Car Dependence in the Lehigh Valley
A number of smart transportation advocates and organizations have used the data compiled by The American Community Survey in determining rankings for the best cities for commuters, bikers, and pedestrians. I decided to look over the Lehigh Valley data today after reading a Wash Cycle post on bike sharing, which susbequently brought my attention to a 2007 Commuting Trends entry on the Bike Pittsburgh blog.
I compared the statistics for the 15th Congressional District, which encompasses Northampton County and a majority of Lehigh County (it also includes small parts of Berks and Montgomery Counties), to the data in the greater Philadelphia County region, as well as the region around the city of Pittsburgh. Specifically, I focused on the Means of Transportation to Work by Selected Characteristics, and measured up the Vehicles Available percentages between the three regions. The comparison wasn’t too surprising, as I expected the car-dependence to be higher in the Lehigh Valley than in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh (two regions with comprehensive rail networks). Nevertheless, the results were still significant.
In the greater Lehigh Valley region, most workers have access to more than two vehicles (over 43% of workers), while less than 3% of workers do not have any vehicle available. Compare this last statistic to the Pittsburgh area, where more than 11% of workers do not have access to a car, and, additionally, to the greater Philadelphia area, where a whopping 22% of workers do not have a car, and it becomes clear that the Lehigh Valley is very much a car-dependent region.
Given this data comparison, I want to ask: Would a more robust public transportation in the Lehigh Valley translate into less car dependence? How does land-use planning impact these statistics?