Car Ownership Down? The young they are a changin…

When I was a kid, we couldn’t wait until we could drive. I think it was 15 and a half and I got a learner’s permit. I was driving when I was 16 and never looked back. I couldn’t imagine not having a car, ever.

I learn now that in Vancouver, BC, 26 percent of the households don’t own cars, and in many cities in the US upwards of 10 percent of the families don’t have cars. I guess its true as my oldest son and his family have never owned a car. They seemed to have survived just fine on foot, bikes, buses, and shuttles. But they live up north near Seattle where everything seems to be close by.

As the current generation moves back into lofts in the central city, and abandons the ‘burbs to us oldies, they are rethinking their lifestyles.  We were told by a keynoter at the NPA that suburban office buildings had a much lower occupancy rates than their urban cousins because young workers want to work, play, and live within walking distance. Those huge parking lots around suburban high rises are going empty. Smart companies are locating in central cities that have all the stores, clubs, restaurants, and apartments for their employees.

What does this mean for parking. First, many of the rules we believed about having a certain number of parking spaces per square foot are going by the wayside. Those huge garages may not be filling up. On street requirements change, too as customers walk to the bar or restaurant rather than drive.

Is it time to sell our buggy whips and start hawking sandals to the young walkers? How would I know?

It saddens me to think that the youth of today don’t have that wanderlust and independent spirit that we had as kids.  We wanted to get in the car and drive, whenever we wanted and go wherever we wanted, which was usually as far as we could get and then home by curfew. Today’s kids seem perfectly content sitting in front of a computer, tapping on their smart phone, and ‘chillin.’

I would probably be horrified if my children did some of the things I did when I was a teen. But, frankly, now I’m a tad concerned that the youths of today they don’t even want to.



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