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Spencer, I suggest you follow up on the conversation with Jarrett, particularly his last paragraph above. You'll find the context there. I never suggested that transit, nor road, expansion is hostile to dense cities, but others do. As for affordability, it is not a matter of personal bias, but what you can purchase or not with your income. Within the same city, it is quite different what you can afford in Vancouver central vs Richmond or Burnaby. Nothing is for free, and we pay good chunks of our income into property taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, etc to pay for all these government services.
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Statistics show that low-density cities have far less congestion than high-density ones. In any case, the former is not my ideal urban form. I like to live in mid to high-density cities, and I'm lucky to work at an only 15-20 minutes-drive from home. However, this is not the reality of the majority in Toronto, or Vancouver. The forces of market drive both densification and sprawl, since it recognizes the demand and affordability of all economical realities. For many professionals it is desirable and affordable to live in denser urban areas, and closer to work, and/or amenities and necessities in life. But, the people who service these professionals, typically can't afford to live in those desirable dense neighbourhoods, so they sacrifice commute times for more affordable housing in the suburbs. Many of them live in families that work and study in different parts of the city, and have difficulty in getting a good alternative closer to home. That's why I promote a balanced approach towards transportation planning, since I recognize all these realities. Building cities consist of finding a fine balance between increased density and allowing some horizontal expansion, otherwise it becomes too unaffordable for the majority of its inhabitants. Therefore, this balance requires the acknowledgement for the need to continue growing our transit, cycling and road networks. Thanks for your Gleaser's book recommendation. I'd suggest, though, that hostility to the essentials of life in dense cities has been including transit expansion as well as road expansion. And the info age has not changed the need for a balanced approach towards transportation planning. Jose Ramon Gutierrez
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According to Statistics Canada, the Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) of Toronto has a land area of 5,905.71 km2 with a population density of 945.4 persons per km2, while Vancouver's CMA has a land area of 2,882.55 km2 with a population density of 802.5 persons per km2. These numbers show that Toronto's CMA has more than double the area, and an 18% greater density compared to Vancouver's CMA. However, also according to Statistics Canada, the average commuting times by car or public transit (PT) are fairly close: Toronto (by car): 29 min vs Vancouver (by car): 25 min Toronto (by PT): 49 min vs Vancouver (by PT): 48 min The above shows us that in a city double the size, and with higher density, its urban transportation system is more efficient, mainly because of a much better road network, and probably better transit network. No wonder Vancouver is commonly ranked as the most congested city in Canada. The continuous development of an extended and efficient rapid transit network is key in the livability of a major city. However, the continuous development of an extended and efficient road network has, at least, the same relevance. Cities are like living organisms; you can't choke one of its organs to let another one grow bigger or faster, or else this organism will eventually collapse.
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Dec 29, 2013