Some have called it the end of the driving boom.
Paralleling trends across the U.S, Baltimoreans are driving fewer miles and using public transit and transportation alternatives more, according to a recent report from Maryland PIRG (Public Interest Research Group).
From 2006 to 2011, Baltimore saw a 1.8 decrease, per capita, in vehicle-miles traveled. Over roughly the same period, the number of passenger miles, per capita, traveled on transit increased 12.1 percent.
Also growing in Baltimore — the number of bicycle commuters — as it did in 85 of the most populous 100 urbanized areas between 2000 and 2010.
Interestingly, the study found that cities with the largest decreases in vehicle-miles traveled were not those hit hardest by the recession, according to PIRG. Instead, "the economies of urbanized areas with the largest declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators."
The metro areas with the largest declines in the proportion of workers commuting by private car or van since 2000 were New York, Washington, Austin, Poughkeepsie, San Francisco-Oakland, Portland and Seattle — with decreases from 3.6 to 4.8 percent.
Young adults, in particular, across the U.S. have made dramatic reductions in driving. American "Millennial Generation" drivers from 16 to 34 years of age cut their average driving miles by 23 percent between 2001 and 2009.
“It’s time for politicians in Annapolis to support transportation initiatives that reflect these travel trends,” said Joana Guy, program associate for the Maryland PIRG Foundation in a statement. “Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars continuing to enlarge our grandfather’s Interstate Highway System, we should be investing in the kinds of transportation options that the public increasingly favors.”