Public officials could powerfully improve urban lives by emphasizing **access** (easily reachable destinations) instead of **speed** (fast roads + rail).

A 🧵 about this new-ish book (2019), which explains why -- and how. Image
"Access" is tough to define in a tweet, so here's a useful illustration from @humantransit and his team.…

The concept seems intuitive, but its implications are profound. ImageImageImageImage
For instance, we shouldn't gripe about traffic congestion in a city like NYC without also acknowledging the proximity of destinations.

Slower speeds matter less if you’re only going a miles or two instead of 20 or 30. Image
That said, prioritizing access is more nuanced than focusing solely on neighborhood-based proximity (i.e., '15-minute cities').

Good explanation here. Image
On access and transit:

“Urban revitalization, enhanced economic productivity, & highway congestion relief may be desirable by-products of [transit] investment, but none are as fundamental as accessibility enhancement.”

I made a similar case in @CityLab… Image
The access framework also reveals damage done by highway expansions.

Beyond failing to shorten peak-hour commutes (bc of induced demand), they also encourage sprawled development that makes destinations more distant.…
A wonky but compelling read. The urban issues discussed are absolutely critical -- especially for MPOs, DOTs, zoning commissions, and transit authorities. Image

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More from @DavidZipper

12 Oct
Are autonomous vehicles just a tech-y way to codify the car’s dominance of American cities?

That’s what historian Peter Norton argues in his new book, Autonorama.

My conversation with him, in @CityLab…
Norton claims that AVs are the latest in a long line of futuristic automotive technologies that promised to turn cities into car-centric utopias.

It never works out, but there’s always another amazing new invention to captivate us.…
Meanwhile, those envisioning a tech-powered automotive nirvana are distracted from mundane (but proven) ways to improve mobility networks.

Examples: Expanding transit service, installing bike lanes, and building densely around transportation nodes.…
Read 4 tweets
28 Sep
Economists and urban planners have known for decades that highway expansions can't solve traffic congestion.

Why, then, do so many states keep widening their roads?

A 🧵 about my deep dive in @CityLab…
Economist Anthony Downs gets credit for the idea of induced demand, but its roots go back *much* further than his 1962 article.

In 1927, engineer Arthur S. Tuttle warned that new urban roads “would be filled immediately by traffic which is now repressed because of congestion.”
In the 1920s and 1930s city officials worried about wooing suburbanites to shop and work, so they shrunk their sidewalks and ripped up public space to accommodate more cars.

It was a disaster. Congestion only grew.…
Read 14 tweets
7 Sep
Flashy, complicated infotainment systems are creating a growing safety risk. And it's likely to get worse.

A 🧵 about my investigation, in @Slate…
Why worry about infotainment systems? They’re harmless and fun, right?

Well, not necessarily. A study by the AAA Foundation found that rerouting a destination can distract a driver for up to 40 seconds—enough time to cover half a mile at 50 mph.…
Even if a driver uses voice commands, systems often require looking at a car's touchscreen (and not the road) to verify accuracy. That’s inherently risky. Image
Read 14 tweets
5 Jun
A provocative question in this book by @STS_News: Why doesn't the USA regulate car safety like emissions?

"How would automakers transform their products if we mandated that they reduce the number of automotive fatalities in new cars by, say, 40% within 10 years?"

A thread 🧵:
For a century, automobile safety has largely focused on 1) driver education and 2) voluntary agreements by automakers to build safer cars.

Both those approaches are flawed.
Here's future Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan critiquing safety education in 1959:

It "shifts public attention from factors like auto design, which we can reasonably hope to control, to factors such as the temperament and behavior of 80M drivers, who [will ignore] a bunch of slogans."
Read 8 tweets
10 Apr
Just finished @shigashide's book about how to improve bus service—it’s good!

Loads of useful info about operations as well as advocacy. And a surprisingly easy read.

Short 🧵: Image
2/ Here's an excellent rebuttal to those (like Gov Cuomo) who claim fancy stuff like USB ports and wifi will attract loads of new riders: Image
3/ @humantransit is a clear influence, so I wasn't surprised to find this stinging critique of microtransit:

“When existing bus routes are unreliable and slow, focusing attention on microtransit is like trying to perfect dessert at a restaurant that routinely burns the entrees.”
Read 5 tweets
15 Mar
BREAKING-- Congress just released text of the “EBIKE Act," which would offer a refundable tax credit of up to $1,500 for a new e-bike purchase.


If it passes, the EBIKE Act would be groundbreaking. A 🧵:
2/ Why get excited about e-bikes?

They’re terrific for the environment. Check out this table from @ITF_Forum, comparing greenhouse gas emissions for major passenger transport modes.

3/ E-bikes’ extra pedal power makes them capable of replacing cars on the 50%+ of US trips under 6 miles (esp on hot days, or on routes with hills).

That would give a nice boost to health, the environment, and to street safety.…
Read 11 tweets

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