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Cost analysis of multi modal transit

Michele Zone

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Opinion: Why more urban cycling saves everyone money

Officials at the City of Copenhagen were among the first to document this phenomenon. In 2012, they produced a report considering a wide range of costs and benefits related to transportation, including safety, comfort, branding, tourism, travel times, and health. When all of these factors were added together, one kilometre cycled produced a $0.26 economic gain to society; one kilometre driven cost society $0.14. And that’s without considering bigger connected costs, like the consequences of climate change.
 

Doohickie

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I ride quite a bit so I'm not anti-bike.

That said, the Copenhagen model doesn't work for most American cities, particularly the ones that aren't on the Eastern Seaboard. I've heard the typical Danish transportation bicycle ride is less than 3 miles.

Cities like my own Fort Worth are simply too large and spread out to depend on bikes too much. My commute of about 11 miles would take about an hour on the bicycle and that doesn't count taking a shower once I get to work. Plus the same at the end of the day. That basically means about 3 hours every day committed to commuting, versus less than an hour total per day if I drive. And I won't even bring the temperature into it.

Ft Worth is making an conscious effort to encourage cycling and other healthy activities, but it takes a long time to change attitudes, especially when the layout of the city is so spread out. The city is about 35 miles north-to-south and 30 miles east-to-west. The downtown core is manageable in terms of cycling: Everything is within a mile or two. But that geographically "close" downtown comprises a very small portion of the city area. There are a couple of not-quite-downtown areas that have decent population density, but most of the housing area in Fort Worth is urban sprawl single family homes.

So while Ft Worth tries, it simply isn't laid out in a bike friendly manner.

Other transportation modes like rail haven't caught on either. There was an attempt to bring light rail in about ten years ago, but the "downtown interests" worked to defeat that, figuring that anyone downtown should be kept downtown.

There is more of an attempt to foster urbanism here, but it just takes a long time to change attitudes.
 

Michele Zone

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Oh, I'm aware American cities don't have the density and it is not easily remedied.

I'm in a really small town with a surprisingly urban core. There are various factors that contribute to that. But you can totally live without a car here and it is part of why I am here.

I'm aware this town is anomalous.


But, I mean, thank you for commenting. I did see your comment about the Tour de Fort Worth.
 

Doohickie

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The neighborhood we recently moved to was originally set up to be more walkable/rideable. In the center of our neighborhood is a church, a public elementary school and a charter school. In the 1950s, the charter school used to be a shopping center with a 7-11, a drug store, a five-and-dime, a beauty shop and a barber shop. I would have liked to have lived here when that was still a shopping center (it was like that until the 1980s I believe; the charter school moved in during the '90s).

When I ride my bicycle around Fort Worth, I see that this was common: In residential areas developed prior to, say, 1960, there were neighborhood shopping centers about every couple miles, and people could walk or ride to the store. You could actually get by without a car for neighborhood activities. Now most of those neighborhood centers have mostly been swallowed up by the neighborhoods: the buildings that were taverns, beauty salons and small grocers are still there, but they've been largely converted to residences.

The neighborhood adjacent to ours still has a local shopping center- it has an Albertson's supermarket, an Ace hardware, several smaller businesses some restaurants and a gas station, on a neighborhood feeder street (not a main thoroughfare) and all surrounding by residences. It used to even have a post office and a movie theater, although the theater, which was built in the '50s, was already torn down in the '60s.

Although the city tries to foster "urban villages", I would love to see them take that a level lower and promote neighborhood villages: Small shopping centers that would allow people to walk or ride instead of taking the car everywhere. The reason they don't I'm sure is that it's too hard to find businesses for the shopping centers. Independent grocers can't make it, and the chains don't want small locations when they can operate megamarkets that draw from a dozen or more local neighborhoods. There's just too much overhead in keeping a small grocer open.
 

Michele Zone

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The small town where I live is at the confluence of a couple of rivers, so bridges force traffic through bottlenecks, concentrating the traffic in a way that is beneficial to the downtown area and a nearby shopping area not part of the downtown. The downtown area has a lot of empty storefronts, probably in part because of the local Walmart (located in said nearby shopping area).

However, I'm a big fan of Walmart. I realize it has a tendency to kill local small shops, but I see it as part of a larger picture where we have 7 billion people on the planet, etc. I see the local Walmart as an asset.

It's the only one in the region. This is a really rural area, full of farms and logging and national forests and what not. This town is the largest city in the region. I see it as serving as a regional hub and I am not hearing that from other people locally on the ground. I just hear the usual complaints about it being a small town with small town problems kind of stuff.

Cardinal once said that you need at least 20k pop to support a full service grocery story. There are less than 20k people here and there are four full service grocery stores. FOUR. One is open 24 hours and another, within the footprint of the downtown, is open 20 hours a day.

You can get to other smaller towns out here via regional bus transit for as little as a dollar. I have personally seen people get on the bus headed out to some smaller town that lacks a real grocery store who were all loaded up with groceries.

So this tiny town really serves as a regional commercial hub. Along with another city next to it, the metro area also serves as a governmental hub. It serves a much larger population than that of the city itself. I see a lot of vibrancy here and I am frustrated that locals talk so much trash about it. (Like: no wonder you can't promote it. :r:)

Yet, it's quite small and has a concentration of stuff in a very small area, making it extremely pedestrian and bike friendly. I'm just really jazzed to be here and I see so much potential for it to be even better.

Meanwhile, other people talk like it is in need of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and life support. Then they wonder why they can't find solutions to fill some of the empty storefronts in the downtown area. :wall: :wall:
 
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Doohickie

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I looked it up; our local neighborhood in Ft Worth has about 9000 residents. There's the Albertson's in the next neighborhood that serves primarily the Anglo population around here; it's about 3 miles away. Then there's the Savers Cost Plus which serves primarily the Hispanic population (it's actually a really cool store) on the edge of my neighborhood a mile from my house.

We have a couple Wal-Marts, one is about three miles away, the other is four, both further out into the suburban sprawl (i.e., further from downtown). There's also a more urban Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (groceries only) squarely in the middle of the Hispanic area, about 4 miles from the house.

Ft Worth is a pretty big city, will probably surpass one million people in the next few years.

If I had to do my shopping without a car, I suppose I could use a cart and go to the Cost Plus, so the neighborhood is kind of walkablle, but right now it's too danged hot.
 

Michele Zone

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I came here in part for the lovely temperate weather. It rarely has freezing temps and it isn't that hot. I am being told it's unusually chilly this year, so it will probably be warmer next summer. But it doesn't get sweltering like some places I have lived.

That definitely makes it more pedestrian-friendly, though I saw a piece that talked trash about it as the least sunny city in all of Washington or something. It rains a fair amount, but it's mostly drizzle. Not a big deal compared to the storms you see in the South.

After I gave up my car in Columbus, GA, I looked up my neighborhood on Walk Score and it said it was a lousy, terrible, unwalkable neighborhood. I had like 4 shopping centers within 20 minutes of my apartment. I didn't see it the same way that Walk Score did.

When you actually live without a car, you see the world differently from people who routinely drive everywhere. Which is not to slam drivers, but it just gives you a different perspective on the built environment.

One mental difference: Drivers see distance in terms of road routes. Walkers use a lot of short cuts -- if the built environment doesn't actively screw them out of such short cuts.

I've also seen criticism of this town as not very pedestrian friendly. And that just sounds like crazy talk to me. I don't know where they get that idea -- well, I know one detail. One of the pedestrian cross walks was added due to advocacy for making it more pedestrian friendly. I can see how that cross walk is important. But, beyond that, I can only think these folks don't do that much walking and just don't know how good they have it here compared to so many other American cities.
 

Doohickie

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When you actually live without a car, you see the world differently from people who routinely drive everywhere. Which is not to slam drivers, but it just gives you a different perspective on the built environment.

One mental difference: Drivers see distance in terms of road routes. Walkers use a lot of short cuts -- if the built environment doesn't actively screw them out of such short cuts.
We have a local planning/architecture forum and one of the members didn't have a car until recently; he used the buses to get all over the city, and knew the routes. The few times I tried to use public transit it just didn't seem worth it, so I know what you mean about the differences. Also, our council member makes a point of taking transit or walking when she can, and yeah, she sees the city differently too.

And as a bicycle rider, I totally get the short cuts. I call them wormholes. For instance, to get from and to my old house, I used to ride through a park to avoid riding on one of two busy streets on either side; instead I rode through quiet residential neighborhoods. That isn't possible in a car. I could probably name off another half dozen wormholes if I thought about it.

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
― Ernest Hemingway

In addition to the hills Fort Worth also has freeways, rivers and creeks, and railroads to consider. And even though Fort Worth has no mountains and considered flat prairie, there are significant terrain variations associated with the rivers and creeks.
 

Michele Zone

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And as a bicycle rider, I totally get the short cuts. I call them wormholes. For instance, to get from and to my old house, I used to ride through a park to avoid riding on one of two busy streets on either side; instead I rode through quiet residential neighborhoods. That isn't possible in a car. I could probably name off another half dozen wormholes if I thought about it.

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Pedestrian and cyclist wormholes. I like it!
 

Doohickie

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Pedestrian and cyclist wormholes. I like it!
The three characteristics of wormholes:
1. It provides a short cut that a pedestrian or cyclist can use.
2. It's not readily apparent from looking at a map.
3. They are generally disseminated as tribal knowledge (i.e., one person to another).
 

Michele Zone

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The three characteristics of wormholes:
1. It provides a short cut that a pedestrian or cyclist can use.
2. It's not readily apparent from looking at a map.
3. They are generally disseminated as tribal knowledge (i.e., one person to another).
That's really good. I've made notes on one of my blogs. I'll be sure to cite it if it ends up in a blog post.
 
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