Thursday, May 21, 2009

No, I Don't Speak Car

Getting back into the swing of things...

Yesterday on my walk into a work (new work - for those that are unaware, I resigned from RTKL to venture out into the unknown quasi-independent) a parked car, still running with driver aboard appearing to be on the phone, beeped at me. Thinking he couldn't possibly be beeping at me, I glanced around the quaint and quiet uptown Dallas streets, seeing noone of consequence around other than myself that he could possibly be directing his honking towards.

He beeps twice more. I have an expressive face. Car horns have an aggressive and hostile tone to them. Rarely do they sound like Herby the Love Bug's gentle toots. I spin give a glare to suggest, "I don't speak car!" and turn and walk into the office building I am now working in.

With that little anecdote out of the way, have you ever sensed that our bodies are now our brains and our metal contraptions are our appendage-less vessels, and our language has been dumbed down to honks and middle fingers as our cars bump and grind down grey, oily, smokey asphalt?


Now for today's comparison:

Here is a graph charting freeway lane miles per capita. I don't particularly find the y-axis terribly interesting because that goes without saying. What I see is that Dallas is close to or tied for second with St. Louis in freeway lane miles per capita, both dwarfed by KC.

Next, let's look at what Richard Florida is up to now that he's at The Atlantic Monthly. Well, he's posting fascinating stuff like a mad man, including this related post:

Where College Grads are Heading.

Here is a hint: Not the cities with high freeway lane miles per capita. 1. NYC 2. DC, two cities scoring extremely high in walkability (and stimulus/TARP/lobbyist money). So the question remains, does walkability have any correlation to robust economies and cities with broad ranges of industry? The major economic cities suggests there might be some. Here is my thought: where is the most valuable real estate in the world? Paris, London, NYC, DC, Stroget, Hong Kong, etc. All dense, integrated, and walkable.

As for the rest of the top ten where college grads are heading: Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Seattle, and San Diego round out the top 10.

Other links o' the day:

MSNBC notes that demographic changes are shifting "growth" from the exurban fringe to back to the core. Or as Herman Daly calls it development RATHER than growth.
What's behind this shift? Empty-nesters don't need the big house and don't want to mow the big lawn. High gas prices are making long commutes less practical. The urban renaissance in big cities ranging from New York to Portland, Ore. — and the revival of charming, vibrant downtowns in small cities like Missoula, Mont. — is making the bedroom suburb and the strip mall seem positively dull.
I disagree. I think the move to the edge was merely a mistake. One accelerated and subsidized by misallocated government spending in the name of "growth". And now we are realizing the error of our ways and the worthlessness of fringe development and the invaluable nature of actual, real authentic places (rather than generica), places with economies stoked by spatial synergies and ease of movement (ie walkability, density, and transit).