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Thread: Great article and video on the effects of "Drive till you qualify"

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Great article and video on the effects of "Drive till you qualify"

    Check out this easily digestible article and 10 minute video by PBS on the car culture in the Phoenix suburbs and how the old "drive till you qualify" has hit many families hard. Complete with the stereotypical developer interview at the last 2 minutes.

    http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kb...he_unexpe.html

    I think this was done very well and just wanted to share it. It really sums up the problems with sprawl, not to be confused with suburbs, especially in car centric cities like Phoenix. To the non-planner this should explain well what the problem is and is always going to be, I just hope the non-planner isn't swayed by the fast-food version of the American Dream the developer is selling.

    What I take away from this is; the mention of having to increase mass or public transit, which has been a hard sell, was mentioned. Maybe we all need to rethink this and take a different approach to first shorted car rides, provide for local options not requiring public transit until it is either more accepted or more available.

    So.... is public transit the answer? Can we build bikeable or walkable neighborhoods that people actually WANT to bike or walk in or have somewhere to bike and walk and not just calling it walkable, bikeable, or the new buzz word "compact"?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Also another causal factor, and one that I have mentioned many times before in Cyburbialand, are local zoning laws that make finding solutions to this problem difficult by prohibiting the kinds of development 'closer in' that would be in a more attractive price range. In some areas, it may not be politically possible to solve the 'drive until you qualify' problem.

    Mike

  3. #3
    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I have mixed feelings on this. I think that if people want to buy homes in the middle of nowhere it is there prerogative and it always will be. There will always be developers willing to do whatever the market wants. With that said I think that we don't regulate this enough. We make it way to easy to create these types of developments. If we required complete streets or some sort of pedestrian connections to any new development over X size, this would shrink the number of lots, or increase the amount of pedestrian scale amenities.

    I would love to see requirements to have rail or public transit available at all new developments outside the CBD, but here in Ohio our R governor candidate is running on the platform that he won't use the money we got from the federal stimulus to put rail in, because it is a pointless waste of money
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    So.... is public transit the answer? Can we build bikeable or walkable neighborhoods that people actually WANT to bike or walk in or have somewhere to bike and walk and not just calling it walkable, bikeable, or the new buzz word "compact"?
    I think that a real issue with public transit in the US is scheduling/connections, especially in mid-sized metros (Buffalo, NY & Albany, NY for example). Except for rush hour times, most transit lines, except in the biggest cities, run on a limited basis (like every 40-60 minutes in mid day) or don't run at all (say after 11 PM). If you need to connect to another line and miss the cross route bus by 5 minutes, you have to wait for almost an hour. It discourages mass transit use.

    In the 'burbs, it's even worse. There may be two in-bound runs in the morning, one inbound/outbound loop midday, and two out-bound runs in the evening. Getting from home in Suburb A to job in Suburb B (a total of 5 miles by car) frequently requires commuters to take a bus all the way into downtown and then connect to another bus to go all the way out again. There simply aren't cross-suburb routes.

    This is a Catch-22 situation. People won't take MT because it's inconvenient but MT can't provide more service and more routes because there's not enough demand for MT. Round and round we go.

    I think bicycling and walking are viable alternatives only in areas without cold/heat extremes -- the Cali coastal areas, the Pacific NW, parts of the Mid Atlantic, and Upper South. In much of the northern part of the country, bicycling is not a viable alternative method of transportation during the winter because of wind and snow. Walking may be problematical as well. In the City of Jamestown where I live, the schools only bus handicapped students, and everybody else is expected to walk. Excessively low wind chills sometimes close the schools, and we frequently get 6-12 inches of snow overnight.

    I would expect that in some parts of the South, Southwest, and Midwest, high heat indices in the summer would make both bicycling and walking dangerous at times there. Unfortunately, people do have to travel from place to place during the middle of the day.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    The stereotypically corpulent developer is rather amusing as he ignores the realities of all the government subsidies to sprawl that have existed for so long. I'm sure he'll agree with government "telling people where to live" if its in his developments. That subdivision could not exist without the federally funded highway to get to it. How is that not telling people where to live?
    Adrift in a sea of beige

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think bicycling and walking are viable alternatives only in areas without cold/heat extremes -- the Cali coastal areas, the Pacific NW, parts of the Mid Atlantic, and Upper South. In much of the northern part of the country, bicycling is not a viable alternative method of transportation during the winter because of wind and snow. Walking may be problematical as well. In the City of Jamestown where I live, the schools only bus handicapped students, and everybody else is expected to walk. Excessively low wind chills sometimes close the schools, and we frequently get 6-12 inches of snow overnight.

    I would expect that in some parts of the South, Southwest, and Midwest, high heat indices in the summer would make both bicycling and walking dangerous at times there. Unfortunately, people do have to travel from place to place during the middle of the day.
    This is an indicator of our utter dependence on cheap energy. When that goes away, how well do you think some of our smaller cities will run?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ColoGI View post
    This is an indicator of our utter dependence on cheap energy. When that goes away, how well do you think some of our smaller cities will run?
    Well, years ago, schools didn't close simply because it was cold and windy (it's called 'bundling up' - and the 'wind chill factor' was unknown outside of the military and the Boy Scouts - it was simply a chart used as a cold-weather dressing guide - prior to about 1985-1990. "It's cold and windy, put on more clothing and go on with your life".), we knew how to keep cool in hot, gooey weather (dress in loose-fitting light-colored cotton clothing, buildings had windows that opened and were designed to allow air to flow with great efficiency, lots of strategic shade, etc). People knew how to pace themselves, too, and were used to the local climate, adjusting their lives accordingly and lived their lives. Life was not simply driven by a clock and places with unfavorable climates (especially the desert southwest - ie, the Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ areas) were avoided.

    And we didn't 'bubble-wrap' our kids.

    Mike

  8. #8
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post

    And we didn't 'bubble-wrap' our kids.

    Mike
    Last time it rained here the second-grader got a raincoat and an umbrella. Her and the brother and sister up the street were the only ones that walked that day. All the other precious little dears - a-l-l - got driven.

    An effect of DTYQ is that many are trapped in a drive-to-the-bathroom mentality and "walkable" is a sidewalk to where the dog cr*ps.

    [/rant]

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    What I find interesting about this arguement is that the developers of this movement are from Chicago, where there are many areas of the central city that are affordable. The reality is that many cities have donuts where people just do not want to live but are affordable. The true can be said about here as well. For example, I could easily walk to the Ford or Carhartt corporate HQs from my house, but homes in my neighborhood are very affordable because no one wants to live here (or can't find a job and move away).
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mgk920 View post
    Well, years ago, schools didn't close simply because it was cold and windy (it's called 'bundling up' - and the 'wind chill factor' was unknown outside of the military and the Boy Scouts - it was simply a chart used as a cold-weather dressing guide - prior to about 1985-1990. "It's cold and windy, put on more clothing and go on with your life".), we knew how to keep cool in hot, gooey weather (dress in loose-fitting light-colored cotton clothing, buildings had windows that opened and were designed to allow air to flow with great efficiency, lots of strategic shade, etc). People knew how to pace themselves, too, and were used to the local climate, adjusting their lives accordingly and lived their lives. Life was not simply driven by a clock and places with unfavorable climates (especially the desert southwest - ie, the Las Vegas, NV and Phoenix, AZ areas) were avoided.

    And we didn't 'bubble-wrap' our kids.

    Mike
    Well said.

    Actually, ColoGI, I expect that many of our smaller cities will do quite well if energy prices skyrocket. Consider a place like Dubuque, Iowa. It is large enough to offer employment, shopping and service, culture, and more. It has a dense, older urban core. It can be served by a viable public transportation system. It is an attractive community and will do well.

    In my research I have noted a couple things that may help to indicate what changes might occur due to much higher gas prices. As we saw them escalate in 2007-2008, there was a noticeable uptick in retail market capture in some small cities. With low gas prices it was possible for people to drive (in some cases 100 miles) to shop where there was more selection and where the shopping trip was a day-long event accompanied by a trip to the restaurant, etc. People who formerly left the trade area to shop were more inclined to shop closer to home. The beneficiaries of this are the micropolitan cities that dominate a rural trade area. For a really good example, look at Jamestown, North Dakota.

    In the second case, look at the impact of higher gas prices on employment in rural areas. It is not uncommon there to find employers paying an average wage in the $12-15 per hour range. Twenty miles may be the typical commute for these workers, with some traveling as many as 50 miles each way. They are also not driving the most fuel-efficient vehicles - either older cars or trucks. Gas at $2.00 a gallon takes a bite, but at $4.00 per gallon it is hardly tenable to work without either an increase in wages or a decrease in commuting.

    In both of these instances it is logical to predict that people and businesses will tend to flow from the smallest villages and hamlets to the dominant communities in the region, offering more employment opportunities and easier access to basic services. I think for another similar set of reasons, the same scenario might play out in the far-flung suburbs versus closer-in suburban and urban neighborhoods.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by DetroitPlanner View post
    What I find interesting about this arguement is that the developers of this movement are from Chicago, where there are many areas of the central city that are affordable. The reality is that many cities have donuts where people just do not want to live but are affordable. The true can be said about here as well. For example, I could easily walk to the Ford or Carhartt corporate HQs from my house, but homes in my neighborhood are very affordable because no one wants to live here (or can't find a job and move away).
    This is very true. In Buffalo, for example, the only people who will consider living on the "East Side" are people who were born and raised there. There's an invisible line that divides the "desirable" side of town from the "undesirable", and it runs up the middle of Main Street. There is virtually no gentrification in any neighborhood east of Main Street from downtown out to the city line despite there being some nice housing there and some pockets of beautiful homes. The only parts of the East Side that are considered "decent" by non-East Siders are right along the northern stretches of Main Street and the far eastern part near the border with Cheektowaga.

    This disdain for the East Side predates even the Great Depression and WW II. My Polish immigrant grandparents, for example, married in Polonia on the East Side, and shortly thereafter departed for Buffalo's Black Rock neighborhood as did all their relatives and many friends. Except for visiting the Broadway Market around Christmas and Easter, most Poles in Black Rock never returned to the East Side.

    As Buffalo's population has dramatically shrunk in the last 30 years, people have migrated out of the East Side en masse, leaving behind more and more abandoned houses, and filled in the houses/apartments on the west side of Main Street. It's really a repetition of what had been happening for decades, just at a faster pace.

    The City of Buffalo has tried just about everything to get middle class people to move back into this area, but has been totally unsuccessful. In fact, the only group that has shown any interest in moving into this incredibly cheap housing area are a group of Muslims who live around a mosque. You can tell the area because it's the one without many abandoned houses.

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