By Nora Tooher
Driving and car ownership is on the decline in Akron and many other large cities in the country as more people bike and walk to work, according to a new study.
Akron is one of 10 urban areas in the country with the largest increases in the percent of households without vehicles, according to an analysis by U.S. Public Interest Research Groups.
From 2006 to 2011, Akron posted a 2.2 percent increase in the percent of households without vehicles. Poughkeepsie-Newburgh, N.Y., was first, at 3.2 percent, followed by New Orleans, 3.1 percent; Bakersfield, Calif., 3 percent; Grand Rapids, Mich., 2.9 percent and Las Vegas, 2.4 percent.
Akron ranked sixth among large urban areas with a growing number of non-car households. Lancaster, Penn., had the same increase as Akron in non-car households: 2.2 percent, followed by Syracuse, N.Y., 2.1 percent and Allentown-Bethlehem, Penn., and Madison, Wis., both 2 percent.
Nationwide, the proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas in the United States from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two or more cars decreased in 86 out of 100 of these areas during that period.
The study also found:
• The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle – either alone or in a carpool – declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
• The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
The non-car commuting trend is a lot less evident in smaller cities and rural areas. But bicycle-commuting advocates are encouraging the creation of bike paths and infrastructure throughout the country, even in places where it’s been slow to catch on.
The League of American Bicyclists rated Arkansas, for example, dead last among the 50 states for bicycle commuting. But in Fayetteville, Arkansas’ third-largest city, bicycle-commuting advocates are supporting a citywide network of walking and biking paths.