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Politics

New Report Shows Millennials Taking A Back Seat To Driving

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CDOT
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Flickr, used with permission
Traffic in a cone zone.

Despite the improving economy, millennials are still driving less, a trend that is forecast to continue. A study from the nonprofit CoPIRG Foundation says that between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles driven by 16-34-year-olds dropped by 23 percent.

The study, titled Millennials in Motion, suggests the Great Recession contributed to significant unemployment and falling incomes of young people. That, coupled with higher fuel prices, could have contributed to fewer miles driven. However, the driving of young people with jobs during that same time also declined.

CoPIRG's Danny Katz said there are other reasons than simply economic factors driving this decline.

"Millennials are different from their parents, and those differences aren't going away," said Katz.

Millennials are drawn to areas that support 'walkable' living Katz said of the study. Think urban centers with plenty of walking paths, public transport options along with bike sharing programs. Increasingly, the demographic is turning to technology for ride-sharing or new car services to get around (like Uber and Lyft) so purchasing a car isn't necessary.

"After five years of economic growth with stagnant driving, it's time for federal and Colorado governments to wake up to growing evidence that millennials don't want to drive as much as their parents did," Katz said. "This change has big implications and policy makers shouldn't be asleep at the wheel."

Cities across the Front Range are already taking note of these changes by spearheading public transportation project like Denver's newly remodeled Union Station, and the recent opening of the Max Bus Rapid Transit system in Fort Collins.

CoPIRG said public policy officials need to heed the trend, and re-think transportation projects that widen roadways and create more lanes of traffic.

"If millennials continue to drive fewer miles than previous generations as they age — and if future generations of young people follow suit — America will have an opportunity to reap a variety of benefits, including reduced traffic congestion, fewer deaths and injuries on the roads, reduced expenditures for highway construction and less pollution of our air and climate," he said.

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