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  • BlueFairlane

    That survey cited in the MPC piece tries making a claim you frequently see bandied about (kids these days aren’t interested in driving), then expands the claim to say that this isn’t dependent on region. It makes the urbanophiliac mistake, though, of only surveying kids in large cities, which creates a fallacy. Of the 46 cities included in the survey, only two (Ames and Redding) have populations smaller than 100,000. And I would bet the responses from these two small cities were very different from those from the large metro areas.

    Here’s an anecdotal example from my own life to illustrate this. I have 22-year-old twin sons raised by me here in Chicago and a 17-year-old daughter raised by my ex-wife in a Kentucky town with a population around 60,000. (Never mind what this says about my ability to maintain a relationship.) My sons never had any interest in driving, and one of them still hasn’t gotten his license to this date. My daughter, on the other hand, got her license the instant she was legally allowed. She, like all her friends, was chomping at the bit.

    I’d say the trend by which kids don’t want to drive is an urban phenomenon, and that it doesn’t affect about half the nation’s population.

  • Whenever I read stories about how young people are forgoing attaining a driver’s license I always imagined that the study/survey and outcome only pertained to urban kids. Maybe this is because I had an upbringing in a area more similar to your daughter than your sons.

    I grew up in a town of 25,000, although I waited six months to obtain a driver’s license because I wasn’t too interested in the responsibility of having to drive myself around. I liked it when other people drove me. That quickly changed, though, when my dad bought me a car (which I paid back interest-free over four years) and I drove myself to high school for two years…one mile away.

  • FG

    I grew up in Chicago and couldn’t wait to get my license (though my own car was never going to be a reality for years). Only two of my friends -and I can’t remember any classmates who didn’t either- didn’t get a license, though one of them couldn’t due to a medical condition – anecdotal I know. It was mandatory to take drivers ed (classroom portion) and pass it, to graduate from a CPS HS in those days.

    That said, I agree with the contention that the surveys are skewed. When I worked in the northwest suburbs, all the “kids” in the office were car crazy and would have hated living in a “transit dependent” area and not being able to drive. Even the ones who wouldn’t have minded living “in the city” (actually, they usually called anything in the City of Chicago “downtown” interestingly) couldn’t for various family reasons, such as having to stay near aging parents, friends, etc.

    I wonder how much of not getting licenses involves not wanting to “grow up” and have responsibilities, since many professional jobs require being able to drive indirectly. And how would you go hiking or camping without a car? I wonder how one would conduct a survey to gauge that.

    What I also wonder is: do a lot of the people who want more transit, of them, do they want that increased transit in areas where they already live, such as a low density suburb, or do they want to live in a denser area? I know that people generally prefer “traditional” neighborhoods with older houses and more transit options but don’t live in them either because they don’t want an older house or cannot afford them since they are desirable.

  • BlueFairlane

    I don’t know that you can fairly say resistance to “growing up” is any more prevalent today than it was 20 years ago. What I think the larger cause behind the growing number of urban kids not getting licenses is simply the cost of it. When I was in high school in 1990, I was able to buy a car that would get me around town for $250. I don’t remember what insurance cost me, but it was something easily within reach of the $2.89/hour I made bagging groceries. Gas at that time was averaging about 80 cents a gallon. Adjust all this for inflation, and you still come up with numbers far more easily attained than what kids today can manage working minimum wage. In nominal dollars, for instance, I was paying the equivalent of $1.50 per gallon.

    So kids have to work harder or spend more of their parents’ money to drive. If there’s a cheaper option like public transit, they’re going to take it. But kids raised in an environment where public transit isn’t an option will tend to be willing to pay the extra cost.

  • Duane

    It is clearly stated that this is a study of attitudes about transit. From the text: “By focusing only on metropolitan statistical areas, we avoided respondents living in deep rural areas who would have no reasonable access to transit”.

  • BlueFairlane

    Which in no way alters my point.

  • Duane


  • Alex_H

    I also got my driver’s license 4 or 5 months late. The school bus took me home to play video games so I was happy with that arrangement for a while. ;)

  • Ashley

    During my hs years I lived in a town of less than 200 people and rode the school bus for over an hour every morning. All my friends were so excited to get their licenses, it was a huge thing there, since we were almost 40 miles from any type of store.

    Despite enjoying driving I never got around to taking the road test. People think I’m crazy but I have no desire to own a car. It’s bad for the planet, your health and your wallet. I chose to move to Chicago in part because I wouldn’t need a car to get around.

    Even if for some reason I suddenly wanted to sit in traffic and pay parking tickets I couldn’t afford it. Are you kidding me? Car payments + insurance + gas + maintenance + everything. Combined with the cost of housing here and the fact that I know I would just be sitting on my lazy ass and contributing to smog? No thank you. If choosing to walk and take tranist means I’m refusing to grow up well…I love when I meet people older than me who are kids are heart