History, Landscape, Beauty on the American Freeway


Freeways, particularly urban freeways, have had a bad press for several decades now.  They are accused of despoiling scenery, destroying habitat and causing urban sprawl.  Many observers report with glee on the latest news of a small segment of urban freeway being dismantled.  read more »

Plan Bay Area: Telling People What to Do


The San Francisco area’s recently adopted Plan Bay Area may set a new standard for urban planning excess. Plan Bay Area, which covers nearly all of the San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Vallejo and Napa metropolitan areas, was recently adopted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).  read more »

Mobility for the Poor: Car-Sharing, Car Loans, and the Limits of Public Transit


Public transit systems intend to enhance local economies by linking people to their occupations. This presents problems for many  low-income families  dependent on transit for commuting. With rising prices at the gas pump, much hope has been placed on an influx of investment into public transit to help low-income households. But does public transit really help the poor?  read more »

XpressWest Las Vegas Train: Where are the Venture Capitalists?


Recently, the US Department of Transportation indefinitely suspended a federal loan application for the XpressWest high-speed rail train from Victorville California to Las Vegas.  read more »

New Data on Commuting in Canada


New data from the National Household Survey indicates that driving to work continues to surge in Canada. In addition to providing work access market shares, the National Household Survey provides one-way work trip travel time estimates for all metropolitan areas.

The National Data

Between the 2006 census and the 2011 National Household Survey indicates an increase of nearly 750,000 additional work-bound cars on the road. The increase in driving exceeded the overall increase of 585,000 in employment (Figure 1).  read more »

A Million New Housing Units: The Limits of Good Intentions


In May 2013, the district of Husby in suburban Stockholm, Sweden was shaken by “angry young men” engaging in destructive behavior for about 72 hours,1 including the burning of automobiles and other properties and attacks on police officers (over 30 officers were injured). The violence spread to the nearby districts of Rinkeby and Tensta as well as to other parts of Sweden.  read more »

The Transit-Density Disconnect


Around the world planners are seeking to increase urban densities, at least in part because of the belief that this will materially reduce automobile use and encourage people to give up their cars and switch to transit, or walk or cycle (Note 1). Yet research indicates only a marginal connection between higher densities and reduced car use.  read more »

Commuting in Australia


Data from the 2011 censuses indicates that mass transit is gaining market share in all of but one of Australia's major metropolitan areas. The greatest increase as in Perth, at 21% , aided by the new Mandurah rail line to the southern urban fringe. On average, mass transit's market share increased by 10.8% in the five metropolitan areas with more than 1 million population. This increase seems likely to be in response to both mass transit service improvements (such as in Perth) and higher petrol (gasoline) prices.  read more »

The Beauty of Urban Planning from the Ground


In a piece called The Beauty of Urban Planning from Space, the Sustainable Cities Collective highlights views from space of uniquely designed street pattern designs in various cities around the world. There are ten examples that illustrate the zenith of urban planning.

As attractive as the street patterns are, they highlight the inevitable inability of designers, or anyone else for that matter, to influence much more than small changes in the overall urban form.  read more »

Transit Legacy Cities


Transit's greatest potential to attract drivers from cars is the work trip. But an analysis of US transit work trip destinations indicates that this applies in large part to   just a few destinations around the nation. This is much more obvious in looking at destinations than the more typical method of analysis, which looks at the residential locations of commuters.  read more »