Why Mobility Matters to Our Personal Lives

<p>In a new policy brief, Reason Foundation's Ted Balaker examines what the ability to get around town quickly means to our professional and personal lives.</p>
July 17, 2007, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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"The average person can walk about four miles per hour, but cars can easily travel on arterial streets at 30 miles per hour. It's a substantial increase in speed, but the impact may be even greater than it seems. A person who walks for an hour has access to 50 square miles, but someone who drives at 30 miles per hour for 60 minutes has access to 2,827 square miles. In other words, the driver's opportunity circle is more than 56 times as large as the walker's. And when conditions permit, motorists may drive much faster on highways, thus expanding opportunity circles even more...

Yet, as they have always done, Americans will trade in their cars once a superior form of transportation comes along. Telecommuters already outnumber transit commuters in 27 of the top 50 metro areas, and telecommuting has already partially replaced cars for millions of American workers. And why not? Even with no traffic congestion and nothing but green lights, driving to work will never be as fast as the zero-minute commute that telecommuters enjoy. New technology has given us a new kind of mobility. Armed with cell phones, laptops and PDA's we can 'be' almost anywhere without crawling into a car, train or plane. But that should not diminish the importance of 'old-fashioned' mobility - moving people, parts, and products across physical space."

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Published on Thursday, July 12, 2007 in Reason Foundation
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