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Seattle sees biggest drop in car ownership nationwide

Heavy traffic on Second Avenue in downtown Seattle. (Oran Viriyincy, Flickr)

Whether there’s a war on cars is somewhat up for debate, but it sure seems like there’s one when public transportation and bike advocates are seemingly gleeful about reported drops in Seattle car ownership.

Seattle saw the biggest drop in car ownership among major U.S. cities in the past few years. Eighty-one percent of Seattle households owned a vehicle in 2018, which is down three percentage points since 2010 and the lowest rate in Seattle since the 1980s, reports The Seattle Times.

KIRO Radio’s John Curley isn’t too impressed with the drop, and thinks it has more to do with demographics.

“Woo, wow. You’ve dropped three percent in 10 years, not in one year,” he said. “As people age, they change the way they live, and what happens is they end up getting married or they co-habitate, and then they have a kid, and as soon as they have a kid, the whole idea of taking the bus or using a bike lane goes out the window.”

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“So Seattle is at its lowest child-producing level we’ve ever had; maybe that’s a good thing, and because of that, they’re not having to get cars,” he added.

Part of the reason cited is that new people coming into Seattle are not bringing as many cars with them or even keeping them as one would think.

“We have added like tens of thousands of people to Seattle each year, and they’re coming to Seattle with cars. Why is that? Because we have the zoning areas that can’t handle a lot of people out in the neighborhoods, so they go to these highly dense areas, like Capitol Hill and the U-District and downtown,” co-host Tom Tangney said.

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“Those are easier walking places and easier to catch transit than anywhere else. It’s all these new people are coming and they’re not using a car because they live in these highly dense areas.”

“Get them knocked up, and then expect to see them at the local car dealer,” Curley joked.

Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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