Just as I used the Chinese social trend of "driving is in, cycling is out" as an example in another thread, the current issue of "FORTUNE" arrived in the mail.
Guess what one of the feature articles in this issue was? ...
The End of Driving (as We Know It)
- Michal Lev-Ram
What’s (ahem) driving the trend? The rise of a new kind of city living–and working–is a big factor. Young professionals, including those with families, are increasingly opting for urban life. And cities, even Los Angeles, are responding with new or improved public-transportation systems, bike-sharing programs, and more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares. Companies, in turn, are moving back to cities or opening satellite offices downtown to be close to the talent.
In addition to bike lanes throughout the city’s main roads, the “new” Santa Monica is overhauling its bus system and widening sidewalks. More significantly, a light-rail line, scheduled to open by early 2016, will connect downtown Los Angeles and the coastal city of Santa Monica for the first time. The so-called Subway to the Sea will allow Angelenos to make the normally hellish trek in about 45 minutes–yes, even during rush hour. “We’re realistic,” says Stefan as she shows me the soon-to-be-operational Colorado Avenue light-rail station, where men in hardhats are still laying down track. “We’re trying to shepherd transition in a reasonable way.”
Santa Monica says it has already seen a 67% increase in walking and biking across the city. Of course, not everyone is a fan of the changes; some residents and businesses have fought to open more auto lanes rather than invest in alternative transportation or bigger sidewalks. But ultimately, over the past few years both the money and votes have come out in favor of making the city more walkable. The same trend is taking place across the larger L.A. region, where the percentage of people who walked, biked, or took public transportation to work instead of driving has doubled, to 22%, since 2001, according to a survey conducted by the California Department of Transportation. Driving, meanwhile, has fallen 12%. “There is a very strong movement toward living, working, socializing, and entertaining closer to home,” says Rick Caruso, a California real estate developer. “If you don’t have to get into a car, it’s golden.” (The real estate tycoon, who owns the Grove entertainment and retail complex in central L.A., says 30% of traffic to the popular shopping destination is by foot.)
[Edited at 2014-06-21 18:54 GMT]