Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Car Dependence

Seattleites Own More Cars Than Atlantans, and Other Surprising Comparisons

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.02.45 PM

Here's an interesting glimpse at car ownership in a cross-section of American and Canadian cities, courtesy of a recent report from the Shared Use Mobility Center.

This table comes from SUMC's analysis of car-share and bike-share [PDF]. We trimmed it to highlight the cars per household across the 27 cities -- 25 in America and two in Canada -- in SUMC's report. The sample is meant to include different types and sizes of cities -- it's not a list of the biggest cities. And the data comes from core cities, not entire regions with the suburban belt included.

Among these 27 cities, household car ownership is lowest in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Toronto. Not many surprises there.

But the car ownership numbers do make for some unexpected city-to-city comparisons:

    • The average household in Seattle, for instance, owns more cars than the average household in notoriously sprawling Atlanta.
    • Car ownership is higher in bike-friendly Boulder than in unwalkable Las Vegas.
    • In Portland, households typically own more cars than in Miami, and the rate isn't much lower than in Houston.

You can't read too much into this one table, but it does suggest that some cities haven't overcome car dependence as much as their reputations may suggest.

SUMC notes in its report that car ownership rates are basically a function of the strength of the transit system -- the better the transit, the fewer cars people own.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Delivery Worker Minimum Wage Shows Promise … For Some, Data Shows

New data from New York City's Department of Consumer and Worker Protection shows minimum wage is bringing order to a previously wild industry.

July 15, 2024

Monday’s Headlines Go Through Basic Training

An NYU study looks into why the U.S. is lagging behind on high-speed rail, and one transportation expert ponders the impact on growth.

July 15, 2024

Sustainable Transportation Advocates Need to Talk About Sustainable Urban Design

A new book hopes to act as a "magic decoder ring" to our built environment — and a powerful tool to understand how sustainable transportation networks can fit within them.

July 15, 2024

Long Beach Leads in Traffic Circles

Traffic circles aren't quite ubiquitous in Long Beach, but they're around. Riding and walking through the city one encounters circles in neighborhoods rich and poor, new and old.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Take Me to the River

Politico reports that the Biden administration is investing $2.5 billion in updating aging Mississippi River locks and dams like this one in Iowa. Transporting freight by barge produces less emissions than trucks or even rail.

July 12, 2024
See all posts