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3 posts tagged Urbanology


Cars & cycle path in Montreal, Quebec – April 2011 – James Schwartz / The Urban Country
Imagine you could work 500 hours less every year. That works out to be an extra 12.5 weeks of vacation. Alternatively, imagine you got paid for an extra 500 hours of work each year, without having to work those extra 500 hours. That would work out to be an extra $11,000 every year for an average American making $22 per hour.
500 hours a year - or 2 hours each day - is roughly the equivalent to what the average American worker will work in order to pay for their cars (the average is between 1.46 hour/day and 2.90 hours/day depending on which data is used).
Related:
Lloyd Alter from Treehugger checks our math (external)
Americans Work 3.84 Minutes Each Day To Pay For Their Bicycles
This is a substantial amount of time and cost in order to have the “freedom”, or as I like to call it “imprisonment” of automobile ownership.
Furthermore, Americans on average sit in their cars for 48 minutes each day, and commuters in larger cities spend far more than this in their cars commuting to work. Here in Toronto, the average round trip commute time is 80 minutes – the worst among 19 cities studied last year (the study includes transit riders as well as motorists).
The United States has the highest rate of car ownership in the world, at 779 motor vehicles for every 1,000 man, woman and child. At 563 motor vehicles per 1,000 people, Canada has a 38% lower rate of car ownership than the United States – and Canada’s rate of car ownership is nothing to boast about.
Across the Pacific, China had only 128 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people as of 2008. Even at this very low rate of ownership, by 2010 we saw a 100KM traffic jamjust outside of Beijing due to China’s massive population. Clearly there isn’t enough space to accommodate automobiles in the long run.
A recent article on Grist suggests that the UK might have reached the point of “peak cars”, and car ownership may be in fact declining. With rising gas prices, increasing urbanization, bicycles reclaiming urban space, and car-sharing services like Zipcaror Autoshare, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a shift toward declining automobile ownership.
Automobiles no longer represent the freedom that they used to symbolize. Motorists are angry from sitting in traffic congestion, and they are furious over rising gas prices. But instead of complaining, motorists can take action.
A recent article in the Economist covers in fair detail America’s traffic congestion woes, but fails to offer any pragmatic solutions to reducing traffic congestion beyond investing in more reliable and faster rail service. There isn’t a single mention of bicycles being used as a tool to improve congestion, even though the article compares commute times in the Netherlands to America. The Netherlands of course has invested far less in automobile infrastructure, and more in bicycle and rail infrastructure.
Perhaps the article could have also mentioned that 61.7% of all trips in America are 5 miles (8km) or less – an easy distance to use a bicycle. Despite the fact that most trips are within bicycling range, people don’t use bicycles because we have invested in infrastructure that solely accommodates motor vehicles. Infrastructure that is frankly - as the Economist points out – falling apart.
At the very least, bicycles can be combined with rail to reduce our dependency on automobiles and oil.
The Economist touches on a very relevant point however: States are not incented to provide alternate means of transportation, because they lose federal funding if their citizens drive less:

“The federal government is responsible for only a quarter of total transport spending, but the way it allocates funding shapes the way things are done at the state and local levels. Unfortunately, it tends not to reward the prudent, thanks to formulas that govern over 70% of federal investment. Petrol-tax revenues, for instance, are returned to the states according to the miles of highway they contain, the distances their residents drive, and the fuel they burn. The system is awash with perverse incentives. A state using road-pricing to limit travel and congestion would be punished for its efforts with reduced funding, whereas one that built highways it could not afford to maintain would receive a larger allocation.”

Politicians always think big, and America has built a system of freeways and roads that can no longer be properly maintained. With the high cost of maintaining an obscene amount of automobile infrastructure, now is the time to invest in re-shaping this infrastructure to better accommodate bicycles.

Besides investing in reshaping our streets to accommodate bicycles, another way the government can help provide incentives for people to become less reliant on automobiles is to encourage people to live closer to work.
A pilot program in Washington DC is doing just that. Citizens can receive up to $12,000 for moving closer to work or public transit. The program is called Live Near Your Work, and will match up to $6,000 in benefits that businesses will offer their employees to move closer to work.
If going car-free and saving up to $11,000 a year isn’t enough of an incentive, then getting $12,000 from an employer and the City of Washington DC would be the icing on the cake. The initial pilot program has a fund of $200,000 to hand out in its initial phase. But the model will provide a great incentive for other cities to invest in reducing their own traffic congestion through positive incentives.
If the money isn’t enough of an incentive, then perhaps the freedom of not being stuck in traffic congestion while gaining a healthy dose of exercise is.
James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James atjames.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

Cars & cycle path in Montreal, Quebec – April 2011 – James Schwartz / The Urban Country

Imagine you could work 500 hours less every year. That works out to be an extra 12.5 weeks of vacation. Alternatively, imagine you got paid for an extra 500 hours of work each year, without having to work those extra 500 hours. That would work out to be an extra $11,000 every year for an average American making $22 per hour.

500 hours a year - or 2 hours each day - is roughly the equivalent to what the average American worker will work in order to pay for their cars (the average is between 1.46 hour/day and 2.90 hours/day depending on which data is used).

Related:

This is a substantial amount of time and cost in order to have the “freedom”, or as I like to call it “imprisonment” of automobile ownership.

Furthermore, Americans on average sit in their cars for 48 minutes each day, and commuters in larger cities spend far more than this in their cars commuting to work. Here in Toronto, the average round trip commute time is 80 minutes – the worst among 19 cities studied last year (the study includes transit riders as well as motorists).

The United States has the highest rate of car ownership in the world, at 779 motor vehicles for every 1,000 man, woman and child. At 563 motor vehicles per 1,000 people, Canada has a 38% lower rate of car ownership than the United States – and Canada’s rate of car ownership is nothing to boast about.

Across the Pacific, China had only 128 motor vehicles for every 1,000 people as of 2008. Even at this very low rate of ownership, by 2010 we saw a 100KM traffic jamjust outside of Beijing due to China’s massive population. Clearly there isn’t enough space to accommodate automobiles in the long run.

recent article on Grist suggests that the UK might have reached the point of “peak cars”, and car ownership may be in fact declining. With rising gas prices, increasing urbanization, bicycles reclaiming urban space, and car-sharing services like Zipcaror Autoshare, it wouldn’t be surprising to see a shift toward declining automobile ownership.

Automobiles no longer represent the freedom that they used to symbolize. Motorists are angry from sitting in traffic congestion, and they are furious over rising gas prices. But instead of complaining, motorists can take action.

recent article in the Economist covers in fair detail America’s traffic congestion woes, but fails to offer any pragmatic solutions to reducing traffic congestion beyond investing in more reliable and faster rail service. There isn’t a single mention of bicycles being used as a tool to improve congestion, even though the article compares commute times in the Netherlands to America. The Netherlands of course has invested far less in automobile infrastructure, and more in bicycle and rail infrastructure.

Perhaps the article could have also mentioned that 61.7% of all trips in America are 5 miles (8km) or less – an easy distance to use a bicycle. Despite the fact that most trips are within bicycling range, people don’t use bicycles because we have invested in infrastructure that solely accommodates motor vehicles. Infrastructure that is frankly - as the Economist points out – falling apart.

At the very least, bicycles can be combined with rail to reduce our dependency on automobiles and oil.

The Economist touches on a very relevant point however: States are not incented to provide alternate means of transportation, because they lose federal funding if their citizens drive less:

“The federal government is responsible for only a quarter of total transport spending, but the way it allocates funding shapes the way things are done at the state and local levels. Unfortunately, it tends not to reward the prudent, thanks to formulas that govern over 70% of federal investment. Petrol-tax revenues, for instance, are returned to the states according to the miles of highway they contain, the distances their residents drive, and the fuel they burn. The system is awash with perverse incentives. A state using road-pricing to limit travel and congestion would be punished for its efforts with reduced funding, whereas one that built highways it could not afford to maintain would receive a larger allocation.”

Politicians always think big, and America has built a system of freeways and roads that can no longer be properly maintained. With the high cost of maintaining an obscene amount of automobile infrastructure, now is the time to invest in re-shaping this infrastructure to better accommodate bicycles.

Besides investing in reshaping our streets to accommodate bicycles, another way the government can help provide incentives for people to become less reliant on automobiles is to encourage people to live closer to work.

A pilot program in Washington DC is doing just that. Citizens can receive up to $12,000 for moving closer to work or public transit. The program is called Live Near Your Work, and will match up to $6,000 in benefits that businesses will offer their employees to move closer to work.

If going car-free and saving up to $11,000 a year isn’t enough of an incentive, then getting $12,000 from an employer and the City of Washington DC would be the icing on the cake. The initial pilot program has a fund of $200,000 to hand out in its initial phase. But the model will provide a great incentive for other cities to invest in reducing their own traffic congestion through positive incentives.

If the money isn’t enough of an incentive, then perhaps the freedom of not being stuck in traffic congestion while gaining a healthy dose of exercise is.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can contact James atjames.schwartz@theurbancountry.com.

New York Assessment and Public Transits

New York Time Square

New Yorkers don’t ride the subway because they’re more enlightened or more environmentally aware than other Americans; New Yorkers ride the subway because owning and driving a car in the city is almost ridiculously disagreeable.

Curbside parking is scarce, and parking lots are shockingly expensive and often inconveniently situated or hard to find. Most important of all, the average speed of crosstown traffic in Manhattan is little more than that of a brisk walker. At certain times of the day, in fact, the cars on the side streets in midtown more so slowly that they appear almost to be parked. Most people, including most New Yorkers, view such clogged streets as an urgent environmental problem, since the cars seem to just sit there, spewing exhaust. But traffic jams like those actually generate environmental benefits, because they urge drivers (and cab riders) either into the subways or onto the sidewalks.

New York is surely the only city in America where you are likely to hear someone say, “We’d better take the subway—we don’t have time for a cab.” Making that cab ride more attractive than the subway, by reducing the congestion on the streets, would be a loss for the environment, not a gain. 

Proponents of new or expanded transit systems often act as though the only significant keys to their success were infrastructure and determination—that if cities would build decent transit systems and residents would make a commitment to use them everything would be fine. But this has been proven, repeatedly, not to be true. A city can build the more attractive light-rail line ever conceived, and then spend millions urging residents to use it, but if the local population is too spread out to be served efficiently and cost-effectively by transit, and if driving remains a plausible alternative, then transit never achieves the ridership levels that were predicted for it—and no amount of browbeating, public-service advertising, or federal spending can change that. 

You can’t reduce the automobile use by a meaningful amount simply by lecturing people that riding the bus is better for the earth, or better for their soul. And that’s true anywhere. As committed as New Yorkers appear to be to walking and riding the subway, it wouldn’t take much to turn them into car owners. If every Manhattan apartment came with a free garage parking space, Manhattanites would have cars, too.

9 August 2011           Reblog    
 
Integrating Nature into the Concrete Jungle – Vegitecture 
What is Vegitecture?
 
Simply put: A unique form of architecture that seamlessly integrates plants into a building’s frame work. Vegitecture’s environmental impact is as noticeable as its plants too. That impact helps to reduce effects of heat island and smog, boosts shading, food production, and so on. As stated by Landscape+Urbanism, here are four defining elements in vegitecture:
1. Using vegetation as a primary component of the building skin and roof systems.2. Creating usable site area in urban development by implementing landscaping on structure.3. Blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces through design.4. Use of these strategies for environmental and social benefits.
Simple inclusion of plants here and there in architecture, pocket parks, on roofs, and on the street, make the concrete jungle a more friendly place for people to call a city home. Such projects befitting of the title vegitecture include a Miami parking structure, a design competition for an extension of nature over a busy freeway, and the lush greenery on the sides of an office building.
[Photo] Located in Santiago, Chile, the Consorcio Office building’s vegitecture acts as a vital environmental mitigation strategy: “The Consorcio Building in Santiago is one of the most sustainable office buildings, with up to 48% less energy usage thanks to its green wall, which turns red in autumn.” Inclusion of such plants bring insects into the picture, and help to spread and pollinate plants in the urban realm. (The beautiful colors of the plants aren’t too bad either.) This is a strong example of the benefits that vegitecture has on the environment, nature, and the personal well-being of those in the city.

Integrating Nature into the Concrete Jungle – Vegitecture 

What is Vegitecture?

Simply put: A unique form of architecture that seamlessly integrates plants into a building’s frame work. Vegitecture’s environmental impact is as noticeable as its plants too. That impact helps to reduce effects of heat island and smog, boosts shading, food production, and so on. As stated by Landscape+Urbanism, here are four defining elements in vegitecture:

1. Using vegetation as a primary component of the building skin and roof systems.
2. Creating usable site area in urban development by implementing landscaping on structure.
3. Blurring the lines between interior and exterior spaces through design.
4. Use of these strategies for environmental and social benefits.

Simple inclusion of plants here and there in architecture, pocket parks, on roofs, and on the street, make the concrete jungle a more friendly place for people to call a city home. Such projects befitting of the title vegitecture include a Miami parking structure, a design competition for an extension of nature over a busy freeway, and the lush greenery on the sides of an office building.

[Photo] Located in Santiago, Chile, the Consorcio Office building’s vegitecture acts as a vital environmental mitigation strategy: “The Consorcio Building in Santiago is one of the most sustainable office buildings, with up to 48% less energy usage thanks to its green wall, which turns red in autumn.” Inclusion of such plants bring insects into the picture, and help to spread and pollinate plants in the urban realm. (The beautiful colors of the plants aren’t too bad either.) This is a strong example of the benefits that vegitecture has on the environment, nature, and the personal well-being of those in the city.

9 August 2011 ♥ 24 notes           Reblog    High-Res
    source: land8.net