Ariel shot of an expansive parking lot containing several hundred cars.

National Links: The True Cost of Cars

Every day at The Overhead Wire, we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

The true long-term cost of cars: Cars are already known to be expensive, but new research in Germany shows how much they cost over the lifetime of ownership including externalities and public subsidy. A small car would cost $689,000 with a public expense of $275,000, according to the research. To save people money over time, it’s probably more fiscally responsible to invest in transportation that saves people money over the long term than cars, argue the researchers. (Carlton Reid | Forbes)

Philly road redesign pulled: Advocates in Philadelphia are angry that a road diet on a notoriously dangerous street has been pulled after ten years of engagement and a supposedly final decision that was made in 2020. But now the city’s Office of Transportation, Infrastructure, and Sustainability is saying that the community engagement “did not fulfill the equity goals of the administration” after petitions were filed in low-income communities by residents and business owners. (Thomas Fitzgerald and Samantha Melamed | Philadelphia Inquirer)

What if we replaced the strip malls with housing: In the San Francisco Bay Area, Peter Calthorpe argues that there are 700 miles of major arterial streets with space on adjacent properties for up to 1.7 million housing units. He believes that putting new housing on arterials solves both housing and transportation issues as wide streets can be given makeovers to create more space for outdoor cafes and active transportation like bike and bus lanes. (Adele Peters | Fast Company)

Colorado could ban ‘slow growth’ policies: Liberals and conservatives in the Colorado legislature have joined forces to pass laws through committee that would restrict the ability of communities to adopt slow or no growth strategies through zoning and permitting. Representatives have been frustrated that continued money and support for affordable housing aren’t helping when cities can continue to block the construction of new housing. (Andrew Kenney | Colorado Public Radio)

Who gains financially from zoning changes: Members of Ann Arbor’s minority faction on the city council want to find out who would benefit most financially from rezoning properties around its suburban shopping mall. Many of the owners are listed as LLCs and the members say they want to know who benefits from the transfer of wealth. The majority of council members rejected the move saying that this is just part of a larger city plan to rezone the area to allow 300 feet in height and more urban-style development. (Ryan Stanton | MLive)

Quote of the Week

Nothing can ever change, and it’s only getting worse. We just don’t do that here — move to Europe. This is the world we’ve been given, might as well accept it. No. This fatalism is unacceptable. Not when the built environment has such a profound impact on us. Our buildings are where we spend the vast majority of our lives. For nearly all of our other hours that aren’t spent in buildings, we’re in places shaped by the hands of people.”

Coby Lefkowitz in Marker discussing why we should have an optimistic outlook on our built environment.

This week on the podcast, we feature a chat between Carlos Cruz-Casas, assistant director of Miami Dade County’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, and Grace Perdomo, executive director of Miami’s Transit Alliance, about the Better Bus Project, an advocacy-led, community-driven redesign of the Miami-Dade bus network.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer