Ask a member of the Millennial generation to chose between owning a smart phone or a car and, hand’s down, the majority will choose the smart phone. All a person can do with a car is drive, but a smart phone brings the world to your fingertips. At least that’s the view writer Clive Thompson expresses in, “No Parking Here.” (Mother Jones, Jan/Feb. 2016 pg. 21) In addition, the older generation has done a good job of convincing the younger one that global warming is real. Leaving a light footprint on the earth is important to Millennials. That explains why, even though the price of gasoline is down, Millennials are driving less and using their bikes more.
Smart phones make another forms of transportation viable. Uber exists because smart phones coordinate information that makes getting a car on demand possible. This new technology also allows for shared rides, reducing the cost of transportation. In the 1960s, car ownership grew by 42 percent. Today, that ownership is on the decline, a worry to the automobile industry. (Ibid pg. 19.)
Fewer cars means the need for fewer parking spaces, which is why city planners are eliminating them in their designs. Instead they are creating more green areas or retail opportunities. They also hope fewer parking spaces will nudge the rest of us to find other ways to get around. (Ibid pg. 25.) Their gamble might pay off. One young man enthused that his new apartment had no garage but it had a bike rack in the living room
Few would argue against all the good that stems from reducing the number of cars on our highways. Still, I wonder how all those bikers with racks in their living rooms will feel when they have kids or turn 80. Perhaps self driving cars will solve future transportation needs, but that development may take time. At the moment, no self-driving automobile can maneuver in inclement weather, which is a drawback. (Ibid pg. 22)
Transitioning from cars to other modes of transpiration will, I suspect, take us on a bumpy ride. Too many people my age and those of the baby boomer generation are habituated to cars. Speaking for myself, when threatened with the loss of my auto, I react as Charleton Heston did about his guns. “I’ll give you my steering wheel when you can pry it from my cold, dead hands.”