Much like the heart attack victim who discovers the hard way that a daily double bacon-cheeseburger was bad for his health, right-wing WI GOP Gov. and slow-learner Scott Walker has a sudden awareness that there's less driving going on - who knew?? - to justify spending borrowed billions on all those miles of new highway lanes he'd been enthusiastically approving:
It will be interesting, in the long run, to determine if the billion or so dollars being spent to rebuild the [Zoo] interchange produce equivalent benefits - - or whether other phenomena, like induced demand, or the fall-off of driving by aging boomers and/or driving-disinterested millenials come into play to influence the equation.In 2013:
The average Wisconsinite now drives about as much in a year as he or she did in the middle of President Bill Clinton’s administration, and total vehicle travel has fallen by 3 percent since 2004.
Just last week, WISPIRG Foundation released a separate report, A New Direction, which found that the average number of miles driven by Americans has declined eight years in a row and the slowdown in driving is likely to continue. One reason could be a generational driving shift: As baby boomers leave the workforce they are driving less, while the millenials joining the workforce are more driving-averse, and more likely to commute by public transportation.Also in 2013:
The Millennial generation has led the recent change in transportation trends—driving significantly less than previous generations of young Americans. Millennials are already the largest generation in the United States and their choices will play a crucial role in determining future transportation infrastructure needs.
- The Millennials (people born between 1983 and 2000) are now the largest generation in the United States. By 2030, Millennials will be far and away the largest group in the peak driving age 35-to-54 year old demographic, and will continue as such through 2040.
- Young people aged 16 to 34 drove 23 percent fewer miles on average in 2009 than they did in 2001—a greater decline in driving than any other age group. The severe economic recession was likely responsible for some of the decline, but not all.
- Millennials are more likely to want to live in urban and walkable neighborhoods and are more open to non-driving forms of transportation than older Americans. They are also the first generation to fully embrace mobile Internet-connected technologies, which are rapidly spawning new transportation options and shifting the way young Americans relate to one another, creating new avenues for living connected, vibrant lives that are less reliant on driving.
- If the Millennial-led decline in per-capita driving continues for another dozen years, even at half the annual rate of the 2001-2009 period total vehicle travel in the United States could remain well below its 2007 peak through at least 2040—despite a 21 percent increase in population. If Millennials retain their current propensity to drive less as they age and future generations follow (Enduring Shift), driving could increase by only 7 percent by 2040. If, unexpectedly, Millennials were to revert to the driving patterns of previous generations (Back to the Future), total driving could grow by as much as 24 percent by 2040.
- All three of these scenarios yield far less driving than if the Driving Boom had continued past 2004. Driving declines more dramatic than any of these scenarios would result if future per-capita driving were to fall at a rate near that of recent years or if annual per-capita reductions continue through 2040.
- Regardless of which scenario proves true, the amount of driving in the United States in 2040 is likely to be lower than is assumed in recent government forecasts. This raises the question of whether changing trends in driving are being adequately factored into public policy.
Wisconsin is still dedicated to unsustainable highway building - - not merely road repairs and upkeep - - but to 127 miles of new lanes on its Southeastern regional freeway system, at a projected cost of $6.5 billion.
And to significant projects across the state that push development farther from cities, through farm land and wetlands.
Yet, we know that people are driving less, that the expectation and need for modern transit is growing, that people are indicating a preference for relocating closer to their jobs, that air quality standards are getting tougher, that high fuel and shipping costs are even re-igniting an interest in local food production - - all suggesting that sprawl development enabled through highway expansion that eats up land and produces more driving, dirty air and fuel burn...is...slowing...down.