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New D.C. residents: I couldn't 'car' less

Monday - 2/27/2012, 4:24pm  ET

bikeshare.jpg
Community transportation, like Capital Bikeshare, carpooling and public transportation trump cars for new D.C. residents. (WTOP)

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - D.C.'s new residents seem to have a different attitude about owning cars.

While newcomers have helped push up the population by tens of thousands over the past decade, the number of car registrations has done little more than flat line.

A car-free lifestyle is becoming more popular for a variety of reasons, the Washington Examiner first reported, including cost, convenience and demographics.

The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments reports just a 1 percent increase in registrations between 2008 and 2011 -- far short of matching the population growth of roughly 47,000 more residents between 2000 and 2011, according to census data.

New housing units surrounded by retail stores and transit stops have helped provide alternative options to driving. The infusion of young professionals, often single, has brought an affinity for taking to the bike lanes or walking.

For those occasions when residents do need a car, more are opting for car sharing.

"We've seen about a 20 percent growth of membership year over year for the past many years," says Ellice Perez, the general manager of Zipcar D.C.

"Right now we have about 800 cars in the D.C. area, and this summer we'll get to 950," she says, noting the business has been adding up to 100 cars per year.

Capital Bikeshare has seen a similar trend of new customers. It tallied up 96,939 trips in January. The previous January, it recorded just 38,189 trips, according to its website.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)