When you are sitting on the Beltline during rush hour staring at the taillights of the car in front of you it may be hard to believe, but statistics show there are now fewer drivers on Madison roads and highways.
According to a study released by the WISPIRG Foundation-Madison, has seen the third-largest decrease in vehicle-miles traveled per capita of the 100 largest urbanized areas. According to federal highway transportation numbers, Madison has seen a 17.7 percent decrease.
Milwaukee has seen the second largest decrease with 20.9 percent fewer vehicle-miles traveled.
The WISPIRG Foundation study also shows Madison having the second-greatest increase in bike commuting nationally. The study used federal census numbers to show there was a 1.4 percent increase in bike commuting in Madison. Only Portland, Ore., had a greater increase.
“Policy-makers need to wake up and realize the driving boom is over,” Bruce Speight, with the WISPIRG Foundation, said.
Speight said that while the recession may have played a role in the decrease in auto commuting, generational shifts may be playing a bigger role.
“The baby boom generation is starting to retire and a new large generation, the millennial generation, comes along who aren’t driving as much,” Speight said.
Because of that shift in transportation trends, there are calls for changes in how transit funding is spent.
“Invest in bus rapid transit as an alternative mechanism for moving large numbers of people on a daily basis. It takes a capital investment and that capital investment should be made by the people benefiting. That means by the entire state of Wisconsin, by the entire United States,” Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said.