THE LOOP — A report released Tuesday concludes that millennials are driving far less than people of older generations, and their attitude about how to move around may be a permanent one.
Transportation advocates says that while Chicago has made small strides in accommodating the generation that bikes, walks and rides trains, more work needs to be done to make sure places like Chicago can serve the group.
Tanveer Ali says the reasons may be obvious, but the solutions are more complicated:
In "Millennials in Motion," the Illinois Public Interest Research Group comes to the following findings about millennials across the United States:
• Millennials are drawn more toward living in urban communities than other generations. That means places where cars are less necessary and walking, biking and public transit are more of an option.
"I moved here last week from Connecticut," said Scott Miller, a 25-year-old who took the Green Line home to West Loop after work Monday. "I do own a car but [public transit] makes me drive less in the city."
• The number of miles driven by people 34 or younger dropped nearly a quarter between 2001 and 2009.
• Between 2006 and 2013, the share of people age 16 to 24 driving to work fell 1.5 percentage points. The share of such people getting to work in other ways increased.
"Public transit is a cheap and easy way to get around the city," said 23-year-old Sarah Lyon, who lives in East Garfield Park.
The report also concludes that policy makers haven't shifted to accommodate millennials enough, a belief echoed by local transit advocates.
"Even for millennials who have the financial capacity to buy a car and drive, they are more and more deciding not to drive," said Ron Burke, executive director of Active Transportation Alliance. He adds that his hope is that as the millennials "generation gets older and has kids, our communities are designed to meet their transportation needs."
Burke said Chicago has made some strides in transportation in the last year — with the creation of Divvy and the addition of bike lanes and pedestrian-friendly changes at intersections — but the biggest need of bolstering the area's public transit network hasn't been met.
Burke said that funding was an issue — particularly when it comes to getting money from federal sources — but he believed that a wide expansion of transit in Chicago and in the suburbs, as outlined in the Transit Future campaign, could be achieved with the right political support.
"We want to aspire to be a New York City or a Washington, D.C., and be truly expansive with our transit system," Burke said.
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