Because the Census Bureau emails me data, behold:
The table shows a rank-ordering of states with the highest rates of Internet use in 2009. Nationally, only slightly more than two-thirds of US residents access the Internet at all. (More Census data here.)
It’s groovy enough, but the Internet is sometimes overlooked as a transportation solution. That’s not to say you can drive a car on it, but that given high speeds and high rates of participation, web access can replace quite a number of trips—shopping, commuting, etc — that might otherwise occur on roadways. (We’re probably seeing some of that dynamic at work in Alaska where it’s simply not practical to make certain kinds of trips.) So given the exceedingly high rates of Internet use in the Northwest, and in Washington in particular, it would be nice to see public transportation planning focus more on Internet-oriented strategies to reduce congestion and vehicle travel.
Already, the Internet has enabled many of the clever trip-reducing web technologies that are beginning to take hold in the Northwest. Consider grocery delivery services like Vancouver, BC-based Spud, which has a presence in all the big Northwest cities, as well as Amazon fresh, which currently serves only Seattle neighborhoods but is likely to expand. Then there’s Goose Networks, the “high-tech hitchhiking” outfit that Alan has written about, as well as car-sharing networks like Zipcar. And don’t forget Seattle’s wunderkinds at Front Seat who have given us Walkscore and City-Go-Round, among other web tools to help us rethink our habits.
I’m sure there are dozens more web-based transportation strategies that I’m overlooking; leave them in comments, please!