The Drive-It-Yourself Taxi: A Smooth Ride?

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Despite a corporate sponsor that paid handsomely for the naming rights, Londoners stubbornly refer to our bikesharing system as ‘Boris Bikes’, in a nod to our colourful Mayor, Boris Johnson. But what will we call our new drive-it-yourself taxis? My suggestion: ‘Boris Cabs’ – and they are now a reality here, thanks to Daimler’s car2go service, if you happen to live in one of three small and separate sections of town. But why did a one-way carsharing system have to limp into London, when more than a dozen other cities have welcomed these arrangements with open arms? In the US, car2go first appeared in Austin, Texas, and since then has moved into Washington, D.C, Miami, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. It operates in Canada  read more »

Hong Kong’s Decentralizing Commuting Patterns


Hong Kong is a city of superlatives. Hong Kong has at least twice the population density of any other urban area in the more developed world, at 67,000 per square mile or 25,900 per square kilometer. The Hong Kong skyline is rated the world's best by both (a building database) and, which use substantially different criteria.  read more »

As Partisan Rancor Rises, States That Back a Loser Will Be Punished


Never mind the big-tent debate talk from both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney about how their respective politics will benefit all Americans. There’s a broader, ugly truth that as the last traces of purple fade from the electoral map, whoever wins will have little reason to take care of much of the country that rejected them.  read more »

The Road Less Understood


The Economist confuses ends (objectives) and means in its current number examining the peaking of per capita automobile use in the West in two articles ("The" and "Seeing the Back of the Car").  read more »

Obama Fuel Economy Rules Trump Smart Growth


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has just finalized its regulation requiring that new cars and light trucks (light vehicles) achieve average fuel efficiency of 54.5 miles per gallon (MPG) by 2025 (4.3 liters per 100 kilometers). This increase in the "CAFE" standard (Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency) is the second major step in the Obama Administration's program to improve light vehicle fuel efficiency. In 2010, EPA adopted regulations requiring 35.5 MPG average by 2016 (6.6 liters per 100 kilometers).  read more »

Evolving Urban Form: São Paulo


São Paulo is Brazil's largest urban area and ranks among the top 10 most populous in the world. Between 1950 and 1975, São Paulo was also among the globe’s fastest growing urban areas. For two decades starting in 1980 São Paulo ranked fourth in population among the world's urban areas, but has been displaced by much faster growing urban areas like Manila and Delhi.  read more »

New Setbacks for the Beleaguered California Bullet Train


A proposal by Senator Michael Rubio (SB 317) to loosen California's landmark environmental protection law commonly known as CEQA, has been shelved. The proposed legislation was intended to exempt the Central Valley rail construction project from CEQA requirements, thereby removing the threat of environmental litigation against the project.  read more »

Evolving Urban Form: Dhaka


A few weeks ago, we suggested that Hong Kong was the "smart growth" ideal, for having the highest urban population density in the high income world. But, if you expand the universe to the poorer, developing countries, Hong Kong barely holds a candle to Dhaka. Dhaka's 14.6 million people live in just 125 square miles (325 square kilometers). At more than 115,000 people per square mile (Figure 1), or 45,000 per square kilometer (Figure 2), the capital of Bangladesh is nearly 75 percent more dense than Hong Kong.  read more »

Swing State Geography: The I-4 Corridor


Overheated presidential politics have done few favors to Florida, except to put 132 miles of hot asphalt on everyone’s lips:  Interstate 4.  Completed in the late 1960s, this interstate (in fact, the only interstate highway to be entirely contained within one state) is known by millions who have  visited there at least once on vacation.  But the social and political reality in the world  around Interstate 4 is little known outside of Central Florida.  Like Ypres, the Flemish town continually under assault during World War 1, I-4 will receive the brunt of both side’  read more »

The Uncertain Future of the California Bullet Train


On July 18, at a site pregnant with symbolism — the future location of what HSR advocates hope will become San Francisco’s terminus of the state’s bullet train — California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill to fund construction of the first section of the high-speed line. Earlier in the day, Brown had traveled for a similar ceremony to Los Angeles, the other "bookend" of the project.  read more »