Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Young people are driving lessYoung People are Driving Less-And Not Just Because They're Broke, is a good summary of some of the reasons for this trend.
I didn't get my driver's license until I was in college. I spent my high school years in England and used public transportation almost exclusively. I hadn't yet discovered the benefits of bicycling. I took the bus to school and when I needed to stay late, I took public transit home. We traveled by train throughout Europe. In London we walked and rode public transit. It was the natural, convenient way to get around because the infrastructure was there. I didn't miss driving; I didn't even think about it most of the time. It was only upon returning to the U.S. that I needed a car, especially after trying to rely on public transit for a while and constantly being late to work and appointments. It took a couple of more years living here before I discovered that traveling by bicycle was probably the best option.
Many of today's youth seem to have come to the realization that there are options to getting around other than by car. It's probably not so much the case in Fairfax because we don't have good bike facilities or convenient public transportation unless you're commuting to work in DC during rush hour. Yesterday I attended an all day training session at the Annandale NoVa campus. There are bike lanes on Wakefield Chapel Road which lead to the campus, but I saw only one bike besides mine parked in the grill racks in front. There was an ocean of parking available. From the south, getting to the bike lanes is a challenge and from the north, the only entrance is via Route 236 with no side path or bike lanes.
I think we have to help our local elected officials understand that to attract young people to our county (the future workforce and tax base), we need to build the infrastructure they desire. Otherwise, we risk losing them to Arlington, Washington, D.C. and other jurisdictions that are building that infrastructure.