Planning for the Rich by the Rich

Decision makers in cities can mistake their own preferences for the preferences of the city as a whole, which is doubly dangerous when elite preferences become the law of the land.
August 7, 2017, 7am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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The loudest voices in shaping cities can be a non-representative sample, Jarret Walker argues in a piece for his blog Human Transit. Cities need to serve everyone. Aiming for solutions that serves a city's richest is dangerous, because, "The mistake is to forget that elites are always a minority, and that planning a city or transport network around the needs of a minority routinely yields an outcome that doesn’t work for the vast majority," Walker says.

The problem of what Walker calls “elite protectionism” is at the root of the obsession with the last-mile problem and the reason for prizing outlandish solutions over practical ones. "Large fixed-route buses are the only form of transit that can quickly scale to an entire city while still using scarce urban space with extreme efficiency. Yet many urban elites assume (subtly or overtly) that bus service doesn’t matter because it’s not useful to them personally," Walker writes.

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Published on Monday, July 31, 2017 in Human Transit
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