While observing the reporting on America’s decline of car use for many years now, what stands out is the market-based viewpoint, often claiming GenX/Y/Millenials are simply cogs in a system temporarily unable to afford the responsibilities of adulthood and car ownership. Rarely, if ever, does such coverage ever ask youngish people about their conscious decisions for fear of revealing a greater truth: kids just are done with driving.
Ironically, my hometown newspaper the Lansing State Journal recently ran an in-depth piece regarding the decline of car culture. Bear in mind, Lansing was as much an automobile manufacturing power haus as Flint was for a great many decades. Only Detroit tops them, historically. For my state capital’s paper of record to cover the issue with such honestly and nuance struck me as a sign that change is hella blowin’ in the wind.
From the State Journal:
“At 6:45AM, Sam Kirstein pulls into central Minneapolis after a 5-mile commute, parks and locks his vehicle, and heads for a hot shower. You wouldn’t know when he takes a seat minutes later, wearing a pressed striped dress shirt, that he arrived on two wheels. Kirstein recalls growing up in South Dakota where “cars were a way of life.” In Minneapolis, he drove 45 minutes to work in traffic, until he and his wife set off to bike cross-country. They returned, but never put away the bikes. Kimani Beard used to drive a suburban delivery route for DHL, burning half a tank of gas a day. He was a graphic and apparel designer, now his full-time occupation. A few days a week, he walks or bikes from home, less than half a mile away. “I don’t want to drive anywhere,” he says. “I’ve spent my time behind the wheel, but I think I’ve done enough.”
While many of older generations refuse to comprehend that changing climates caused by global warming are even happening, while politicians the world over refuse to act, there is no such denial among today’s young people. And it is these people of right here and now who are taking action, changing their travel habits, challenging the status quo, and effecting meaningful, productive change.
Here in America alone, young folk 16-34 year olds have kicked a staggering 25% chunk out of the car market while committing a mass exodus out of the suburbs and into the cities where buses, light rail, and the almighty bicycle reign as the most logically logistic and socially sophisticated modes of transport. Let’s hope they can keep affording it here.
I’ve compiled several photo collections here on Rebel Metropolis, amassing random images I come across over the months from Tumblr. Admittedly, this platform tends to showcase younger riders, sorry to seem ageist. Alas, enjoy the photo set below for what it is: a youth coup against the automobile, a celebration of cycling culture, an illustration of people pedaling a positive path forward.