Midtown Atlanta has become more navigable for those using different modes of travel over the past 30 years, with the addition of bike lanes, improved sidewalks, buses, MARTA rail, rideshare and more.
According to the 2019 Midtown Community Survey conducted over the summer, an increasing number of residents and workers are taking advantage of these transportation options and leaving their cars at home — or reducing the number of cars they own entirely.
Overall, more than 5,000 respondents who spend time in Midtown completed the survey. About 23 percent of the respondents who both live and work in Midtown said they have reduced the number of cars they own in the past few years. Respondents who live but do not work in Midtown reduced car ownership by 17 percent, and those who identified as daytime workers indicated they reduced car ownership by 9 percent.
Are lifestyle preferences here shifting away from motor vehicles? We talked to two people in the district who recently went car-lite about whether they’d recommend it to others, as well as a Midtown-based insurance company whose business model is aimed at those who use cars less frequently.
Finding New Ways to Experience Midtown
When Aleta Yates and her husband moved to Midtown from Houston for his engineering job at Georgia Tech, they sold their sedan because they only have one parking space at their residence.
“It was scary at first, but we have not had a situation where we’ve needed a second vehicle in 20 months,” Yates said. “Between walking, MARTA and my husband riding his bicycle to work, we’ve never even had a situation where we needed an Uber.”
Brian Lesko recently got rid of his only car, and now he rents out his condo parking space. Lesko takes his bike and MARTA to his job in Buckhead. Although he started getting into cycling before going carless, he has since stepped it up to about 140 miles a week.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in an area of town where driving can be a waste of money and resources,” Lesko said. “When I bike and use MARTA, I strike up conversations with people who do the same thing. It’s something you just can’t experience if you’re in a car.”
“People choose where they live for a variety of reasons,” said Forrest Rose, transportation and sustainability project manager at Midtown Alliance. “It’s becoming apparent that Midtown is a top choice for people who want a high-quality of life because of the ample transportation choices found here that provide options beyond cars.”
Midtown-Based Auto Insurance Startup Targets Low Mileage Drivers
Mile Auto, a startup based in Tech Square’s Advanced Technology Development Center, wants to reward people who drive less with a novel format for auto insurance: pay by the mile.. The company plans to begin offering plans in Georgia later this month after successful launches in Oregon and Illinois.
“We love being in Midtown and the thought of people not using their cars as much in Midtown,” said Mile Auto CEO Fred Blumer. “With more and more companies moving here and apartments and condos opening here, traffic is a real issue.”
Mile Auto looks at past claims and driving history to offer a fixed monthly rate plus a per mile rate — for example, Blumer said, your monthly rate could be about $39 plus three cents per mile.
Each month, customers submit a photo of their odometer to the company, which runs it through backend software to ensure the image has not been manipulated. Unlike other usage-based competitors, it doesn’t require customers to plug in any tracking devices into their cars or download any apps on their smartphones.
Blumer said he believes the timing is right for this business model, because people who don’t use their cars often are starting to question why they pay the same for insurance as frequent drivers.
“Big insurance companies have always been a black box with no transparency,” Blumer said. “We wanted to create a way that is fair and transparent.”
Visit Mile Auto’s website here.
To learn more about different transportation options in Midtown, including incentives and personalized route planning for commuters, click here.