Portland Ranks 11th in US Carfree Cities
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Car ownership in the nation per household, per person and per driver has been declining for years, according to the new study by Michael Sivak from The University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. And households without cars have increased across the nation from 8.7 percent in 2007 to 9.2 percent in 2012, the report, entitled Has Motorization in the U.S. Peaked? makes clear.
Slideshow Below: Top 12 cities for carless households
The study looked at data between1984 through 2011. Sivak says, even when the impacts of the "Great Recession" are factored in, the country’s car ownership, gas consumption and miles driven peaked around 2006 and 2007.
While 9 percent might not seem like much, in major cities the numbers get significant. Carless households make up to 12 percent of the population in Memphis and 37.9 percent of the population in Washington D.C.
Of the nation’s 30 largest cities, 21 have seen declines in car ownership over the last five years.
Telecommuting, changing attitudes towards transit, the availability and quality of public transportation, walkability and urban density were the largest factors in whether or not people chose to go carless. Five of the top carless cities are also among the nation’s densest places to live.
Poverty can also be a factor; perhaps explaining why a poor city like Detroit might sit in the top ranks alongside wealthy San Francisco.
That said, Sivak’s study would lead one to believe that a significant number of people who go carless do it by choice.
The Portland metro area is well known for promoting automobile alternatives. The region has a wonky urban planning culture and isn’t afraid to put its money where its mouth is when it comes to transit and bike projects.
In the last five years, public officials have committed more than $2 billion to just three alternative transportation projects alone. That includes $1.5 billion for the Orange Line light rail extension and car-free bridge across the Willamette, a $148.3 million streetcar-system extension on Portland’s east side and a $600 million bike-path plan.
Even with that, Seattle edged Portland out the No. 10 spot, but just barely. More importantly Portland came in ahead of Los Angeles. So, take that, L.A.!
Here’s how the top cities for carlessness stacked up.
*density information from U.S. Census urbanized area records for 2010
Related Slideshow: Top 12 carless cities in the U.S.
Portland ranks among the top cities in the nation where residents live without cars. Check out the other cities that scored highly.
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