The Death of Cars Was Greatly Exaggerated

wired – excerpt

The founders of Uber and Lyft, among others, declared that people would no longer need to own cars. Instead, car ownership is rising.

Throw your driver’s license out the window. Better yet, don’t get one at all…

Municipal officials joined the chorus. Earlier this month, New York City banned cars from busy 14th Street, in favor of bus-only lanes. San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency voted on Tuesday to transform Market Street, its main downtown artery, into a place for bikes and scooters and buses—and definitely not personal cars. Similarly, some real estate developers tout apartments without parking spaces but with built-in Uber pick-up spots and leases with monthly ride-hail credits. Cities and companies say such moves can help take emissions-spewing cars off the street, make it easier to get around by foot or by bike, and unburden riders (if not the drivers) from the drudgeries of car maintenance. And Census data suggests that the number of households without cars, and those with fewer cars than workers, has grown.

But here’s the funny thing: Personal car ownership in the US has actually increased in the past 10 years, even in the frenzied urban places where Uber and car-share have become verbs. According to research from former New York City transportation official Bruce Schaller, the number of vehicles has grown faster than the population in some of the cities where ride-hail is most popular: Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago.… (more)

It is not hard to see why people want to own their own private vehicles, and why larger SUVs and trucks with 4-wheel drives are popular given the spike in disasters requiring fast evacuations from fires, hurricanes, and floods. Who trusts a public transit system to come to the rescue after watching the aftermath of the Katrina residents who got stuck? Nobody wants to rely on the government if they can save themselves and the authorities are better off having less responsibility for the safety of all their citizens so they can concentrate on saving the helpless.

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