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Wendell Cox's 13 Myths of Urban Sprawl

Some, such as the Tea Party, believe that the "smart growth" movement is a serious threat to the American Dream of home ownership, employment, and prosperity. Today, Metro Jacksonville shares Wendell Cox's position on why uncontrollable urban sprawl should be desired over urban redevelopment and sustainability.

Published December 20, 2012 in Urban Issues      19 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


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Myth #1: Smart Growth Does Not Reduce Housing Affordability.

Rationing raises prices. Smart growth measures ration land by forcing higher densities through urban growth boundaries, excessive impact fees, down-zoning and other restrictions on development. This drives prices higher, making housing less affordable.



Myth #2: Higher Densities Mean Less Traffic Congestion.

National and international evidence clearly shows higher densities increase traffic congestion. Per-capita travel by automobile may decline a bit as densities rise, but not enough to keep traffic from getting a lot worse. Adding more of anything to a constricted space--putting more people into smaller urban areas--increases crowding.



Myth #3. Lower Densities Mean Higher Costs of Government.

The smart-growth folks say we can “no longer afford” our low-density life style, claiming higher taxes and fees are caused by lower densities. But the data show lower-density cities have lower expenditure levels than higher- density cities. Moreover, cities with newer housing stock (second- and third-ring suburbs) have lower public expenditures than central cities and first-ring suburbs.



Myth #4: Higher Densities Mean Less Air Pollution.

EPA research concludes air pollution emissions are higher where traffic speeds are slower, and emissions are higher where there is more stop-and-go traffic. Higher densities mean more traffic congestion, which in turn means slower traffic speeds and more stop-and-go travel. More tail pipes do not emit less pollution.



Myth #5: Central Cities Are the Victims of Suburban Growth.

America’s central cities have lost population, while suburbs have gained. It does not, however, follow that city losses occurred because of suburban growth.

Over the past half-century, America has become increasingly urban, as rural residents have moved to urban areas, where they have accounted for much of suburban growth. And cities have driven away many who would have stayed. “Cities” are hardly the victims here. City residents are: residents who felt they had no choice but to leave, and even more so those who have no choice but to stay, captive to governments qualifying as third world by their performance.



Myth #6: Rail Transit Reduces Traffic Congestion.

There is no evidence--none--that new rail transit has materially reduced traffic congestion in any urban area. Building rail is justified principally by an irresistible urge to spend taxpayers’ money. The higher the cost, railvangelists claim, the greater the benefit. Of course, the historic rail systems serving the pre-automobile cores of New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Tokyo, or Hong Kong are essential. But Sioux City, Iowa is not Hong Kong. Neither, for that matter, is Portland.



Myth #7: Rail Transit Is Needed for “Transportation Choice.”

From Cincinnati to Austin, transit spending advocates quickly abandon their baseless traffic congestion claims when challenged. They shift to what they call “transportation choice”--the idea that building rail transit provides choices for people. But choices for whom? At most, rail transit serves the small percentage of people who work downtown--the only destination to which transit provides what can be considered automobile-competitive service. To provide genuine transit choice for all would require annual expenditures that rival the gross income of any urban area.



Myth #8: We Can’t Built Our Way Out of Congestion.

This proceeds from the belief that new roadway capacity creates new traffic (the “induced traffic” effect)--suggesting a corollary that building more maternity wards would increase the birth rate. This leads to a further conclusion that, given enough road capacity, Americans will eventually spend 36 to 72 hours per day behind the wheel.

More rational minds at the Federal Highway Administration found little induced traffic effect, and even that withers away when travel time (rather than distance) is considered.



Myth #9: The Jobs-Housing Balance.

“Planners,” the smart growth movement claim, should design transportation and land use so as to minimize the distance between work and home. This may be the most bankrupt, and surely the most arrogant, of the smart growth myths. Herding cats would have at least as high a probability of success.

According to Census data, barely 20 percent of households consider proximity to work as the principal reason for selecting their home neighborhood. A jobs-housing balance requires other balances as well--jobs-housing-education, jobs-housing-leisure, etc. Are “planners” really in the best position to decide?



Myth #10: Higher Densities Mean A Lower Cost of Living.

Periodically, smart-growth studies emerge claiming household transportation expenditures are higher where densities are lower. But there is more to life than transportation. Housing and food expenditures are so much lower where densities are lower, that any transportation cost advantage for higher density areas is more than erased.



Myth #11: Europe Doesn’t Sprawl.

American urban planners by the thousands have made overseas pilgrimages, frequenting sidewalk cafes across the street from the Louvre in Paris, wondering why Phoenix or Boston looks so different. What they fail to realize is that not even Paris is like Paris.

The few square miles of central Paris in which the myopic rail-bound pilgrims sit is in the middle of 1,000 square miles of urban sprawl. The situation is similar throughout Western Europe, where virtually all growth in urban areas has been suburban growth, and where virtually all major cities have experienced population losses. Urban population densities have fallen faster in Europe and Canada than in the United States.



Myth #12: Urbanization is Consuming Agricultural Land.

Until the Clinton Agriculture Department set them straight, this was one of the principal tenets of the smart-growth movement. In fact, some 400 years after Jamestown, as The Heritage Foundation’s Ron Utt always reminds us, only 3 percent of the nation is urbanized: 97 percent of it is rural.

There is less agricultural land in the United States than there used to be, but not because it has been consumed by urbanization. Agriculture has become more productive. Since 1950, agricultural production has doubled, and more farmland than the area of Texas and Oklahoma combined has been returned to emptiness: open space.



Myth #13: Things are Going Our Way.

Anti-sprawl types often project their personal experiences into universal truths.

Transit ridership increases on a minuscule base are reported as if they represented a major switch in travel behavior; going from 10 riders to 20 represents a touted “100 percent increase.” Friends move into chic new urban developments, leading some to claim people “are forsaking suburbs” for the city.

Someone should teach these people to use simple reference books, like The World Almanac, which can be easily obtained at the nearest big box store.

Wendell Cox is a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute; a consultant to public and private public policy, planning and transportation organizations; and a visiting professor at a French national university.

source: http://heartland.org/press-releases/2003/06/12/debunking-friday-13th-13-myths-urban-sprawl?artId=12350







19 Comments

strider

December 20, 2012, 12:06:54 PM
Interesting, no comments yet?

OK, from an average Joe, the above comments seem 100% true and accurate.  For a car based society.  In which we seem to be living.

The issue is, I believe, that it took a hundred years to get here and we will not get back to where what Mr Cox calls the "Smart Growth Movement" wants us to be for many decades.  I just think that we can't wait  until we need the new rail and street car to get them, we need to start the process now.   And that is an argument that here in Jacksonville, the first streetcar needs to go up Main Street in Springfield. It is an empty wasteland for the most part and the arguments for street car should be the development fixed rail, with lots of parking, has been proven to bring.  And with it will come the increased density, more cars and higher costs, just what Mr. Cox said above.  But then it will be worth it and Jacksonville will be ready for when the times change in the next several decades and cars are too expensive for the average person. I suspect that is the only reason that we will eventually move away from being a car based society, assuming we ever do.   

thelakelander

December 20, 2012, 12:39:02 PM
I don't know where to begin.  I could comment for days on each point.  There are some points I agree with (yes, there is sprawl in Europe) and others I don't (Central cities are the victims of public subsidies like "JTBs" encouraging suburban growth). 

Overall, I'm sold on the fact that unchecked urban sprawl does not pay for its self at the public level.  If it did, after 50 years of it, we should be swimming around in cash.  However, just as soon as growth slowed, our budget went into the red, which suggests we've been involved in something that resembles a ponzi scheme. So unless, we want to keep closing schools, shutting off street lights, and not maintaining parks, something has to change regardless of if we're riding in cars, trains, or buses.

That "something" is investing in revitalizing and better utilizing areas of our community where we've already significantly invested in the public infrastructure.  To me there is a real financial incentive for Jacksonville to rebuild in neighborhoods surrounding existing rail lines, ports, and highways as opposed to spending hundreds of millions on new highways that will only result in more economic development fleeing Jax for the neighboring counties.

simms3

December 20, 2012, 12:44:51 PM
Smart growth does not necessarily reduce housing affordability, though coincidentally the smartest-growth cities are often the most expensive.  That's only because the smartest growth cities are usually the most progressive, and attractive to the educated/skilled, and so become highly desirable to companies, and so become even more desirable to the educated/skilled.

SF is so smart-growth it's almost not smart.  It has restricted new construction even during demands for growth due to the Tech Boom part II that it's now the most unaffordable city in the country with a margin separating it from 2nd place (NYC, where rents are ridiculous but you get paid more relatively).  DC is so cheap compared to SF and it's considered very expensive, but it also is very pro-growth and fosters a lot of smart, new development.

civil42806

December 20, 2012, 01:14:32 PM
Whos the strawman making these argument?  Some I understand others seem to be made up.

Fallen Buckeye

December 20, 2012, 01:53:59 PM
I didn't notice any citations. He seems to mention studies in a very vague way. I don't disagree with all of the points made, but like I tell my students, "You must be able to back up what you say with some evidence."

strider

December 20, 2012, 03:50:59 PM
So what would be an item by item response to Mr. Cox's list?

thelakelander

December 20, 2012, 04:41:59 PM
I'll make one, once I get some decent computer time.

BackinJax05

December 20, 2012, 05:42:09 PM
Several good points made here. Several I disagree with, too.

civil42806

December 20, 2012, 08:09:38 PM
Aquantied with  some Tea partiers, from what I know urban planning and smart growth issues was not high on thier list LOL

thelakelander

December 21, 2012, 12:34:59 AM
Here are my initial responses to the 13 myths.  Keep in mind, I'm a guy who doesn't believe all suburban growth is bad or that all urban growth is good.  I'm a big fan of letting cities grow organically in a fiscally sustainable manner.  That means you don't invest in heavy rail in settings that maybe more suitable for a streetcar or bus.  By the same token, you also don't build expressways for the purpose of generating unsustainable low density sprawl.


Quote
Myth #1: Smart Growth Does Not Reduce Housing Affordability.

Rationing raises prices. Smart growth measures ration land by forcing higher densities through urban growth boundaries, excessive impact fees, down-zoning and other restrictions on development. This drives prices higher, making housing less affordable.

According to wikipedia, Smart growth is an urban planning and transportation theory that concentrates growth in compact walkable urban centers to avoid sprawl. It also advocates compact, transit-oriented, walkable, bicycle-friendly land use, including neighborhood schools, complete streets, and mixed-use development with a range of housing choices. To be honest, what Cox describes can happen in both an urban and suburban environment.  You don't "have to" ration prices in either development form.  By the same token, encouraging the reuse of abandoned structures in blighted urban neighborhoods doesn't necessarily mean those neighborhoods end up being unaffordable.


Quote
Myth #2: Higher Densities Mean Less Traffic Congestion.

National and international evidence clearly shows higher densities increase traffic congestion. Per-capita travel by automobile may decline a bit as densities rise, but not enough to keep traffic from getting a lot worse. Adding more of anything to a constricted space--putting more people into smaller urban areas--increases crowding.

I'm of the belief that you can't significantly reduce traffic congestion unless people desert or a public entity limits the amount of growth that can take place along strained corridors.  However, what you can do with increased density is actually give your population a realistic possibility of taking advantage of various mobility options to access everyday needs.  The value in eliminating a percentage of these trips by automobile means there's less of a need to spend hundreds of millions widening and constructing new roads.


Quote
Myth #3. Lower Densities Mean Higher Costs of Government.

The smart-growth folks say we can “no longer afford” our low-density life style, claiming higher taxes and fees are caused by lower densities. But the data show lower-density cities have lower expenditure levels than higher- density cities. Moreover, cities with newer housing stock (second- and third-ring suburbs) have lower public expenditures than central cities and first-ring suburbs.

I'd have to see what type of data he's analyzing but common sense says government has a higher cost if it has to invest in a $2 billion Outer Beltway to encourage growth instead of feeding that growth to corridors where we've already invested in the infrastructure.



Quote
Myth #4: Higher Densities Mean Less Air Pollution.

EPA research concludes air pollution emissions are higher where traffic speeds are slower, and emissions are higher where there is more stop-and-go traffic. Higher densities mean more traffic congestion, which in turn means slower traffic speeds and more stop-and-go travel. More tail pipes do not emit less pollution.

The point with higher densities in a walkable setting is that a larger percentage of your population would walk, bike, or use mass transit instead of only relying on a car to get around.  If that's the case, you actually end up with less tail pipes.  Neverhtheless, Cox seems to focus primarily on the automobile.  I don't know what his infatuation is with Henry Ford's legacy but there are several other factors out their in reducing air pollution as well.


Quote
Myth #5: Central Cities Are the Victims of Suburban Growth.

America’s central cities have lost population, while suburbs have gained. It does not, however, follow that city losses occurred because of suburban growth.

Over the past half-century, America has become increasingly urban, as rural residents have moved to urban areas, where they have accounted for much of suburban growth. And cities have driven away many who would have stayed. “Cities” are hardly the victims here. City residents are: residents who felt they had no choice but to leave, and even more so those who have no choice but to stay, captive to governments qualifying as third world by their performance.

Yes, I do believe that suburban growth has negatively impacted the health of central cities in general.  The major reason is because we've subsidized infrastructure by utilizing money generated in the central cities to fuel greenfield development.  At the same time, we've invested in new facilities in expanding areas and forgotten about preserving and maintaining those in older areas. In short, we've created an uneven market rate playing field.  Strip the subsidies a way and I believe we'd see more even growth and development.



Quote
Myth #6: Rail Transit Reduces Traffic Congestion.

There is no evidence--none--that new rail transit has materially reduced traffic congestion in any urban area. Building rail is justified principally by an irresistible urge to spend taxpayers’ money. The higher the cost, railvangelists claim, the greater the benefit. Of course, the historic rail systems serving the pre-automobile cores of New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Tokyo, or Hong Kong are essential. But Sioux City, Iowa is not Hong Kong. Neither, for that matter, is Portland.

I agree with Cox that rail transit doesn't reduce automobile traffic congestion.  Rail transit simply provides a different mobility choice that is cheaper for public government to construct and maintain.  It also spurs pedestrian scale development while roads spur autocentric development.  With that said, I do believe that most rail systems could be constructed for significantly less than they actually end up being.  In most cases, you'll see streets are completely rebuilt, transit systems designed to move more people that the environment they serve can generate, and expensive landscaping costs added to the capital construction costs of rail.  It doesn't have to be that way.  If you're interested in reducing traffic congestion, you'll have to modify land use policy to limit growth along new road corridors.


Quote
Myth #7: Rail Transit Is Needed for “Transportation Choice.”

From Cincinnati to Austin, transit spending advocates quickly abandon their baseless traffic congestion claims when challenged. They shift to what they call “transportation choice”--the idea that building rail transit provides choices for people. But choices for whom? At most, rail transit serves the small percentage of people who work downtown--the only destination to which transit provides what can be considered automobile-competitive service. To provide genuine transit choice for all would require annual expenditures that rival the gross income of any urban area.

Rail transit is highly desirable if you want to encourage transit oriented development in a compact pedestrian scale setting.  However, at the end of the day, all you need in a truly walkable urban environment is your two feet.



Quote
Myth #8: We Can’t Built Our Way Out of Congestion.

This proceeds from the belief that new roadway capacity creates new traffic (the “induced traffic” effect)--suggesting a corollary that building more maternity wards would increase the birth rate. This leads to a further conclusion that, given enough road capacity, Americans will eventually spend 36 to 72 hours per day behind the wheel.

More rational minds at the Federal Highway Administration found little induced traffic effect, and even that withers away when travel time (rather than distance) is considered.

Yes, we can't build our way out of congestion without limiting the amount of growth that results in additional capacity being sucked away by car trips generated by that growth.



Quote
Myth #9: The Jobs-Housing Balance.

“Planners,” the smart growth movement claim, should design transportation and land use so as to minimize the distance between work and home. This may be the most bankrupt, and surely the most arrogant, of the smart growth myths. Herding cats would have at least as high a probability of success.

According to Census data, barely 20 percent of households consider proximity to work as the principal reason for selecting their home neighborhood. A jobs-housing balance requires other balances as well--jobs-housing-education, jobs-housing-leisure, etc. Are “planners” really in the best position to decide?

The opposite of herding cats is complete chaos, which is what Cox wants.  The end result of chaos that doesn't pay for itself is public bankruptcy.  The true answer is somewhere in between.  Cities should be allowed to develop a little more organically at the market rate level.  If that happens, you'll see an environment that falls somewhere between what Cox and die hard Smart Growth advocates desire.



Quote
Myth #10: Higher Densities Mean A Lower Cost of Living.

Periodically, smart-growth studies emerge claiming household transportation expenditures are higher where densities are lower. But there is more to life than transportation. Housing and food expenditures are so much lower where densities are lower, that any transportation cost advantage for higher density areas is more than erased.

Cost of living ultimately depends on what an individual household is willing to do to save money.  However, you're off to a great start in saving money whenever you can significantly reduce your transportation costs. This seems more like this guy is throwing things against the wall and seeing what sticks to sink the image of the Smart Growth theory. 



Quote
Myth #11: Europe Doesn’t Sprawl.

American urban planners by the thousands have made overseas pilgrimages, frequenting sidewalk cafes across the street from the Louvre in Paris, wondering why Phoenix or Boston looks so different. What they fail to realize is that not even Paris is like Paris.

The few square miles of central Paris in which the myopic rail-bound pilgrims sit is in the middle of 1,000 square miles of urban sprawl. The situation is similar throughout Western Europe, where virtually all growth in urban areas has been suburban growth, and where virtually all major cities have experienced population losses. Urban population densities have fallen faster in Europe and Canada than in the United States.

Yes, there's sprawl in Europe. So what?  In regards to urban densities falling, what time period is he using?  If he's going back to the industrial revolution when people were stuffed into unsanitary spaces like rats, his whole argument is shaky.



Quote
Myth #12: Urbanization is Consuming Agricultural Land.

Until the Clinton Agriculture Department set them straight, this was one of the principal tenets of the smart-growth movement. In fact, some 400 years after Jamestown, as The Heritage Foundation’s Ron Utt always reminds us, only 3 percent of the nation is urbanized: 97 percent of it is rural.

There is less agricultural land in the United States than there used to be, but not because it has been consumed by urbanization. Agriculture has become more productive. Since 1950, agricultural production has doubled, and more farmland than the area of Texas and Oklahoma combined has been returned to emptiness: open space.

Okay.


Quote
Myth #13: Things are Going Our Way.

Anti-sprawl types often project their personal experiences into universal truths.

Transit ridership increases on a minuscule base are reported as if they represented a major switch in travel behavior; going from 10 riders to 20 represents a touted “100 percent increase.” Friends move into chic new urban developments, leading some to claim people “are forsaking suburbs” for the city.

Someone should teach these people to use simple reference books, like The World Almanac, which can be easily obtained at the nearest big box store.

???


strider

December 21, 2012, 08:49:06 AM
Isn't there a city (Seattle, perhaps?) that controlled growth sort of like "smart Growth" advocates?  Meaning that suburban development was limited until certain densities were achieved in the city and then the immediate surrounding areas?  If so, is that the model that should be looked at to determine sucess or failure of the Smart Growth model?

thelakelander

December 21, 2012, 09:07:24 AM
A few cities, such as Portland, Virginia Beach and Lexington, have urban growth boundaries (UGB) but that doesn't mean suburban development was limited until certain densities were achieved. A UGB simply allows higher densities within its boundaries and lower densities outside of it.  Guys like Cox claim that UGBs limit the amount of developable land, which causes housing prices to rise.  However, in 2004, Portland extended its UGB by several thousands of acres and housing prices still increased at a record rate.

cline

December 21, 2012, 09:36:32 AM
Quote
Quote
Myth #12: Urbanization is Consuming Agricultural Land.

Until the Clinton Agriculture Department set them straight, this was one of the principal tenets of the smart-growth movement. In fact, some 400 years after Jamestown, as The Heritage Foundation’s Ron Utt always reminds us, only 3 percent of the nation is urbanized: 97 percent of it is rural.

There is less agricultural land in the United States than there used to be, but not because it has been consumed by urbanization. Agriculture has become more productive. Since 1950, agricultural production has doubled, and more farmland than the area of Texas and Oklahoma combined has been returned to emptiness: open space.

Okay.

While Cox is technically correct regarding the loss of agricultural land, sprawl has absolutely had a negative impact on other sensitive environmental lands, especially here in Florida.  You can't tell me that converting pristine ecosystems into tract housing is a good thing.  It has major impacts both direct (habitat loss) and indirect (increased CO2 emissions from longer commutes).  Here in Jax all you have to do is look at the development in SJC to see examples of this (Nocatee et. al.) .

Ocklawaha

December 21, 2012, 04:20:46 PM
Actually developments such as Nocatee, WGV, Rivertown and Julington Creek Plantation are probably less damaging then the typical housing tract. The difference is found in the 'live - work - play' designs of these large scale developments. Also unlike typical tract housing, these developments include miles of natural areas, and storm water recharge lakes. toxic chemicals from roadways and lawns tend to be washed directly into local creeks and rivers in typical tract housing or developments.

Do I think they are ideal? No, and I probably wouldn't have believed the number of my neighbors at WGV who actually REALLY DO live - work - play here.

Frankly one answer to our budget woes might be something as creative as Illinois came up with for it's Wisconsin commuters. TOLL BOOTHS on the Turnpike/Interstates next to the 'welcome sign.' Tolling I-95 and I-10 at the county line and exempting everyone residing in the metro counties (Duval County, Cay County, St. Johns County, Nassau County, Baker County) with a one time $20 dollar transponder charge would let that sea of tourists and truckers pay for our local transportation system.

cline

December 26, 2012, 12:34:01 PM
Actually developments such as Nocatee, WGV, Rivertown and Julington Creek Plantation are probably less damaging then the typical housing tract. The difference is found in the 'live - work - play' designs of these large scale developments. Also unlike typical tract housing, these developments include miles of natural areas, and storm water recharge lakes. toxic chemicals from roadways and lawns tend to be washed directly into local creeks and rivers in typical tract housing or developments.

Do I think they are ideal? No, and I probably wouldn't have believed the number of my neighbors at WGV who actually REALLY DO live - work - play here.


Pretty much the standard response from developers..."We're also including X acres of natural areas within the development".  Bottom line is, while that is a nice touch, the fact is they're decimating many other acres of "natural areas" that don't need to be developed.  We have so much in urban areas that could be redeveloped that there is no need for this.  And the whole "live, work, play" thing that Nocatee sells is total BS. 

Quote
toxic chemicals from roadways and lawns tend to be washed directly into local creeks and rivers in typical tract housing or developments.

Tell me again how many times Rivertown has been fined for runoff issues?

bigpainmike

March 31, 2013, 04:26:03 PM
My personal experience is, apparently, much different than Mr Cox's. I have lived in the San Souci area since 1983. At the time that I purchased my house the price of a gallon of gas was about $1.10 a gallon. Over the years, I have regretted my decision to purchase this house, not because of neighbors or inconvenience, but because there are few amenities. There is nothing within walking distance of my home other than houses. I'm about 6 1/2 miles from downtown and approximately 3 miles to the nearest grocery store or restaurant. It is a totally auto-centric area with mile after mile of residential streets, many without sidewalks. As Mr Cox states, my main reason for purchasing this location was not transportation costs, it was real estate costs, but I miss the walkability afforded in areas like Riverside or San Marco. I grew up in a small midwestern town where just about everything was within walking distance. I could walk to the movies and all the shops on Main St. I feel sorry for the neighborhood kids who can't have that kind of experience. Understandably, the real estate in more walkable areas is at a higher premium, but the quality of life that it affords is the payoff.

I have witnessed, first hand, the actuality of urban sprawl in Jacksonville. As the Better Jacksonville Plan funded new roads like Hodges Blvd, retail and services followed out to the shiny new strip malls and left areas west of Southside Blvd to struggle, leaving virtual wastelands along University Blvd, Beach Blvd between St Nicholas and Southside and to a lesser extent Atlantic Blvd. Most retail and service providers are now further away than they were when I moved to the area.

I don't know if Smart Growth initiatives are the solution, but we should not continue to destroy our natural areas and leave the crumbling infrastructure that characterizes wide swaths of Duval County. We need solutions that would allow our older areas to be revitalized with walkability and non-automotive transportation in mind.

I worked downtown for close to 30 years. For about 10 years I rode an express bus. I would have continued to ride the bus, but that route was cancelled. At the time, I attempted to find a new bus route, but I could find no route that took less than 1 1/2 hours to get within a mile of my house. Again, I only live 6 1/2 miles from downtown. At that point I began driving everyday. I could have driven to the King St parking garage and taken the Skyway to work, but it was too unreliable and my employer was unsympathetic to late employees even if they could see the Skyway vehicles stuck on the track. I hope it has become more reliable since I retired 3 years ago.

Mr Cox makes some valid points, but he does not take into account many of the factors that would make our city more livable and give all of our citizens a better quality of life.

Shine

March 31, 2013, 07:13:36 PM
Jacksonville in 1876.  A well planned grid made up the layout of the streets connected to the mass transit system of the day – docks and ships.   I would say even today's "Smart Growth" aint that smart.


Ocklawaha

March 31, 2013, 10:42:10 PM
Quote
Myth #6: Rail Transit Reduces Traffic Congestion.

There is no evidence--none--that new rail transit has materially reduced traffic congestion in any urban area. Building rail is justified principally by an irresistible urge to spend taxpayers’ money. The higher the cost, railvangelists claim, the greater the benefit. Of course, the historic rail systems serving the pre-automobile cores of New York, Chicago, Paris, London, Tokyo, or Hong Kong are essential. But Sioux City, Iowa is not Hong Kong. Neither, for that matter, is Portland.

You could add BUS RAPID TRANSIT, EXPRESS BUS, COMMUTER TRAINS, STREETCARS, LIGHT RAIL, CITY BUSES, ROPE CABLEWAYS or POGO STICKS to that first sentence. Truth be told telling people that transit will solve traffic issues is a very bad idea, but does it have NO EFFECT-NONE-as Wendall Cox purports? Try this simple exercise and even Wendall will have to admit to the foolishness of his statement. Go to the Skyway, JTA express bus or downtown trolley, at 5:15 pm and count the heads, next time you in your car at a stop light, add that number to the number of cars in front of you and you'll experience an epiphany. 

Koula

May 01, 2013, 12:39:55 AM
There is really no sense in building for the automobile, when people no longer have a desire to drive cars. Despite Cox's opinions, more people are clamoring for livable cities, and eventually (now?) Cox will be viewed as a dinosaur. This article is a few months old, but cites studies that show younger generations don't really care about driving:

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/04/why-young-americans-are-driving-so-much-less-their-parents/1712/
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