Recent Posts

  • Which came first, the city or the liberal?

    Citizens in urban areas disproportionately support Democrats, and citizens in exurban areas - the sprawl far away from urban centers - generally support Republicans.  Rich or poor, even controlling for race and other factors, the cities are Blue and the exurbs Red.  Is this because living in a diverse, dense community forces individuals to value policies that help all…  Keep reading…

  • Green along the blue

    In New York City’s industrial past, waterfronts were industrial zones.  New York became America’s largest city by being America’s busiest port.  Manhattan’s coastlines were piers and warehouses, for transferring goods between ships; the entire waterfront of Jersey City was railyards where goods would switch between ship and train.  Consequently, the land in the middle of Manhattan…  Keep reading…

  • El Camino Bonito

    I walked across El Camino Real - once.  This road, once the main thoroughfare through Silicon Valley, is now a 50 mile long strip mall of motels, gas stations, mattress stores, car rental places, fast food, and one major university.  Every business or shopping center along its length has a parking lot.  In the utopia of sprawl, El Camino Real would be Main Street.  Keep reading…

  • What free market?

    Houston is the poster child for bad urban planning - or should I say the complete lack of any planning.  Developers build subdivisions across the Texas plains, and the government builds freeways to them, in an endless cycle of sprawl.  This Houston Chronicle article talks about the many negative effects this is having on the region, from decaying inner-ring suburbs to…  Keep reading…

  • Harvard’s Allston plan: wow

    The architects hired by Harvard University to study locating facilities in Allston have created an interim report, and it’s really nice.  If Harvard really implements most of it, rather than getting cheap and cutting the more expensive pieces which improve quality of life, it sounds as though a really nice new campus might result.  I’m pleasantly surprised,…  Keep reading…

  • Two plans for Times Square

    Times Square was once a seedy place that many New Yorkers avoided, except for brief forays to a Broadway show.  Today, many New Yorkers still avoid it, but for the opposite reason - it is really, really crowded.  According to the Times Square Alliance, streets in Times Square burst with up to 16,817 people per hour on the busiest sidewalks, plus 1,279 people who can’t…  Keep reading…

  • The power of positive planning

    At last month’s CopyNight, Beth Noveck suggested that the copyright balance movement needs to move beyond a negative agenda (don’t pass more copyright extensions, don’t regulate technology, don’t create new criminal penalties) and toward a positive agenda.  She elaborated on this idea yesterday in her blog.  Keep reading…

  • The congestion pricing idea spreads

    San Francisco sees the light too.  But this isn’t so much of a surprise since they already have a pretty progressive attitude toward automobiles.  When will New York?  Keep reading…

  • They’re smart up in Boston

    I just ran across this month-old news report that Boston is considering London-style congestion pricing for roads downtown.  The idea is that during peak hours, drivers would pay $1-$5 to drive into the most congested downtown areas, and the money raised would go to public transportation improvements.  Mayor Menino is reportedly even open to considering the idea. …  Keep reading…

  • Go go gadget transportation!

    I just got off the NJ Transit bus #126 coming home from Drinking Liberally.  Coming back after a late night at Rudy’s was never so painless.  I knew a bus left at 12:55 (after midnight they’re every 30 minutes), so I walked out at 12:45, made it to the bus a few minutes before departure, and was already home by 1:15.  Compare this to walking all the way to 7th…  Keep reading…

  • Stop the space elevator, or, it’s the Battery Bridge all over again

    This is wonderful.  And a very clever satire on an important issue.  Keep reading…

  • The sprawl lovers

    There’s something aesthetically appealing about big, soaring highway ramps conveying a feeling of speed and mobility.  And I can understand why, in Robert Moses’ day, people could have thought building highways was a grand endeavor.  But we now know they just don’t work.  Or do we?  Alex Marshall, author of one of the best books on sprawl,…  Keep reading…

  • Don’t play SimCity (Classic)

    Like many people my age, I grew up playing SimCity, the 80s classic video game of city planning.  The player lays out transportation infrastructure, parks,  and residential, commercial, or industrial zones into which the Sims build their own buildings.  All the zones are square and exactly the same size.  (There have since been two sequels, SimCity 2000 and…  Keep reading…

  • Slower, messier, safer, better

    Reading about urban planning it often sounds like the engineers back in the 60s had no clue.  They thought it was just great to bulldoze whole neighborhoods to build freeways partly because freeways made people drive faster, thereby reducing the amount of pollution they emit because cars are more efficient at higher speeds.  But really it just encourages people to live…  Keep reading…

  • Let’s solve traffic jams by creating more!

    Congress is close to approving a huge transportation bill, which in its original form allocated $300 billion to roads but only $75 billion to transit.  According to the article, “House Transportation Committee spokeman Steve Hansen… cited the $70 billion that is ‘wasted each year due solely to traffic congestion and the waste of more than 5.7 billion gallons…  Keep reading…

  • Freeway ramp rush

    Even though I work in sales, I’m really an engineer.  And one thing many engineers love is transportation systems.  Keep reading…

  • Reaper Mall

    Actually, it turns out there’s quite a lot to say about How Cities Work and Reaper Man.  In Reaper Man, a mysterious set of snow globes appears in Ankh-Morpork, followed by metal shopping carts.  A character realizes that if cities are like life forms - large, slow moving life forms - then there would evolve parasites to prey upon them, just as other long-lived life…  Keep reading…

  • Marshall and Pratchett

    I started reading How Cities Work: Suburbs, Sprawl, and the Roads Not Taken by Alex Marshall on the plane.  (I also started reading Reaper Man, but there’s not much to say about that other than that Terry Pratchett is hilarious and you should read his books).  Keep reading…

  • Yassky for traffic calming, hybrid taxis; not sure about bridge tolls

    I met David Yassky, my city councilman last night.  (Warning: no content on his site yet.)  He seems as much a geek as a politician.  According to a Google cached document that may disappear, “As an aide to Chuck Schumer, David helped author and pass the Brady Bill, Violence Against Women Act, the federal hate crimes law and Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances…  Keep reading…

  • For: alternatives to cars, civil rights online

    I am a strong supporter of Transportation Alternatives, which promotes public policy to enhance public transit and bicycle use while reducing dependence on cars.  New York leads all American cities by a huge margin in its percentage of residents who commute to work in ways other than driving.  This is good for communities, the environment, the economy, and foreign relations,…  Keep reading…

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