- Jun 14, 2007
US Census Bureau: Still Driving Like its 1999
The US Census issued a report about our real American commuting behavior in recent times. Gasoline prices may be high and concern about global warming may be growing, but on the whole, "Green Thinking" is just that, thinking. Eighty-eight percent of people who go to work still drive to work. That includes carpoolers. Of that 88 percent, 77 percent go by themselves. And many are probably going by SUV because they bought them back in the days before 9/11/01 or soon after.
Perhaps it is today's concerns about personal safety that has caused the percent of carpoolers to drop. But there could be uni-gender car pools to offset that. Guy car pools can talk sports and tell bawdy jokes. Women car pools can talk fashion (and sports). Or perhaps it is because jobs are no longer concentrated in a central business district that makes it harder to find common work destinations at common times. Still, many states have programs that will help workers find matches. I have carpooled and used mass transit and both beat lone car use. There is a chance for real human contact, discussions, sharing of life's events. Even on mass transit, where talk is not so common, you get to see a snapshot of people up close and personal, yet safely.
There are cities that have a large dependence on mass transit. New York is far ahead with 55 percent using mass transit. Washington, DC follows with 38 percent. The US has got to turn the corner on petroleum energy use. Total, as well as personal use, of petroleum has to go down and it will. It has in the past – the early 1980s. When we do it again, we will reap the benefits of less traffic congestion, cleaner air, perhaps even a better trade balance, and a little more respect for the average American in the rest of the world.
[Source: U.S. Census]