Is the Golden Age of Automobiles Coming to an End?

Blogger Eric Rosenberg shares analysis about the decline of automobiles in the United States as well as why and how people are living a car-free life.

The 2000s have brought enormous changes to the way we live. One of those changes is the desire for large, suburban homes among younger Americans. As people across all generations are giving up suburban life and are moving into dense, urban areas, it changes how we think about our cars.

Urban Trends

New York City has always been a special case in the United States when it comes to cars. With the incredibly density of Manhattan and the excellent public transportation around the surrounding boroughs, many New Yorkers don’t need cars to get around.

However, recent studies have shown other cities following suit. According to a University of Michigan study, 56% of New Yorkers are no car homes. Also on the top of the list are dense cities like Washington, D.C, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

What has surprised some people is the overall trend. Since 2007, a full half percent of American households have gotten rid of their cars. While a half percent might not seem like much, that is still nearly 2 million people.

Of the 30 biggest cities in the United States, 21 have seen an increase in no-car

One Car Homes

In addition to people living in urban areas with more reliance on biking, walking, and public transportation, many more families are becoming one-car families than in the past, also primarily in urban areas.

Where one family member can go to work without driving, owning two cars is not as practical as it once was for many Americans. The cost of car ownership can be much higher in urban areas, and parking is more difficult, so many families opt for one car.

In my own building in Portland, Oregon, about half of all families only have one car.

On-Demand Rentals

If you are considering living in a one-car or no-car families, that doesn’t mean you will never have a car to use. There are several companies offering on-demand car rental service.

Some companies, such as Lyft, Uber and Sidecar offer on-demand ride sharing at competitive rates, which is great for people that need to do a large trip to the grocery store, hardware store, or even IKEA to grab furniture.

If you need a car for a full day, Relay Rides may have cars listed in your neighborhood at a great rate. Within a short bike ride from my home, RelayRides has seven cars listed and available right now starting at $25 per day.

Can You Live Without a Car?

Having spent three years in urban living, walking or biking to work, the supermarket, and for an evening out on the town has been a popular option for many neighbors and friends. According to AAA, the average cost of car ownership in the United States is more than $9,000 per year.

Imagine the savings if you didn’t own a car and just rented one when you need it. Imagine what you can do with an extra $9,000 in your pocket each year. Many Americans are doing just that, will you be part of the trend?