We have talked quite a bit recently about what is happening with traffic volumes, both here and overseas. If you haven’t seen those posts then a quick recap, all across the developed world we have seen stats showing that traffic and total distances travelled by people have not only stalled but fallen. Even more interesting is that they all started falling before the global financial crisis so appears to be something other than just the economy that is driving things. As a reminder, here are the average daily traffic volumes over the harbour bridge.
So I was looking through some other numbers yesterday and noticed a similar trend. In this case the numbers were the annual registration of new cars. These record the new registration of vehicles including those which are used imports. The numbers peaked in about 2005 and since have plummeted back to ~1995 levels. The total number of vehicles registered in NZ are still increasing but that increase appears to have slowed down quite a bit (the data available online only goes back to 2003 so I won’t bother graphing it).
So we are buying less new cars than used to, we are driving less than we used to yet we see other modes like public transport, walking and cycling increasing. Its time we started investing in what these emerging trends are telling us rather than trying to prop up the old model with increasingly expensive new roads. We also keep seeing a similarly shaped graph show up when it comes to these figures so we need a name for this trend. Last night fellow blogger Kent suggested that this looks exactly like the sort of shift described by Richard Florida in his book The Great Reset but what do you think?