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Half of school children walked or biked to school in 1969, but only 13 percent were doing it in 2009.

Young urbanites shun cars, and the nation's auto fleet shrinks

The United States scrapped 14 million vehicles last year while buying only 10 million new ones, dropping the nation's fleet from an all-time high of 250 million to 246 million, according to the Earth Policy Institute. Perhaps the most fundamental social trend affecting the future of the automobile is the declining interest in cars among young people, said the author, Lester Brown. Many of today's young people living in a more urban society learn to live without cars. They socialize on the Internet and on smart phones, not in cars.

So while the recession played a role, Brown suggests that this is a turning point in a cultural shift away from automobiles and that sales will level out at 10 million to 14 million cars sold per year.Learn more here.