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Thread: Anti-motoring

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    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Anti-motoring

    I found this power point (as a pdf) interesting
    Reducing Growth in Vehicle Miles Traveled
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Reducing the number of miles driven/gasoline used is very easy but difficult in the political arena. Just make gasoline and highway use more expensive. Personally, I think that everyone else would fall into place since living far from where you work, shop, and so on would become more expensive. People would increase their demand for close-in living ... blah, blah, blah.

    But -- anecdotally writing now based on casual observations and inferences from research in other areas -- the political machinery inhibiting higher costs to driving/distance and a change in land-use can ruin such plans.

    Anyway ... it doesn't hurt to try.

    *** As a side note, there was a discussion in an old thread of yours regarding Robert Moses. I recall that there we also touched on urban planning topics -- there were other forum members more familiar with the subject and its history -- which would be an interesting extension of this presentation.

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    I get excited when I think about a lot of the stuff being proposed there, things like mixed use development, and compact development.

    It is worth mentioning that there is credible research out of USC that says that the average commute time has not actually changed in the last 20 years. (I could not find a link, but its out there) Despite more traffic people are tending to live closer to where they work.

    Also to couch obesity as entirely a land use problem I think is false. Nutrition has a lot to do with it, Los Angeles for example despite being the capital of sprawl is a relatively healthy city.

    So while I totally, and passionately agree with the conclusions that were made its worth putting some of the evidence in context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Human Car View Post
    I found this power point (as a pdf) interesting
    Reducing Growth in Vehicle Miles Traveled
    That is interesting, very interesting. Thanks for the linky.

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    While I find this style of development exciting I must admit it's not what I yearn for. I've gotten accustomed to battling suburbia and I think I'm addicted to the adrenaline. If stuff was close by it wouldn't be a 5 mile ride! And what would be the fun in that?!

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    This was a great presentation. Thanks for posting. I think that people are listening. The price of gas and the time wasted sitting in traffic are huge frustrations. Some of the statistics presented raise an important question. If VMT increases as much as predicted (calculated by the DOE senerio of 2% fuel price increase, inflation 2.8%, and increased time in traffic), to somewhere around 40% growth in VMT in the next 20 years, will we even be able to increase capacity enough to go back to the time we spent in traffic in the 80s? We'd have to double all urban road width and spend trillions. In texas they are going to undertake a 4000 mile toll road system. I hope that the people of texas come to their senses and put an end to that wasteful, idiotic plan. In my city they want to build a road to nowhere. It will cost a billion dollars and will end in an area, where even the road backers admit there will be declining population!

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    I commute to classes as often as I can, and my neighbor is on the same schedule as me and drives (Fellow student). We generally leave about the same time and it always blows his mind. He'll pass me on the road, but I'll be in class and relaxed and drinking coffee before him every time.Then again, I can take cuts he can't, and don't have the same parking issues.
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    I work in a beautifully landscaped, but extremely sterile and boring, business park near a small, but busy, airport. I would welcome redevelopment of most of our sprawling one- and two-story business and light industrial parks into transit-connected multipurpose "layer cakes," with commerce and shopping on the lower floor(s), office-based businesses in the middle, and garden penthouse apartments on the upper floors(s). This would permit us to accommodate "smart growth" without destroying residential neighborhoods such as mine, which comprises mostly single-family homes and some attached townhomes, with a prevailing very livable overall average density of 7 units per acre.

    I strongly resonate with the complaints about culs-de-sac. If people want dead-end streets to eliminate cut-through traffic, they should at least accommodate pedestrian and bicycle connections. My wife's brother lives on such a cul-de-sac, which is connected to the neighboring cul-de-sac by a short bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly pathway. I can think of only one other such connection in the entire city of 60,000 population.
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irabidfish View Post
    Also to couch obesity as entirely a land use problem I think is false. Nutrition has a lot to do with it, Los Angeles for example despite being the capital of sprawl is a relatively healthy city.
    If my memory is right, there was a guy out of the University of Chicago -- PhD student -- who concluded that with respect to children, that change in diet explains very little of the "obesity epidemic" and that the big predictor was the amount of activity. I thought that his results were not only surprising but empirically robust. That is, the conclusion was based on several data sets and he was quite thorough; he had to be since his conclusions were so unexpected.

    I am trying to remember his name ... I recall Fernando Wilson.

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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Reducing the number of miles driven/gasoline used is very easy but difficult in the political arena. Just make gasoline and highway use more expensive.
    With so many municipalities having trouble balancing their budgets and maintaining the roads, now might be a good time to suggest toll roads and HOT lanes. Why should people who don't use the freeways have to help pay for them? Gas taxes alone are too indiscriminate.
    Last edited by dhofmann; 04-11-08 at 12:51 PM. Reason: Added "alone"

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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhofmann View Post
    With so many municipalities having trouble balancing their budgets and maintaining the roads, now might be a good time to suggest toll roads and HOT lanes. Why should people who don't use the freeways have to help pay for them? Gas taxes alone are too indiscriminate.
    Just to be clear, "highway use" would be some sort of toll, congestion toll, and so on. The reason you would use gasoline taxes is that it is easier to collect (at least my reckoning) and if you want people to use less gasoline.

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    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by irabidfish View Post
    Also to couch obesity as entirely a land use problem I think is false. Nutrition has a lot to do with it, Los Angeles for example despite being the capital of sprawl is a relatively healthy city.
    I am going to disagree with this, I have rarely seen a successful dieter that did not have a good dose of exercise. Successful curbing of obesity is dependent on available options for exercise. It could be gyms, parks, trails or bike/walk/mass transit opportunities, the more options the better and all options are a land use/plan issue. There are sections of suburbia in this state where the nearest anything (other then houses) is 10+ miles away.
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    If my memory is right, there was a guy out of the University of Chicago -- PhD student -- who concluded that with respect to children, that change in diet explains very little of the "obesity epidemic" and that the big predictor was the amount of activity. I thought that his results were not only surprising but empirically robust. That is, the conclusion was based on several data sets and he was quite thorough; he had to be since his conclusions were so unexpected.

    I am trying to remember his name ... I recall Fernando Wilson.
    I just came accross an article the other day that Philadelphia schools put a "eating better" program into affect. I could not find the more complete article but here is a short one: http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/h...kids07.article

    The basic gist is that with improved diet at schools there were far fewer kids becoming overweight. There was still lots more work to do, but eating better helped a lot. If memory serves similar results were seen when Jamie Oliver helped the schools in the UK switch over to "proper" cooked meals that were well balanced and made with natural ingredients. Students become noticeably healthier, and even acedemic levels went up slightly. Good nutrician = good life.

    Happy Cycling,
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by andrelam View Post
    I just came accross an article the other day that Philadelphia schools put a "eating better" program into affect. I could not find the more complete article but here is a short one: http://www.suntimes.com/lifestyles/h...kids07.article

    The basic gist is that with improved diet at schools there were far fewer kids becoming overweight. There was still lots more work to do, but eating better helped a lot. If memory serves similar results were seen when Jamie Oliver helped the schools in the UK switch over to "proper" cooked meals that were well balanced and made with natural ingredients. Students become noticeably healthier, and even acedemic levels went up slightly. Good nutrician = good life.

    Happy Cycling,
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    That is interesting. I should point out that there was a lot of unexplained variation in that dissertation ... say 40-50%.

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    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Reducing the number of miles driven/gasoline used is very easy but difficult in the political arena. Just make gasoline and highway use more expensive. Personally, I think that everyone else would fall into place since living far from where you work, shop, and so on would become more expensive. People would increase their demand for close-in living ... blah, blah, blah.
    That would only work if people stopped buying suburban homes and primarily rented one or more transient dwellings, which is utopian and financially difficult in the US. People live where they can afford to buy a satisfactory home, and work where they (plus family members!) happen to find a job/school that year. Most people don't have much choice in where those things happen to be located. Making everything needlessly more expensive and difficult to penalize people who happen to work far from home is just plain mean.
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    SSP
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    That would only work if people stopped buying suburban homes and primarily rented one or more transient dwellings, which is utopian and financially difficult in the US. People live where they can afford to buy a satisfactory home, and work where they (plus family members!) happen to find a job/school that year. Most people don't have much choice in where those things happen to be located. Making everything needlessly more expensive and difficult to penalize people who happen to work far from home is just plain mean.
    People do have choices....it's just that we've chosen to subsidize driving and suburban sprawl.

    People don't have to move 20 miles out of town to live in 3500 square foot McMansions...they could live in more reasonably sized homes/apartments closer to their jobs.

    Unfortunately, here in the US, we have extremely low taxes on gasoline (the federal tax is 18 cents per gallon and hasn't been raised in 20+ years), and we subsidize housing through the mortgage deduction.

    How is it that much of the rest of the world manages to work without the Sprawling Suburbia that we have, that results in millions of drivers sitting their Super-Sized Asses in their Super-Sized SUV's going 10 mph in a 60 mph zone each morning and evening?
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    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Are you trying to undermine your own credibility like that on purpose "SSP", or are you simply that far out of touch with reality?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    That would only work if people stopped buying suburban homes and primarily rented one or more transient dwellings, which is utopian and financially difficult in the US. People live where they can afford to buy a satisfactory home, and work where they (plus family members!) happen to find a job/school that year. Most people don't have much choice in where those things happen to be located. Making everything needlessly more expensive and difficult to penalize people who happen to work far from home is just plain mean.
    IMHO The problem is not with suburbia it is how suburbia is designed. Suburbia with a nice commuter train rocks and reduces VMT. The second problem with Suburbia is people do not want to live near a convenience store, gas station, or a dry cleaners. Some of this breaks down to that it is not that people do not want these things near by, it's that they are ugly with those big parking lots in front, if businesses adopted a less car centric format such as landscaped screened parking and a more readily accessible entrance by bike/walking so they blend in with the neighborhood they would be more readily accepted. So because of car centric designs in businesses they get pushed out along car centric road designs, which yields you really need a car to do anything in suburbia .

    The next problem is the lollipop design that dumps all cars into a car sewer to get to all those places they did not want in their neighborhood. As development increases so does problems with the car sewer and congestion is a major problem because no alternatives exist.

    Simply by encouraging mixed land use and alternate route selection and mode choice (use other traffic calming methods then dead end streets) even suburbia can help reduce VMT.
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    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    Making everything needlessly more expensive and difficult to penalize people who happen to work far from home is just plain mean.
    Who wrote that it was needless? If there are externalities with sprawl, driving, congestion, and so on -- I think that there are, but that is a long thread of research -- then you want people to account for these costs.

    Judging from the past, people will figure out ways to minimize costs -- sometimes in (unforeseen) perverse ways -- such as car-pooling, telecommuting, changing jobs, and so on. If you think that there are other important considerations -- say environmental damage -- then we want members of society to make efficient decisions that take into account the true cost/damage.

    Of course if that doesn't sound pleasant, one should come up with an alternative. Often -- although not always -- these alternatives prove wasteful and ineffective. IMO, this is the result of politics and the complex nature of society/economy are too problematic.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    Are you trying to undermine your own credibility like that on purpose "SSP", or are you simply that far out of touch with reality?
    Not sure I understand your question.

    But, I do know that if gas were say, $7 or $8 per gallon, people would be much less likely to live 25 miles away from their jobs. Or, they would be demanding increased public transit. Or, both.

    The average commuter in Atlanta, for instance, drives 66 miles per day. I don't have data for, say, London, but I really doubt that the average Londonite commutes anywhere near that far. Why do you suppose that is?
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    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    Not sure I understand your question.
    You demonstrated that pretty clearly in your little bit of exaggerated fiction above.

    What do you think London has to do with Atlanta? This is the US, not the UK, or Peru for that matter.
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    -=Barry=- The Human Car's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    Are you trying to undermine your own credibility like that on purpose "SSP", or are you simply that far out of touch with reality?
    Both trends are evident in the US, people moving out to the wide open spaces and people choosing denser development to be close to work. I can show you some real nice places in Baltimore just below the $2 million mark that are a great alternative to suburban sprawl.
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    Quote Originally Posted by invisiblehand View Post
    Reducing the number of miles driven/gasoline used is very easy but difficult in the political arena. Just make gasoline and highway use more expensive. Personally, I think that everyone else would fall into place since living far from where you work, shop, and so on would become more expensive. People would increase their demand for close-in living ... blah, blah, blah.
    +1 - just raise the damned gas tax! The federal tax is currently 18.4 cents per gallon, and hasn't been raised since 1993.

    Raising it would be a "free market" solution to many problems (VMT, average fuel economy, global warming, even obesity if people started actually (gasp!) walking or riding their bikes to the grocery store). They could call it a "War on Terror Tax", or a "Freedom Tax", or a "Carbon Tax", or whatever.

    Unfortunately, neither political party has the balls to propose something like this. So, we'll probably just keep subsidizing SUV's and Hummers, and sucking at the Saudi teat until it runs dry.
    Last edited by SSP; 04-11-08 at 07:00 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    You demonstrated that pretty clearly in your little bit of exaggerated fiction above.

    What do you think London has to do with Atlanta? This is the US, not the UK, or Peru for that matter.
    It was an "apples to apples" comparison...both London and Atlanta are "First World" cities, with an educated citizenry, and first world infrastructure.

    And, yet, the citizens of Atlanta drive 66 miles each day...mostly in big cars and trucks, by themselves.

    It seems there's something wrong with how we do things here in the good 'ole USA...perhaps we can learn something from other countries in this regard. It's not like we have a monopoly on intelligence (as our current President so often demonstrates).
    Last edited by SSP; 04-11-08 at 06:58 PM.
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    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SSP View Post
    +1 - just raise the damned gas tax! The federal tax is currently 18.4 cents per gallon, and hasn't been raised since 1993.
    I'd like to see you try to sell that to the average working person who'll have to pay it. Oh wait, but you just intend to force it down their naughty throats by force of your clear moral superiority, right?
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