Last week GM explored the question of cars and parking in Georgetown by digging into the Census records to determine what the actual car ownership levels are in Georgetown. The somewhat surprising results demonstrated that the parking problem in Georgetown may be caused more by multi-car households than it is caused by a density of residents. This week GM looks into what we do (or don’t do) with those cars every morning.
GM first started thinking about these questions after the last ANC meeting. At one point Commissioner Bill Skelsey argued that when he has to drive around for a half an hour at the end of the day looking for parking, that’s time he can’t spend with his kids (a point made in critique of a proposed curb cut). GM left the meeting wondering: is that the experience of most Georgetowners, or is Skelsey a minority? Should the ANC be worried about Georgetowners spending time away from their loved ones while circling around the block, or do most of us get to work some other way?
The interesting results after the jump:
According to the Census records, this is how Georgetown residents get to work:
- Drive to work – 46%
- Transit – 16%
- Bike – 4%
- Walk – 25%
- Other – 9%
So nearly half of Georgetowners drive to work. Or, from another point of view, over half of Georgetown residents don’t drive to work. So from the outset, we can say that Commissioner Skelsey’s circling the block is the experience of the minority.
Moreover, 7% of Georgetowners carpool to work. That means that only 38% of Georgetowners get into a car alone every morning. (Meaning 18% more people bike, walk or take transit than drive to work alone).
Just as with the car ownership numbers, it seems that the so-called common experience espoused by organizations like the ANC and CAG aren’t as common as thought. Nearly two-thirds of Georgetowners do something to avoid having to find parking at night.
Commuting Habits and Parking:
It’s impossible, however, to draw too many more conclusions about how commuting habits affect parking from the available data. The data doesn’t indicate whether there’s a correlation between people who drive alone and people who live in multi-car households. It would seem likely that there is, but without supporting data it would be too speculative to say so.
What we can say with more certainty is that 45% of Georgetowners get to work by foot, bike or bus. Like the stats discussed last week, this doesn’t mean that the ANC or CAG should ignore the interests of those who drive to work; many simply have no other reasonable option (but definitely not all). But it does say that when they think primarily about cars and parking they may be ignoring the interests of almost half the residents.
To avoid favoring only one half the residents, organizations like the ANC and CAG need to remember that when they analyze projects that are primarily aimed at non-drivers (e.g. the proposal for buslanes on M and Wisconsin) they should not only see it through the lens of cars and parking. There has to be a balance. While it may be one or more Commissioner’s nightly experience to drive around looking for parking spaces, it simply isn’t the case that even most of their constituents do the same.