More Californians ditching their cars in favor of bikes, walking

Cyclists and strollers on Venice Beach pass bright yellow bollards that have been installed along the boardwalk.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The rate of Californians walking, biking or taking transit on a typical day doubled to 22% over a 10-year span starting in 2001, according to a new study released by state transportation officials.

The study also found that the rate of Californians driving on any given day fell by about 12 percentage points over the same period.

From 2010 to 2012, researchers working for the California Department of Transportation asked about 110,000 people in more than 42,000 households to record the duration and distance of every trip they took during a random day, including running errands, going out to eat and commuting to work or school.

What is happening in California mirrors a nationwide decline in driving, experts say: The number of car miles driven annually peaked about a decade ago, and the percentage of people in their teens, 20s and 30s without driver’s licenses continues to grow.


Nearly 8% of residents surveyed did not own a car. Statewide, households owned an average of 1.8 vehicles.

Although the decrease in driving and uptick in other forms of transportation seem promising, the study suggests an overall drop in the number of trips that could be cause for concern, said Brian Taylor, the director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.

“It’s not better for society if we reduce auto travel by having people who are stuck home and can’t afford to get out,” Taylor said.

He said transportation planners aim to shift people from cars to other modes of transit without reducing the total number of trips. Typically, more trips means more people are working and have money to spend on errands and entertainment.


Twitter: @laura_nelson

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