Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Urban myths

Trendspotters keep looking for an end to suburbanization, but Wendell Cox reports that these folks misread the data.  "Suburb" and "city" are hard to define and this is why one has to be very careful. 

The May 2 NY Times included this graphic on how annual miles driven per capita has varied since 1956.  Gas prices matter as do levels of unemployment.  There is not much left to be explained by continuing suburbanization.

UPDATE:  OECD reports: "For the first time ever the number of people killed in road accidents has fallen below 150 000 in the 52 member countries of the International Transport Forum (ITF), excluding India. According to data released by the Paris based organization, which is part of the OECD family, road fatalities recorded the biggest decrease since 1990 with a drop of 8.9% in 2008 compared to 2007. Preliminary data for 2009 shows a continuing significant reduction in the number of road deaths for most ITF member countries, recording a drop of almost 10%."

And while we are on the topic, this book review in this morning's WSJ pins US suburbanization on (among other things) the interstate highway program.  Well, not exactly -- as some of us have tried to show.

Finally, in a better world, people would stop talking about "big solutions" and instead ask "at what cost?"  Dream on.  In todays LA Times, columnist David Lazarus wants LA to have a "world-class subway system."  Once again, evidence is of no interest.  In 2005, LA's 16-mile Red Line subway generated almost $300 million in annual losses, once the huge capital costs are included -- and even when external (non-rider) benefits of reduced auto use are counted.