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Monday, February 29, 2016

Good Job to Public Works - Hillsboro Village

Many people write to me at to ask how they can get a sidewalk in their neighborhood.  This turns out to be a very challenging question for which I have no easy answers.  

On the flip side, if you can be patient, Public Works does good things at times.  Below is an example of an issue I called in about 1.5 years ago.  Look closely at the smudged out white stop bar on the roadway.  

Can you see the issue?

The old stop bar invited drivers to pull up and stop past the sidewalk.  Imagine if there was a cross walk here - it would be between the 2 stop bars that you see.  

Before, as a walker, you ran the risk of stepping into the road only to have a motorist race up to the stop bar before looking left and right for pedestrians.  So dangerous!

If you have issues/concerns about walkability, you can email Public Works at:  

Expect to be really patient...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Nashvillians Will Walk...When It's Worth It

We have a lot of stats in Nashville that show are growth, our niceness, our interest to the world, etc.  

3 statistics on Nashville that aren't rosy -

---ranked the 15th most dangerous cities in the US based on pedestrian deaths AND pedestrian deaths went up in 2015
---our obesity rate is hovering near 40%
---for every mile of roadways, we have 1/8 mile of sidewalks on both sides


Some people argue that we don't need sidewalks.  They say things like, no one walks or it's too expensive.  I have been thinking a lot about why it is that so few walk in Nashville.  Why isn't there more of a culture of walking?


When walking in the freezing rain the other day with my 3 year old son - it became quickly worth it to hop on the bus.  With a well designed sidewalk network, it will quickly become worth it to walk.  

On this walk, it occurred to me that Nashvillians will walk if they find it easier than driving - if it is worth it.  If it is quicker, easier and more interesting.  If the sidewalk network is designed well & completed - we could literally create the best (& only!) walking city in the South.

Right now it isn't worth it.  It is not safe, connected, or interesting.  This is one explanation for all the hostility around sidewalks:  we don't have a walking culture.  We don't have it because we haven't properly planned for it nor funded it.    

As part of this project - we hope to get photos of  our Council Members, business owners & VIPs holding these signs.  Interested?  


Follow us on Instagram:  #NashvilleNeedsSidewalks

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

See Nashville Needs Sidewalks on Channel 5 News - Talking Sidewalks!

Channel 5 News last night - Talking about sidewalks!

If you are a business owner, walking enthusiast, or are on Council - I'd love to get a picture of you holding a Nashville Needs Sidewalks sign.  Please contact me:

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

'Yo, Megan Barry Do Something!'

Spotted on East Nashville Facebook page with this comment:  'I like this, but I think it needs to say bike lanes instead.  Yo, Megan Barry do something!'

Well, that is one way to say it!  I am all for bike lanes but not everyone is a biker.  The terrain is not easy in Nashville - hilly, hot, fast moving traffic.  What I do know is that everyone is a pedestrian (from birth!) and everyone would benefit from getting out more on foot.

Thank you KJ for sending it my way...If you see Nashville Needs Sidewalks posters, let me know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Build Like You Live Next Door...additional ideas on this Nashville concept

One way to 'Build Like You Live Next Door' is to insists that the proper infrastructure is put down during construction.  Encourage contractors and developers to build the sidewalk that is required rather than pay into the In-Lieu fee.  

It is a huge gift to the neighborhood to put in the piece of sidewalk grid for everyone to use.  In this way, developers can contribute to the eventual sidewalking of the entire block.

Another way to "Build Like You Live Next Door' is to put in walkways from your home to the road.  Access strictly from driveway suggests that the only way you welcome people into your home is via the car, which is hopefully not the case!  Inviting friends and neighbors to walk over is so much more hospitable and fun.

Want a Nashville Needs Sidewalks sign?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Springtime in Nashville is...People Watching?

Wish you could say the same for Nashville.

I once had a boyfriend say, ' I love spring - all that skin appears after being hidden over the long cold winter'.  Should have been a red flag...

But, it is fun to catch the excitement of spring and get out on foot.  Who knows who you'll run into and what you will see?

Do you feel Nashville Needs Sidewalks?  

It certainly would be much easier, safer and more comfortable to get out on foot if Nashville had a consistent and cohesive sidewalk network.  With a well designed and consistent sidewalk network people will get out on foot in droves...making for an experience that is much more fun!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Elected Leaders of TN Who Want to Take Away Funding for Walkability

Please recognize that there are leaders in our state and in our city who want to remove funding from walkability...yesterday, there was a bill introduced to the Transportation Subcommittee to prevent the gas tax being used for non-vehicular travel (only for roads, not for sidewalks or bike lanes which the gas tax currently helps fund via TDOT).

If you feel that Nashville is wholly deficient in high quality walkability consider the possibility of additional cuts to funding.  Law makers who do not understand the implications are really important to connect with in order to educate.  People often ask what they can do to help -> they can get involved quickly by writing or calling their elected leaders and asking them for the best walkability possible for the health, safety and pleasure of all in Tennessee.


Sen. Gardenhire and Rep. Carter Propose Deadly Anti-Pedestrian and Anti-Bike Bill
General Overview

In January 2016 TN Senator Gardenhire and Representative Carter introduced a bill (HB1650--SB1716) to the state Transportation Subcommittee to prevent the use of gas tax revenue for non-vehicular travel. Even though bicycles are considered a vehicle under Tennessee State Law, the intent of this dangerous bill is to prevent TDOT from building bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. This bill hurts all Tennesseans, since the majority of those who walk and bike in our state also contribute to the gas tax fund. All road users benefit from decreased congestion and improved safety, some of the many benefits of providing walking, biking, and transit options. Walk Bike Nashville opposes this bill because of its extremely negative effects on the mobility and safety of all Tennesseans.

Businesses, local governments, groups and individuals across the state are speaking out against this bill. The Department of Transportation also submitted a fiscal note that describes how this bill will violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and jeopardize Tennessee’s access to nearly a billion dollars of transportation funding from the Federal Highway Administration--funding generated in part by Tennessee taxpayers. Help us stop this disastrous bill before it compromises essential transportation investments.

As of February 10 this bill was placed on the schedule for the Transportation Subcommittee for February 17, 2016.

What you Can Do:

Impacts of HB1650/SB1716

1. Violation of Americans with Disabilities Act
  • According to the TN Department of Transportation's fiscal note, this bill will result in a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act and will jeopardize federal funding from the Federal Highway Administration. Read more here.
2. Bring Back 1950s Transportation Engineering
  • This bill will prevent TDOT from building infrastructure for people who walk and bike during road widenings and new road projects. This will make it much harder to improve safety along Nashville's busy state routes. Planned TDOT widenings on Nolensville and Clarksville Pikes will no longer include sidewalks and bike lanes. Future safety improvements on other pikes and state routes will be equally compromised. 
3. Decrease State and Federal Funds Available to Local Governments
  • Local transportation projects that depend on an 80% state or federal match will now be required to find alternate sources of funding. Metro’s local funds will be unable to cover the local match required for most major transportation investments, halting progress on building a safer, more efficient multimodal transportation network. Other local governments across the state will suffer the same effect. 
4. Hurt Businesses and Kill Jobs
  • Businesses in Nashville and around the state recognize the importance of being located in walkable, bikeable and livable areas. Not only are walkable areas magnets for customers, but they are also magnets for today's workforce. Increasingly a majority of the workforce chooses where to live based on quality of life. Read more about this trend here. We want to empower these businesses by building more of the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure they need. This bill will prevent the state from investing in livable streets that are so in demand by businesses across the state. 
5. Eliminate the Multimodal Access Fund
  • Last year this Fund distributed $10.4 Million in grants to 14 communities to support the transportation needs of transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists by addressing gaps along the state highway network. TDOT will have to kill this popular grant program that increases safety and decreases congestion for all Tennesseans. 
6. Void TDOT's Multimodal Access Policy
  • Tennessee’s statewide complete streets policy, known as the Multimodal Access Policy, was enacted in July 2015 to encourage safe access for all road users of all abilities on state roads. This proposed state bill will use the “power of the purse” to void our state’s Multimodal Access Policy.
7. Further Endanger People on our Streets
  • This bill will block much needed safety improvements for all road-users along our most dangerous streets. Last year 120 pedestrians and bike riders were killed on Tennessee's streets, a 20-year high. If funding for basic infrastructure is eliminated-- while our cities continue to grow faster than ever--we can only expect this number to go up. 
8. Lead to a Loss of Valuable Tourism and Commercial Dollars
  • Bike facilities are a major draw for commuters and tourists alike. States across the country have produced clear evidence that those on foot and bike contribute more per day to the local economy than drivers. You can read more in Advocacy Advance's Bike's Mean Business Report. Limiting state transportation investments in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure means Tennessee will be loosing out on valuable economic activity. 
Last year Governor Haslam said "Improving our facilities for walking, biking, and transit is critical to the continued growth and success of our towns and cities". We agree! For that reason we strongly oppose House Bill 1650 -- Senate Bill 1716 and urge you to do so as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Live Longer via Walking?

Want a longer, better life?  Give this a listen...a number of stories focused around increased walkability leading to a longer & better life...


      A Recipe For Longevity? Beans, Friends, 

Purpose And Movement
What is the recipe for living a long, healthy, happy life? Dan Buettner has been researching this for nearly a decade. (Pixabay)
What is the recipe for living a long, healthy, happy life? Dan Buettner has been researching this for nearly a decade. (Pixabay)
For nearly a decade, Dan Buettner has been researching so-called Blue Zones – those areas of the world where people live longer, healthier and happier than anywhere else on the planet.
After identifying where the zones are (Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; parts of Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya, Costa Rica), Buettner proceeded to study the factors that appear to contribute the residents’ longevity. And then, he took it a step further, founding the Blue Zones Project, the largest preventive health care initiative in the United States, so far estimated to have reached 5 million people.
Funded largely by insurance companies, the Blue Zones Project focuses on restructuring communities so that healthy choices are also easy choices. Changes might include new sidewalks, establishing friendship groups, re-arranging supermarkets to highlight healthy foods, and even reorganizing family kitchens.
The results have been dramatic: In Albert Lea, Minnesota, the average life expectancy rose by nearly three years and health care costs for city workers there dropped by 40 percent. In Spencer, Iowa, health care costs for city workers dropped by 25 percent. And in the Beach Cities, California, smoking rates declined by nearly 30 percent.
Buettner writes about his efforts in his new book “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People,” which also includes recipes and lists of do’s and don’ts. He talks with Here & Now’s Robin Young about his new book and his efforts.

Book Excerpt: ‘The Blue Zones Solution’

Introduction: Discovering the Blue Zones Solution
Superfoods by 'Blue Zone'
Ikaria, Greece
Olive Oil
Wild Greens
Feta Cheese
Black-Eyed Peas
Mediterranean Herbs
Okinawa, Japan
Bitter Melons
Sweet Potatoes
Brown Rice
Green Tea
Shiitake Mushrooms
Ogliastra region, Sardinia
Goat’s and sheep’s milk
Flat Bread
Sourdough Bread
Fava Beans and Chickpeas
Milk Thistle
Cannonau Wine
Loma Linda, California
Whole Wheat Bread
Soy Milk
Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
Maize Nixtamal
Black Beans

For more than a decade I’ve been working with the National Geographic Society to identify hot spots of longevity around the world—areas we called Blue Zones because a team of researchers had once circled a target region on a map with blue ink. Teaming up with demographer Michel Poulain, I set out to find the world’s longest-lived people. We wanted to locate places that had not only high concentrations of 100-year-olds but also clusters of people who had grown old without diseases like heart problems, obesity, cancer, or diabetes. Poulain did extensive data analysis and research and pinpointed several regions in the world that appeared to have long-lived people. We needed to visit them to check birth and death records to confirm that these individuals were really as old as they thought they were.
By 2009 we had found five places that met our criteria:
  • IKARIA, GREECE An island in the Aegean Sea eight miles off the coast of Turkey that has one of the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the lowest rates of dementia
  • OKINAWA, JAPAN The largest island in a subtropical archipelago, home to the world’s longest-lived women
  • OGLIASTRA REGION, SARDINIA The mountainous highlands of an Italian island that boast the world’s highest concentration of centenarian men
  • LOMA LINDA, CALIFORNIA A community with the highest concentration of Seventh-day Adventists in the United States, where some residents live ten more healthy years than the average American
  • NICOYA PENINSULA, COSTA RICA A place in this Central American country where residents have the world’s lowest rates of middle-age mortality and the second highest concentration of male centenarians
To tease out the factors that contributed to longevity in these places, we assembled a team of leading medical researchers, anthropologists, dietitians, demographers, and epidemiologists. Piece by piece, we put together our working theories, collaborating with local researchers who were studying centenarians, cross-checking with academic papers, and interviewing a representative sample of 90- and 100-year-olds in each Blue Zone.
Cover of "The Blue Zones Solution"
I found it especially helpful during my 20 or so trips to the Blue Zones to spend time just sitting with 100-year-olds and listening to their stories and paying attention to their lives. I watched as they prepared their meals, and I ate when and what they were used to eating. I knew that these people were doing something right—it wasn’t just that they had won the genetic lottery. But what was it?
Remarkably, no matter where I found long-lived populations, I found similar habits and practices at work. When we asked our team of experts to identify these common denominators, they came up with these nine lessons, which we call thePower Nine:
  1. Move Naturally. The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons, or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work. Every trip to work, to a friend’s house, or to church occasions a walk.
  2. Purpose. The Okinawans call it ikigai and the Nicoyans call it plan de vida; for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” In all Blue Zones people had something to live for beyond just work. Research has shown that knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
  3. Down Shift. Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress, which leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress: Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap, and Sardinians do happy hour.
  4. 80 Percent Rule. Hara hachi bu—the 2,500-year-old Confucian mantra spoken before meals on Okinawa—reminds people to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20 percent gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight and gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening, and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
  5. Plant Slant. Beans, including fava, black, soy, and lentil, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month, and in a serving of three to four ounces, about the size of a deck of cards.
  6. Wine @ 5. People in all Blue Zones (even some Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive nondrinkers. The trick is to drink one to two glasses per day with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all week and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
  7. Belong. All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to a faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4 to 14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First. Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home, which also lowers disease and mortality rates of their children. They commit to a life partner (which can add up to three years of life expectancy), and they invest in their children with time and love, which makes the children more likely to be caretakers when the time comes.
  9. Right Tribe. The world’s longest-lived people choose, or were born into, social circles that support healthy behaviors. Okinawans create moais—groups of five friends that commit to each other for life. Research shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. By contrast, social networks of long-lived people favorably shape their health behaviors.
You might be reading this now and saying, All these stories about the Blue Zones are fine, but I don’t live on an island in the Mediterranean, and you haven’t come to my hometown yet. Or you might be saying, I live in a town where fast-food restaurants abound, and I’m busy with family and work and trying to stay on a budget. Grocery store vegetables often look limp and are still expensive. Stores that carry plenty of good, healthy food are few and far away. It’s much easier and cheaper to stop at the burger or pizza restaurant. You might be saying, I live in a place built for cars. I drive to work, to the store, to my place of worship; things are spread out. There’s stress-inducing and sometimes dangerous traffic. My friends are busy, too, and they live a long way from me. I don’t have time to get together for dinner. How can I be expected to eat and live like people in the Blue Zones? It’s not realistic
The Blue Zones Solution offers an alternative—food ideas and eating practices, plus ways to change your environment that make it all the more likely that you will live a longer, healthier life. We’ve adapted the lessons from the original Blue Zones, piloted the lifestyle changes in real communities, and translated the actual foods into easy, doable recipes designed for every taste and family—kids included—and die-hard meat-and-potato lovers too. We want you to love what you eat, how you spend your day, and the people around you. We want you to feel your life is getting better and better, whether you start by embracing the Blue Zones Solution on a small-scale at home or are inspired to get involved in transforming your whole neighborhood, extended family, town, or city.

Watch Dan Buettner's TED Talk:


  • Dan Buettner, author of “The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People.” He tweets @BlueZones.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Construction Zone Ideas...Hint to Nashville!

Current state of Nashville's construction boom...

Leaves a lot of pedestrians wanting.

Check out these pictures below! How easy would this be to do?  Hint, hint Nashville!  This could be an easy fix for the walkers and bikers who routinely find themselves in dangerous situations when the sidewalk literally ends.

Other cities are setting the bar higher.  The article below is from Portland, OR.  


Detour done right: 21st and Belmont shows how construction zones should work

Posted by  on February 3rd, 2016 at 3:02 pm
lead diversion
A contractor’s trailer blocked sidewalk and bike lane, so the city temporarily removed some parking to keep the routes open.
(Photos: Michael Andersen/BikePortland)

Three months ago, there were so many construction zones encroaching on walking and biking routes that a few Portlanders organized a walking tour of downtown’s worst offenders. So today we’re happy to take a moment to recognize a detour that the city has handled beautifully.
The city prioritized walking, biking, bus and freight access over free on-street parking spaces.
It’s at SE 21st and Belmont, where a big new apartment building is going up. Like on many of these projects, contractors have set up a fenced-in trailer along the sidewalk and curbside — in this case right in the path of the bike lane that runs up Belmont at this point.
But unlike on many projects, the city has worked with contractors to create a great detour for people walking and biking through this commercial district. A detour sign prompts people to the left, into one of the two parallel auto travel lanes:

two lanes
The resulting design pushes cars fairly close to the left (north) side of Belmont, so the city temporarily removed a handful of parking spaces to ensure that wide auto traffic can keep flowing.
Essentially, the city prioritized walking, biking, bus and freight access over free on-street parking spaces.The design cleverly uses what would usually be the dashed line between two auto lanes to become the line between people walking and biking. At the east side of the detour, the city has added a new temporary stripe to guide people back into their usual lanes:
stripe back to place
Here’s the view from the other direction, looking west:
looking backward
You can see that (despite the man in the first photo on this post) the bike lane is eastbound as usual while the temporary walking lane is bidirectional, just like the sidewalk.
It’s great that the city is working to address these issues. City spokesman John Brady said Wednesday that this is a Bureau of Transportation joint.
One big reason different detours are so different in how they treat people using nearby streets is that different detours are designed by different city bureaus, and there’s no overarching citywide policy that has ever gotten every bureau to design its detours with care. With our neighbors in Seattle celebrating a new policy that specifies the rules for closing sidewalks in construction zones, we can hope and expect that this is a sign that Portland’s internal efforts are improving, too.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 –

Monday, February 15, 2016

Instead of Guitars, Nashvillians Don Rather Silly Reflective Clothing...Just to Take a Walk!

Nashville, it is not normal for your citizens to feel they have to wear reflective clothing akin to what roadside workers put on in order to simply go for a walk.  I have lived in a lot of cities but have never lived anywhere where you see this kind of donning of safety clothes to walk the dog or run errands.  

This is a huge red flag that your citizens, for numerous and substantiated reasons, do not feel safe on foot.

This kind of eye catching gear  (plus flash lights!) is a real thing here in Nashville - a city rated the 15th most dangerous city for pedestrians in America today.  Last year, we had an unprecedented number of people killed by cars while on foot.    Cautious walkers do feel motivated to make themselves seen - and it shows. 

But, it is weird!  Like I said, other cities do not have people walking around in neon green reflective vests.  They just don't.  

Instead of Guitars, Nashvillians Don Rather Silly Reflective Clothing...Just to Take a Walk in Their Neighborhoods!

Nashville NEEDS Sidewalks!

Common Nashville...Let's make walkability our top priority!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Reclaiming Space for Pedestrians on the Cheap

As a sidewalk advocate, one thing I hear over & over again is that sidewalks are expensive.  Years after the property has been developed, to go back and retrofit sidewalks is a challenge.  There are mature trees, ditches, landscaping to be considered.  

That being said, there are creative ways to go about reclaiming space for pedestrians.  The following article has a good idea...

From City lab

Polka Dots Help Pedestrians Reclaim Space in Austin

The colorful approach is part of a project to enhance safety for both people and cars.
Jan 29, 2016

Image City of Austin
City of Austin

One of the busiest intersections in Austin, Texas, has gotten a makeover. White stripes adorn the barren pavement that once made pedestrians hesitant to cross, poles separate pedestrian space from the roadways, and stop signs now sit at every corner. Then there are all the polka dots, painted in green and baby blue.

They aren’t there just for decoration, says Anna Martin, traffic engineer for the Austin Transportation Department. The whimsical polka dots at the corner of East 6th and Waller Streets in East Austin are curb extensions, or “bulb outs,” designed to “give space back to the pedestrians.” Evenings and on weekends, the area, known for its walkability and bustling night life, is teeming with people.

Yet residents have complained that the intersection there is anything but friendly to pedestrians due to a lack of crosswalks or measures to slow down traffic. This specific intersection has seen dozens of crashes in 2015, according to local news channel KXAN.

(City of Austin)

In response, the city council decided to install four-way stop signs and dedicate what Martin calls “wasted no-man’s land” to pedestrians. But instead of building out the curb with concrete, Martin says they opted for a low-cost option using what they already had handy. And instead of regular white paint, they took colorful inspiration from various parklet and pedestrian plaza projects in New York City and Los Angeles.

The blue and green dots Austin is using, she adds, clearly define the pedestrian space, and they stand out just enough to make drivers slow down without causing a distraction. The upgrades debuted Wednesday, and so far the feedback has been positive:

“It's a testament to the character and energy of Austin,” says Marissa Monroy, public relations specialist for the city of Austin. “People are really excited to see a project that emphasizes safety but, at the same time, really shows that we like to have a little bit of fun.“

Friday, February 12, 2016

Percy Warner Park Moving Towards Being Car-Free!

A huge step in the right direction!  The roads of Percy Warner have always been uncomfortable as a pedestrian due to the many cars trying to pass along the narrow roads.  This is a gesture towards making the experience one that is comfortable and safe for those who use it most:  the walkers and bikers.  Good job!

From The Nashville Banner

5.8-Mile Loop in Percy Warner Park will be Car-Free by Spring

Better experience for walkers and cyclists, better for wildlife, still 10 miles for cars


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Fewer Drivers Mean that Cities Need to Build the Best Walkability Possible

More and more Americans are leaving driving behind.  Nashville, this is yet another wake up call that we need to be putting the building of pedestrian and public transportation infrastructure first on our list of to-dos.  

This concrete pad is a bus stop.  But, if you look up and down the road, the following pictures are what you see.  How, do you propose, you get to this bus stop???  And, this is in the Urban Service District in the very popular Green Hills/Hillsboro Village area.

We need to stop building roads like this with a bus stop that is of questionable use.  This piece, on NPR this morning, is also strong support that citizens need better walkability and cities need to prioritize it in order to continue to attracts the young and keep the older.

Like Millennials, More Older Americans Steering Away From Driving

A growing number of Americans are driving less and getting rid of their cars.

The trend that used to be more prominent among younger adults — millennials — is now gaining traction in middle-aged adults as well, to the point where fewer of them are even bothering to get or renew their driver's licenses.

"Honestly, at this point, it just doesn't really seem worth it," says 25-year-old Peter Rebecca, who doesn't own a car or have a driver's license. "I mean, I live in Chicago, there's really good access to, you know, public transits for pretty cheap."

The student at Harold Washington College downtown lives just a couple of blocks from a rail stop on the Northwest side. In the warmer months, Rebecca says he uses a bike.

"I've got a bunch of grocery stores in walking distance and even then I can use the bus if I have to get further," he says.

Rebecca is hardly alone, especially among young adults in urban areas.

"Over the past several decades, particularly for the youngest age groups, there's been a pretty large decrease in the number of people who have been getting driver's licenses," says Brandon Schoettle, a researcher at the University of Michigan.

He led a new study published by University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute that studied the proportion of people with driver's licenses over the years.

According to the study, only 69 percent of 19-year-olds have a driver's license in 2014, compared to almost 90 percent in 1983. The percentage of 20-somethings with driver's licenses has also fallen by 13 percent over the last three decades, and fewer Americans in their 30s and 40s now have driver's licenses.

Fewer Drivers Among Younger Generations

Proportion of licensed drivers in 1983 and 2014, by age

0%20%40%60%80%100%Down 21.7 percentage points since 1983Down 24.0Down 20.3Down 18.3Down 15.1Down 10.5Down 9.9Down 7.0Down 3.1Down 2.0Down 0.2Up 3.6Up 8.3Up 12.2Up 24.0
  • 16 years old
  • 17 years old
  • 18 years old
  • 19 years old
  • 20-24
  • 25-29
  • 30-34
  • 35-39
  • 40-44
  • 45-49
  • 50-54
  • 55-59
  • 60-64
  • 65-69
  • 70 and older

Susan Schell might soon be one of them. The manager of a Starbucks on Chicago's northwest side says her driver's license is up for renewal this month, yet she doesn't own a car.

"I used to. I got rid of it just because it's too much of a pain in the butt to have in Chicago and we kept getting tickets and I just didn't want to deal with it," Schell says.

In addition to living in a city that is relentless in doling out parking tickets, Schell says there's the cost of insurance, gas, and maintenance on top of the cost of the car itself. Her husband recently let his driver's license expire because they take public transit to work, and they have other options for shopping.

"We use, services like such as Instacart a lot," she says. "...If we've done like a big trip at Target or something, we just call an Uber. There's so many options when you live in a city."

Commuters Ditch Cars For Public Transit In Record Numbers

Schoettle says now this trend is not just limited to teenagers and those in their 20s.

"For some of the oldest age groups, which had seen relatively large increases in licensing over the past few decades, finally seemed to have peaked and have started to show some small decreases in licensing," he says. "And so for the first time in the series of reports that we've done, we've kind of seen a decrease in the percentage of people with a license across all age groups."

Forty-eight-year-old Raul Chavez hasn't renewed his driver's license since it expired more than a year ago — and he keeps his car parked.

"It's quite a bit expensive because you have to have insurance," he says. "The latest two years I used public transportation and I really enjoy it because it's cheap and it's reliable everywhere you're gonna go."

Schoettle says that's one of the main reasons more Americans of all ages are going without driver's licenses.

"There's been a shift publicly for people to move to things like public transportation that just wasn't there back in the 80s and 90s, partly because there's sometimes better public transportation in certain areas than there was few decades ago and a little more concern about the environment," he says.

Schoettle says he'll be watching to see if cheaper gas might reverse the trend.