Aug 4, 2023 - Transit

Austinites logged more than 33,000 miles last year

Data: Brookings; Note: Includes all biking, walking, transit and vehicle miles; Map: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals

The average Austin metro area household traveled more than 33,000 miles in 2022, per a new study, higher than the national average of roughly 30,000.

Driving the news: The Brookings Institution study explores household auto, biking, mass transit and walking data for the 110 largest U.S. metro areas in 2022 to measure how close people are to where they work, eat, play, shop and more.

  • The Austin/Round Rock/Georgetown region ranked 29th in the country for most miles traveled last year.

Why it matters: "Helping people live closer to the centers of economic activity ... should reduce the distances people need to travel for many of their essential trips," the analysts wrote.

  • "Shorter trip distances, in turn, make walking, bicycling, and transit more attractive and can improve quality of life."
  • "In other words, greater proximity could lower environmental emissions, create safer streets, and unlock financial savings," they added.

Zoom in: Indeed, in Austin neighborhoods The Brookings Institution classified as having "activity centers," such as downtown, South Congress, UT's campus, Mueller and Hyde Park, people tend to travel fewer miles than in other neighborhoods.

The intrigue: It's not just about distance to urban cores, either. The same patterns hold within suburbs.

What they're saying: "For the average driver, living closer to multiple activity centers can save around $920 to $1,200 in annual transportation expenses, and reduce their carbon footprint by 2,455 to 3,020 pounds of carbon dioxide," the researchers found.

Yes, but: Only 37% of residents in the metro areas studied live within 3 miles of five activity centers.

By the numbers: The Texas Department of Transportation estimates Austin drivers drove more than 45,600,000 miles daily in 2022.

  • That's nowhere near Houston — which holds the top spot in the state at nearly 96,000,000 daily vehicle miles traveled in 2022.

The bottom line: The analysts argue for "building for proximity" to lower overall trip distances and make walking and biking more feasible.

Go deeper: The many benefits of "building for proximity"


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