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I also found it interesting that Chicago, Boston, and the Bay Area, look a lot more like Los Angeles than New York based on these graphs. My intuition (having been to all of those cities except SF) is that the answer is basically what you addressed quite well in your previous post in your discussion of Las Vegas ( "The Las Vegas way is to build utterly car-dependent apartment buildings on a vast scale", "typical Las Vegas urban fabric is designed for motorists and hostile to pedestrians." L.A. might not be quite as bad as Las Vegas and does have some functional pedestrian neighborhoods, but there is no guaranteeing these are where most of the density is; a great example is Melrose Avenue, a popular shopping street which is surrounded by single family homes. I'm not sure how you would measure that difference with available data. One possible metric may be mix of uses on a fine scale. Though they have a lot of inverted corner shopping plazas which are actually 2 story. The design seems very car oriented but I wonder how they have enough parking for two stories in that space unless they get walkup traffic. Having lived in Cambridge and Somerville, MA, you will find that very few areas are over 4 or 5 stories, there are many detached single family and "triple deckers" (3 stacked flats in a detached building) and yet it is very multi-modal. (Granted all of these are _very_ small lot and mostly likely "underparked".) So I wouldn't want to leave people with the impression that you have to reach Manhattan densities to have good transit service. On the other hand Atlanta is exactly what I expected with the "bump" occurring at a much lower density. While they're implementing some good things now they've got a challenging starting point. The Atlanta Smartraq study had some interesting grid analysis of the city highlighting which neighborhoods had a combination of street grid density, mixed use, and residential density. One interesting element of the study was that the score of one grid block also took into account the performance of it's immediate neighboring blocks so it accounted for whether it was isolated or part of a larger walkable neighborhood. The grid blocks were 200m square. I would have to talk to a local to find out whether they thought it matched their perception of the city. Note: their interest was walking; not specifically transit. The other question of course is how these densities are arrayed within a city. Is it a bullseye metro with the densest parts in the middle in close proximity to one another or strung along axes easily served by transit? Or is the density completely scatter-shot?
Toggle Commented Oct 4, 2010 on can we make density make sense? at Human Transit
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Oct 4, 2010