High Density and High Concentrations of Cars

Looking at Census data for urbanized areas and auto ownership, Randal O'Toole argues that denser areas have high rates of auto ownership per square mile, a correlation that is likely to increase congestion.

"Among urban areas, the highest auto densities are found in San Francisco-Oakland (4,000 veh/sq mi), San Jose (3,900), and Los Angeles (3,800). The New York-Northern New Jersey urban area only has about 2,200 cars per square mile, but that covers more than 3,300 square miles of land outside of Manhattan, including most of Long Island and parts of New Jersey more than 100 miles south of New York City. The Houston urban area has just 1,700 cars per square mile.

About a dozen incorporated cities and towns have higher auto densities than Manhattan, led by Guttenberg, NJ at 20,600 veh/sq mi and West Hollywood, CA at 13,900 veh/sq mi. Then there is Friendship Village, MD, the highest-density "census-defined place" in America, a small group of high rises housing 82,000 people and 45,000 cars per square mile (though in fact the whole place occupies less than a tenth of a square mile). In general, higher population densities may have lower auto ownership rates but they are still tend to be associated with higher auto densities per square mile. So much for reducing congestion by increasing population densities."

O'Toole's analysis points to relatively low rates of auto ownership in high density areas, but suggests that these areas have disproportionately high concentrations of cars that create the conditions for traffic congestion.

Full Story: A Free Parking Space Grows in Manhattan



Yes, and?

Why does anyone listen to this guy? He just admitted that he has no idea how dense urban environments work. He assumed that there was no free parking in Manhattan, and when corrected, is baffled by the fact that people pay exorbitant sums of money to guarantee themselves a parking space. Well, yes, in Soviet Russia there were tons of vegetables, and the official prices for vegetables were very low, but there was such high demand that you could never find any - unless you paid half a week's wages on the black market. Simple economics.

And yes, it's very funny to read that Guttenberg has 20,600 vehicles per square mile, considering that the town has an area of only 0.2 square miles, in which there are apparently 4,120 cars. O'Toole, clueless as usual, has no idea that at least half of those cars are stored in the parking garage of the Galaxy Towers.

Yes, that creates the conditions for traffic congestion, but fortunately the buses that serve Guttenberg can bypass a lot of that, so most people just leave their cars in the garage and take the bus to work (result: the buses make a profit). On weekends many of them drive, but not all at once, so the congestion is relatively tolerable.

High Concentrations in High Density Areas

I have done extensive statistical analysis of all available data, and I have concluded:

Higher density areas have higher concentrations per square mile of automobiles, making it harder to get around.

Higher density areas have higher concentrations per square mile of walkable destinations, making it easier to get around.

Higher density areas have higher concentrations per square mile of worthwhile empirical studies.

Higher density areas have higher concentrations per square mile of idiotic empirical studies like this latest one from O'Toole, which throws around extensive empirical data to conceal the fact that it is just stating the obvious and ignoring the obvious.

Charles Siegel

He had the gall to say that

He had the gall to say that Donald Shoup's work is biased because he lives in LA. Try google mapping Bandon, Oregon, and then tell me what that urban form says about O'Toole's "theories".

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