How millennials move - and why it matters to everyone

Bianca Taylor Headshot

Millennials are making their mark on Silicon Valley, and it’s not just in the shape of a hashtag. Born between 1983 and 2000, this generation is redefining the landscape of our region with one request: more options, please.

Research shows that millennials are more likely than their parents (and grandparents) to ditch the car as their primary mode of transit.

Instead, they are riding public transportation, carpooling, biking, and walking: to work, play, and everything in between. A 2013 study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that less than half of teens were getting their driver’s license within one year of their state’s minimum age eligibility. One year later, TransitCenter’s mobility survey reported that Americans under 30 are 2.3 times more likely to ride public transit than Americans age 30-60, and 7.2 times more likely than Americans over 60.

The reasons why millennials are leaving their cars behind may be economic (owning a car is expensive), environmental (transportation is the number one contributor to California’s climate pollution), or social (the sharing economy makes it easier than ever to use a car without owning one). But whatever the motivation, their demand for more choices is unanimous. “Multimodal” transportation, or using one or more alternatives to solo driving, has become a defining part of the millennial generation.

This trend has exciting potential to improve how all of us get around.

According to a 2013 Urban Land Institute survey, millennials’ transportation preferences will have a profound impact on cities’ land use decisions, from housing to open space preservation, for years to come. 

That’s why city leaders and transit agencies are rethinking the car-centric status quo. For example, Silicon Valley universities have launched successful programs that integrate technology to help students, faculty, and employees get to school car-free.

If millennials inspire a redesigned transportation network, everyone benefits.

A Silicon Valley with better crosswalks, safer bike lanes, and more reliable transit is a more connected and vibrant region for kids, grandparents, and everyone in between.

Technology certainly plays an important role in transforming our existing infrastructure into spaces that are connected, transit-friendly, and safe for people walking and biking. Already, we have seen innovations that make using multimodal transit easier, from apps that find nearby carpools to trip planning tools that show bus arrival times and bike routes. And this is just the beginning of what is possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about the future of transportation in Silicon Valley, register for the 2015 Let’s Get Moving Silicon Valley Summit today and hear from experts like millennial mobility researcher Giovanni Circella. Circella has spent years researching the relationship between transportation preferences and land use, and how technology can help move people with fewer cars.

Hosted by TransForm, the Summit is an annual convergence of people who care about improving transportation and making Silicon Valley’s communities safer, healthier, and more affordable. Other Summit sessions include pedestrian safety, protecting communities from displacement, and how you can get involved in urban planning processes. Learn more at 


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TransForum is the blog of TransForm, California's leading transportation advocate. For more about our work, including ways you can take action and contribute, visit