Fact: More Than Half of Philly Households Are Car-Free

Today in transportation news, there’s this: a new analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data that looks at the number of car-owning and car-free households in Philly. And guess what? Despite what trying to park in Center City on a Saturday night might lead you to believe, fewer people own cars here than you might think.

In a new post on nextcity.org, numbers-cruncher Jonathan Geeting used data gleaned from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey to track trends in car dependency in Philly. He looked at the period between 2005 and 2011, the most recent year for which data is available. In his words:

Between 2005 and 2011, Philadelphia’s population grew by 10,996 households, and 6,919 of those, or 62.92 percent, did not own a car. But it’s the second half of that period that is really surprising. Between 2009 and 2011, when Center City population growth started to accelerate, the share of car-free households increased by more than 244 percent. The number of households increased by 6,594, but those identifying as non-car owners jumped by 16,127 — much more than the net growth in the number of households.

Check out the charts he ginned up to see the growth for yourself. Of course, what it means for city cyclists and pedestrians is that there seems to be a notable shift away from cars to other forms of transportation—including, perhaps, more human-powered ones. Here’s hoping better infrastructure—more bike lanes, better pedestrian paths, clearer traffic signals so everyone knows how to use the roads—follows suit.

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