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D.C. Commuters Ditching Cars At Rapid Pace, Study Says

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Cycling and mass transportation are supplanting cars among travel options for D.C. workers.
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Cycling and mass transportation are supplanting cars among travel options for D.C. workers.

Those who work in D.C. have been abandoning their cars at faster rates than anywhere in the country except New York City.

That comes according to a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (pdf). Between 2000 and 2011, the proportion of workers in D.C. commuting by private car declined by 4.7 percent. That's the second largest decline in the country for an urbanized area.

Nationwide, as many as 99 out of the top 100 urbanized areas saw a decrease in the number of commuters travelling by car.

It's a trend that is born out in other areas. The number of vehicle-miles traveled per capita in the District declined 4.9 percent from 2006 to 2011, while the number of passenger miles went up 7 percent.

Commuters are also turning to bicycles to get to work. The proportion of commuters using bikes in the District increased 0.3 percent between 2006 and 2011, outstripping the national rate, which increased from 0.42 percent to 0.61 percent. That's not surprising, considering 75 percent of the more than 250,000 monthly rides on Capital Bikeshare are commuters.

The study's authors cite a number of factors for the broad changes, including high fuel costs, the popularity of teleworking, a drop in car ownership, retiring Baby Boomers and less people with driver's licenses overall.

Some experts predict that private vehicle ownership will fade in the next era of transportation and that urban planners need to focus on mass transit and away from highway-centered options.

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