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Stop Trying to Get Workers Out of Their Cars

"Smart growth" is dumb about commuting.

If you hate urban sprawl, you're probably familiar with the complaints of the "smart growth" movement: Roadways blight cities. Traffic congestion is the worst. Suburbanization harms the environment. Fortunately, say these smart growthers, there is an alternative: By piling on regulations and reallocating transportation-related tax money, we can "densify" our urban communities, allowing virtually everyone to live in a downtown area and forego driving in favor of walking or biking.

Smart growth proponents have been gaining influence for decades. They've implemented urban growth boundaries (which greatly restrict the development of land outside a defined area), up-zoning (which tries to increase densities in existing neighborhoods by replacing single-family homes with apartments), and "road diets" (which take away traffic lanes to make room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes).

Alas, there are inherent flaws in the "smart growth" approach—beginning with the idea that it makes sense for everyone to live and work in the same small area. In fact, that idea flies in the face of what economists call urban agglomeration.

Urban agglomeration is why there are more jobs in and around big cities. Job seekers have access to a large number of potential employers, which increases each person's likelihood of finding one that can make the best use of her unique talents and skills. The same is true for business owners, who have a much better chance of finding people in a large populous urban area who match their needs.

Transportation turns out to be a key factor in enabling these wealth-increasing transactions. Imagine drawing a circle around the location of your residence, defined by how far you are willing to commute to get to a satisfying job. The larger the radius of that circle, the more potential work opportunities you have. Likewise, a company's prospective-employee pool is defined by the number of people whose circles contain that company's location.

Most people measure that radius in time rather than distance; studies show they are generally unwilling to spend much more than 30 minutes commuting each way on a long-term basis. That means the size of their opportunity circle is critically dependent on how quickly they can get around.

Despite urban sprawl and ever-increasing congestion levels, economists Peter Gordon and Harry Richardson of the University of Southern California have documented, using census data, that average commute times in various metro areas have hardly changed at all over several decades. More recently, Alex Anas of the University of Buffalo modeled what would happen as a result of a projected 24 percent increase in Chicago's metro area population over three decades. He estimated that auto commute times would increase only 3 percent and transit trip times hardly at all. The reason is that people tend to change where they live or work in order to keep their travel times about the same. But this happy result comes about only if the transportation system expands accordingly.

A recent empirical study from the Marron Institute of Urban Management at New York University likewise found that, on average, the labor market of an urban area (defined as the number of jobs reachable within a one-hour commute) nearly doubles when the workforce of the metro area doubles. The commute time increases by an average of only about 7 percent, however—assuming an efficient region-wide transportation network. To achieve higher economic productivity, they recommend fostering speedier rather than slower commuting; more rather than less commuting; and longer rather than shorter commutes.

These policies would expand the opportunity circles of employers and employees, enabling a more productive urban economy. But these are exactly the opposite of the policy prescriptions of smart growth, which generally seek to confine people's economic activity to a small portion of a larger metro area.

One early manifestation of this was the attempt by urban and transportation planners in the '80s and '90s to promote "jobs-housing balance," where each county of a large metro area has comparable percentages of the region's jobs and of its housing. The rationale was that this would reduce "excessive" commuting by enabling people to find work close to their homes. But urban agglomeration theory makes it clear that that is a recipe for a low-productivity urban economy. Census data show that many suburban areas are now approaching jobs-housing balance on their own, but this does not necessarily reduce commute distances—to get to the jobs they want, many people still travel across boundaries.

A fascinating example is Arlington County, Virginia. Since 2000, the number of jobs and the number of working residents in the county have been approximately equal. But it turns out that only 52 percent of those working residents have jobs in the county. Out of 582,000 resident workers, 280,000 commute to adjacent counties or the District of Columbia. And out of 574,000 jobs in the county, 272,000 are filled by workers from other places.

A less extreme version of smart growth says that we should discourage car travel and shift resources heavily toward transit. People should be encouraged to live in high-density "villages" where they can easily obtain transit service to jobs elsewhere in the metro area. The problem with this vision is the inability of transit to effectively compete with the auto highway system.

Simply put, cars work better for workers. A 2012 Brookings study analyzing data from 371 transit providers in America's largest 100 metro areas found that over three-fourths of all jobs are in neighborhoods with transit service—but only about a quarter of those jobs can be reached by transit within 90 minutes. That's more than three times the national average commute time.

Another study, by Andrew Owen and David Levinson of the University of Minnesota, looked at job access via transit in 46 of the 50 largest metro areas. Their data combined actual in-vehicle time with estimated walking time at either end of the transit trip, to approximate total door-to-door travel time. Only five of the 46 metro areas have even a few percent of their jobs accessible by transit within half an hour. All the others have 1 percent or less. Within 60 minutes door-to-door, the best cities have 15–22 percent of jobs reachable by transit.

Meanwhile, Owen and Levinson found that in 31 of the 51 largest metro areas in 2010, 100 percent of jobs could be reached by car in 30 minutes or less. Within 40 minutes, all the jobs could be reached by car in 39 of the cities. Within an hour, essentially every job in all 51 places could be reached by car. The roadway network is ubiquitous, connecting every possible origin to every destination. The contrast with access via transit—let alone walking or biking—is profound.

Photo Credit: thomas-bethge/iStock

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  • DKT||

    Major factor to commute congestion is the premise that "work" be done during the same prescribed hours for most jobs (not including shift work to cover larger manufacturing or service workday cycles). Time-shifting can help address this, where employers offer flexibility

  • vek||

    This is one of MANY things big companies don't do that blows my mind. In Seattle something as simple as Amazon shifting the start time of employees in their offices could dramatically improve traffic... Especially since those morons crammed every single one of their offices right into the VERY WORST traffic spots in the entire city to begin with. There's no reason they couldn't offer an early 7 AM starting shift for morning people, then stagger a bunch of it in hour or two blocks up until maybe a 12 PM starting time. Programmers especially are notorious night owls anyway and many would undoubtedly LOVE starting at 10 AM or noon.

    I own businesses now, and have owned several others in the past. Not one single one of them operated on the 9-5 schedule. This was because I myself hate the morning with a passion, but also because it made practical sense to help my employees avoid rush hour bullshit. They liked it, I liked it.

  • Pat001||

    Driving to work sucks. I have also used the Metro (subway) in DC to get to work. Depending on mass transit sucks just as bad.

  • Flinch||

    30 minutes... no way it's LA: 11M people living in the greater area, and doing anything is on par with living in the country [measuring travel time]. The city used to have light rail, but all that got ripped out. The last traces along Santa Monica Blvd were removed about a decade back if I recall. Might as well be in Jasper Texas when an 8 mile trip down the freeway can take 45 minutes. Come to think of it, cars there could be outfitted with single speed transmissions when all they will see is commuter service.

  • CDRSchafer||

    Mass transit only works when it's cheaper and quicker than driving. And even then it's more desirable to drive as you soon get tired of dealing with the public part of public transportation.

  • Pat001||

    When you think "public transportation," think "public rest rooms."

  • gaoxiaen||

    No smoking, coffee, or music. Yeah, sounds great.

  • 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed||

    I was on an extended business trip in Europe recently, in an area where cars are difficult to use because of the tight construction that was never designed for them. The mass transit is some of the best in Europe, and my own conclusions are the same as those in the article. Huge time sink. I ended up using Uber instead.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Bur Rick Steves makes it look so effortless.

  • Gleep Glop||

    "Hi, I'm Rick Steves here in Amsterdam, where the whores are incredible!"

    The only thing I've LOL'ed about from an SNL skit...

  • Zeb||

    It's easy when you get paid to do it.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Smart Growth is just the return the Teh Planners. The planners have been a plague on the Earth from the early days of the 20th century (they existed before, but had negligible impact). Planned cities, planned communities, planned societies only work to the degree that there has been room for people to go outside the plan.

    What these pests really want is an ant farm.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Heh, they want an ant farm and they want to be anteaters.

  • Gleep Glop||

    I grew up near Chicago, and people on the left simply refuse to believe that 1) whole black neighborhoods were bulldozed to 2) put people into high rises (Cabrini Green, Robert Taylor Homes) to then 3) demolish said high rises and give the residents housing vouchers.

    I'd love a good book recommendation regarding this phenomenon...

  • Citizen X||

  • WoodChipperBob||

    That's almost as good as a rickroll.

  • FlyoverCountry||

    Gang Leader For a Day ( i forget the author) does a good job of walking the reader through the outcome of this type of planning. Highly recommend

  • Zeb||

    I read that and also recommend it. It is a great look at the strange culture and ugly situation created by those policies.

  • Pat001||

    I blame planners for those damned roundabouts.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Roundabouts (aka traffic circles) are indeed a pet of a particular generation of Planners. There was a period during which the prevailing theory of road Planning held that traffic should flow like water.

    I guess nobody had stopped to think what an eddy would look like in cars.

  • ||

    And you can tell they're like a child's pet because they put the roundabouts at 2-road intersections while places where 3 or more roads come together, or nearly so, and form a clusterfuck of stoplights, they generally don't touch because tearing it all out and putting in a roundabout would be too complicated and expensive.

  • Zeb||

    They can be good in the right places, but it's true, it's just the trendy thing for city planners. Someone in the bigger (but still pretty small) town near where I live has been obsessed with them lately.

  • Iheartskeet||

    Got to disagree there...love me some roundabouts. Had one go in about 10yrs ago near us...its been a huge improvement in traffic flow and safety. I think the only downside to them is they take up more real estate than an traditional intersection. After a year or so, folks here got used to it and now embrace it. I remember initially there were many (a majority ?) that thought it was the End Times, but thats long gone.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    Actually, they work, compared to a four-way stop. And where I grew up (Akron, Ohio area) we had TWO of them sixty years ago (and they still exist!) They are building more where I live now (Cincinnati) and they actually help.

  • JFree||

    Roundabouts are the best way to a)keep traffic moving without lights and b)create self-enforcing speed limits that don't require signs/lights/cops.

    The latter in particular is a great way to design roads since the curves are usually off-camber rather than banked. You try to drive faster than the road is designed for - you're screwed and it's completely and only your fault.

    Course the reason most Americans hate roundabouts is because most American drivers suck at any driving that requires paying attention to driving.

  • Iheartskeet||

    +1

  • khm001||

    "Course the reason most Americans hate roundabouts is because most American drivers suck at any driving that requires paying attention to driving."

    I see you've never been in an American roundabout, otherwise you'd know a) planners idiotically installed lights, often multiple lights, in them and b) are laden with signs and cops waiting to bust you for minor infractions. In other words, you don't know what you're talking about when it comes to American roundabouts.

  • jjjjj||

    Roundabouts are far more libertarian than traffic lights. You can get on them when there's space available. Traffic lights are the government saying "you can go when we say you can go." Nobody floors it to run a roundabout like they do a yellow light.

  • Jerryskids||

    Alas, there are inherent flaws in the "smart growth" approach—beginning with the idea that it makes sense for everyone to live and work in the same small area.

    I would say the inherent flaws in "smart growth" begin with the idea that it's "smart" to have central planners deciding some of us are smarter than all of us.

  • Flinch||

    The poor timing of traffic lights in my city disproves the "smart" thing immediately. A main road with a posted limit of 45 will make you pick one of two speeds to actually sync up with real world timing in my estimation: 28 or 55. Doing the speed limit (or any speed in between) is the worst thing you can do, as nobody has a track car with the appropriate 60 foot times capable of reaching the speed limit in under one second coming off the light.
    So much for plan "A"...

  • CDRSchafer||

    If the "planners" can even get this right . . .

  • Shirley Knott||

    The planners' response to reports of gridlock:
    Impossible. The model shows traffic moving smoothly.

  • Mickey Rat||

    That is wuite likely the result of planning. Some traffic planning theories have it as a bad thing for cars to be able to hit every light on green. In theory, the idea is to reduce speeding by forcing cars to stop, or to annoy drivers into not using thst road or their cars at all.

  • Flinch||

    The Chicago thing is it's own story: pols basking in the cult status of Elon Musk, ready to stir fry more money than the Big Dig did in Boston years back [and likely by a multiple of ten]. The jobs they "hand out" will likely turn into votes, and definitely turn into campaign contributions from prospective contractors. Musk's proposal is too expensive, but the idea is tantalizing for some: it's effectively rail service for cars using some kind of docking system that does not have Amtrak attached to it. The lie of course is that...Chicagoans "won't have to pay for it". Yeah, right.
    But the real essence is pretty simple. The third rail of politics is not social security, it's our cars - mess with them too much and people are going to revolt at the ballot box. Right now, it seems to me we are at an inflection point where buying an old beater and restoring it [motor, paint & interior] may cost less than a new car for those who can afford the time to get that done. CAFE 2 is about to tip that over the edge, looking at how Ford is restructuring its offerings going forward.

  • ||

    Elong's Big Dig is supposed to be financed privately.

    Well see how that turns out if and when it actually gets built.

  • Conchfritters||

    I find bus service in the city I live in to be acceptable, but the city leaders keep trying to push "light rail" down the throats of everyone, at a price tag that is simply mind boggling. With buses, if one route isn't working, they can shift buses to other routes, or simply change the route of a particular bus. With light rail, they want to spend billions of dollars for a fixed piece of infrastructure. And they check about 1% of the light rail riders to see if they bought a ticket, so most of those people just ride it for free.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I lived in and around DC for a couple of decades, and found the DC metro quite useful....for touristing or shopping.for commuters it only made sense if you could get a discount for through your employer, or free parking. Naturally, the ridership levels never hit the predicted numbers.

    That was back when the system was working fairly well. I was back about a year ago. Pressure to open up new lines had overstrained the system and breakdowns were common.

    Congress's toy train set.

    *spit*

  • Flinch||

    Light rail is best for cities with choke points like NY or Seattle. The typical urban sprawl [like Houston] makes it a very poor investment, requiring added parking lots and bus service... which means they should have just stopped at bus service and left rail alone.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    They need light rail in Cincinnati, on Fridays evenings when the Reds are playing in town, to save me a 1.5 hour drive to go only 25 miles. Should be no real issue, the tracks already exist. I'd pay ten bucks a ride.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Yeah, remember when telecommuting was going to be the future of employment?

  • Shirley Knott||

    Telecommuting ran afoul of micro-managers and HR departments and so died the real death.

  • khm001||

    More likely, people did what they typically do at home: not work.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Sure. I telecommute half the week. It's really convenient, if you have the extra room in your house to turn into a work-only office.

  • The Laissez-Ferret||

    I think the idea of having an office for a large number of employees is outdated. Most people can work from home, and if I were a mayor/governor, I'd offer tax incentives to have a certain percentage of employees work from home.

    If you could eliminate 25-30% off the traffic in most cities, you'd be re-elected the rest of your life.

  • uunderstand||

    Absolutely. I have often wondered why those people who deliver gasoline, or drywall to the local building supply firm, aren't working from home.

  • R. K. Phillips||

    I've been doing that since 1999; trips into the office can range from once a week to once a month.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "People should be encouraged to live in high-density "villages" where they can easily obtain transit service to jobs elsewhere in the metro area."

    Even if that worked, so what? Show of hands- how many of you need to go nowhere else but to your job and back home again? I bet nobody. Ever been in the checkout line at the market behind someone shopping for a family? They're supposed to carry all that stuff home by hand on a trolley? Are the people who think up this crap retarded, or what?

  • Shirley Knott||

    Could this be a significant driver for all the various delivery services?
    Groceries are the most obvious, but IKEA and others will also cheerfully deliver things you might once have carted home yourself.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    Maybe it'll work for other people, but I don't want to sit around waiting for my groceries to show up. It's not like they can just leave the stuff at your door if you're not there.

  • Shirley Knott||

    I don't trust other people to select the produce I would.
    Having used Residence Inn's "we'll shop for your groceries for you" service, I don't trust them to pick right brand or size either. Let alone scan ingredient labels for foods I'm sensitive to.

  • ||

    Could this be a significant driver for all the various delivery services?

    Doesn't exactly matter with regard to his comment or the article. Whether the road between the home and the grocery store is being traversed by a delivery truck or the family grocery-getter, it's still being traversed needfully. Until you start paying people to carry the deliveries along public transit, at which point, God help us all. I spent two years in an apartment and no less than four different delivery crews said that union rules prevented them from delivering above the third floor.

  • JFree||

    Whether the road between the home and the grocery store is being traversed by a delivery truck or the family grocery-getter, it's still being traversed needfully.

    Yes and no. Personally I'd much prefer to grocery shop by bike. 4 within 10 blocks which SHOULD be much faster by bike than by car. But in a road/car city, I have to cross an interstate to get to one, run a commuter rat run road to one, and cross arterials to get to the other two. So to go by bike I have to wear helmet, change clothes, endure others pollution and stop-start every block or two. No surprise - I usually go by car.

    And the cost of all that vehicle-specific infrastructure (signs/lights/paint/extra road space/cops to enforce/parking space/etc/bridge to cross interstate which split the existing neighborhood) within a tiny radius is enormous compared to what it would be if it wasn't trying to 'solve problems' for thru traffic.

  • CDRSchafer||

    The people who buy into planning also believe in family planning in that they want to plan how big your family will be. Hint: Cat food delivery is all you'll need.

  • CptNerd||

    They don't live in the communities they plan.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    Of course not. Which is why they want to get you off the road so badly, in order to make the drive home more convenient for them.

  • Zeb||

    Ever been in the checkout line at the market behind someone shopping for a family? They're supposed to carry all that stuff home by hand on a trolley?

    They're supposed to walk to the farmer's market every day.

  • SunkCost||

    My Family of 5 had no problem living in Europe without a car. Sometimes we used a cart. Often a backpack. You shop more frequently, Also, fresh bread every single day is awesome. No costco runs- but it's not a hassle because there's shops everywhere in part because they're allowed to be.

  • EscherEnigma||

    Generally speaking, grocery shopping only once or twice a week is a luxury of having a car. If you don't, you end up shopping every day or two for that precise reason.

    This is also why in poorer neighborhoods where people are less likely to have cars you see more small "neighborhood markets" then big-box grocery stores.

  • JFree||

    grocery shopping only once or twice a week is a luxury of having a car. If you don't, you end up shopping every day or two for that precise reason.

    Paid for by having to pay for a car even if you don't need a car for commuting - and allocating space in a kitchen to a comically large refrigerator that mostly leads to eating more because its there.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    The reason Europe is so suffocating to innovation and progress is its lack of cars, and what cars it has are pathetic little gas misers which can't get out of their own way and can't take families where they want to go, so everybody depends on city buses and subways and inter-city trains.

    Cars' flexibility makes up for traffic jams. Buses and subways and inter-city trains can only come close to the same flexibility by stopping every couple of blocks and requiring a couple of transfers, which makes them even slower.

    8 hours sleep, 1 hour for shower, dressing, etc, 1 hour for breakfast and dinner, 1 hour for lunch, and 8 hours for work, in a 24 hour day leaves five hours for everything else. An hour each way leaves you three hours, and while you may be able to read during that commute, it's not *your* time, and that three hours begins to wear on you and leave little margin for errands or impromptu socializing; your work week turns into 5 days of drudgery.

    Car time is your own; you may not be able to read, but you aren't hemmed in by strangers, and you have the flexibility for errands.

    Carrying anything bigger than a briefcase? On a subway or bus? Fugeddaboudit! Several of you going to a mid-day meeting? Are you really going ti discuss confidential technical details or sales details on a bus or subway?

    Cars and energy are what set the US ahead of Europe.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "If you hate urban sprawl,"

    you get an apartment in the city. Problem solved. You're welcome.

  • JFree||

    I agree completely. And cities should then also not have to dick around using the land in the cities for the roads that burbs demand they build.

    If cities did what's best for themselves - and burbs did whats best for themselves - the transport outcome would not be exclusively roads connecting them.

  • Chris Cat||

    I don't follow the logic of this article. Increased urban density places more people near more jobs, commuting and cars unnecessary. That's a good thing. Cars and commuting should certainly be an option, but there is a limit to how much land can be covered by roads and how much pollution one wants to breathe in a limited area. I know cars are part of many of our pictures of freedom, but this relentless pushing of cars on Reason feels like a paid propaganda campaign.

    After living in Latin America for a few years and walking and using car hires rather than having a dedicated car, I came home to the US and never bothered with a car again. I loved the BMW I had before that, but now I love the fact that I don't have to deal with local bureaucracies, insurance companies and unpleasant and fearful traffic cops and meter maids. I am less affected by pervasive surveillance. My car and/or license can't be taken from me or used to extort me. This is obviously an easier choice in major urban areas, but Uber et al make it feasible in more and more places.

    When you drive or car pool, you are likely not getting work done. Jump in a bus or a Lyft, open your laptop, tether your cell, and your commute time is productive, Or read a good book or the paper. The time is yours.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Jump in a bus or a Lyft..."

    You mentioned pollution- do buses or Lyft vehicles not pollute?

    Your overall argument seems to boil down to the idea that everything will be better once everybody sees things the way you do and gets rid of their car. On the other hand, I have yet to hear a car owner insist that people who aren't, should be.

  • Chris Cat||

    It really isn't. I don't want to take people's cars from them. If you read my response you'll see I am not saying that. I don't want the government to take anything (maybe with minimal exceptions though no screaming ones come to mind) from people. I'm a libertarian, gosh darn it! :)

    I used to commute from Princeton NJ to JFK in Queens. There was no better option than a car. But a lot of people long to live in the center of things in an urban area. They may not need a car. I am really just saying that, as a car has benefits, no car also has benefits, and I've found no car to my liking. I guess I also do not want to base urban planning on unlimited car access over other considerations.

    Re pollution. What you say is true and there are now electric cars too. And self driving cars will free up drivers to do other things. I just don't ache to be in my own private self driving electric car. Having to walk some to do errands has been really good for me, physically.

    But no, I don't want to take away cars from people. That's authoritarian. Screw that.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "I don't want to take people's cars from them. If you read my response you'll see I am not saying that.

    Fair enough. You didn't specifically say that, but your comment was hardly an endorsement for people making up their own minds about choosing a method of transportation that suits their preferences.

  • Chris Cat||

    I was trying to express the freedom I feel not dealing with a car and the car authorities of all stripes. I really don't support the government banning anything short of theft , rape and murder. (Offhand. I'm sure you can come up with something horrible that I would want to ban, but my impulse is in the opposite direction.)

    I don't own a house for similar reasons. I like my assets liquid! I don't like the vulnerability random busybodies. But many would disagree with me for good reasons.

    Isn't libertarianism about giving ourselves and others the widest range of options?

  • Trollificus||

    "When you drive or car pool, you are likely not getting work done."

    "When you screw, or read a book, or play the guitar or stare off into space, thinking, you are likely not getting work done." Sorry, the "You drones should increase your productivity for the benefit of your masters." argument probably doesn't get much traction here. It's the same argument used to calculate imaginary losses due to recreational drugs ("productivity of citizen unit not maximized") But your post was admirably non-nasty, so I'll try to tone my reaction down.

    I've driven for ride services and met tons of people who find the experiment of not owning a car to be a) financially feasible and b) practically acceptable...but it's always with the proviso that your interests, work and social activities are all or mostly satisfied within a small urban radius. So, if you want to work at a university, and only need to access gay bars and art galleries, great. If you want to get into the mountains or woods or desert and into areas of greatly reduced human density, or don't want to limit your social interactions to a certain type of urbanite...nah, not a good choice, and one that should in no way be made by government.

  • Trollificus||

    Sorry about that whole "gay bars" thingy. I was thinking of particular people I know. ("Though now I think about it, they're not very particular at all, hey! ba-dum *CHING!*)

  • Chris Cat||

    Well, I made my money and now I work for myself doing R&D for AI and security software. Work for me means constructive activity, writing books, writing computer programs, writing music or poetry, building things, making art, etc. I totally agree about working for masters. Early in life, employment gave me a chance to learn and be mentored. I am very proud of many of the computer systems I wrote myself or as team leader. But in general, working for others sucks, and I am not encouraging people in general to spend their out of work time doing unsatisfying slave work. (Or their in work time, if they have any option.)

    I think you are exactly right. Uber etc open new options for being carless, but some people need or want cars and that is fine by me. I found carlessness freeing, but I do have friends with cars for outings. Rentals are an option too. But there is something satisfying about refusing a license in a culture that likes to use licenses to beat people over the head for minor deviation from its dictates.

  • DJK||

    I live and work in a highly urban area, don't own a car, and am still quite easily able to get to mountains, woods, deserts, etc. I can rent a fully-insured car at the last minute from Hertz or Enterprise for around $30-40/day with some company and alumni discounts. The car will be newer than anything I'd personally purchase. I will not have to deal with the costs arising from depreciation, maintenance, insurance, parking, and the like. I highly recommend this to anyone in similar circumstances.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "I can rent a fully-insured car at the last minute from Hertz or Enterprise for around $30-40/day with some company and alumni discounts."

    You use a car when it suits your purposes? Pretty much like what people who own cars do.

  • DJK||

    Way to ignore the benefits that I specifically identified. Such as: not paying $100+/month in insurance to cover it fully when it will sit around most of the time, not paying $200/month in parking, not getting stuck with the costs of depreciation, maintenance, etc., getting to drive a newer car than I would be in a position to buy or lease, and so forth. Cars are quickly depreciating assets with large recurring costs. Thus, owning a car is a major money sink. Those living in suburbs may be stuck owning a car in order to get to work each day. For many in the cities, it makes very little financial sense to own a car and it is possible to live without one without sacrificing the ability to get away, using the method I've identified. But thanks for your completely pointless response.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    I didn't ignore what you consider benefits of non-ownership any more than you ignored what car owners consider benefits of ownership. Nobody is forced to buy a car, so the conclusion that can be reached is that those who have, have decided it is in their best interest to own one.

    As I said in an earlier comment, car owners don't try to force non-owners to buy cars but you can hardly go a week without reading an article somewhere lamenting the difficulty of getting people out of their cars as if it is some sort of problem to be remedied.

  • JFree||

    car owners don't try to force non-owners to buy cars

    No. They force non-owners to buy and allocate land to ROADS which can only be used by cars.

  • vek||

    Yes, roads are ONLY used by cars... Buses don't use roads. Or bikes. Or pedestrians. Nope. None of those things ever happen. Rome DEFINITELY couldn't have had any roads at all, because they didn't have cars, so they would have been useless...

  • ||

    My car and/or license can't be taken from me or used to extort me. This is obviously an easier choice in major urban areas, but Uber et al make it feasible in more and more places.

    You can be banned from Über for breaking (or encouraging the driver to break) pretty much any of the laws that would be enforced by you as a driver as well as a few that wouldn't be enforced.

  • ||

    on you as a driver that is...

  • Chris Cat||

    Sad but true. When the government doesn't enforce something we have plenty of authoritarian personalities and companies to step in. However I haven't had any reason to ask a driver to break laws for me, and I try to be pleasant, so banning isn't a major fear, for me.

  • susancol||

    "cars are part of many of our pictures of freedom ..."

    There's a reason this is so, and it has nothing to do with Reason "propaganda". First, I live in the country, so no public transportation. Assuming that I lived where public transportation was available, and assuming (frequently contrary to fact) that the transportation is on time, the buses run s-l-o-w-e-r than cars (due to stops), so traveling to work or home takes longer. Further, the inefficiency (in MY TIME, a valuable commodity to me and my family) is horrendous. Stopping anywhere takes MUCH longer, as stops rarely equal the time between buses. I frequently fill the back of our minivan with groceries, but even our small trips are larger than I could carry on a bus, so there's no way I'd be able to stop to shop on the way home. If I had a doctor's appointment, I might have to plan to arrive almost an hour early (some times of day, TWO hours early!) to the appointment, as the bus only stops there every hour (or two) and doesn't deliver me based on my appointment time. These are not trivial lifestyle changes.

    Moreover, insisting on living in close proximity to one's job leads to problems in job mobility. Does one have to sell one's house/condo in order to move from a job on the East Side to a job on the West Side? That's a HUGE practical barrier that a simple expedient of commuter travel in automobiles fixes.

  • JFree||

    First, I live in the country, so no public transportation...insisting on living in close proximity to one's job leads to problems in job mobility. Does one have to sell one's house/condo in order to move from a job on the East Side to a job on the West Side? That's a HUGE practical barrier that a simple expedient of commuter travel in automobiles fixes.

    So what you're saying is that you don't actually know what you're talking about re transportation/housing decisions in cities because you don't live in one. That's perfectly OK and normal. But don't pretend that your solution actually FIXES anything either.

  • khm001||

    "That's a good thing."

    False. It's a good thing for some people, but not others. The problem with arrogant people like you is you don't care about people who don't value the same things as you. The rest of your comment drips with your arrogant condescension towards people who don't value the same things as you.

    I've lived in dense urban areas without a car, using a bike and public transportation. It sucked. The housing was cramped. I was limited on the bike by weather and terrain and couldn't do much more than transport myself, i.e., shopping was limited to what I could stuff in my backpack. Public transportation was even worse. Surrounded by rude, filthy people, many of whom are legit crazy, as well as being forced to be on someone else's schedule and limited by whatever route they took, at best public transpo was okay and at worse a filthy, unsafe, inconvenient nightmare.

    "When you drive or car pool, you are likely not getting work done."

    So? When I drive, I listen to music or drive in silence just thinking.

    "The time is yours."

    Exactly. My time is MINE. You want my time to be yours. I enjoy driving, in my car, in private cleanliness, with no crazies, and, most importantly, on MY time.

  • Trollificus||

    That all kind of overlooks the fact that the freedom afforded individual citizens by the (relatively) affordable automobile is one of the crowning achievements of human civilization. That freedom is a game-changer in terms of quality of life, and, I suspect, part of the reason for the attack of the planners.

  • Chris Cat||

    I love international travel so I associate planes with freedom. "Don't ban my planes!!" :)

    I do laugh when anti-carbon people jet off to fancy foreign destinations (spewing carbon all the way) for a party rather than improving teleconferencing/telepresence tech and staying home and meeting virtually and demonstrating themselves how carbon emissions can be reduced. It is always somebody else's behavior that is the problem for these folks.

    The car freedom you talk about is particularly actualized outside the city, don't you think? Who knows the motives of the planners? (I just accused Reason of being in thrall to car interests, so I am in a poor position to call your concern paranoid that urban planners are purposely attacking freedom!)

    But urban planners do have a range of competing concerns that could logically lead them to conclude that at some point too many cars interfere with other priorities. Such a logical process seems unlikely in today's political climate, however!

  • khm001||

    "The car freedom you talk about is particularly actualized outside the city, don't you think?"

    No. That freedom is actualized everywhere.

    "Who knows the motives of the planners?"

    Anyone who listens to them. They tell you exactly what life they have planned for you and it involves you knowing your place, living in THEIR preferred housing they designed for close to jobs THEY prefer you have using transportation THEY prefer you use.

    "But urban planners do have a range of competing concerns that could logically lead them to conclude that at some point too many cars interfere with other priorities."

    Right. THEIR priorities. Not the priorities of, you know, the people actually living in cities. Your "logic" is simply to impose YOUR preferences and priorities on everyone else by convincing yourself YOUR preferences and priorities are shared by everyone else. Let me clue your arrogant ass into something most people are decent enough to know: your preferences and priorities aren't even shared by a majority of people, much less being universal. Climb on out of your own ass and actually meet with other people, not just those who like the bubble in which you've insulated yourself.

  • khm001||

    "The car freedom you talk about is particularly actualized outside the city, don't you think?"

    No. That freedom is actualized everywhere.

    "Who knows the motives of the planners?"

    Anyone who listens to them. They tell you exactly what life they have planned for you and it involves you knowing your place, living in THEIR preferred housing they designed for close to jobs THEY prefer you have using transportation THEY prefer you use.

    "But urban planners do have a range of competing concerns that could logically lead them to conclude that at some point too many cars interfere with other priorities."

    Right. THEIR priorities. Not the priorities of, you know, the people actually living in cities. Your "logic" is simply to impose YOUR preferences and priorities on everyone else by convincing yourself YOUR preferences and priorities are shared by everyone else. Let me clue your arrogant ass into something most people are decent enough to know: your preferences and priorities aren't even shared by a majority of people, much less being universal. Climb on out of your own ass and actually meet with other people, not just those who like the bubble in which you've insulated yourself.

  • Mickey Rat||

    What of those of who do not want to live in caves of steel?

  • Trollificus||

    Ah, you mean the new untermenschen? Yeah, such people are going to remain problematic, and will require more planning.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Well, they're obviously counterrevolutionary wreckers and kulaks, amd must be eliminated or reeducated for the good of The State.

    And they call the Right fascists.

  • Chris Cat||

    Cars are caves of steel, no?

  • Mickey Rat||

    I was referring to the Asimov book, in which most people on Earth live on the dole in enclosed citoes and are extremely agoraphobic.

  • D-Pizzle||

    Word porn for urban planners, though I don't think they would have the guts to try and sell the whole 'shared bathrooms' part.

  • Zeb||

    Don't live there?

  • Mickey Rat||

    When the planners are trying to make that choive as as much of a hardship as possible as the design they are proud of?

  • JFree||

    Most people measure that radius in time rather than distance

    That's true. But the costs of constructing/maintaining the infrastructure depend on distance and different types of infrastructure scale very differently re distance, volume - and housing prices and land availability also scale with distance (and the means by which that infrastructure is paid for). So time itself is about as directly relevant as measuring transport in chocolate milkshakes. It is a CONSEQUENCE not a cause.

    Creating car-only infrastructure is nothing more than allowing only a single solution and eliminating choice re both transport and housing. Public mass transit is often a public sector union boondoggle - but Karachi is hardly a good transport model.

    Cities themselves shouldn't be creating their own transportation infrastructure solely to serve the needs of commuters in suburbs who moved there to avoid paying for anything cities do.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    What transportation infrastructure are cities building, that solely serves the suburbs?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    None of course.

  • JFree||

    Virtually all of the allocation of road space devoted to cars that is used for through traffic or long trip traffic by car. Residential roads wider than needed in order to accommodate two-way traffic plus parking on side (with far more intersections/paint/signs/etc than needed if traffic WAS actually residential). Monstrous arterials with the big boxes and parking lots and strip malls on the side - which all assume that one is required to drive quite a distance to get anywhere.

    Cities themselves do not generate much long distance cross-city traffic unless they are designed around the notion that only the car is transportation and that is a suburban notion. Urban errands can be VERY short distance. That's the whole point of a city.

    Work commute patterns tend to be very predictable in aggregate and not a very high % of total trips. Within a city, those aren't nec that long-distance either. My city (700k) is 10 miles by 10 miles - with tons of jobs within 4 miles of me. That's nuttin even by bike (20 min at casual pace) - and it is one of the youngest, fittest, outdoorsy, casual cities in the US. But the transport system is geared for the 2+million in the burbs - so car everything must be.

  • I'm Not Sure||

    "Virtually all of the allocation of road space devoted to cars that is used for through traffic or long trip traffic by car."

    Not just that. Unless you have farms, feedlots and slaughterhouses downtown, the food you eat has to get to the market somehow. Light rail, perhaps?

    "But the transport system is geared for the 2+million in the burbs...

    Three times the number of people who live in your city? It would seem the transport system is geared for a large majority of the population. And that's a problem?

  • I'm Not Sure||

    The one time I didn't use "preview"- figures. Sorry for screwing up the tags.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Like I said, none of course.

  • JFree||

    the food you eat has to get to the market somehow.

    Hey don't look at me. I think this country made huge effing mistakes re our railroad decisions. Rail and water barges scale perfectly for long-distance mass freight. Look at the image of tonnage delivered from Wyoming via two rail lines (all 1-way tonnage) vs the biggest interstate hubs. Being able to take long-distance trucks off interstates - and running them as four MILE long trains instead - would do a lot for congestion.

    It would seem the transport system is geared for a large majority of the population. And that's a problem?

    Golly so majoritarian tyranny is libertarian now? And having the majority suck on the public teat of the minority that actually pays the cost? What is this rabbit hole that we are going down?

    Yes I understand that the reason this sort of stuff happens is because most cities do this stuff within some bigger 'transport commission' that is MSA-wide or multi-county. But that only means they are deciding how to allocate CASH costs rather than making independent Hayekian-knowledge decisions that serve often-competing interests.

  • vek||

    You know nothing...

    1. We ship most stuff via trains when possible in the USA. We actually utilize rail for goods BETTER than Europe does! The last mile problem still exists even if we somehow managed to shift even more shipping to going via train. This requires roads.

    2. Drivers generally pay for their roads and then some via taxes. The problem in most lefty areas is that the gas tax/registration fees get robbed to pay for buses, trains, etc and then they simply ignore maintaining the roads. I read an interesting article that compared spending in different states, and many of the states in the south/midwest have far better maintained roads WHILE also having lower taxes on these things... That's because they actually spend their money on the roads.

    If people want trains they should not be subsidized by drivers, and vice versa. Let gas taxes/registration pay for the roads, and let ticket sales pay for buses/trains. Let us see what people ACTUALLY want. I already know the answer, as the world we live in shows what most people prefer, and it ain't being crammed onto a shitty bus with hobos.

  • JFree||

    Drivers generally pay for their roads and then some via taxes.

    No they don't and it ain't close. Further the largest cost is not on the operating side but on the capital/land side which should be obvious to even a halfwit. The same goes for everything that takes up a ton of land and delivers near nothing in potential usage revenue. Roads prob deliver less revenue/acre than timberland. The difference is timberland ain't located on valuable urban real estate - which means the opportunity cost of roads remaining roads is magnitudes larger than even capital cash costs.

    You moronic clowns do not have the slightest clue how transportation (and a lot of other) infrastructure pays for itself. It pays for itself via the increased value of nearby LAND that connects to it. That's how it paid for itself when the govt gave/sold land to railroads for them to build privately back then. And it's how it pays for itself today except the land has now been parceled out so can't be reparceled out. THAT is why govt ends up getting more involved in infrastructure once the Lockean proviso no longer applies because it and only it can tax some of the increased value that accrues as infrastructure is improved/developed over time.

    Govt may screw things up by taxing the wrong things (like 'usage' or 'property') or via public union rent-seeking. That does not mean a market model works better. It means that govt needs to held accountable.

  • vek||

    Here's what you're ignoring:

    The VALUE that roads DO bring. Perhaps at the VERY core of a city the value is slightly less dependent on roads, but even in the just barely beyond downtown core half of the value in the land exists explicitly BECAUSE the roads exist. If they didn't, and the time cost of living/working there were higher, the land would be less valuable and useful. Being able to zip downtown in 10-15 minutes is what makes my neighborhood valuable. If I had to walk, ride a bus, or a horse(!) like in the olden days it would be less desirable and less valuable.

    If you know anything about the history of urban/suburban growth you would know that when commuter trains were first built out from city centers, this expanded the value of the land along those corridors. When cars made travel more practical still this increased both the urban and suburban values because people could practically travel between the two for work/living. The land got filled in everywhere because roads enabled this (and trains DON'T), and the modern city as they tend to exist now was born. This is historical fact.

    Your argument is essentially saying that some pedestrian path or throwing in a few more coffee shops where roads presently exist is MORE valuable to the city, the people, etc than the value brought by the road.

  • vek||

    In some instances I may concede that is correct. But in many other instances it is not. If people can't get into/out of the city easily, having an extra tree lined walking path isn't going to bring more economic value. It will likely lessen it. Rapid and efficient transportation is in and of itself a highly valuable thing, as are the many things it enables.

    Again, you're placing YOUR personal value on the land used for roads, and ignoring that roads bring trillions and trillions in economic value, and personal happiness value, to the vast majority of people who PREFER using them versus slower and more annoying methods of transportation.

    I don't think there should be ZERO trains. I think they make sense in some very dense cities. However roads are also very valuable things, which you completely discount. Personally I'm a big fan of buses because they can be varied in their volume, timing, etc as needs change. Trains can't. I wish more plebs would take the bus so my driving would be even easier! But the problem is most people in America aren't plebs, and can afford a car, and prefer to do so just like I do. So building what the people demand simply makes sense. Forcing people to do something they don't want to is authoritarianism. Cars have won the market competition for transportation, and to the degree possible this should be accommodated. Drivers should also pay for their road use, but as I said they already do cover direct costs.

  • khm001||

    "Cities themselves shouldn't be creating their own transportation infrastructure solely to serve the needs of commuters in suburbs who moved there to avoid paying for anything cities do."

    My favorite part of such idiocy is, even if this were true (it's only partially true at best), is you think commuters don't travel into cities to work and create wealth, as well as recreate spending large sums of money, IN THE CITIES. Cities aren't cash strapped by transportation costs on the construction and maintenance of roads, which are barely a blip on any city's budget, and the benefits of transportation infrastructure you pooh pooh eclipse those costs. In other words, you're the typical pretentious, myopic, and bigoted democrat.

  • SunkCost||

    I've read Poole's shit for years and I've always been confused as to his liberterian framing. Most of our urban land is zoned as single family housing. This isn't a market outcome. Smart growth, to the degree it means anything means allowing property owners to do more stuff with their land like build multifamily or intermingle commercial with residential. How is that view authoritarian? Why is choosing to allocate less public space to roads vs sidewalks or bikes an erosion of freedom.

  • vek||

    People should be able to do what they like with their land. This would solve the housing crises in many cities methinks. The problem is the central planners don't do that. They decree neighborhood X shall be completely obliterated and upzoned, but neighborhoods Y and Z shall be untouched. This is what happened to my neighborhood in Seattle, it's basically a shit hole now. If it was actual market results being allowed to happen I suspect that there would have been far more multi family buildings thrown in overall in the city, BUT it would not have been nearly as concentrated in specific areas. This would have been better for all I think.

    As to killing car lanes, I think the thing is this: It's not what clear demand seems to warrant. In Seattle they've intentionally ruined traffic in many areas to simply push their agenda... Even though nobody wants it. They've replaced car lanes that probably move 5,000 cars an hour during rush hour with bike lanes that probably move 200 bikes. This is clearly not what peoples actions show they want/need, but they're doing it out of being ideological zealots anyway.

  • vek||

    I've often said that if I saw bike lanes being filled to the brim with riders I would be a lot more okay with them swapping car lanes for them, because that would be what was "needed" based upon market demand... But it's not. That's my biggest problem with the whole thing.

    It's like a restaurant selling out of bacon an hour after opening every day, but upping their order of broccoli where they're having to throw tons of it out constantly, and never upping the bacon order, because they KNOW their customers SHOULD be eating more broccoli... It's just bad planning. You supply what is being demanded, and it ain't bike lanes.

  • khm001||

    Zoning IS a market outcome the same way property rights are defined and enforced. In fact, zoning laws are part of the definition of property rights and how property rights are enforced on real property.

  • vek||

    I have heard this argument before, and it is true to a degree... But I guess it's the warped and arbitrary nature of how they're actually enacted, mainly by political hacks who get the right campaign contributions, that makes them whack. If we were talking about covenant communities that would be entirely different of course.

    The fact is though that cities without zoning of any sort show just how much of a nothing burger it really is. Houston is the biggest city in the US that has no zoning, and magically its housing market keep prices really reasonable, and MAGICALLY people don't even really notice anything weird about living there. Things just develop organically instead of from top down planning.

  • NoVaNick||

    The thing urban planners fail to recognize is that most people want a place to call their own, with some personal outdoor space, if they are given a choice. I remember a few years ago they were celebrating how Millennials all wanted to live in cities. Well, now that they are a bit older and having kids, they want the burbs' they grew up in, and if gets to be too much of a hassle to commute by car into a city, employers will move to the burbs too-they are not going to wait 20 years to build some fancy new transit system.

  • See.More||

    Cities themselves shouldn't be creating their own transportation infrastructure solely to serve the needs of commuters in suburbs who moved there to avoid paying for anything cities do.

    That's basically the argument for a commuter tax Atlanta occasionally considers/threatens. The problem is that the logic is flawed.

    asd

  • See.More||

    Cities themselves shouldn't be creating their own transportation infrastructure solely to serve the needs of commuters in suburbs who moved there to avoid paying for anything cities do.

    That's basically the argument for a commuter tax Atlanta occasionally considers/threatens. The problem is that the logic is flawed.
    .
    1.) Few commuters use city infrastructure or services beyond the roads.
    .
    2.) Their employers pay for their water, electricity, and waste management usage while on the job.
    .
    3.) Their employers pay city taxes and property taxes.
    .
    4.) Commuters frequently dine and/or shop in the city while on break(s) increasing the economic activity and, therefore, revenue to the city from taxes paid by those businesses.
    .
    Thus, commuters are not free riders. Treating them as if they are is pure bullshit.

  • JFree||

    Few commuters use city infrastructure or services beyond the roads.

    Even fewer roads turn themselves into something more valuable/useful during those hours when they aren't being used by commuters. Narrowing the land usage of roads could allow for sidewalk cafes or small ped-based commercial streets or bike/walk paths with trees or the social space of people on front porches talking to their neighbors or a bunch of kids playing stickball in a street or front-yard gardeners who 'landscape' a bit of streetspace.

    All the stuff that CAN make city living unique and very enjoyable but that disappears into hot asphalt surrounded by dead suffocating space when cars take over. All the stuff that doesn't exist in American cities BECAUSE of that.

    It really is less about the cash cost of a road than the opportunity cost of how that space could be more valuable. Yeah - commuter taxes are dumb. Mostly though because cities should stop giving a shit entirely about what commuters expect/want. They should do what residents/landowners want/need. Not look for money to rationalize doing something else.

  • vek||

    What you're failing to realize is the benefits roads bring.

    Why is having a random pedestrian path BETTER for anybody in particular than having a road for cars? It's NOT objectively better. YOU might prefer it... But the guy who needs to get to work while wasting an hour or two less of his day (more time with the fam!), or pick his kids up from baseball practice, or go to the grocery store, etc might prefer the road.

    You're projecting your subjective tastes on everybody else. Thing is "the market" (to what degree it exists in this context) has clearly shown a preference for roads, and all the awesome things they enable. You clearly can't grasp the fact that people LIKE being able to drive places quickly and efficiently instead of wasting their time taking a bus or whatever.

  • JFree||

    I'm not failing to realize that at all. I am not opposed to roads or cars. They have their place in improving mobility. But a residential road used as a rat run or for thru benefits the commuters/thru traffic NOT the people who live there. It diminishes the value of land on that street. That's why every suburb is developed with the cul de sac and windy road model NOT to enable ratrunning and free parking for people who live elsewhere.

    I live in what's zoned a 'city neighborhood' - 1/2 fam, grid layout, w alleys between streets. Turn streetspace into free parking lot or rat run and residents turn away from the street because its dead/unpleasant. Repurpose it into human-scale mobility (walk/bike/mobility scooter/moped) and it becomes a place where people will go even to socialize. Which ramps up the land value. Which, taxed properly, incentivizes development into 4plex or sidewalk cafe or commercial that's ok with peds/local as customers. Which won't be opposed as much because its not ADDING to a traffic problem (maybe over time that can get rid of the zoning nazis).

    If residents gotta drive 4 blocks to get onto the connector/arterial to get everywhere else in the world so what? They are already DOING THAT. People don't shit in their own front yard. That connector/arterial won't even need 'bike lanes' (not there at least) because 80% of a separate bike/scooter/moped grid is already in place along those repurposed res streets.

  • vek||

    See my other response above. I'm not opposed to trains either, although I appear to be a lot less biased than you are against roads.

    You're simply wrong in believing that roads destroy value. What you need is a volume of high traffic arterials that can handle the volume of traffic that exists. This means most residential streets are not big crazy roads, but those types of roads must exist. If you think every single side street should be turned into parks or WTF ever, because people value that more, I dare you to ask if people want to park their cars 4 blocks from their house and have to carry the groceries home!

    Side streets and big streets both need to exist. Trying to half the number of major roads will just fuck everything up. Likewise if you tried to eliminate residential streets. We've come up with a mix that seems to work for most people. In fact the mix in my Ballard neighborhood was come up with BEFORE the car even really existed. It was designed for fucking horses, it just happens to work well for cars too.

  • vek||

    So your whole thing about what people desire is bullshit, showcased by how cities have been built with extensive road networks since the days of fucking ancient Babylon.

    You just have an imaginary idea in your head of how you think things should be, but it doesn't jive with what people seem to have chosen since the days of the horse and carriage. Roads exist and take up lots of space because they're useful. It may not be residential or commercial property in and of itself, but roads bring trillions in value to the land that is used for those purposes. Cities have always had roads, and always will.

    We have ZERO land shortage per se. Certain cities might be reaching their geographic limits, but there's no reason Denver, or Des Moines, Salt Lake City, or wherever can't just become a bigger city if NYC, SF, LA, etc hit their wall in terms of populations that can be supported there reasonably. Quit pushing your particular idea of how things should be on everybody, especially since most people clearly disagree about the value of roads.

  • BILKER||

    "3.) Their employers pay city taxes and property taxes.
    This is the major problem and the reason commuting woes will never go away.
    BTW F*CK DENIRO

  • Ann in L.A.||

    What percentage of commutes to work are simple round-trips (ie: straight to work and straight back)?

    How many of them are more like this: Drop off kid #1 at their school, then kid #2 at their school, then go to work, then head to the store to pick up something for dinner, then pick up kid #2 from sports practice, then head home.

    Try doing that on public transit.

  • JFree||

    Why do the kids have to ride a car to school rather than bike/walk on their own or as a group of neighborhood kids? Wouldn't that be a better way to teach actual self-reliance and independence? To give them ACTUAL freedom? Didn't YOU (or your parents) bike to school as a kid?

    Problem is - that's just not possible (safely at least) when the transport system is geared around the car - because cars take over roads entirely and make it dangerous for every other option. Time has proven that - which is why we now drive kids to school. Cars don't play well with others - and drivers stop paying attention to anything under 2 tons (and our kids aren't that big - yet).

    I don't think this issue should be about commuters (or govt operated mass transit). That is astonishingly narrow and limited. It should be about who actually gets to use public land (without risking death) and who gets to be mobile.

  • vek||

    You are so far up your own ass you can't even see it!

    You're projecting your arbitrary vision of what is good onto everybody else. And riding a bike is not a death sentence. I rode my bike to school, right along side cars. It was fine. I will let my kids ride bikes when I have kids too.

    You're just such a friggin' zealot you can't imagine why anybody wouldn't want to live life the way you do.

    Just admit the fact that the car makes life A LOT easier for a large percentage of the population. It enables them to do things that are not possible to do, or are far more inconvenient to do, without a car. In other words it IMPROVES PEOPLES LIVES. I would never want to live without a car. As a matter of fact I have always owned more than one car for different purposes even. They're awesome. They're useful.

    If you don't want one, fine. Don't get one. But MOST people see the obvious utility in owning them, which is why they do.

  • JFree||

    I own a car you twit. What I don't like is HAVING to drive it rather than using easy alternatives because the entire transportation grid here is designed for cars and only for cars.

  • vek||

    Well, let me flip that on its head for you buddy.

    You:

    "What I don't like is HAVING to drive it rather than using easy alternatives because the entire transportation grid here is designed for cars and only for cars."

    Me:

    "What I don't like is HAVING to TAKE THE TRAIN rather than using easy alternatives LIKE DRIVING MY CAR because the entire transportation grid here is designed for TRAINS and only for TRAINS."

    See how easy that is genius??? You're trying to take away MY preference, and the stated preference of most people, because it isn't YOUR preference. As I said elsewhere, I am a big fan of buses as far as public transportation goes. Their routes can be infinitely varied, their volume can be varied. Mainly this is all due to the fact that they use the VERY FLEXIBLE road network we have. Trains' can't do that stuff.

    So my response if you don't want to drive is: Take a bus! Or an Uber/Lyft for that matter, let somebody else do the driving for you. But don't you dare try to FORCE the vast majority of the population to conform to your arbitrary preference.

  • CraigGorsuch||

    My "tin-foil-hat" thoughts on "smart urbanization" is simply: Get all the population condensed into more easily controlled geographic regions.

    There are persuasive arguments about ease of infrastructure deployment in densely populated areas, but the technological black swans of decentralized power generation and 5G mesh networking are going to utterly disrupt the need for large cities as a requirement for developed infrastructure.

    Not only is going "off grid" seemingly gaining traction for financial and mobility reasons, but it's the best means of slowing the creep of state control intervening in the daily lives of everyone.

  • vcx||

    Finally! A counter to those silly people who are not aware that needs change in life. A Millie might still be anti-car until they have to wait in the 100-degree sun or minus 0degree cold or at night in an empty park and ride miles from the work site.
    Oh yes, one becomes very tired of party (noise)apartments or not being able to find a parking spot. Too many people give lip service to the mob and not enough to their individual need.

  • vek||

    Central planning obviously is BS. That said I think a lot of the problem is that many of the major corporations seem to have bought into the same propaganda being pushed by idiots.

    In Seattle Amazon crammed basically 100% of their office space RIGHT into the parts of town that already had the worst traffic in the city. They went with the central planner model basically. All their drones SHOULD live walking distance from the office, after work stop and buy 1 days worth of food on the way home, etc.

    The problem is many thousands of them DO NOT DO THIS. They live in other neighborhoods, exactly as anybody who isn't a moron would have predicted. So it's borked.

    Personally I feel like in a lot of "hot" cities the limits and downsides of this ultra densification plan are starting to show just how bad an idea it is. Cost of living is horrible, living standards are horrible etc.

    People largely follow jobs. I hope that more big companies will begin to spread their offices around a little more again, and throw more stuff in the burbs. People forget that Redmond and Bellevue were nothing little burbs that turned into real places because of Microsoft and others. People are perfectly happy to live/work there. If Amazon had thrown in a Shoreline or Everett office people would have been fine with that too. So I hope the corporate side of this equation stops buying into this fad, because they ultimately have a lot of sway in how this stuff plays out in the real world.

  • Omar Y.||

    Writing this comment from a train. Suck it, car addicts!

  • Omar Y.||

    Writing this comment from a train. Suck it, car addicts!

  • BILKER||

    as a somewhat "expert on commuting" I believe businesses s/b moving out of urban centers. In particular the large employers becoming virtual company towns. They should establish campuses in widely separated areas and encourage construction of housing, apartment and homes, around their campuses. From 1976 to 1998 my commute was 80 miles from door to door twice each day. Note this was on the infamous 405 "freeway" in Los Angeles 6 and 7 days a week. After retirement from that job I drove durability vehicles in a testing environment on average of 370 miles a day in the heavy traffic times throughout Los Angeles county till 2010. In the morning(work hours were 5 am to 2:30 pm) the commute took generally 1 hour and 10-15 minutes. On the afternoon the commute on the "405 freeway" took from , generally, 3-3 1/2 hours on a good day. The commuters appeared to be going from different bedroom communities to different employers. Ex: one side of the county to the other. Now short commutes take 1-2 hours to go twenty-five miles or less. It's housing afforability driveing the commutes. In the farther suburban ares homes cost average near $400,000 for 2000 sq ft. Close in urban housing on average is $900,000 and up for a 50 x 100 ft lot and less than 1000 sq. ft. and rentals are approaching stratospheric dollars for 800 sq ft. ($1800 monthly and up) in dicey neighborhoods.untill large employers move further apart commutes will only get worse.

  • the_strickler||

    If our "urban" areas weren't completely controlled by leftists and their corrupt union cronies, then maybe people would be more willing to make the move to live and work in the big city.

    If they would stop the crime, the high taxes, and stop trying to control everyday taxpayers and business owners, then they wouldn't have such an urban sprawl and traffic problem.

  • BenjaminTheDonkey||

    Should be trying to get workers out of your buildings. They have homes, they have computers and devices, what do they need your facility for? Collaborate online and work from home, all the utility and security system bills, not to mention the liability from sexually harassing morons or ditsy chicks standing on rolling desk chairs in high heels to hang Christmas ornaments... Get your butts out of my building and use your own space. Males are too hot, females are too cold, go use your own HVAC and quit bugging me with your whining. We paid for a VPN concentrator, use it.

  • mcames||

    The population of Arlington, Virginia, as of July 1, 2016 was only 230,050. Perhaps the reference there should be to Fairfax County, which has a population of over 1.1 million.

  • Vesparado||

    I'm all for trains and street cars with just a couple of caveats: the "trambulance" must come nearly to my door and then proceed directly (no transfers or stops) to the ER with other trams required to pull off the tracks to the right and stop. Same for the "fire trolley".

    Then I'm good to go.

  • Combat Missionary||

    I'd love to see a study done to determine how many gallons of gasoline are consumed per mile, per commuter in order to move people in mass transit versus when they take their own cars to work so that we can get over this infantile demand that everyone live in some Soviet style downtown micro apartment, renting their whole lives, and taking mass transit everywhere. You can't tell me that a driver in a four cylinder compact car is wasting gas by driving the direct route in a half hour versus large, slow, noisy buses that make people take an hour and a half to make the same trip over multiple buses on indirect routes to one's destination.

  • vek||

    I've had the same thought myself.

    I imagine for the bus routes that aren't stupid, during peak times of day when they're full, the bus is probably more efficient... But what about when a full size bus is driving around at night with 2 people on it? NOT more efficient. So what's the average.

  • the Aspen beat||

    Well, wait a minute. The article concludes that we should not shift resources toward transit because there isn't currently enough transit for it to work well.

    Isn't that a fact weighing in favor of more transit, not less?

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