City Desk

The Needle: Good Boy! Edition

Old Cars: AAA reports that in the District, the average age of cars taken to mechanics has increased, since people feel like they can't afford new ones. "The cars that are showing up to be repaired are an average of nine years old," AAA Mid-Atlantic's John Townsend says. That's up three years from 2008, when the average age of a car was six years old. Does this mean that the economy is actually good for mechanics, then? At any rate, as today's Needle-er was raised by people who kept one car for 20 years and another for 16, this sounds like a good thing. +3

Sick Valley?: Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton is very concerned about the health of residents of Spring Valley: She wants another health check up for people who live on the former defense site. According to WTOP, "A 2007 community health study gave Spring Valley a clean bill of health, but experts at Johns Hopkins University recommended further study." On one hand, fair enough: The people who moved to the area had no idea what kinds of chemicals were in their land. On the other, between her concern for the affluent, exclusive neighborhood and the fact that she's one of the wealthier members of Congress, this may be some ammunition for the 99 Percent.. -1

99 Problems: The fact that Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. may owe a few hundred dollars may seem like small potatoes, but considering the thousands of dollars in taxpayer money Thomas is accused of misappropriating for personal use, Alan Suderman asks a good question: Why isn't he paying even his most basic bills? -3

More Evidence That Dogs Are The Best: A Southeast family was awoken this morning by the barking of their Yorkshire Terrier who was upset by a fire in the house. According to WJLA: "The family was asleep when the fire started, but their dog, Papa, started barking and awoke them. All five members of the family were able to get to safety, officials said." Good boy! +5

Friday's Needle rating: 55 Today's score: +4 Today's Needle rating: 59

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  • Mrs. D

    I dunno if it's totally the economy keeping people in older cars around these parts (I'm sure it plays a role, but I'm not sure it's the dominant factor). Before I ditched my ride (after doing some serious analysis about how much it was costing me to be a car owner versus the amenities available to me - CaBi, Zipcar, rentals, Metro, etc.), I planned on owning it for a long time because I didn't drive it much. It was only sort of an economic decision (why pay for a new car when I have a perfectly good, low-mileage older car that doesn't need much maintenance) and more a factor of only driving a couple thousand miles a year and having no need for a newer car - the one I had worked perfectly well and would have for many years to come. My affluent neighbors on Capitol Hill had the same mentality, many of them driving older cars for years because they simply didn't use them much and they didn't need replaced, despite being able to afford a new car pretty much so whenever they felt like it. I'd like to see an analysis that asks WHY people are keeping their cars longer, rather than pure speculation. I imagine that it would reveal that increasing neighborhood services and greater non-car mobility are a significant factor. Of course, that's just a hypothesis that needs to be tested, much like AAA's conclusion...