Germany leads the way with effective transport policies. This report indicates that the US should look to Germany for successful strategies to achieve more sustainable transport. Policies play a role in shaping differences in car use; Germans use their cars half as often as Americans and are four times more likely to make a trip by transit, bicycle, or foot. There are growing global concerns that our dependence on cars means we are getting fatter, we are heavily polluting our environment, there is a growing amount of road congestion and traffic accidents and we rely too heavily on oil.
The automobile contributes to costly trends like pollution, oil dependence, congestion, and obesity. This article investigates determinants of individual car travel through a comparison of Germany and the USA. Even controlling for socioeconomic variables and spatial development patterns, two comparable national travel surveys show that Germans are less car-dependent than Americans. Multivariate analysis reveals that car travel demand in the USA is more responsive to price than in Germany. Results suggest Americans may more easily reduce driving when faced with increasing gasoline prices. Low costs of driving in the USA may contribute to more discretionary driving, whereas higher costs of car travel in Germany may have already encouraged prudent car use.
Title: Transport Policies, Automobile Use, and Sustainable Transport: A Comparison of Germany and the United States
Author: Ralph Buehler
From: Journal of Planning Education and Research, 0 (2010)