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'Peak Car' and the Beginning of the End of the Commute

Traffic is one of those things, like sea levels and our working memory, that we just assume are getting worse with time. Unless we live in a hollowed-out shell of a city like Detroit, our experience has been one of steady and ineluctable increases. We build bigger roads, we lay down light rail, and still the cars come to clog the highways and lengthen our commutes.

Yet a growing number of planners and transportation wonks believe the wave has crested and that, in the developed world at least, we have reached what they call “peak car.” In many places, they note, vehicle miles traveled per person have declined steadily in recent years.