Windfall for All

BY BEN LOWE
November 20, 2009

Windfall for All coverStudy after study has shown that cities prioritize development that lets visitors and residents walk, bicycle, or take public transit to get around, people are healthier and have far less negative impact on the environment.  Now, a new study by TransForm entitled Windfall for All demonstrates another benefit to developing livable communities: people who do not use cars to get around spend far less money on transportation than people who do.  Citing AAA estimates, the report shows that, on average, it costs $8,097 per year to own, maintain, register, insure, and fuel a vehicle.  In all, individuals in the Bay Area spend $34 billion on private transportation, most of which on owning and operating cars.

Especially in current tough economic conditions, finding ways to cut costs is critical, and that includes money spent on transportation.  Yet many Bay Area towns and cities have prioritized development that not only encourages auto use, but precludes other ways to travel.  As the study asserts, people can only move away from expensive auto use toward more affordable transportation means if cities give them the means to do so by putting housing near transit, ensuring pedestrians and bicyclists can get around safely, and investing in pleasant places that are nicer to be in than to drive past.