A recent article in the Houston Business Journal, Sprawling Houston sees increase in commuter cyclists, discussed the 7.1 percent increase in bicycle commuting in Houston from 1990 to 2012, and the city’s $100 million investment in bicycle infrastructure. Brian Stallings of Bike Texas theorized about the motivation for this investment:
“Companies like Samsung and Google are looking at the bicycle facility infrastructure before they decide what city they’re going to locate in,” Stallings told NPR. “So this is really being driven by economics in Texas. It’s not all about people seeing themselves on a bicycle, but seeing what it does for the quality of life in a city.”
Bike Houston and Mayor Annise Parker recently announced the Zero Fatalities Bike Safety Campaign, including $50,000 for a bicycle master plan to guide bicycle-related investment decisions in Houston.
Brad Plumer of The Washington Post investigates why the number of miles being driven on our roads keeps dropping so dramatically. In this article he attributes the change to rising gas prices, aging baby boomers, and the tendency of younger Americans to drive less.
Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.
He adds that “public transportation use is up 40 percent per capita in this age group since 2001. Bicycling is up 24 percent overall in that time period. And this is true even for young Americans who are financially well off.”
He lists five factors that contribute to this phenomenon:
- The cost of driving has gone up.
- The recession.
- It’s harder to get a license.
- More younger people are living in transit-oriented areas.
- Technology is making it easier to go car-free.
If we want to attract and keep young workers in our state, we should be paying attention to these trends, or we’ll find ourselves with a stagnating economy unable to meet the needs of a greying population.
Come discuss this and other transportation issues at a regional listening session near you April 30 through May 16. Click here to register.