with children in the household, the survey found no significant difference in the share that chose an attached home in
a walkable community or a detached home that required
more driving. For members of Generation X (those born
from 1965 to 1980), only 40 percent of those with kids
chose an attached walkable home vs. 49 percent who had
no children at home.
Those figures would seem to indicate that so far, at least,
millennials have stayed with their preference for attached
walkable homes, even as they have formed families.
“Are they going to be just like previous generations — move
to the suburbs, get station wagons and a garage and drive
everywhere?” said Chris Zimmerman, vice president for
economic development at Smart Growth America. “No,
because they have fewer kids and they have them later.”
“Younger people have chosen more urban lifestyles. They
don’t necessarily want to give it up and move to the suburbs. The market has shown they clearly don’t want that.”
Sundquist agreed. Millennials are driving less at their current average age of 30 than baby boomers or Gen Xers
were at that age.
“The mindset is different now,” Sundquist said. “They’re
not as afraid of transit; it’s not a foreign concept. Cities
are more livable now, crime rates are lower.” It’s not just a
choice between driving everywhere or not owning a car at
all. A family could decide to have one car instead of two.
But Taylor of UCLA was part of a large study for the
Federal Highway Administration on millennials’ travel
behavior from 1990 to 2010 that reached a different conclusion. Although it’s true that millennials are driving less
than previous generations were at the same age, the study
looked at markers of adulthood instead of age. Those
include paying their own bills, finding a partner, having a
child and buying a home. In the past 25 years, those rites
of passage have stretched out so that people are marrying
and having children much later.
The study found that once those adult markers have been
reached, millennials drive as much as previous generations.
The decline in VMT during the recession was mostly caused
by economic circumstances, Taylor said. The group of millennials Taylor calls multimodals — more likely to live in
more urban environments, relatively well educated, with
access to cars, but also likely to travel by walking, biking or
transit — increased by 50 percent between 1990 and 2010.
Millennials have stayed with
their preference for attached
walkable homes, even as they
have formed families.
Courtesy of NYC & Company/
Photo by Wes Tarca
Photo by Julienne Schaer