Who Cars Anymore? Some Chicago Drivers Kissing their Cars Goodbye

The Chicago Tribune, RedEye Edition
Leonor Vivanco

When Aaron Wilson moved from car-crazed California to commuter-friendly Chicago to attend the University of Chicago, he traded his driver's license for an Illinois state ID.

"I can get everywhere I need to go either by public transportation or on my bike," said Wilson, now 24, a research assistant who lives in Logan Square. "It's really expensive to have a car. It's something I can afford, but it would limit my ability to have a nicer apartment or not spend as much on food."


Is the flexibility that a car offers really worth it?

Maybe not, according to a recent report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Frontier Group environmental think tank. Drivers ages 16 to 34 are driving less, as shown by a 23 percent drop in the annual number of vehicle-miles traveled from 2001 to 2009. At the same time, they are biking, walking and taking public transportation more often. Fewer Millennials had their driver's licenses in 2010 than did in 2000, according to the report.

"The trend away from driving is dramatic, and it's even more dramatic when you consider that trend is driven by young people," said Brian Imus, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.