7. Carless Philadelphia
In Manhattan, the only people who own cars are multimillionaires, taxi drivers and the insane. In 10 years, the same might be said of Center City.
For those living between Girard and Washington avenues, parking and driving a personal automobile is increasingly expensive, inconvenient and, critically, unstylish. Gridlock is commonplace. But parking is probably the bigger problem. Vacant spots can be impossible to find, and are expensive when located.
Meanwhile, the Nutter administration is painting bicycle lanes on every horizontal surface it can find, and the new zoning code goes out of its way to level the urban playing field among pedestrians, bikers and transit riders. If it seems like there’s a conspiracy to get Philadelphians out of their cars, that’s exactly what’s going on.
And it’s working. The city’s goal was to reduce the total miles traveled by car within Philadelphia 10 percent by 2015. Already, total vehicle miles traveled are down 7.4 percent.
The city’s efforts no doubt help, but this falloff probably wouldn’t have been possible without widespread millennial ambivalence about owning a car. Nationwide, car ownership among young adults has plummeted. And the trend seems, if anything, even more pronounced in Philadelphia, a city with some of the nation’s best transit connections, twice as many bicycle commuters per capita as any other urban center, a homegrown car-sharing service and, of course, one of the most compact and walkable downtowns in America.