Honest Car Talk

July 16, 2012 by
Filed under: Car Stop 

The August, 2012 issue of Motor Trend has a somewhat surprising article, “is the automobile over?” The piece reports what has been reported elsewhere, namely that young people are showing a remarkable decrease in the desires to own a car and even to drive. Based on a Frontier Group study, “Transportation and the New Generation” by Benjamin Davis and Tony Dutzik, the article notes that

The share of 14-to 34-year olds without a driver’s license was 26% in 2010, up from 21% in 2000. . . The same age group walked to more destinations in ’09 than in ’01, and the distance it traveled by public transit increased 40 percent.

The interesting thing about this article is less the information than the tone. Motor Trend is a magazine for car enthusiasts. (Why do I subscribe to it, and to Car and Driver? I find cars interesting. I just don’t want to be forced to drive everywhere for lack of a comfortable, pleasant alternative). But the article does not wail and moan over young people’s move away from cars to other modes of transportation. Instead of concluding with a discussion of how to win Generation Y back to dependence on automobiles, it ends with the following paragraph:

We need a pretty frank and clear debate about what our transportation priorities are,” he (Dutzik) concludes. If Generation Y has its say, cars and new highways won’t be a big part of that priority.

Motor Trend appears to do what you might not expect a car mag to do, namely take a realistic approach. I am sure it knows that cars are not going to disappear. Car enthusiasts have no reason to panic. Rather, the question is whether we will have alternatives to cars, alternatives people actually want to use, including walking in neighborhoods built to traditional designs, cycling, streetcars and passenger trains. Generation Y is saying yes.

Isn’t it interesting that even a car magazine can be more balanced in its approach to transportation than the libertarian transit critics, who for all their talk of “freedom,” want to maintain a choiceless dependence on automobiles.

Mr. Lind serves as Director of The American Conservative Center for Public Transportation


7 Responses to “Honest Car Talk”

  1. el_longhorn says:

    Hard to ignore this trend anymore. Have you seen the miles driven chart that Calculated Risk posts every once in a while? That picture really is worth a thousand words.

  2. el_longhorn says:

    And one more comment, the older generation is also quickly realizing that it is a good idea to have a public transportation alternative, as they age and driving becomes riskier and more difficult. Anecdotally, my very conservative anti-government senior citizen uncle in the Dallas area thinks the light rail that gets him from his neighborhood to the VA hospital is a GREAT idea. He will pay taxes for that!

  3. […] “why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy.” The American Conservative ran something last month wherein Motor Trend called for a “clear debate about what our transportation […]

  4. I have driving license since 12 years, i could not imagine life without car. 3 months ago i quit a job and lost company car, i was going to buy my own but.. after three months without car my life changed. I started to use my own foot to travel, i started seeing old friends at bus stations, i feel better, i`m calmer

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  6. Pogrzeby says:

    Car give us some kind of freedom, but it also limit us. In big cities where communication is in high level passenger cars except Taxi should be forbidden. To much noise and to much gas emissions.

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