Brian Merchant believes that the car’s dominance in American culture has been eclipsed by Facebook and Brooklyn:
I’m evidence, I guess—once one of those wide-eyed car lovers, I moved to Brooklyn from car-heavy southern California and sold my Ford. I haven’t regretted ditching it at all. Brooklyn certainly isn’t the only model, but it has become a “global brand” for hip urbanity … Young, affluent people now overwhelmingly want to be able to walk or bike to artisanal restaurants, sweaty music venues, and bars stocked with organic beers. That’s partly why places like Charlotte are focusing on walkability. That’s in no small part Brooklyn’s doing/fault.
But the other explanation for the decline in driving is more interesting: the rise in internet use amongst the same demographic that used to be so eager to hop behind the wheel. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan discovered that “a higher proportion of internet users was associated with a lower licensure rate,” which they found to be “consistent with the hypothesis that access to virtual contact reduces the need for actual contact among young people.”
Relatedly, Felix gives a thumbs up to NYC’s new bike-share:
Don’t worry about safety. I wore a helmet, many people won’t, it’s all OK. There’s a paradox here: the less safe you look and feel, the wider a berth cars give you. If I’m zooming down the street on a singlespeed, taxis will happily zoom past me, with inches to spare. But if I’m wobbling down the street on a CitiBike, not so much.
In fact, there’s very little evidence that helmet use reduces bike-injury rates. Certainly if you fall on your head, you want to be wearing a helmet. But CitiBikes, for one, are big and heavy and much less precarious than most bikes. They’re hard to fall off of, and they make it almost impossible to go flying over the handlebars.
Recent Dish on the the decline of driving among the young here.