The British take significantly fewer non-vacation trips and travel less per trip than Americans, whether they live in London or a remote village, she said. In the U.S., a person takes an average of 3.8 trips a day covering 28.7 miles, compared to 2.9 trips totaling 14 miles in Great Britain.
The major difference, Giuliano finds, is greater affluence in the U.S., with a median household income of $33,900 in 1999, compared to $21,800 in the UK.
The greater wealth is reflected in car ownership rates: almost one-quarter of British households don’t have cars, compared to 3% in the U.S. And only 3% of the British live in households that have more cars than drivers, compared to 16% in the U.S.
It is also significantly more expensive to operate cars in Great Britain.
A higher quality of public transit and greater mixed-use development also play a role.
“There’s more mixed use everywhere — even in low-density villages,” Giuliano said. “When people have to economize on travel, they have lots more opportunities. High transportation costs motivate people to live closer to work and to use nearby shops and services. In this country, there is no such incentive.”
“The whole idea that Americans will behave differently if only given the chance can’t be supported,” she said. “People do seem to like their cars and, on average, prefer single-family homes.”
As long as transportation is a bargain, people will use it to live, work and shop where they want, she said.
“Trying to build high-density, mixed-use can give you many other good things,” she said, “but it will not materially change the transportation problem.”
[ Go to Top ]