January 23, 2014

Annals of Motordom – 71

An occasional update on items from Motordom – the world of auto dominance

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FIXING A STROAD
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Charles Marohn analyses a sad stroad in West Virgina and makes some affordable and effective suggestions on what to do with it.
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WHAT IF THE INTERSTATE SYSTEM HAD BEEN PLANNED THIS WAY

From The Dish – Rethinking Our Roads:

Eric Jaffe highlights Marlon Boarnet’s argument that “that the Interstate Highway System should have been two distinct systems: one running between cities, and another running within them”:

Boarnet argues that one branch of the Interstate Highway System should have been reserved entirely for intercity roads. These would be highways running through remote areas with cheap land and sparse populations, so it would make sense to prioritize traffic flow and vehicle capacity. Paying for this branch with a pooled fuel tax would also make sense, because the benefits of low-cost transport and trade redound on everyone.

The other branch of the system would be made up of intracity roads, those running within the city limits. Given the high cost of land and density of population in cities, creating sufficient road capacity and swift vehicle flow would become a pipe dream, so the wiser aim would be transport balance. The logical way to finance these roads, given the great demand for space on them, would be with direct user fees — ideally priced to reduce congestion.

The two systems could even be governed separately. A national authority could oversee the intercity system, deciding on route location and managing maintenance programs. Meanwhile, the intracity system could be organized by metropolitan authorities capable of designing the network to fit local needs. Some level of coordination would be needed at the city limits, of course, but that partnership should give both systems equal importance.

More on this at Altantic Cities – here.

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HIGH PRODUCTIVITY, LOW MOBILITY?

From The AtlanticWhy Do the Smartest Cities Have the Smallest Share of Cars?

What do NYC, DC, Boston, and Philadelphia have in common? For one, they’re old, crowded cities with good (okay, decent) public transit. “The five cities with the highest proportions of households without a vehicle were all among the top five cities in a recent ranking of the quality of public transportation,” Michael Sivak, director of Sustainable Worldwide Transportation at Michigan, told WSJ.  …

Car own

[The outlier, clearly, is San Jose (Silicon Valley) at the bottom.]

… what we’re looking at here is an underlying variable of city density. Highly productive cities that are magnets for talented (and rich) people tend to be crowded with twentysomethings trying to start their careers. Small crowded cities get clogged, and clogged cities require the kind of effective public transportation that makes cars an expensive nice-to-have rather than a have-to-have.

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Comments

  1. The interstate highway system was originally supposed to be just the rural component, but having to leave the freeway every time you got to a city, negotiate the local roads and then get back on the freeway was seen as inefficient. Many cities built bypass routes, but they merely accelerated sprawl and were soon as congested as the areas they were built to avoid.

    A better solution might have been to invest in freight rail infrastructure, but all that “free” highway infrastructure and common carrier regulations made it cheaper to move everything by truck.

  2. NYC is the only one higher than 50% without cars.
    For the rest of the cities, a majority – more than 60% – still HAVE cars.

    Flipping the causal relationship – maybe those cities are richer, so they CAN have good transit systems that then reduce dependence on cars.