Download this fact sheet to learn how Complete Streets lessen the burden of gas prices and provide more transportation choices.
Beltline a walk in the park
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA) – October 13, 2012
On Monday, Mayor Kasim Reed will dedicate what city officials are calling “the most significant step forward yet” in the long-awaited Beltline, a projected 22-mile loop in central Atlanta built upon abandoned railway corridor.
As gas prices soar, city cycling more attractive
Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle (CA) – October 13, 2012
Statewide, Californians are increasingly pumping air into the flat tires on their dusty old bikes instead of gas into their tanks. Recent historic spikes in gas prices are expected to stay high, forcing many to look at their gas guzzling minivans and SUVs in a new light.
Trulia Throws Cold Water on ‘Death of Suburbia’ Argument
Wall Street Journal – October 12, 2012
On Page One of Wednesday’s Journal, we wrote about a museum in Kansas that caters to America’s undying fascination with suburbia. Merits of the museum aside, the article highlights a persistent theme in American culture that has fascinated demographers, urbanists and especially home buyers for several generations: the question of whether or not the suburbs are alive and well or hollowed-out and dying.
Economy, gas prices make Americans drive less
USA Today, December 7, 2011
It’s the first time the nation has seen six consecutive monthly decreases since October of 2008. A USA TODAY analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration shows the miles driven during the year that ended in September were down 1% from a similar measure from February.
Public mass transit regains footing
USA Today, December 7, 2011
More people rode public transportation in the first nine months of this year than last, a sign that more people are working and looking for cheaper options to get around. Ridership on public buses and trains increased 2% — from 7.63 billion rides to 7.76 billion, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
Vacant Homes Impose Big Costs On Cities Amid Budget Crises: GAO
Huffington Post, December 6, 2011
The foreclosure crisis is costing cities at a time when they can least afford it. Millions of homes in America are standing vacant, and in many cases they represent a financial sinkhole for their communities. Local governments — forced to absorb the costs of maintaining or razing these homes, and seeing property taxes plummet in response to the spread of urban blight — are increasingly shouldering the burden of the country’s slumping housing market, according to a report released Tuesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Originally written by David Alpert and posted on Greater Greater Washington
August 3, 2011
The classic rule of thumb, “drive ’till you qualify,” holds that the farther you go from a city center, the cheaper the cost of living. But a new report shows how in the DC area, housing near the core and near transit stations can be cheaper when transportation costs are factored in.
The Office of Planning worked with the Center for Neighborhood Technology to customize their “H+T” housing and transportation index for our region, and to incorporate more recent American Community Survey data as well as Census data.
How are we going to deal with gas prices? Pennsylvanians are paying about $3.70 per gallon and a recent Rasmussen Poll found that 72 percent of Americans think gas might cost $5 per gallon before long.
High gas prices depress other sectors of the economy, push up the cost of food and shake consumer confidence. This isn’t a new problem; it is one we faced as recently as 2008 and at various times since the 1970s. Will we finally demand real solutions?
It is time to get off the gas-price roller coaster. Calls for domestic drilling and other quick fixes to increase supply have dominated the conversation, but we know that ever-increasing global consumption of oil will quickly outstrip our capacity and continue to drive up prices. Alternative fuels have a long way to go. Real, long-term solutions must address our individual and national dependence on finite fossil fuels, which means we need to invest in infrastructure that gives communities better transportation choices.
AAA estimates the cost of owning and operating a car this year at $8,776. The average American household is now spending approximately 20 percent of its after-tax income on transportation. It would be a logical time for budget-conscious households to turn to public transportation, but here in Allegheny County, the Port Authority just cut service hours by 15 percent and many routes are overcrowded.
Get Ready for $150 Oil
Barron’s, July 2, 2011
As oil producers’ spare capacity gradually declines to worrisome levels, the average monthly price could reach a record $150 per barrel by next spring, with spikes to $165 or $170. With this, $4.50-a-gallon gasoline will become the norm. That will put a huge dent in consumer wallets, while ramping up the desirability of fuel-efficient cars.
In Los Angeles, Cuts Will Make Long Bus Commute Longer
New York Times, July 3, 2011
“Changing lines means I will never know what time I get from one place to another,” said Guadalupe Lopez, who has used the same route for more than a decade to get to her housekeeping jobs. “It might get to the point where it is not worth it, it will just take me too long. But nobody where I live is going to pay me to clean houses.”
Safety in Diversity: Why Crime Is Down in America’s Cities
The Atlantic, July 2, 2011
But the key factor, as it turns out, lies in the growing racial, ethnic, and demographic diversity of our cities and metro areas. Our analysis found that the Hispanic share of the population is negatively associated with urban crime. Crime also fell as the percentage of the population that is non-white and the percentage that is gay increased. And of all the variables in our analysis, the one that is most consistently negatively associated with crime is a place’s percentage of foreign-born residents.
Bicycles fight for space on city streets
CNN, July 1, 2011
“As bicycling is being more seriously integrated into our transportation system, of course there is going to be more focus on making sure that bike riders are following the rules to make it safe for everyone,” said Caroline Samponaro. She’s the Director of Bicycle Advocacy at Transportation Alternatives, a New York based organization that advocates for bicycling, walking and other alternative transportation. The streetscape in New York is undergoing its greatest change in 50 years and the state’s Department of Transportation is trying out new types of infrastructure to support bicycling.
Poor transit system, sprawl make trips to work difficult
Kansas City Star (Kan.), June 22, 2011
A Washington think tank ranks Kansas City’s transit system among the worst in the country at getting people to jobs. Part of the blame belongs to our spread-out growth pattern, which has pulled an ever-larger share of jobs to the suburbs — beyond the easy reach of buses. “We don’t just have a transit problem, we have a job-sprawl problem,” said Ron McLinden, a public transportation advocate with the Transit Action Network in Kansas City. The recent report by the Brookings Institution ranked the Kansas City area 90th among 100 metro areas based on how well its bus system serves the workforce.
Headquarters come and go – it’s jobs that count
Raleigh News & Observer (N.C.), June 23, 2011
The Triangle: A great place to live and work; not so great for a corporate headquarters. You’d never hear this region’s boosters utter such a line, but it’s hard not to at least think it after a week in which the Triangle received another economic pat on the back and downtown Raleigh lost another headquarters. The accolade came from the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, which ranked the Triangle among the 20 strongest performing metro areas in the U.S. through the first quarter.
Transformation Detroit: Dan Gilbert’s grand plan for downtown tech hub, retail and residential
MLive.com (Mich.), June 23, 2011
These days, it seems like everybody has a plan to revitalize Detroit. But unlike many would-be visionaries, Dan Gilbert has what it takes to get it done: Money. Boatloads of it. The Quicken Loans founder and chairman is in the process of purchasing the 23-story Dime Building near Campus Martius, which would be his fourth major downtown real estate acquisition in the past 10 months, including the First National Building, Chase Tower and the Madison Theatre Building.
Walking expert prescribes ‘road diets,’ traffic circles for cities seeking street makeovers
Associated Press via Washington Post, June 20, 2011
Today, with the health, environmental and quality-of-life benefits of walk-able neighborhoods, they can’t get enough of Burden. Even in car-dependent Southern California, where he spent a few of his roughly 340 days a year on the road this spring, city planners are literally walking the talk alongside him.
A recent NBC poll found a whopping 69 percent say that high gas prices have affected them either “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” That was significantly higher than any other economic concern on the list– higher than rising food prices, foreclosures, or even unemployment.
When Smart Growth America asked for stories about the impact of high gas prices, a number of people told us about lifestyle choices they made so they wouldn’t be dependent on driving or severely affected by gas prices. Several people told us they chose to live in a place where walking, biking and public transportation were viable options because they wanted that kind of freedom for getting around. Here are some of their stories:
Seven years ago, when Patricia moved from “car-country California” to coastal North Carolina, gas prices were $1.38. But she said, regardless of the cost of filling up her tank, they wanted to live where they could walk or bike for most of their daily errands. Now gas prices have tripled. While she’s glad she’s not reliant on a car for most daily needs, her family is still carefully considering (and cancelling some) long-distance car trips. Patricia also noted that since gas prices started climbing she’s seen more people of all shapes and sizes out on their bikes– a trend she thinks is a good thing.
Steve from Kansas City told us “three years ago when my wife and I were considering buying a new house, availability of mass transit was a high priority and living in a ‘walkable neighborhood.’ We now live a half block from a bus stop and within 4 miles of my wife’s work. We regularly walk for errands or ride our bicycles.” Steve logged 3,500 miles on his bike last year (that means savings on gas and a gym membership!) and frequently rides the bus. He mentioned that now that gas prices have gone up he’s noticed many more bus riders, and he’s relieved that he and his wife don’t have to worry about gas prices too much.
When Gretchen moved to Boston last year, she got rid of her car. Gretchen pointed out that in addition to gas, she didn’t want to be beholden to maintenance, repairs and parking expenses too. It can be challenging to visit her family in New Hampshire where public transportation options are limited, but with some flexibility, carpooling, and building in extra travel time she’s been able to make due car-free and is happy with her decision.
As gas prices remain high, more and more Americans are looking to drive shorter distances or increase their transportation choices. The NBC poll is a reminder that even though gas prices have recently dropped 30 or 40 cents from their high earlier this year, this significant expense is still hurting household budgets across the country – and people are starting to make big changes in reaction to that. Part of Smart Growth America’s work is helping great communities have more low cost options for getting around, but we need to hear from you to do it. Read other stories about how people are dealing with the high cost of gas here and here, and click here to tell us your story.
Census finds Pittsburgh is growing younger
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, May 19, 2011
“The unusual drop in the city’s median age was among the findings in the U.S. Census Bureau’s release today of new information from last year’s population count. For both the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, the number of elderly residents as well as their percentage of the overall population are on the decline.”
Gary, Ind., struggles with population loss
USA Today, May 19, 2011
“The 2010 Census crystallized Gary’s decline: The population, which peaked at 178,320 in 1960, is now 80,294. From 2000 through last year’s count, Gary lost 22% of its residents. The city’s unemployment rate in February was 9.8%. Gary — like Detroit, which lost 25% of its people in the past decade — faces tough questions: What is the best way to shrink a city? How can city government provide adequate services as its tax base contracts? How can new employers and residents be wooed to a place known more for blight than for opportunity?”
Sound Transit to invest $2.1M in rail,bus ridership research
Seattle Times, May 19, 2011
“Sound Transit will spend as much as $2.1 million for consultants to conduct market research, in hopes of boosting its rail and bus ridership. ‘Finding out what will get people out of their cars and into our services is going to require some deep research and talking to a lot of people in our region,’ said communications Director Ron Klein.”
Poll: Gas prices causing hardship for 4 in 10 Americans
Chicago Tribune, May 19, 2001
“With gasoline prices hovering at $4 a gallon nationally, many Americans are making tough choices: scaling back summer vacations, driving less or ditching the car altogether. Some seniors are choosing a tank of gas over their prescriptions. An Associated Press-GfK poll shows the share of Americans who say increases in the price of gasoline will cause serious financial hardship for them or their family in the next six months now tops 4 in 10. Overall in the poll, 71 percent said rising prices will cause some hardship for them and their family, including 41 percent who called it a “serious” hardship. Just 29 percent said rising prices are not causing a negative impact on their finances.”
Never Too Old To Bike To Work (video)
Grist, May 19, 2011
“Gilbert admits to being in her “high 70s,” and she has been biking since she was a 7-year-old in France. She and her friends didn’t have phones, so if they wanted to talk, they hopped on their bikes and went and found each other.”
Rising gas prices and high levels of unemployment continue to weigh on the American economy. Smart Growth America asked for stories about how high gas prices are affecting your life, and we heard many stories about how expensive gas is making your professional life more challenging. With gas costing $4 gallon or more, workers are feeling the pain when it comes to commuting, meeting with clients around town, going to conferences, or even looking for a job.
- A gallon of gas costs $4.11 for Carisa in Illinois, so in addition to carpooling more, she has to be very selective about which meetings and marketing events she absolutely must attend for work, and she said she’s still not getting to all of them. She’s reconsidering her attendance at some out of town conferences. She cannot reach her clients downtown without a car, so driving is a must for her.
- An anonymous contributor from Northern California, where gas is $4.17 per gallon, is looking for a job and said the high gas prices are limiting the search.
- Faced with $4.50 for a gallon of gas, Umi in Hawaii recently started carpooling the three-hour round-trip commute with a coworker. Even though the coworker’s shift ends an hour later, she “sacrifice[s] a little sleep and the personal convenience of leaving on my time table” to save money. Public buses are unreliable and intermittent in her hometown, and filling up just 3/4 of her tank costs more than $60.
A consistent theme throughout these stories is that transportation choices can help people and communities cope with rising gas prices. We’ve heard from people who are using public transportation or biking to work – or to look for work, for those who are unemployed – as driving becomes more expensive.
Part of Smart Growth America’s work is helping great communities have more low cost options for getting around when gas prices get too high, but we need to hear from you to do it. How much does gas cost in your area? What are you doing to cope with the high prices of gas? If you don’t drive often, or at all, how do you get around? Smart Growth America is helping more people have the option of shorter drives and more ways to get around when they want it. Click here to tell us your story.