Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on July 29th, 2009 at 10:00 am
A reader sent in an intriguing ad for Portland-based OnPoint Community Credit Union. It features a young boy a bike, looking up to his dad wearing a suit and standing next to a car. The tagline reads, “From two wheels to four wheels — Pave the way for your young driver with an OnPoint auto loan.”
The ad struck us as a bit strange. The term “young driver” was odd and so was the basic assumption that all kids are just biding their time until they can get a real vehicle (one with four wheels and a motor). Here in Portland — where many families manage with no car at all, Safe Routes to Schools programs reach thousands of kids each year, and plans for major bikeway investments are on the table — the future holds hope for a city where many kids may not want to go from “two wheels to four”.
On that note, I recently came across an Associated Press story highlighted in the Copenhagenize blog earlier this month. The story reported on a trend in Japan where auto sales are on the decline because they’re falling out of favor with young people. They have even coined an interesting word to describe the phenonmenon– “demotorization”.
Here’s an excerpt:
“A lifestyle choice automakers are calling “demotorization,” many Japanese youth feel owning a car in a congested and expensive city such as Tokyo is more trouble than its worth, and choose public transportation instead.”
I realize that public transit in Japan is far beyond what it is in Portland and we don’t quite yet have the transit/bikeway network that makes the “demotorization” lifestyle choice quite as easy. But, I still think making an assumption that kids on bikes are nothing more than “young drivers” is, well, missing the point.