Home > Complete Streets > What’s your car doing for the local economy

What’s your car doing for the local economy

Spending locally

Yesterday, I reposted a post from 2010 by Bill Palladino who broke down the numbers of going car free for a year.  He found that, in a year when he owned a car,  approximately 23% of his expenses stayed in the local community. He then pointed out that “in the following year, riding my bikes, 41% of expenses stayed local.” That’s a significant jump.

Today, Meika Weiss of Traversing Tulip Lane republished a previous post of hers on Strong Towns. Her post, Shifting $7,000 from a Car to a Community, lays out the economic mechanics of dropping just one car, comparing it to the shopping at chain stores vs local owned stores:

Here’s where this ties in to our car discussion: Automotive spending functions in the same way as spending at a chain retailer does. About 73% of the money we spend on gas purchases and 86% of the money we spend on car purchases immediately leaves the local economy (here). It’s a similar story for insurance. In other words, when you spend less on your car, you spend more in your community.

Applying the math to her own community, she considers the impact on the local economy if a shift away from multiple cars per household happened in her community in West Michigan:

My back-of-the-envelope calculation indicates that the Holland-Zeeland area (where I live) would see as much as $300 million returned to the local economy EACH YEAR if every two-car household became a one-car household.

We all know, Michigan could use some local spending.


This all reminds me of a Palladino graphic: Where Your Gas Dollar Goes


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