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According to the results of a new nationwide study, a staggering 91.6% of Downey workers reportedly drive to work, spending an average of 5.3 hours of commute time per week. Moreover, the national average for vehicles per person is 0.85. In Downey, the total is 0.79.
The population aged 16 years and over in Downey is 89,027, with a median household income of $74,590. The aggregate number of vehicles, however, is 70,349.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, caused auto sales to crash temporarily and saw a decline in traffic congestion, U.S. car culture has been slowly shifting for years. Vehicle sales have been on the decline, and fewer workers are commuting by car. The industry and traffic have both since rebounded, but the long-term effects on the auto industry remain uncertain. With millions of people working from home, fewer people are commuting, and even fewer want to take public transportation — even when studies have shown that riding transit during the pandemic is safe.
Though the majority of workers still commute by car, the share of car commuters has fallen over the last decade to stand at 84.8% in 2019. Over the same time period, the share of workers who commute by other modes of transportation, such as public transit, walking, and biking, has stayed relatively constant.
But now, the share of workers who work from home has increased, even before COVID-19, going from 4.3% in 2010 to 5.7% in 2019. This figure will surely increase substantially in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the pandemic.
As aforementioned, vehicle sales in the U.S. have also reportedly been trending downwards since around 2016. Experts have attributed the decline in driving to different factors. These include the fact that young people are delaying getting their driver’s licenses and using them less, the increase in working from home, and the rise in online shopping. And though traffic has gone back to its pre-pandemic levels in Los Angeles as the state has begun re-opening, it is highly likely that a large chunk of people are likely to continue working from home at least part of the time post-pandemic. This will likely affect overall car usage and future vehicle sales.
Another example of our society becoming less car-dependent is the bike boom of 2020. The popularity of bikes, e-bikes, and bike-sharing programs is on the rise because of things like social-distancing, sustainability, and accessibility, according to the New York Times. The market research firm NPD Group said sales of e-bikes grew 1455 in 2020 compared to 2019, outpacing sales of all bikes, which were also up 65%.
Social distancing has demanded the need for safe and more accessible public transportation, as well as sustainable travel measures. Los Angeles is hardly a cycling capital — let alone a safe one. But according to new data from the fitness app Strava quoted by Bloomberg, it did experience a surge in biking after COVID-19 began. Before the pandemic, LA was at 1% of its population biking to work. But by May 2020, the jump was 93%.