affected by those investments for decades to come. If Millennials drive fewer miles than previous generations as they age – and if future generations of young people follow suit – America will have an opportunity to reap the benefits of slower growth in driving. These include reduced traffic congestion, fewer deaths and injuries on the roads, reduced expenditures for highway construction and repair, and less pollution of our air and climate.
This makes a lot of sense! First up, I live in the internet age. Many of my closest friends live near me, and I see in person frequently. Still many of my best friends live far away from me. Take my compatriots on The Squirrel Report, Jay used to live locally, but I met him online, Breda and Alan live in Ohio and Texas, and I was friends with them for years before I finally met them…yet they were indeed friends. I have several people I consider good friends who I have NEVER met in person, thanks to the internet.
Then comes cultural things. The wife and I had our honeymoon in Burmuda. It’s a damn tiny island in the middle of the Atlantic. I got to asking the locals if they found being in stuck in such a small area an issue. To my surprise many said they not only were they not bothered by being confined to such a small island, but that they rarely left their part of the island. A similar story was at a friend’s wedding. There was a rather magnanimous dude in a full dress kilt in the wedding party. As you might expect he was from Scotland. He was a talkative chap and we talked about a number of things, but the interesting story that goes with this post is his comment on drunk driving in America. See in the UK most people live and work in the same town, and at the end of the day they go to the corner pub. At last call, drunk as they may be, they simply walk home as they live right there.
Now fast forward to this weekend, of course I was snowed in at my parents place in Maine, still I was reading articles in a local magazine about the fancy restaurants in town. My home town has become quite the foodie place, and I’ve enjoyed the crap out of that when I’m home for the Holidays. Still it’s not like Maine is any different than anyplace else. My town in Mass is full of great eating establishments, and I assume that most places are the same.
All of this translates to less travel. My cousin in the very Northern part of Maine would talk about driving late at night down to Bangor, which is over 100 miles from where he lives to get food. Those days are over. Now you can find any dining you want just up the street. Why drive and burn time and gasoline when you can just walk up the street?
All of this translates to less time on the road, and less of the bad things that happen on the road.
But remember, guns are the problem…because we can’t look at facts that don’t fit the narrative!