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Madison, Milwaukee have cut back on driving more than almost any other U.S. city

People are cutting back on driving more in Milwaukee and Madison than in almost any other U.S. city, according to a new report by the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group (WISPIRG).

The WISPIRG report compiled data from the Census Bureau, the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration. It found that from 2006 to 2011, Milwaukee saw a nearly 21 percent decrease in vehicle miles traveled. Madison saw a nearly 18 percent decrease. Only New Orleans saw a bigger decrease among those cities studied, with a decline of more than 22 percent.

WISPIRG Director Bruce Speight says it should be a wakeup call to lawmakers at the state and federal level that transportation dollars should be shifting away from a focus on cars.

"Instead of wasting taxpayer dollars, continuing to enlarge our grandfathers' Interstate Highway System, we should be investing in the kinds of transportation options that the public is using more and more and that are making Wisconsin a better place to live and work," says Speight.

Speight says a variety of factors could be behind the drop in miles driven - the economy, gas prices and a push by younger workers to take public transportation, walk, or bike to work.

The study has its holes. Several cities throughout the United States were not included because of a lack of comparable data.