Michael Lewyn is an assistant professor at Touro Law Center in Long Island.
Arguments over transportation policy often run as follows:
HIGHWAY SUPPORTER: Highways pay for themselves! Buses/trains don't! So highways good and everything else bad bad bad!
TRANSIT SUPPORTER: But highways create bad externalities like pollution and climate change! So if highways were taxed at their true cost gas would cost a zillion billion cajillion dollars per gallon!
(followed by numerous counterarguments and counter-counterarguments that I won't bore you with, except as written below...)
It seems to me that these arguments miss one point: even if the highway system as a whole pays for itself, the system is so chock full of cross-subsidies that each individual road doesn't (except for toll roads).
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 - 9:30am PDT
I occasionally have speculated that our aging society would lead to increased transit ridership, as seniors lost the ability to drive. But I recently discovered that seniors are actually less likely to use public transit than the general public. One study by the American Public Transit Association showed that 6.7% of transit riders are over 65 (as opposed to 12.4% of all Americans).(1) The oldest Americans are even more underrepresented on America's buses and trains: only 1.5% of transit riders are over 80, about half their share of the population (2). The only other age group that is underrepresented on public transit is Americans under 18.
Thursday, May 17, 2012 - 9:14pm PDT
William Lucy of the University of Virginia has written
extensively on the question of whether outer suburbs are safer than cities or
inner suburbs; he argues, based on traffic fatality data, that outer suburbs are
certainly less safe than inner suburbs, and maybe even less safe than
However, Lucy’s analysis is not particularly
fine-grained: it analyzes data county-by-county, rather than town-by-town.
What’s wrong with this? Often, suburban
cities within a county are quite diverse: some share the characteristics of
inner suburbs (e.g. some public transit) while others look more like exurbs. So I wondered whether there is any significant 'safety gap" between inner and outer suburbs.
Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 1:04pm PDT
After the Census Bureau released population estimates showing that core counties were (at least in some metro areas) growing faster than exurban counties, the media was full of headlines about this alleged trend. An extreme example came from the Washington Post: "An end to America's exurbia?" (1)
Monday, April 16, 2012 - 8:33am PDT
A couple of weeks ago, Todd Litman made a blog entry on
logical fallacies in planning.*
looking at the list of possible fallacies at the end of his post, I thought I would show some
(hopefully not too common) examples of these fallacies:
Ad hominem (arguing against the person rather than the
argument) – “Smart growth is in the U.N's Agenda 21 so we have to fight it to stop the U.N's plan to socialize the world.” “Concern about urban
containment is just another example of Tea Party extremism.”
Anageon (relying on inevitability)- “Sprawl is inevitable,
so there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Thursday, April 5, 2012 - 5:25pm PDT
In For A New
Liberty, libertarian intellectual Murray Rothbard writes that leftist
intellectuals had raised a variety of complaints against capitalism, and that "each
of those complaints has been contradictory to one or more of their
predecessors.” In the 1930s, leftists
argued that capitalism was prone to ‘eternal stagnation”, while in the 1960s,
they argued that capitalist economies had “grown too much” causing “excessive
affluence” and exhaustion of the world’s resources. And so on.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 - 3:19pm PST
If you run a google.com search for “The Death of Suburbia”
you will find about 24,000 ‘hits.’ Some
of the gloating over suburbia’s alleged demise is based on the facts that
(some) suburbs have been hit hard by the current economic downturn, and that
(some) city neighborhoods have become more expensive per square foot than than
suburbs. (1) But suburbia as a whole
continues to gain population.
Saturday, February 18, 2012 - 7:02pm PST
I had heard of “dense sprawl” and “density without
walkability” in the past, but before spending a week in Jerusalem last month, I had never really
lived through these problems.
My parents (who I was staying with) rented a unit in a
high-rise condo complex called Holyland
Tower. Although Holyland Tower
was the tallest building in the area, there were numerous mid-rise buildings,
and lots of two-and three-story apartment and condo buildings. While walking through the idea, I saw nothing
resembling a single-family home. In sum,
this area was a pretty dense neighborhood in a pretty dense city (Jerusalem’s overall density is roughly comparable to that
of the city of San Francisco).
Sunday, January 1, 2012 - 3:35pm PST
After reading this story about a transit agency surveying their customers, I thought to myself: do riders really want another survey asking whether they are satisfied or how clean the stations are? Although clean stations are certainly better than unclean stations, I suspect that these are not transit riders' major priorities. (And when I say "transit riders" I really of course mean "myself").
Wednesday, November 30, 2011 - 8:48am PST
After reading an article on the misuse of CEQA in California,* I took a short look at New York law. In New York, city planners must prepare an environmental assessment when property is rezoned, and must prepare a more detailed environmental impact statement (EIS) if property has a significant effect on the environment.
Monday, November 14, 2011 - 4:54pm PST