Something should be fairly obvious right now, Americans are buying a lot fewer new cars now compared to the peak of the bubble a year and a half ago. Sales have fallen 46%, and the auto-industry is understandably worried. The Treasury Department – the Federal Government will soon own 60% of GM and already owns nearly 10% of Chrysler – thinks cars sales will continue to slide for the next years and doesn’t expect car sales to return to the peak any time soon. It’s an interesting piece, but here’s my favorite paragraph:
“It just became too expensive to have a car,” Ms. Emminger said. Now, she volunteers at City CarShare, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco, in order to earn free use of its vehicles, which normally rent to members for $5 an hour plus 40 cents a mile. Otherwise, she takes public transit.
Lifestyles have changed, too. As many people move back to cities from suburbs, they are swapping three-car garages for a single parking space. Public transit use is up.
Apparently you need to walk 10,000 steps a day to stay fit, and driving keeps most people down to just 1,000. 10,000 is quite a bit of walking, you can see how far you’d walk based on your stride length here. Also, apparently living in a walkable neighborhood makes you 7% less likely to be obese (what’s my excuse?). For years now, experts have noted how car-oriented environments make us fat and how neighborhoods built before 1950 help you stay fit, and they’re even good for kids.
Maybe the combination of fewer cars and less driving will mean a fitter nation? Certainly we are watching a moment where the US is turning into Japan or France, but maybe something more along the lines of Canada or Australia. It’s going to be interesting to see how this turns out.