Michael Lewyn's blog

Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.
Michael Lewyn's picture
Blogger

Waiting for a miracle

I was reading Wendell Cox's recent attack on the Center for Neighborhood Technology's affordability calculations, and was struck by one thing he wrote:“transportation costs will be reduced in the future by the far more fuel efficient vehicles being required by Washington.”* 

In other words, don't worry about Americans being impoverished by the cost of a car for every man, woman, and 16-year old in the House: the technological miracle of fuel efficiency will save us. 

Yes, Zoning Still Encourages Sprawl

A few weeks ago, Randall O’Toole  (a leading anti-anti-sprawl commentator) and Matthew Yglesias (a Washington-based pundit who primarily writes about politics, but occasionally veers off into planning issues) had an interesting discussion about the extent to which sprawl is a result of land use regulation.(1)

How Much Does Congestion Matter?

When Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s suggested that bicyclists’ needs should be accommodated in federally-funded road projects, the road lobby responded with something approaching hysteria.

Sprawl In Canada and the U.S.: A Comparison

I am spending this spring at the University of Toronto working on an advanced law degree (called an L.L.M.), and am writing a thesis comparing sprawl in Canada and the United States.  Here are a few preliminary findings:

Living in Mrs. Jacobs' Neighborhood

A decade or so ago, after reading some of Jane Jacobs’ work, I became aware of the distinction between mixed-use and single-use neighborhoods.  In those days, I imagined that in a well-functioning urban neighborhood, every non-polluting use would be mixed together, and the lion of housing would lay down with the lamb of commerce.

Taming the Office Park

Most attempts to regulate suburban development have focused on containing the growth of suburban housing. But such regulation, by restricting the supply of buildable land, risks incresing housing prices. And from a more libertarian perspective, an individual's interest in choosing to "drive to qualify" may seem quite appealing. Attempts to regulate commercial suburban development do not involve the same sentimental considerations as limits on residential development, but do risk increasing prices for commercial land, thus increasing prices for everything else.

Are Passenger-Miles a Valid Measure of Anything?

Every so often, one sees an article arguing that one mode of transportation is cheaper, more efficient, or less dangerous than another because it uses less energy/kills more people/costs more per passenger-mile. (1)

It seems to me, however, that per passenger-mile comparisions are flawed in one key respect: they assume that trips on any mode of transportation will involve the same mileage, so that if the average driver lives 20 miles from work, the average bus rider will also live 20 miles from work.

What mobility really means

Every so often, I read a blog post or an article talking about the trade-off between "mobility" and making places more accessible to nonmotorists.  The hidden assumption behind such statements is that "mobility" means cars going as fast as possible.  So if every street is an eight-lane highway with cars going 70 miles per hour, overall social "mobility" is therefore high. 

Two Separate Problems

Conventional wisdom dictates that middle-class families would find urban schools more tempting if we only “fixed the schools”- a concept that implies that urban public schools are simply unable to educate anyone, because they are either horribly underfunded (in the liberal version of this claim) or horribly mismanaged (in the conservative version).

The Failure of Voluntarism

I recently read an article containing a World War II-era poster: “When You Ride Alone You Ride With Hitler.” The authors of the article asked whether governments could use similar powers of persuasion today to discourage energy consumption and thus address climate change.

Pages