Congratulations to this year's high school, college and university graduates! The current crop includes our son, who was recruited by a major corporation. The location of his new job will affect his travel patterns and therefore the transportation costs he bears and imposes for the next few years: until now he could get around fine by walking, cycling and public transport, but his new worksite is outside the city center, difficult to access except by automobile. As a result he will spend a significant portion of his new income to purchase and operate a car, and contribute to traffic congestion, parking costs and pollution. This is an example of how land use decisions, such as where corporations locate their offices, affects regional transport patterns and costs.
I’m going to riff off a recent Interchange Blog post by Michael Lewyn on the relationship between mobility and accessibility. Given the positive comments from the planning community to Michael’s post, a little engagement may be necessary for both clarity as well as fully understanding the implications of reading too much into the accessibility versus mobility debate.
Should society encourage parents to drive children to school rather than walk or bicycle? Should our transportation policies favor driving over walking, cycling, ridesharing, public transit and telecommuting? Probably not. There is no logical reason to favor automobile travel over other forms of accessibility, and there are lots of good reasons to favor efficient modes, so for example, schools spend at least as much to accommodate a walking or cycling trip as an automobile trip, and transportation agencies and employers spend at least as much to improve ridesharing and public transit commuting as automobile commuting.
Is a $50,000 annual income wealth or poverty in North America? By historical or international standards such an income should be considered wealthy and luxurious, but most people I know consider it poverty because of the high cost of living.