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

Seattleites Own More Cars Than Atlantans, and Other Surprising Comparisons

12:11 PM EDT on July 29, 2016

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

NYC Debuts Public E-Bike Charging for Delivery Workers

Finally, they’re taking charge! The city’s first public e-bike charging station opened in Cooper Square on Thursday — the start of an overdue six-month pilot that is part of a “Charge Safe Ride Safe Action Plan” for delivery workers that Mayor Adams announced last year.

March 1, 2024

Friday’s Headlines Have Questions

What's an optimal rebate to get people to buy e-bikes without wasting money on those who were going to buy one anyway?

March 1, 2024

To Recruit Transit Workers, More Than Just Higher Pay Is Needed

Labor shortages continue threatening public transit systems, and a new report adds another layer to the conversation.

February 29, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Streets for Skateboards

Aaron Breetwor on skateboards for transportation and designing streets for safer skateboarding.

February 29, 2024

Agencies Need to Use Federal Funding to Buy Land for Transit Oriented Development

Transit agencies do not prioritize transit-adjacent housing development often because they lack funding to acquire land.

February 29, 2024
See all posts