Transportation

Housing Affordability Protests Occurring in "Livable" Hong Kong, Not "Sprawling" Atlanta

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The Economist has published another in its city rating series, under the headline "The Best city in the World." This one was the result of a contest examining ways to elaborate on its rating system. The winner, Filippo Lovato, added a spatial dimension to the ratings, which included a 5 point rating of "sprawl," a pejorative term for the natural expansion of cities (which in this article means urban areas, areas of continuous urban development).  read more »

China's French Connection

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No two countries would appear more divergent than France and China, especially in the age of Eurozone collapse. One country represents the Asian future, while the other is the capital of the failed, if diverting, old world.

The French recently elected a socialist president and assembly on the basis that everyone should share the country’s deficits and decline. The Chinese, meanwhile, have enough surpluses to buy out the European Union, should they wish to exchange their EU debts for an equity stake. (Maybe they will choose to have Paris shipped east in boxes?)  read more »

High Speed Rail Advocates Discredit Their Cause - Again

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Is there any high speed rail boondoggle big enough to make rail transport advocates reject it?  Sadly, for all too many of them, the answer is No, as two recent developments make clear.

The first is in California, where the state continues to press forward on a high speed rail plan for the state that could cost anywhere from $68 billion to $100 billion. Voters had previously approved $10 billion in bonds for the project, but as the state's economy and finances have continued to sour – including multiple major cities going bankrupt – the polls have turned against it, and with good reason.  read more »

Questioning the Messianic Conception of Smart Growth

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A new analysis from the United Kingdom concludes that smart growth (compact city) policies are not inherently preferable to other urban land use policy regimes, despite the claims of proponents."The current planning policy strategies for land use and transport have virtually no impact on the major long-term increases in resource and energy consumption.  read more »

The Beijing Bicycle: A Requiem

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Just because China has 500 million bikes on the road or tucked away in sheds or courtyards does not mean the two-wheeler has a bright future there, especially in its largest cities.

Such is the growing indifference to the bike in China that no one seems to mind that the national model is manufactured in Taiwan (or under license on the mainland). With a single gear and heavy steel frame, the Giant is ideal for long rides on flat city streets. At a cost of US $180, it is the bike bargain of the world. Nevertheless, the dream for younger Chinese is a Honda scooter.  read more »

Cities, Cars, People: Is Changing Car Use a Function of New Urbanism?

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One cornerstone for urban designers and planners seeking to transform the polycentric or suburban city of the 20th Century into something resembling the high density city of the 19th was a cross-city comparison by Newman and Kenworthy and successors.  read more »

The Atlanta Transportation Tax: Too Much for Too Little

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On July 31, voters in a 10 counties of the 28 county Atlanta metropolitan area will vote on whether to raise the sales tax by one cent for $8 billion in transit and highway projects over 10 years. The measure is highly tilted towards transit spending. Sadly, this would do virtually nothing to reduce Atlanta's traffic or its travel times.  read more »

Toward More Competitive Canadian Metropolitan Areas

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The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCN) and the Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) have expressed serious concern about generally longer commute trip times making Canadian metropolitan areas less competitive. Each has called for additional funding for transit at the federal level to help reduce commute times and improve metropolitan competitiveness.  read more »

The Export Business in California (People and Jobs)

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California Senate President Pro-Tem Darrell Steinberg countered my Wall Street Journal commentary California Declares War on Suburbia in a letter to the editor (A Bold Plan for Sustainable California Communities) that could be interpreted as suggesting that all is well in the Golden State.  read more »

California Declares War on Suburbia II: The Cost of Radical Densification

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My April 9 Cross Country column commentary in The Wall Street Journal (California Declares War on Suburbia) outlined California's determination to virtually outlaw new detached housing. The goal is clear:    force most new residents into multi-family buildings at 20 and 30 or more to the acre.  read more »