The Geography of Commuting and the 'New Urban Crisis'

How people get to work, and the geographic distinctions between trends in those choices, reveals some of the country's more ominous traits, including the trend Richard Florida calls "the new urban crisis."

January 29, 2019, 9:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Nick Beer / Shutterstock

Richard Florida digs deeper into data recently released by the American Community Survey to make the case that how people move around cities is a key feature of the country's "deepening economic and political fissures."

The post includes maps that reveal where Americans get to work by car, public transit, biking, walking, and carpooling. Florida also digs into factors of mode choice like size and density of location, educational attainment, economic class, weather, and more.

As for what it all means, Florida says the country's political cleavages follow the same lines as the mode choices commuter make around the country. And then theirs is the deepening economic and social inequality Florida has dubbed the "new urban crisis":

Our commuting patterns are associated with key dimensions of what I dub the new urban crisis. Housing is less affordable, inequality greater, and economic segregation higher in places where commuters are less dependent on the car. Median housing costs are positively and significantly associated with transit (0.59), biking (0.48), carpooling (0.49), and walking (0.38) to work, and so are income inequality and economic segregation. These associations again reflect the fact that denser, more affluent, educated metros are more expensive, more unequal, and more segregated.

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