Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Traffic & Value

This link came along at the perfect time as I was tweeting about the relationship of traffic to value and how in car-centric cities the real estate market is essentially diseased. It rightly thinks that value is driven by traffic and access, however if that traffic is all car-based, i.e. on highways, that actually reduces traffic and access because of the speed and space required. See the image via thecityfix:

And therefore, as the real estate market went bonkers for land along highways, where visibility was high but access incredibly overrated, there is the inevitable downward spiral of property, vis-a-vis a one-time hotel-turned-jail:

The issue is that the areas of high traffic in car-centric cities is repulsive, literally. People want to get away from it, yet there is still that tension pulling real estate TO traffic. The result is a confused system, with no higher order or emergent logic. It is dislocative, chaotic, and doomed. Our conception of what is traffic, where is value, and how access is achieved is so degraded, that one wonders if we can regain the complexity and sophistocation.

The only way out is to reorient public infrastructure so high traffic throughputs are effectively attractive, amenable to all forms of transportation, and comfortable enough that the real estate, the figurative term for the spatial allocation of use to movement, interfaces directly with the conduit, like a healthy ecosystem along the eddies of a stream edge.

It also allows for ample and equally proportioned cross traffic as we too often focus on the efficiency of one corridor over the overall system. Again, efficiency (at least the dumb-downed version of it we conceptualize) is pernicious and toxic to the overall system. Channelized drainage and engineering is efficient:

eroded stream bank/dead ecosystem.

Or this?

It shouldn't take a genius to put together the analogy of complex bio-ecosystem to complex urban-ecosystem.

Above is a conceptual rendering for Diagonal, Barcelona's real main street and commercial heart, not the downtown outdoor tourist mall/trap that is Las Ramblas. I've apparently moved all of my pics from Spain to an external hard drive, so those will have to wait.