Welcome back to Sunday Reading. First, here is a bit of housekeeping. After a wild ride our fundraising drive reached it’s goal yesterday. Thanks to all who contributed. Over the next couple of week we will begin fulfilling the rewards including the CFN 2.0 poster. As a reminder we will be launching the CFN 2.0 on Monday morning.
— Chris Kenyon (@BoxbikeLondon) April 6, 2017
It still amazes me to hear stories about companies that provide free parking to employees and offer nothing comparable for the people that don’t drive. No doubt many of these same companies have sustainability initiatives like printing on both side of the paper or composting coffee grounds. “Parking cash outs” are a simple and proven way to change travel behaviour and fairly compensate all employees.
Donald Shoup, “Here’s an easy way to fight L.A.’s traffic and boost transit ridership — reward commuters who don’t drive“, Los Angeles Times.
In 1992, California enacted legislation requiring that employers who subsidize parking for commuters must also offer them the option to take an equivalent cash allowance instead of the parking subsidy. Called “parking cash out,” the law applies to employers who have 50 or more employees and who rent the parking spaces they provide free or below cost to drivers. When a commuter takes the cash, the employer saves the expense of a parking space.
Parking cash out increases the share of commuters who carpool, ride public transit, walk or bike to work. Studies of employers in Southern California who offer parking cash out found that for every 100 commuters offered the cash option, 13 solo drivers shifted to another travel mode. Of those 13 former solo drivers, nine joined carpools, three began to ride public transit and one began to walk or bike to work. Overall, the share of commuters who drove to work alone fell from 76% before the cash option to 63% afterward.
Speaking of parking, Anne Gibson (NZ Herald) reports on the planning and design for The Pacifica Tower – “Who’s behind NZ’s tallest apartment tower?“. They will be building carparks for only half of the units, and they wont be excavating for car parking, but will sleeve it in above ground behind a hotel. Cars will placed behind one another to save space, and a valet service will retrieve cars. In addition to saving a lot of space this will likely speed up construction. Also, it’s interesting to consider how people will might be using their cars. Since so many people that live in the city walk to work, the cars will be used infrequently, making the valet service less of an issue.
Hengyi does not plan to dig deep to create many subterranean parking levels. Instead, the 138 carparks for the 295-unit block will be above-ground, behind the new hotel planned for the lower levels, Scott says.
“We don’t need to go into the ground. The only excavation work will be for piling,” she says.
Carparks will be tandem – one vehicle parked behind the other – so a valet service will be offered to provide access to vehicles, she says.
Obligatory number indication. I'd guess 36 in cars, 620-odd in buses (double decker was displaying "Bus Full") pic.twitter.com/rSPnR5UPgU
— Andrew W (@aw_nz) March 27, 2017
6/The forces of clustering, innovation spillovers, and the service economy are behind the shift to tech cities: https://t.co/TfF0Jzappa
— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) March 26, 2017
There is a growing discussion about the role that big cities play in the economy and the increasing challenges of access, equity and housing affordability. Most economists agree that forcing decentralisation is a bad idea- Joe Cortright, “Breaking Bad: Why breaking up big cities would hurt America“, City Observatory. The solution is to increase housing choices close to the centre and to provide rapid, reliable, transport that doesn’t disrupt economic activity.
The signal characteristic of our economic recovery is that it has been led and driven by the nation’s large metros. Since the economic peak of the last expansion, large metro areas have accounted for about 87 percent of net new jobs in the US economy. This isn’t because they’ve somehow unfairly monopolized resources, but because the kinds of knowledge-based industries that we depend on to propel economic growth–software, business and professional services, and creative industries–all flourish in dense urban environments. Disperse these industries and you undercut the agglomeration economies that underpin their success.
The economic problem with cities is that we don’t have enough of them, or rather, that its so difficult and expensive to accommodate more people in the places with the highest levels of productivity. The definitive bit of research on this subject comes from University of California Berkeley economist Enrico Moretti and his University of Chicago colleague Chang-Tai Hsieh, who have estimated how much less productive the US is than it might be if the growth of the most productive metro economies weren’t limited. Their estimate: 13.5 percent of annual GDP, or more than $1.6 trillion annually.
Everyone loves a good Carmageddon story. Last week a fire unexpectedly destroyed a chunk of I-85 in Atlanta that carries 250,000 cars a day. Everyone expected a traffic nightmare. It didn’t materialise- Joe Cortright, “Carmaggedon stalks Atlanta“, City Observatory.
So what’s going on here? Arguably, our mental model of traffic is just wrong. We tend to think of traffic volumes, and trip-making generally as inexorable forces of nature. The diurnal flow of 250,000 vehicles a day on an urban freeway like I-85 is just as regular and predictable as the tides.What this misses is that there’s a deep behavioral basis to travel. Human beings will shift their behavior in response to changing circumstances. If road capacity is impaired, many people can decide not to travel, change when they travel, change where they travel, or even change their mode of travel. The fact that Carmageddon almost never comes is powerful evidence of induced demand: people travel on roadways because the capacity is available for their trips, when when the capacity goes away, so does much of the trip making.
That’s all for this week. Please leave your links in the comments section.