Jul 7, 2023 - Business

Chicagoans live close to their fun and work places

Average annual miles traveled per household, by metro area
"Data: Brookings; Note: Includes all biking, walking, transit and vehicle miles; Map: Alice Feng/Axios Visuals"

Chicagoans are living closer to places they need and want to be, a new study from The Brookings Institution suggests.

Driving the news: Members of metro Chicago households living within 3 miles of "activity centers" — neighborhoods with relatively high numbers of jobs, entertainment, community institutions or tourism destinations — are traveling less on average annually since 2019, per the report.

Why it matters: "Shorter trip distances … make walking, bicycling, and transit more attractive and can improve quality of life," the study says. "In other words, greater proximity could lower environmental emissions, create safer streets, and unlock financial savings."

How it works: The study explores household auto, biking, mass transit and walking data for the 110 largest U.S. metro areas to measure how close people are to where they work, eat, play, shop and more, Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick writes.

  • "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.

By the numbers: Chicago metro households traveled an average total of 27,000 miles in 2022 — a nearly 3,000-mile decrease from 2019 and below the national average of nearly 30,000.

Between the lines: The data represent good news for metro Chicago residents, especially in terms of stress and carbon emissions.

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

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