Amanda Miller, 27, has never had a car or driver’s license.
“If I had the money to drive I probably would, but at this point I get pretty much everywhere I need to be,” she says.
“I can only imagine how much it would cost. I just don’t see the need for a car.”
But don’t mess with her phone.
“I use my phone for everything, including entertainment,” Miller says. “I’m in nursing school, so I use it for my books and nursing apps. If I didn’t have that, I would have to carry about a hundred pounds of books everywhere.”
She’s not alone.
Miller fits a trend among millennials — people born from the early 1980s through 2000 — who eschew cars.
Recent studies say millennials see phones as indispensable. Cars, not.
“I would probably be better off without my car,” says Justin Jones of Willow Street, born in 1988. “The phone keeps me connected. I’m really into information and the ability to have that information at my fingertips.”
He and his fiancee need cars to commute, he says; he works in East Earl, she in Harrisburg.
But Jones, a corporate quality engineer for Conestoga Wood Specialties, says cars are a burden.
“It’s almost part of the popular culture today that you rely on a bike or public transportation. Having a car ties you to a specific location,” he says. “My generation is always moving around. We don’t like to put down roots.”
Chris Caldwell, too, mostly leaves his car at home.
“My fiancee and I have been sharing a car for probably about a year. We sold her car,” he says. “I’m pretty much always on a bike, She’s either biking or walking. The car pretty much sits in the driveway.”
Caldwell, born in 1987, runs Common Wheel, a nonprofit bike shop. His fiancee teaches yoga. Both, obviously, appreciate fitness.
There are other benefits to driving less.
A car rarely used is cheaper to maintain, Jones says.
Miller — a full-time student and mom — is glad she’s not feeding a gas tank.
“I walk. I take the bus. If I have to, I take a taxi or, a lot of times, friends and family. I’ll pay them for a ride,” she says. “If I go on vacation, I take the train.”
Her reasons, Miller says, are pretty straightforward: She couldn’t afford a car as a teen, so she never bothered to get a license. She’s used to it, she says.
“When I lived in town, everything was in walking distance,” she says. “Now that I don’t live in the city any more it’s a little harder.”
But, even living off Route 23 in East Lampeter, she still gets around on foot.
“So it’s not a big deal,” she says.
Amanda McFerren, born 1982, says “the amount of time I spend in the car has dropped dramatically in the past few years.”
This year, the city resident says she “went as far as to purchase a house in walking distance to work so I could cut out my (relatively short) commute and save over $250 a month.”
The lifestyle suits her job as health and wellness director for the Lancaster Family YMCA.
“It’s a funny feeling to park my car only to return two weeks later to use it again, but I have enjoyed embracing the freedom of walking to stock up on basic supplies and enjoy interacting with strangers on the street during my journeys,” she wrote in an email.
Lancaster is more welcoming to pedestrians and bicyclists than it was, she says, which has “increased the allure of living downtown.”
She owns an SUV, but McFerren prefers to use Amtrak. With gas prices, she says, the costs are similar.
“When I factor in the headache of traffic compared to the enjoyment of reading a book during my travels, the scale easily tips to the train,” she says.
Amanda Welling, born 1985, didn’t get a license at first because of “a lack of family funds.” She later moved to New York and used public transit before returning to Lancaster.
“I do not drive and have never driven,” she says. “My husband and I have one vehicle, but he drives everywhere we need to go.”
She works from home and attends college online, Welling says.
“I prefer to not drive and I honestly do not have intentions to ever drive unless it is absolutely necessary,” she says.
Source: Lancaster Online
December 15, 2014
By Tom Knapp, photo courtesy of Shutterstock