A national study released earlier this month indicates that Americans’ transportation habits since the mid-2000s have veered toward less driving, and San Francisco and Oakland are moving in that direction in every category.
The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Transportation in Transition report. The report drew on data from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration and Census Bureau.
San Francisco and Oakland ranked third among urban areas in the nation in biking to work, with a 0.6 percent increase, and fifth in proportion of workers who commuted by car from 2000 to 2007-11, with a 3.9 percent decrease. The two cities ranked 18th with an 8.3 percent drop in vehicle miles traveled per capita from 2006 to 2011, and 55th with a 1.6 percent increase in passenger miles traveled by transit per capita from 2005 to 2011.
While Bay Area households with no vehicles increased 1 percent, there was a 0.8 percent decrease in households with two or more vehicles from 2006 to 2011.
“One of the things that the Bay Area has to offer is a kind of wraparound assortment of alternatives to car ownership. There’s not just the transit system, there’s bike share and carshare and good apps,” said U.S. PIRG senior analyst Phineas Baxandall. “The City has been a leader but there’s a lot more that they could do.”
The overall decrease in car usage, Baxandall added, can be attributed only in part to the recession because the study began a few years before the height of the economic crisis and concluded during its recovery.
Ed Reiskin, transportation director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, said in a statement: “The more we invest, the more we can achieve growth and economic vitality in cities like San Francisco.”