Map of the Day: Cars Per Household

Map credit: Vizual Statistix
Map credit: Vizual Statistix. (Click for larger image.)

What is the most car-loving location east of the Mississippi? You guessed it — this is a Virginia blog, so I wouldn’t have brought it up if the answer weren’t the Old Dominion.

The Vizual Statistix blog mapped the average number of vehicles per household for each county (and in Virginia, independent city) and, not surprisingly, counties in the sparsely populated Great Plains and northern Rockies states were the most auto-dependent. But the competition was stiff in Virginia and neighboring jurisdictions, where the auto-philia slops over the state line.

close_upGiven the low granularity of Vizual Statistix’s map, it’s hard to gauge the auto-centrism with any precision. (The map to the left is the best I could come up with.) Might there be a link between the incidence of auto ownership and the lack of walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods? It’s an interesting question but the data presented here cannot answer it. Perhaps one could correlate cars-per-household with county-wide walkability scores.

Vizual Statistix offers little in the way of analysis, only this: “There appears to be a slight preference for more vehicles per household around the Northern Rockies and Great Plains, as well as around northern Virginia.” Ah, hah! We all knew it, Northern Virginia stands at the heart of the matter!

Except… it really doesn’t. Clearly, the author of Vizual Statistix is not a Virginian, for the area he refers to as “northern Virginia” in fact extends to the counties (excepting Henrico) surrounding Richmond and down the Shenandoah Valley to the Roanoke Valley. Squint real hard and you’ll see that Arlington (barely visible) and Fairfax County have fewer cars per household than outlying counties.

How’s that for rigorous statistical analysis?

Virginia also has a lower percentage than other East Coast states of households that own no vehicles at all. Likewise, Virginia counties tend to have a larger percent of households with more vehicles than people. There is no indication in the statistics, however, how many of those vehicles might be mounted on cinder blocks in the back yard!


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6 responses to “Map of the Day: Cars Per Household”

  1. NewVirginia Avatar

    We have a deadly combination of northern prosperity (high median incomes) and southern low-density suburban development. We also have a metro area (DC) that is both incredibly wealthy and expansive.

    One thing I would be curious about is the average size of Virginia households compared to other states. In high-priced areas like DC, people (especially young people) often crowd into large households with multiple adults. I’ve noticed when looking at NHTS data that cars per adult tends to stay pretty close to the .7-1.1 range even as cars per household fluctuates. But then again I’ve mostly just looked at VA data.

  2. NewVirginia Avatar

    Whoops – you already answered one of my questions at the bottom of the post. Reading is a necessary skill.

  3. Actually worse are the semi-abandoned older shopping centers…

    I cannot begrudge WalMart or other retailers for wanting what they think is needed for their business as long as they are conforming to the impervious surface, runoff laws.

    The most recent WalMarts, HomeDepots, Target, Kohls, etc in our area have huge, gigantic storm water “ponds” … that look to me to be able to capture all but hurricane type runoff.

    these older semi-abandoned shopping centers have NONE and the economics on them are so bad that if they had to retrofit – there would be even less hairsalons and tanning parlors renting.

  4. DJRippert Avatar

    Once again, the political structure of Virginia, as prescribed by generations of Imperial Clown Shows, impedes our progress. Here are some of the large cities in nearby states City – density (population)

    Baltimore – 7,671 / sq mi (621,342)
    Washington, DC – 10,298 / sq mi (632,323)
    Charlotte – 2,457 / sq mi (775,202)
    Raleigh – 2,963 / sq mi (423,179)
    Atlanta – 3,188 / sq mi (443,775)
    Miami – 12,139 / sq mi (413,892)

    Here are Virginia’s two most populous cities (after discarding counties that wanted autonomy and converted to cities):

    Norfolk – 1,684 / sq mi (245,782)
    Richmond 1,239 / sq mi (208,833)

    Our cities are small and have low population density.

    Why? Because cities aren’t in counties in Virginia. Only Virginia. None of the other 49 states follow this bizarre practice.

    Virginia – a state without real cities.

    Fun fact: Virginia is the most populous state that doesn’t have one major league sports team. Of course not – where would they play?

    Virginia is an intentionally bizarre state full of intentionally bizarre political ideas that cause all manner of intended consequences.

  5. DJRippert Avatar

    Quick eyeball statistic – Virginia is the 12th most populous state. However, you have to go all the way down to #23 (Alabama) to find a state where the largest city in the state is smaller than Norfolk.

    What other states look like Virginia in terms of having reasonable populations but no real cities?

    1. Alabama
    2. South Carolina
    3. Kentucky (I throw out Louisville and Lexington as Virginia Beach – type situations)
    4. Iowa
    5. Mississippi
    6. Arkansas

    Now, Jim – tell me about your smart growth ideas in the real world situation of Virginia.

  6. DJRippert: I don’t see the point in fretting over the fact that Virginia doesn’t have any big cities. Nor do I agree with the association of higher densities with progress.

    One could argue that VA is holding its own compared to states with larger/higher-density cities. To some extent more people equals more problems, no?

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