Emily Badger, “America’s Cities Are Still Too Afraid to Make Driving Unappealing“, The New Republic. Badger raises a relevant point about the shortage of “stick” in US transportation systems.
At a macro level, this decision-process implies that there are two ways to shift more commuters out of single-occupancy vehicles and into other modes of transportation, whether that’s biking, carpooling, walking, or transit. We can incentivize transit by making all of those other options more attractive. Or we can disincentivize driving by making it less so. What’s become increasingly apparent in the United States is that we’ll only get so far playing to the first strategy without incorporating the second…
There are ways to do it. We could reduce parking availability or raise parking rates. We could implement congestion pricing. We could roll back subsidies for gas and highways and public parking garages. We could tie auto-insurance rates or infrastructure taxes to how much people actually drive. All of these “sticks,” to use Piatkowski’s term, would have a real impact on how people chose to get around. And that impact would no doubt be larger than what we get from building new bike lanes, sidewalks, or bus stops.
And from the archives, this is one of my favourite stories exemplifying the power of pricing. John Carney, “The creepy capital efficiency of Goldman’s cafeteria“, CNBC.
Goldman didn’t like the idea of its people waiting on long lines to get their lunch. People are capital to Goldman. It wants to use its capital efficiently.
The cafeteria has a set of timed discounts. If you show up in the cafeteria before 11:30 or after 1:30, you get a 25 percent discount on your food. Goldman incentivizes employees to avoid the rush hour.
As it turns out, Goldman folks are both especially attuned to economic incentives and ruthless about capital efficiency. There are some Goldman employees who take pride that they’ve never eaten lunch inside the “cost penalty window,” as one trader referred to the two hours when the discount isn’t in effect.
If you find yourself in the cafeteria sometime around 1:20 pm, you’ll notice that the lines at the pay registers are empty. So are many of the tables.
Shane Green, “Fraying on the fringe: Dealing with disadvantage in Mernda“, The Age. An interesting story about life on the fringe of Melbourne’s booming metro area.
“There are a lot of people seemingly doing OK on the surface,” says O’Neill. “They might even have employment, they might have even home ownership. But you scratch the surface and there are huge problems and huge challenges that those people are facing.”
A common scenario is a family under significant financial stress travelling long distances to get to work. A lot of women Antonetti talks to are isolated, lonely and depressed. Add to that the stress of not being able to put food on the table. She has referred people for food relief.
Here’s an interview with Janette Sadik-Khan in Bicycling Magazine. Joe Lindsey, This Woman Built 400 Miles of Bike Lanes in New York City, Bicycling.
A lot of rhetoric we hear about transportation planning involves cars versus bikes. Does transportation have to be zero-sum like that?
I think “cars versus bikes” misses the point. It’s about providing choices for people. It’s not anti-car, it’s pro-choice, and you need to frame it that way. Cars have a role, but we have room for other ways to get around. The car-centric view has led to a lot of unforeseen consequences around the world. What we want is to bring back the balance. That includes safety, and affordable, easy ways to get around and provide better economic development opportunities for small businesses and neighborhoods.
We’re keeping an eye on Houston’s New Bus Network as the design philosophy is the same as Auckland’s New Network. While Houston’s was implemented overnight last August, Auckland’s will be progressively implemented over the next couple of years. The most recent numbers show ridership bouncing back after the change and now growing strongly.
Daniel Hertz, “Houston has something to teach you about public transit” CityObservatory.
In addition to a challenging economy, the Houston New Bus Network has coincided with the opening of two light rail services (that replaced popular bus routes.) Here’s Jarrett talking about the role of transport technology (mode) in the delivery of transport service.
“The real issue with transit is less about mode—bus or rail or ferry or helicopter—and more about service. Does the vehicle, whatever it is, come frequently and reliably so that you can show up to a stop and be sure you’ll be able to board soon? And does it actually provide a way to get to your destination in a reasonable amount of time? If yes, people will ride, whether the wheels are rubber or steel. If no, they won’t.”
Interesting New Research:
Reid Ewing, “Urban sprawl as a risk factor in motor vehicle crashes“. Reid Ewing revisits and updates his earlier seminal work identifying the inherent traffic safety issues with conventional sprawl.
“we find that sprawl is associated with significantly higher direct and indirect effects on fatal crash rates.”
Ben Schiller. “Live In A Walkable Neighborhood? You Get To Be Thinner And Healthier“, FastCompany. Another study that finds a strong correlation between walkability and health outcomes.
“It shows that adults in walkable cities are 31% less likely to be overweight or obese than people living in car-dependent areas.”
Tim Gamble, “Wearing a Bicycle Helmet Can Increase Risk Taking and Sensation Seeking in Adults“, Psychological Science.
“Humans adapt their risk-taking behavior on the basis of perceptions of safety; this risk-compensation phenomenon is typified by people taking increased risks when using protective equipment… In a controlled study in which a helmet, compared with a baseball cap, was used as the head mount for an eye tracker, participants scored significantly higher on laboratory measures of both risk taking and sensation seeking.
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