Comment of the Week: The end of errands and driving’s decline

Comment of the Week: The end of errands and driving’s decline


A truckful of outsourced errands.
(Photo: nshepard)

Say what you will about Amazon — they might have done as much as any private company to make low-car life convenient in the United States.

That seems to be the experience of BikePortland reader Chris, who wrote in a comment on our post about the federal government’s acknowledgement that per-capita driving has plateaued that e-commerce and doorside delivery have had a huge impact on his or her travel habits.

It’s not clear whether Chris has any kids, who are definitely a common cause of errand-running. Still, the personal examples here resonated with my life, too:

I remember how much time my parents spent “running errands” in the 1980s. The only errand I run now is getting groceries (and even that I’m hoping to eliminate in the next few years). I download or stream all multimedia, I get the majority of physical goods delivered from Amazon, and I pay all my bills online. There’s absolutely no reason for me to spend my evenings or weekends darting around the city, and I try to avoid going into stores if and at all possible.

That said, many older people haven’t fully adapted themselves to modern technology. My parents still run the same errands they did in the 1980s, and a friend of mine who works at Comcast said that elderly people drive into the center to pay by check.

Earlier today, I was reading about networked locks, which allow you to unlock remote doors via smartphone. Think about the number of times that you might have drove across town for the purpose of letting in the plumber or your overnight guests. All of these things add up, but the necessity of doing them is going away.

Also, don’t miss the cool tip right below this comment from reader SteveG (who we happen to know is an expert on low-car lifehacks).

Yes, we pay for good comments. We’ll be mailing a $5 bill to chris in thanks for this great one. Watch your email!

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