Dave Reid
Car Culture

Generation Y is Rejecting the Auto

While the average US household spends $80 a week on gas, Gen Y embraces public transit and bicycling.

By - May 23rd, 2012 05:05 pm
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Car Culture

Car Culture

Every week day morning, gazillions of American get up, make coffee and then get behind the steering wheel, driving alone to work.  This pattern, of long solo commutes, has pushed household spending on auto-related expenses ever higher.  In fact, the average US household spent $80 a week — or $4,200 a year! — on gasoline in 2011.  What our car culture has brought us is not freedom, but a weekly bill that will only get bigger.

Recently, National Bike to Work Week offered us all an opportunity to break out of this pattern.  The Bike Federation of Wisconsin, with the help of numerous local volunteers and groups, as always did their best to make Bike to Work Week as fun, educational, and safe as possible for newbie and veteran cyclists.  Much like the Starbucks chain lines arterial roadways to offer motorists their morning fix, Milwaukee’s bike trails and routes had stands with coffee and food throughout the event.  While this event has led some people to leave the gas fueled commute behind, the Bike Fed is fighting decades of ingrained car culture.

But there’s hope for change in young America — the demographic bulge of Generation Y.  A new report “Transportation and the New Generation,” by the think tank Frontier Group, found Gen Y drives less and uses other forms of transportation more.  Vehicle miles traveled by people 16 to 34 from 2001 to 2009 saw a decrease of 23 percent, while their use of public transit rose by 40 percent and those biking rose 24 percent.  A recent Washington Post article questions, “Has the passion gone out of America’s fabled love affair with the automobile?”  The report says it’s not simply high gas prices or the Internet that is pushing Generation Y away from autos, but the fact that they “increasingly prefer to live in places where they can get around without getting in a car.”

Car culture, in short, is starting to be supplanted by urban culture.

Hello Officer, Again

It is as if Jim Morrison has risen from the dead again.  You’d think that crashing your car into a police squad would be a rare event, but apparently not in Wisconsin: Fox 6 News reports it has happened again.

Geez, you drivers, may we suggest: stop aiming at our men and women in blue. That’s a two-ton weapons you’re driving.

Bruised Ego

Bigger, faster, better right?  This is what car culture has taught us, and it is what strokes our collective ego.  The video below shows just a little bit of that ego on display.  It starts with the driver reviving the engine, showing off his tail feathers, proving they’re brighter and bigger than yours, and ends with a bad day for two innocent bystanders.  Car culture at its worst.

Dangerous Roads

There was lots more in the last couple weeks, from more routine accidents to one car crashing into a home.

Loosen Your Belt to Cure Obesity

You can’t reduce congestion by building more roads. Tell that to the planners in Wisconsin.

Tweet of the Week


Like I said, it’s an ingrained culture.

Categories: Car Culture

3 thoughts on “Car Culture: Generation Y is Rejecting the Auto”

  1. Nick Aster says:

    One of the most interesting things about that video is the fact that it has 12 million views. I’m sure shadenfreude has a lot to do with it, but it’s yet more testament to how dominant car culture is!

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Nick 12 million rubberneckers huh. Yeah that makes sense.

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