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For many city dwellers, the daily commute is usually filled with the same tasks... gas-honk-brake, gas-brake-honk, honk-honk-punch, gas-gas-gas. America's roads are filled and it's hard to imagine them being clogged with an ever-increasing supply of vehicles and drivers. Going against the International Energy Agency, a team of researchers from California thinks we might have already hit "Peak Travel."

Looking at data from 1970 up to 2008, Lee Schipper and Adam Millard-Ball believe that passenger travel peaked back in 2003. While the IEA predicts a passenger growth rate of 1.5 percent through 2030, that also means they have estimated fuel consumption and emissions based on a growing number of drivers on the road. Shipper and Millard-Ball believe we may be able to lower those estimates based on their initial findings. They also admit that more research is needed, but feel it's a promising sign for the future.

The two examined data from six countries; the United States, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia and Sweden. If you've been paying attention to global trends for the last decade, you will notice two very big data points not on that list; India (shown in the photo above) and China. While it's promising that we may not see more cars on the road, this study clearly doesn't factor in the rapid changes taking place in these exponentially expanding markets. Thanks to all for the tips.

[Source: Wired | Image: Manish Swarup/AP]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 22 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      unemployment definitely has something to do with it. there are way too many cars driving around during the week at 12 in the afternoon. shouldn't you be at work or something?
      • 4 Years Ago
      @ letstakeawalk,

      People want to live out in the suburbs and get out of the city.Alot poorer people are forced to live in the city,close to work because they cannot afford to buy/insure/make repairs on a vehicle !! The people with a bit more cash live out in the suburbs where they can actually feel free,enjoy life a bit more and get away from the crime,stuck up people who pay 1 million dollars for a small appartment....cough ,condo..And more importantly to own a home with a yard !! I have acerage and can go for walks in my pristine acerage,and not have to worry about being mugged as I would walking in the public parks.And I love to drive as I use my new Dodge Ram as a daily commuter vehicle.

      The only reason driving numbers are down is cost,like Europe people want a vehicle but cannot afford one,Canada,America is becoming the same way..lower wages for the average person,high fuel costs,insurance rates and repair costs are the only major factors for people not driving as much !! Not everyone wants to be confined in a city !!
        • 4 Years Ago
        huh?

        depends on what part of europe you watch or talk about.
        single people have 1 car, mostly
        a young couple with no childeren have 2 cars.
        a couple with childeren have 1 or 2 car, if mom has a job.
        a couple with older childerne have 2, 3 or 4 cars.

        we have 2 cars.
        my friend has 2 cars and his girlfriend another car and a scooter.
        his girlfriend family has a total of 4 cars.
        audi a3 1.6, seat ibiza 1.9 sdi, renault megane scenic and a mg z.

        my brother has a w124T 2.0 and a classic 500sec.
        my wife's brother has 2 cars.

        the only thing we don't have is parking space.
        so sometimes, but rare ... we need to search for quite some time and various trips around blocks to find a space.

        i only pay about 140€ tx anual and about 300€ insurance.
        so a car is cheaper than smoking sigarettes.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I understand your argument - everyone wants their suburban quarter-acre lot as part of the American dream.

        That defined white urban flight in the 1950's and 1960's, as our cities emptied so that people could live an idealized vision of clean neighborhoods and good schools. However, many found that the suburbs had the same problems as the cities; crime and violence, gangs and drugs are part of contemporary suburbia.

        The problem is that suburbia isn't sustainable, and that the demographics are reversing.

        Cities around the globe are focusing again on bringing populations back into the city - new residential buildings as well as more quality of life attractions (restaurants, shops, cultural venues). Rents are increasing in the cities, and this is forcing the lower middle class and poor out. I mentioned gentrification, because not everyone agrees that this is a good thing - but it is happening. Housing projects are no longer apartment blocks in the city, they are now disguised as apartments and townhouses out in the suburbs.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gentrification

        I disagree with you that driving numbers are down because people can't afford a car. Used cars are as cheap as ever. I do agree that not everyone wants to be confined in a city - but I'd like to add that many people also don't want to be stuck out in the sticks!

        You might be scared to walk in the public parks in your city, but if I go walking pretty much anywhere other than a county, state, or national park I am liable to be subject to arrest for trespassing. Many people find the shared public spaces in a city very comfortable, and much nicer than anything we could afford privately. New Urbanism describes the movement of bringing back an urban style of living - with the intimate connections between neighbors and the benefits of more dense urban development.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Urbanism

        I've lived both ways - my family has acreage in the country, and I live in a small city center (100,000 pop). I'm comfortable in both places. However, the city offers much more in the way of employment, entertainment, and recreation to me, so it's where I choose to live.
        • 4 Years Ago
        besides London invented a Traffic congestion tax.

        in france fuel is expensive, but you don't pay anual tax and they have toll roads.
        In spain there are toll roads.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have a car, but i find myself using my electric bike more and more. Driving sucks in a well populated area! that's a fact and it won't get any better any time soon.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah.
        I am 27 and have only been driving for 5 years, but i've seen a change in that short period of time. My small little town got crowded & full of stop signs within a few short years.

        I've heard of Route 66 & how it used to be a pleasure drive. To think that people used to drive for thousands of miles on a whim is crazy. Now some of that road is shut down or used as a main street for large bustling towns.

        Well, we gotta get hip to public transport, 2 wheels, and walking. Cars aren't too efficient anyway and they use a lot of space. I have a feeling they will either have to shrink or go the way of the dodo in order to continue driving on this infrastructure we have, as it doesn't seem like America is building any more highways or main roads..
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's exactly the mindset that this study identifies. As populations increase, and traffic increase, those with means will find ways to live that don't require driving.

        When driving was more (ahem) elite - there were fewer people driving and the experience was much nicer; the roads were better with less crowding. Only the middle and upperclasses needed to drive because they lived in the suburbs - the innercity poor walked or took public transportation.

        Now, driving is much more democratic, and the pendulum has swung the other way.

        The inner cities have been revitalized (some say gentrified) with trendy upscale housing, so the wealthy and upper-middle class is moving back in, enjoying the benefit of walking to the theater, to the gourmet restaurants, and generally reduced the auto to a toy used for fun on the weekend. The poor have been moved out to the periphery of the city, into strip-mall suburbia and the public housing which has been relegated to the outskirts.
      • 4 Years Ago
      great post for The Simpsons reference alone
        • 4 Years Ago
        My brain is full of them...
      • 4 Years Ago
      There will be new countries to rise in economic power and the rest to fall. Once China and India take enough of the world economy, some place in Africa will become the new 'low rung' on the job scale and jobs will move to them. Then that area will get more transportation. The US will most likely continue to fall as all our jobs that can be outsourced are being outsourced. Leaving more people to go with cheaper costs to themselves (like transportation).
      • 4 Years Ago
      that's India in the picture mate, and if I know my city right, that's a central Delhi road... even I can't believe how that picture landed up here coz we don't have as little traffic sense as not stopping on the zebra crossing, but things have changed a lot ever since that scam of a CWG happened, even though road rage rules and lane driving is absent for most of Delhiites :P

      good to see that the 'image' of my city is at least improving... but is it because the pic is by an Indian name ?? :P
      • 4 Years Ago
      is that indonesia in the picture?
      • 4 Years Ago
      You can thank the rise in gas prices for this... which are of course mostly due to us not drilling for our own oil.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, cuz we're sitting on a crapton of oil right?
        • 4 Years Ago
        that's not true.

        USA want to use the other people's oil first than use their own.
        hence ... the oil price (and not only those prices) gets unstable when it's time to publish the anual news about the volume of the oil household.

        just like the netherlands selling their own oil and mostly gas cheaper to nations in europe, while selling it expensive inland.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Well we may want to use the oil from other countries first, but that is because we are not drilling our own oil ourselves. We really are sitting on huge reserves of oil all over, but due to the loud barking of so many special interest groups, we are just letting sit there.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Interesting theory.
      • 4 Years Ago
      @marknn
      Your opinion is either completely baseless or confined to one metro area. Despite the growth of exburbs (areas just outside of typical suburbs that grew during housing boom) up until 2006, studies indicate that people have been returning to cities as a general trend in the US.

      There has been a trend towards having amenities in reach instead having to drive for everything.

      Your dream may still be somewhat common but it is no longer the dream of the majority.
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