Out of Control Policy Blog

Stuck in Traffic? Blame Starbucks

Starbucks, the coffee giant that so many love to disparage (though they're loathe to fess up to their guilty pleasure derived from imbibing the occasional Mocha Frappucchino), has been variously pegged as a category killer, global capitalist thug, and sprawl beneficiary over the last decade. What are the next condemnations to come, you might ask? Apparently we can add "congestion generator" and "air polluter" to the list:

    The two men represent what one researcher says is evidence that the national craving for gourmet coffee may be adding mileage to the morning rush hour. And the numbers might be significant enough to complicate efforts to reduce traffic congestion, save fuel and reduce air pollution.

    . . . .

    What [travel behavior analyst Nancy] McGuckin and two colleagues found in comparing the 1995 and 2001 [National Household Travel] surveys, the two most recent ones, was that 1.6 million new Americans tacked personal errands onto their commutes. Studies have long shown that errands are an integral part of the daily routine, especially on the way home from work, when arrival times are more flexible. Women continue to outpace men in these trips, shouldering most of the early-evening family tasks after leaving the office, such as grocery shopping and picking up children.

    But the researchers also discovered that for the first time most of the growth in errands occurred during the morning commute -- and far more men had joined in.

    A closer look showed that many of those men had destinations more enjoyable than the dry cleaner. While younger men were sharing in more household-related errands such as ferrying children, older men were devoting many of their morning trips to coffee and such portable breakfast food as bagels.

The full article is here.

Leonard Gilroy is Director of Government Reform


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