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Five Signs California Is Ditching Its Car Habit
by Suzanne Russo
California is arguably one of the greenest states in the nation. Los Angeles and San Francisco both rank in the top five on the Environmental Protection Agency list of cities with the most green buildings, San Francisco was ranked the greenest U.S. city by the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the state has a long list of environmental policies.
It’s surprising, then, that Californians have such an egregiously “ungreen” habit: the car. They may pay through the nose for the the state’s low-emission gas, but pay they do.
All that may be changing, though. Despite a few bumps in the road, the state’s ambitious high-speed rail plan looks hopeful, and a variety of other factors seem to be making the Golden State just a little bit greener.
A recent report issued by the California Public Research Group (CalPIRG) reveals that the average number of miles driven by people ages 16 to 34 fell 23 percent from 2001 to 2009, while the average number of mass transit miles burgeoned 40 percent for the same age group. Furthermore, many young people are skipping a driver’s license altogether in favor of getting around by other means.
The carefree cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon. But as other transportation options become more available (and popular) California can work its way back to healthier, happier communities, and the open road as it was intended to be—open.