Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 18, 2013

Alternate transportation reality

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Neighbors, Alameda Point, Development — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

The SF Examiner posted a story the other day citing a new study that indicates that people are driving less.   This may come as a surprise to anyone that ever sits in traffic that tops out at a slow crawl, but there it is.   From the Sf Examiner:

The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004, according to the U.S. Public Interest Research Group’s Transportation in Transition report.

San Francisco and Oakland ranked third among urban areas in the nation in biking to work, with a 0.6 percent increase, and fifth in proportion of workers who commuted by car from 2000 to 2007-11, with a 3.9 percent decrease. The two cities ranked 18th with an 8.3 percent drop in vehicle miles traveled per capita from 2006 to 2011, and 55th with a 1.6 percent increase in passenger miles traveled by transit per capita from 2005 to 2011.

While Bay Area households with no vehicles increased 1 percent, there was a 0.8 percent decrease in households with two or more vehicles from 2006 to 2011.

According to the PIRG website, what these national numbers tell public officials is a few things when it comes to policy decisions are transportation and future development:

Revisit transportation plans. Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time. Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure that they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel.

Reallocate resources. With driving stagnating in many areas and demand for transit, bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure increasing, officials should reallocate resources away from wasteful highway expansion projects and toward system repair and programs that expand the range of transportation options available to Americans.

Remove barriers to non-driving transportation options. In many areas, planning and zoning laws and transportation funding rules limit public officials’ ability to expand access to transportation choices. Officials at all levels should remove these barriers and ensure access to funding for non-driving forms of transportation.

These are especially important because we’ll be seeing, according to the Alameda Point Impact Study, about a 10K increase in the daytime population of Alameda.   It looks like they just added the number of potential residents to the number of potential employees, but it sounds about right. Even though Alameda Point appears to be on the right track with parking maximums and market rate parking the infrastructure to get to Alameda Point still doesn’t support alternate forms of transportation.  Such as the lack of dedicated bike lanes on Stargell between 5th and Main Street.  Because of the lack of a critical mass of people, bus service is still pretty spotty.  Appezzato  has only one walkable side of the street — however that should change once the Beltline parcel has been developed into the Cross Alameda Trail.



  1. I’ll hazard a guess that the lower number of miles has a lot more to do with weak labor force particpation numbers and boomers retiring than “transit alternatives.”

    But more bikes is a good thing., I bike to work myself most of the time

    Comment by dave — December 18, 2013 @ 6:28 am

  2. dave, I’ve read that a lot of millennials are driving far less than other age groups, and it is NOT just due to the economy/cost. (Here’s an example of one of the many trend pieces addressing this issue). Considering the time horizon of developing Alameda Point, I think it’s very likely that a denser neighborhood with good public transit and car sharing options would appeal to the younger generation. From the story I linked to: “The half-acre suburban lot with the 40-minute commute doesn’t have the same appeal to our kids as it did for my generation; many of them want to live where they can walk or bicycle, hop on transit, and stay connected to the Internet while they get from point A to point B.”

    Comment by Sue T. — December 18, 2013 @ 9:46 am

  3. A USPIRG report released last week:

    “Driving is declining in a wide variety of urbanized areas. According to some indicators, the economies in urbanized areas that have seen large declines in driving are no weaker than the economies of urbanized areas that have seen increases or small declines in driving. In fact, the economies of urbanized areas with large declines in driving appear to have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment, income and poverty indicators.”

    Comment by jkw — December 18, 2013 @ 9:57 am

  4. Slightly off topic, but I couldn’t resist… [driving is bad cuz it causes climate change, right?] For all my liberal friends who believe so sincerely in climate change:

    Gee, if you can’t trust the EPA, who can you trust?

    Comment by vigi — December 18, 2013 @ 11:13 am

  5. 4 about as relevant to the veracity of Climate Change as FB post about shooting school board is to efficacy of Core Curriculum. thought it was from Onion. Amazing this guy got jail time while nobody from home mortgage scam has even been indicted. Oh, was there just one recently?

    Comment by MI — December 18, 2013 @ 12:02 pm

  6. The jail time is not amazing. That this naked Emperor was walking around for a decade with no clothes on, fooling an entire governmental agency-and being THE highest paid employee in it, to boot, claiming to be CIA-& no one checked his story, which only took the OIG one week to figure out: that’s astonishing. How many others are lurking & need to be revealed: that’s the lesson.

    Comment by vigi — December 18, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  7. But then, apparently Crime Does still Pay in California:

    What else have we learned from the Bell “scandal”? Apparently Nada.

    Comment by vigi — December 18, 2013 @ 12:33 pm

  8. The PIRG report says, “The time has come for cities and states to shift their transportation priorities away from investments in expensive, unnecessary new highways, and toward the maintenance and repair of our existing infrastructure and the development of new transportation choices for Americans.”

    However, the people who recently adopted Plan Bay Area, which lays out how transportation funding is to be allocated, did not choose Alternative 5 that was proposed by, among others, Transform, the transit advocacy group. Here is what Plan Bay Area says about Alternative 5 (the one our public officials didn’t like):
    “ALTERNATIVE 5: ENVIRONMENT, EQUITY, AND JOBS This alternative seeks to strengthen public transit by significantly boosting service frequencies in most suburban and urban areas… This alternative includes a reduced scope highway network which excludes all uncommitted road projects, other than maintenance projects….”

    The reduction in driving miles cited by PIRG will not deter the addition of more highway lanes that will become filled with more cars, not with buses. In Alameda, where just one additional Tube lane would allow for actual rapid transit and a real bike lane, we won’t be getting any help. But there’s plenty of money for a new Caldecott car tunnel to distant communities and massive new interchanges to accommodate the commuting public – and unlimited funding for a section of the Bay Bridge – and let’s not forget the BART to Oakland Airport jobs project, the money for which could have delivered much better transit service if spent on buses.

    Comment by Richard Bangert — December 18, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

  9. So I read that USPIRG study, and am very skeptical. It reinforced what was already suspected, that the primary — NOT THE SOLE — causes are economic.

    -It lists the primary causes on page 13, most of which are economic, such as gas prices and employment.

    -Large portions of the study, particularly the gross VMT/capita section, leave out a significant portion of the country, including fast-growing & sprawly Texas. One wonders if that was intentional.

    -It ignores the rise in poverty rates, unemployment and underemployment as well as retirement as the obvious causes for increase in carless households. Check the list of cities that are experiencing increasing carless households and you’ll see several mired in severe economic slumps.

    -It almost completely ignores telecommuting (the word appears once) which is probably the major non-economic/non-demographic reason for the jump. The cities touted with lower unemployment rates while driving less skew heavily white collar. Such workers obviously have greater opportunity to telecommute. The cities with largest decreases overall again are the weaker ones economically & demographically. Think of how many people you know who telecommute some or all the time. Then think of how many you know that bike to work. The first number will be much larger than the second.

    -The period covered is one of significant recession with sustained increases in each statistical category of unemployment, including the U3 and U6 numbers, sustained high gas prices and weak labor force participation. If I could figure out how to post the charts & graphs I would but suffice to say the data are a big headwind to the study’s credibility.

    As for social trends of millenials, consider these two:

    -They’re young! Young people have a long history of living in the city when they’re young and to the burbs as they age. The millenials are still young. A pretty fair number will decamp for the burbs when they settle down.

    -Millenials have high unemployment and even higher underemployment. This limits their driving and car ownership a lot.

    I’m not opposed to bikes or buses, like I said I usually bike to work myself. But this study has too many holes to be considered a useful guide to policy, or even to be credible.

    Comment by dave — December 19, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

  10. Did anyone take into consideration the fact the entire economy tanked …

    Comment by joel rambaud — December 19, 2013 @ 9:39 pm

  11. I do think millennials are driving less. I am in my 39s and have several friends with no licenses, here in the Bay Area. When I meet millennials, it is even more common, hard to get a car without a license. And this is a cons conscious intentional choice.

    Comment by Jame — December 21, 2013 @ 9:03 am

  12. 11) Being that you work at Transform I’m sure you didn’t post Unconsciously.

    Comment by Pass the Smelling Salt — December 21, 2013 @ 11:11 am

  13. I think it is $’s….to cross the bay bridge and pay for parking it is at least $20 a day or more. That with the cost of insurance, frustration, ect….people are choosing public transportation. Before the BART strike you could get a parking space at the doggy park next to the ferry. But now if you want to take your dogs to the doggy park it is impossible to get a parking spot very close. Overall I think it is great. We go to the dog park in Washington Sq park now. People started taking the ferry because of it…now there is no room to park there to take your dogs. When I drive to SF I always go by the place where you can pick up commuters and there is a line of people waiting.

    The other thing is the cost of food has significantly rose in the last year. Milk is like $3.50/gal, meat is huge…..veggies have increased…where is the money going to…it may be good because we may be forced on a diet. We planted tomatoes in a pot and I am going to bring them into the garage tomorrow to keep the plants from freezing but to get one large tomato at the store is like $1, when you can plant your own…I don’t understand. Sure we have receive pay raises in the last few years but not with the cost of living. Next year I might dig up part of my yard and plant some carrots, onions, beets. I already quit drinking coffee. With all that said that is why people are not driving as much any longer. Middle income people can’t afford it any more and I don’t know what low income people do. With the new Safeway coming in I can walk or bike and pick up a few things. With all that said, I believe that is why you see people driving less….The places like Antioch are now becoming East Oakland and Oakland is becoming a destination city…not so much yet but in a few years….West Oakland has drastically changed in the last few years. If you have money to invest that is the best investment in the bay area…I don’t have extra money to invest. It is close to shopping, freeways, BART, ferry, new lofts, grand old houses, jobs, ect. There is one great old yellow house I would love to see restored.

    Comment by Joe — December 25, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

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