Freeway heading into downtown Minneapolis

National Links: Induced Demand Justifies Freeways

Every day, The Overhead Wire collects news about cities and sends the links to our email list. At the end of the week they 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.

More induced travel denial: A recent piece in Planetizen by Steven Polzin of Arizona State University claims highway expansion criticism is unjustified, which drew sharp rebukes from a number of commentators. Highway planners have been getting demand wrong for decades, always projecting massive increases in driving while travel has actually flatlined. But their biggest folly might be continuing to plan for travel speeds and “mobility” rather than access. (Todd Litman | Planetizen and Joe Cortright | City Observatory)

Solving the housing problem locally: With housing affordability a major issue all over the country, states like Colorado are starting to take action to solve the problem. But many communities worry about local control, so some are trying to prove that you don’t need state policies to change the housing outlook. With their Gateway project, for example, the town of Erie hopes to create a “Main Street” locally, without state intervention, that could provide housing and businesses for the community. (Marianne Goodland | Colorado Politics)

“Livable Streets” revisited: Donald Appleyard’s 1981 book Livable Streets was an important text in understanding the ecology of the street and how cars impact people-oriented design. One of the more famous diagrams from the book (below) shows how lower-traffic streets are associated with more social connections among neighbors. Tragically, a speeding driver killed Appleyard in Greece in 1982, when he was only 54. Now his son Bruce has followed in his footsteps; he’s updated and expanded the original text for the recently published Livable Cities 2.0. (Bruce Appleyard | Planetizen)

Map from “Livable Cities” by Donald Appleyard

Utah’s gondola gambit: The Utah Department of Transportation (DOT) wants to build an 8-mile-long gondola between the Salt Lake City basin and ski resorts in the Wasatch Mountains. Traffic between the two resorts in Little Cottonwood Canyon has become excruciating for travelers; what should be a 35-minute trip can take three hours. But not everyone is sold on the solution; some believe Utah DOT has cooked the books in favor of its gondola idea. (Aaron Gordon | Vice)

Homeowners associations fighting the planet: The homeowners association (HOA) in America is a big barrier to climate action, particularly with regard to the impact of water-thirsty lawns. As more water restrictions are enacted around the country — especially during the western drought — HOAs remain an unpredictable barrier to change, worrying more about property values and aesthetics than planetary impact. (Ellen Airhart | Wired)

Quote of the Week

“The 15-Hour City believes everything has its place. Houses go in one location, businesses in another, and in between is a dark sea of soul-crushing concrete and asphalt, a sea of inactivity mimicking the lifeless labyrinth we’ve constructed.”

— Devin Wallace having fun with the 15-Minute City controversy in McSweeney’s

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by University of Iowa law professor Greg Shill and University of Michigan urban planning professor Jonathan Levine to talk about their new paper, “First Principles in Transportation Law and Policy.”

Photo at top courtesy of weston m on Unsplash

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