Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Where Washington, D.C.'s car-free households are concentrated

June 13, 2012 - 12:05 PM
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(Photo: DDOT)

The Coalition for Smarter Growth has assembled the 2010 American Community Survey data and created a few fascinating charts that detail just where D.C.'s car-free households live (hat tip to Matt Yglesias for tweeting a link to the data yesterday). Here's the breakdown of the eight wards, from those with the highest percentage of car-free Washingtonian households to the least:

Ward 8                 48% of households car-free

Ward 2                 46%

Ward 1/Ward 7     41%

Ward 6                 35%

Ward 5                 33%

Ward 4                 22%

Ward 3                 21%

No real surprises here but it's good to know the breakdown. Washingtonians love and rely on their automobiles in more outlying neighborhoods like Tenleytown and Petworth but get by without them in downtown and Anacostia. In the greater metro region, about 193,000 households (10% of the region's total) have no access to personal cars, the Brookings Institution noted last year.

The Coalition also presented a map of exactly where the car-free households are located, based off of recent census data.

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: Coalition for Smarter Growth)

The Coalition includes data about how D.C. workers commute to work, although I suspect the changes in these percentages have evolved since 2010. According to the 2010 data, 39% of D.C. workers took public transportation, 35% drove alone, 12% walked, 6% carpooled, 5% worked at home, and 3% biked. The bike commuting numbers have probably risen notably due in part to our city's Capital Bikeshare program, which only debuted in late 2010 but has grown immensely.

As these transportation options grow, the ownership of automobiles is likely to grow less and less important. Will it make sense to own a car, at $8,000 a year or so in costs, when there's a 37-mile streetcar network on top of our WMATA trains and buses, the Circulator, a robust biking network, streetscaped sidewalks, and car-sharing? The car may still be important for some commuters but not necessary for anywhere near as many residents.

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