Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.
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
Friday, January 15, 2010 - 9:30am PST
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.
Thursday, December 31, 2009 - 6:16pm PST
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).
Saturday, December 12, 2009 - 6:19pm PST
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.
Thursday, December 3, 2009 - 9:25am PST
This week, I finally got around to looking at the latest (2009) Texas Transportation Institute study on traffic congestion. (1)
Two facts struck me as interesting. First, the great congestion surge of the past decade or two is over. In most large metropolitan areas, congestion (measured as hours lost to congestion per traveler) peaked around 2005, and actually declined in 2005-07. For example, in Atlanta, hours lost to congestion peaked at 61, and decreased to 57 by 2007. Congestion increased in only three of the fourteen largest regions (Washington, Detroit and Houston)- and in each of these by only one hour per traveler.
Monday, November 16, 2009 - 2:22pm PST
Over the next few months, Congress will continue to debate health insurance reform, and in particular, whether to create a "public option"- a government-financed insurance company which would compete with private
health insurers. Opponents of the public option fear that the government package might drive private insurers out of business. Are such concerns legitimate? American transportation history may give ammunition to both supporters and opponents of the public option.
Thursday, November 5, 2009 - 10:15am PST
A few days ago, I was trying to take a streetcar in Toronto- and the
streetcar was just as congested as any suburban arterial. The
lines in front of streetcars were so long that I couldn't get into the
first streetcar. Or the second. Or the third.
Instead, I had to wait a few minutes (horrors!) for the fourth
I asked myself: what if streetcars only ran every
hour, instead of every few minutes? Would the streetcars be
equally crowded? Of course not. People would abandon the
streetcars and start to use cars (if they owned them) and buy them (if
they did not yet own them).
Monday, October 19, 2009 - 11:08am PDT
Some of my acquaintances believe that
climate change may end human life (or at least civilization) and that the only
way to save humanity is to massively reduce economic growth and consumption. Other acquaintances believe that climate
change is, if not an outright hoax, a minor problem- and that even the
slightest attempt to regulate emission-creating industries will itself destroy
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 - 10:28am PDT
The San Jose City Council is considering a proposal to
ban plastic bags and most paper bags in supermarkets, out of concerns about the greenhouse
gases used to manufacture them and about the waste from discarded
bags. But this policy might create as many environmental problems
as it solves.
In a city without disposable bags, shoppers who seek to buy large
amounts of groceries will have to drag around an army of nondisposable
containers. For drivers, this is not a big deal. Susie SUV can always
find space for dozens of nondisposable bags in her truck. And because Susie’s bags
can stay in her truck forever, she will always be able to make impulse
purchases without difficulty.
Thursday, September 24, 2009 - 1:01pm PDT
Not long ago, I posted on what makes some cities more stressful
than others. (See http://www.planetizen.com/node/40441
). In that post, I remarked that the
ideal objective indicia of stress (resident surveys on crime, illness, etc.)
often do not exist for most cities.
Monday, September 14, 2009 - 11:53am PDT