Do You Find Yourself 'Driving Light'?

You've seen all those statistics on people driving less. There hasn't really been an umbrella term for the idea of people cutting back on car use, and relying on different kinds of transportation. Until now.

In Cambridge, Mass., they call it "driving light." Here's how Jackie Douglas of the Liveable Streets Alliance explains it in a Forbes story that I wrote this weekend.

“It’s not anti-car,” Douglas said. “It’s not about going car-free. It’s a trend of families going down to one car, instead of having a car for everyone in the household. The one person in the household who needs the car uses it, and everyone else takes the bus, or walks, or uses a bike.”

The figures for the Boston area are pretty stunning. In the rest of the country, cars are involved in about 84 percent of all trips. In metropolitan Boston, it's under 50 percent, according to Douglas. Car use has dropped so much that registrations are down 14 percent, and developers are building new projects with fewer parking spaces.

Now, Boston is special. It has the T, its subway/light rail system, it's very walkable, and pretty bike friendly, too. After all, this is where Zipcar was invented, and Boston has had the Hubway bike sharing system for two years now.

Based on the questions she's gotten from people interested in cutting back, Douglas thinks there's a lot more "driving light" going on all over the country than the experts have measured. After all, it doesn't mean giving up cars. It just means using them less.

I've spent a lot of time looking at the reasons why people are driving less, and from your comments, it sounds like a lot of you are doing so, as much as we all love automobiles.

So: are you "driving light?" Can you estimate how much your car use is down in the past few years? What are some of the ways you get around that don't involve your own car?

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