Nov. 22 is Go for a Ride Day.
Americans have always been attached to our transportation (although the video is shot in the UK), and getting out on the open road is part of the American mystique. But is that still true?
One of the interesting changes in society is the reduction in personal transportation. The statistics web site Fivethirtyeight polled Americans about their biking habits, and found that 12 percent of people in the Northeast can’t ride, compared to only 3 percent in the Midwest, five percent in the South, and six percent in the West.
Even more interesting, older people (97% of those 55 and older) are more likely to be able to ride than younger people (9% of 18-34 year olds would fall over if put on two wheels).
The same trend is true of driving a car. In 1996 85.3% of high school seniors had a license, compared to only 71.5 percent in 2015.
And other kinds of mobility are also changing. Migration of young adults declined 1.4 percent after the recession.
One of the distinguishing features of the American system is competition among states. As fewer people move around, the impact of that jurisdictional competition, or competitive federalism, declines. For the Founders, that would be a big deal.
- Are you less interested in moving around than your parents?
- Do you think bike riding, car driving, and moving to change jobs are all related?
- If Americans cease to move around so much, what effect do you think it would have on our governments, at the local, state, and federal levels? Might the polarization of our politics be related? If so, how?
14, April, 1939, Joad’s 1926 Hudson Super Six from“Grapes of Wrath” [Digital image]. Retrieved from <blogs.nasa.gov/J2X/author/wgreene/>.