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Thread: Article: Will Fuel Efficient Cars Keep Sprawl Going?

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Article: Will Fuel Efficient Cars Keep Sprawl Going?

    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    I think it is likely that efficiencies all over can help people with their location choice. If a McSuburb is ~efficient and similar in costs to a closer-in choice that's fine too, right? Our jobs will be more temporary in the future, so location choice wrt live-work gap will be less of a factor - so we'll necessarily need more efficient transport. I can't change human nature and if there is a percentage of the population who wants to avoid people, I can't change that. That is human nature. If they are forced to migrate to a place with more people due to cost, that is a choice. Just a thought.
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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    The exurbs actually have shorter commutes than many city neighborhoods in Chicago. People that actually commute all the way to the loop may have 1.5-2 hour commutes, but there's a lot of employment out in the suburbs and I think that's where most exurbanites work.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    I think that jsk1983 makes a pertinent fact: there are a lot of jobs outside city boundaries and even more within city boundaries but outside of the city center. The model of suburbanites all commuting into the city center for their jobs has probably never, ever been true, and that's gotten even less true as suburbs have matured and diversified. One of the big problems for poor people living in inner city neighborhoods seeking jobs is that so many jobs are located in the suburbs but public transit goes primarily to the CBD -- it's a classic "you can't get there from here" situation. It's also very common today for people to commute from one suburb to another, or from exurbia into a suburb.

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    There is a kernel of truth to that arguement. If electric cars become more prevelant, the reverse will be true. Even with the Volt its much less expensive to run it off of its charge than off of the gasoline engine that charges the batteries. This should make people want to live closer to work/cultural centers.

    I would take a Toyota Prius over a Chevy/Geo Metro any day. You can't really compare the two. One is uber-tiny and can only seat 2 comfortably while the Prius seats five comfortably. Cars 25 years ago were woefully underpowered and cars of today in my opinion have too much power. Who needs a Caddy station wagon that has a 650 HP engine? (though it would be cool!)
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian TerraSapient's avatar
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    I actually use to own a Geo Metro. I still think it was the best car I have ever owned. Contrary to popular opinion, it seated 4 comfortably and I could drive it from the east coast to the west coast for about $200 (in late 90s/early 00s). It also ran perfectly for the 8 years I owned it without a single major mechanical problem, just regular maintenance and only cost me about $6,500. This thread, however, isn't about the superior quality of Metro. Though I sympathize that more fuel efficient technologies may continue to stimulate sprawl, I think the rising cost of petroleum and our complete dependence on it for everything in our lives other than just gasoline will continue to help curb it. We still use petroleum based technologies to mass produce housing in green fields. This mass production is what makes development of this nature lucrative.

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    Cyburbian
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    Another way to look at the whole picture is to ask: What needs to happen in order for sprawl to survive? If it is going to survive there needs to be more fuel efficient cars, or cars that run on alternative energy sources, as the article says, but congestion is another issue. To solve the congestion problem you could further de-centralize employment areas, which will distribute the traffic around the city better, but that will only help so much. If people don’t chose to live near their place of employment then you may end up with people driving farther (all the way across the city) to get to their jobs. Dispersing the employment areas may require widening, or building, new highways and roads. Incentivizing carpooling or staggered work start times could help as well. Another technical solution is to develop cars that take up less space on the highways – in other words, cars that are physically or electronically connected to the car in front and behind them in order to allow higher speeds with less separation distance. Parking also has to be considered – underground or multi-level above ground parking structures will need to become more common.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Howl View post
    o If people don’t chose to live near their place of employment then you may end up with people driving farther (all the way across the city) to get to their jobs.

    o in other words, cars that are physically or electronically connected to the car in front and behind them in order to allow higher speeds with less separation distance. Parking also has to be considered – underground or multi-level above ground parking structures will need to become more common.
    The analysis is sound, the premise that such resources and cheap energy will be available for that to happen IMHO is not. If we continue down this path we're on, most people's jobs will be temporary and few will be able to choose where to live. Free money to underground parking will be rare as well. My .02.

    [/ecologist's hat]
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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Actually, I think that proximity to work is an important factor for most people, and, all things being equal, most do choose to live fairly near where they work, and that's probably been true for a long time. I think that's that why in some growing metros new homes in developments in the exurbs are much cheaper than existing homes in near-in areas. It's also why some city and first ring suburban neighborhoods thrive when "experts" say that they shouldn't: they offer most of what most people are looking for with shorter commutes.

    I think that the actual percentage of people who choose to live 25-30 miles or more from work simply because they want a particular life-style is relatively small. I think more people commute a significant distance to work because of housing affordability or an employment situation such as taking a new job than anything else.

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    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Actually, I think that proximity to work is an important factor for most people, and, all things being equal, most do choose to live fairly near where they work, and that's probably been true for a long time. .
    Right. But now and likely in the future if there aren't radical changes away from a FIRE- and capital-dominated economy, owning a house will be an increasing liability in an all-jobs-are-temporary society. Renting will be more common to be flexible enough to chase work around, and maybe you can rent close to work if you are a family unit and individuals have only one job. Resources will be more expensive so cheap anything will be a rarity.

    It sure would be nice if scarcity drives thoughtful and more widespread formal planning, but who knows how we will conduct our affairs in the future...
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    Cyburbian
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    How are you defining sprawl, exactly? That's actually a lot more of a sticking point than it sounds.Is Los Angeles an example of sprawl? It lacks most of the attributes usually associated with sprawl. Is the suburbia in the far southeast of Melbourne sprawl? It gets accused of being that a lot.. It was developed before cars though, and the land use is downright New Urbanist, even though nobody seems to want to walk there. Is that highly developed neighborhood near the CBD an example of sprawl? It used to be an edge city.Furthermore, are you certain that those cars are all measuring MPG in the same way? I'm not certain that the methodology remained static.

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