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Quality of Life

Census Data Shows No Change In Percentage Of San Diegans Who Drive To Work

Nicole Capretz, director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, bikes to make a presentation to business groups in the Gaslamp District. February 10, 2015.
Nicholas McVicker
Nicole Capretz, director of the nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, bikes to make a presentation to business groups in the Gaslamp District. February 10, 2015.

Census Data Shows No Change In Percentage Of San Diegans Who Drive To Work
In 2014, 83.1 percent of San Diegans commuted to work by car. San Diego's Climate Action Plan, which will be considered by the city council this fall, calls for that number to drop to 50 percent by 2035.

The number of San Diegans who drive to work has not changed in the past year and has only dipped slightly since 2005, according to census data released last week.

In 2014, 83.1 percent of San Diegans commuted to work by car. In 2013, 83.7 percent of San Diegans commuted by car. The two percentages are equivalent within the margin of error of 1 percent.

They reflect only a slight dip since 2005, when 88.3 percent of San Diegans commuted to work by car.

San Diego's Climate Action Plan, which will be considered by the city council this fall, calls for that number to drop to 50 percent by 2035.

This chart shows how San Diegans commuted to work in 2014 as compared to the city's goals, which were set forth in San Diego's Climate Action Plan. It shows that in 2014, 83.1 percent of San Diegans commuted to work by car, while the goal by 2035 is for that number to drop to 50 percent.
This chart shows how San Diegans commuted to work in 2014 as compared to the city's goals, which were set forth in San Diego's Climate Action Plan. It shows that in 2014, 83.1 percent of San Diegans commuted to work by car, while the goal by 2035 is for that number to drop to 50 percent.

Nicole Capretz leads the environmental nonprofit Climate Action Campaign, which advocates for the city's climate plan. She said the 50 percent driving goal is "doable if we make a commitment to make it doable."

"There's this magic elixir where we're going to need the necessary leadership, we're going to need the necessary commitment and investment of resources into the right infrastructure," she said. "So people feel safe riding their bike to work or walking to work or taking public transit."

The census data showed 1.3 percent of San Diego residents biked to work, 2.9 percent walked and 3.7 percent took public transportation in 2014. The climate plan calls for 18 percent to commute by bike, 7 percent to walk and 25 percent to commute by public transit by 2035.

Those goals only apply to people who live within a half mile of existing or planned transit stops, which is estimated to be about 60 percent of San Diego residents.

The census data also showed the number of people working in San Diego increased by about 116,000 between 2005 and 2014, which also means more cars on the road.

The majority of younger workers are also commuting by car, according to the data. In 2014, 49 percent of San Diego residents ages 16 to 19 who work drove to work alone, 12 percent carpooled, 5.5 percent took public transportation, 12 percent walked and 5 percent took a motorcycle or bike.

That same year, 66 percent of San Diego residents ages 20 to 24 who work drove to work alone, 10 percent carpooled, 2 percent took public transportation, 8 percent walked and 3 percent took a motorcycle or bike.

This chart compares how those between 16 and 19 years old, and those between 20-24 years old commuted to work, according to U.S. Census data. It shows that those between 16-19 utilized other modes of transportation, besides commuting to work alone in a car, more than those 20-24 did.
This chart compares how those between 16 and 19 years old, and those between 20-24 years old commuted to work, according to U.S. Census data. It shows that those between 16-19 utilized other modes of transportation, besides commuting to work alone in a car, more than those 20-24 did.

In 2005, 59 percent of of San Diego residents ages 16 to 19 who work drove to work alone and 76 percent of 20- to 24-year-olds who work drove to work alone.