And here is the last of the three census-related maps, before I move on to other topics. This one shows the percentage of workers who are car-free (zero motor vehicles owned). Again, the 95814 zip code nails it, at 18.4%, and 95811 is close behind at 14.5%. Yes, I’m one of them.
The near suburbs also show moderate car-free percentages, probably in this case due to low income as much as choice. College (Los Rios and Sac State) students, if they are working, probably also contribute in the near suburbs. Not surprisingly, the distant suburbs have almost no one car-free. Those people are locked into the driving life by the place they have chosen to live.
It is important to remember these percentages are of workers, people who are working somewhere. They do not include people too young to work, people who have retired, or just people not working. If those people are included, the car-free rates would be much, much higher. These people are just as entitled to transportation expenditures as car drivers, but our transportation systems is set up to give them crumbs rather than a fair share.
On the other hand, there large numbers of people in the distant suburbs who have three or more cars per worker. Not per family, but per worker. The 95615 zip code (Courtland) tops the list with 54% having three or more cars, but other zip codes are close behind. Yow!
I read with interest the Streetsblog DC post “The American Cities With the Most Growth in Car-Free Households” and wondered about Sacramento. I dove into the American Community Survey, using the same 2012 ACS 1-year and 2007 ACS 1-year data that the research had used to look at the number of car-free households in other cities. Over the period when the national average increased from 8.7 percent share of households without a vehicle to 9.2, the six-county Sacramento region increased from 5.7 to 6.8. Not very impressive, but the change or delta was an impressive 18.8%. Yolo County, probably Davis, led this change with a remarkable 76.2% increase!
Below is the chart of change from 2007 to 2012, for the City of Sacramento, El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties, and the region, which is an average of those six counties. Following the chart are the numbers I retrieved from ACS. If you would like to look for yourself, go to the ACS Advanced Search, and then under Topics select Housing > Occupancy Characteristics > Vehicles Available.
In the blog post, the largest major city increase was Detroit at 5%, and our neighbor San Francisco was sixth at 1.9%.
I’m not quite sure what to make of these numbers. Is there a flaw in my logic? I had to impute the no vehicle households from the total households and percentages for 2007, because the actual number doesn’t seem to be available in the data tables. Were the numbers so small in 2007 that such large changes don’t really mean much? I don’t know. Your thoughts?
I’ve been car free since August 2011, when I finalized my move from Carson City to Sacramento. I have been trimming down use of my car, driving less each year. This was not an insignificant accomplishment, given that in the not too distant past I regularly drove 25,000 mile per year, but the final year it was down to about 3,500. I never brought my car over from Carson City, instead loaning it to a friend who used it sometimes, and I used it sometimes when I was in Carson City and needed to transport things for work, or to the Goodwill as I was also gradually getting rid of many of my possessions. And I eventually gave it to her. I think fondly of my car, as it was cute and reliable and got me where I needed to go, but I don’t miss driving it.
I had been thinking about becoming car free for a long time, and wondering what it would be like. The questions, the raised eyebrows, of my friends and acquaintances made me think it might be a big deal, but in the end it turned out to be pretty much a non-event. All it took was a commitment to planning out my life better and not using the car as a crutch for lack of planning or forethought. It just isn’t part of my life anymore, and unless people ask me about it or I write a blog post on it, I don’t think about it.