ACCESS is sponsored by UCCONNECT

ACCESS 36, Spring 2010

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In this issue:

  • 1. Table of Contents

Introduction

Robert Cervero

and Karen Trapenberg Frick

For over 20 years, researchers at the University of California Transportation Center have asked hard questions and used the answers to help guide public policy. From its beginning, UCTC’s core research theme has focused on tying together transportation systems analysis and policy. We do this by funding research, graduate and undergraduate education, and special studies for federal, state and local governments. We also support events that bring together professionals, researchers, and students to confront key issues and identify emerging areas of interest. Our activities are made possible through generous grants from the US Department of Transportation and Caltrans.

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Categories: ACCESS 36, Spring 2010|
  • On Image 1

On-Street Parking Spaces for Shared Cars

Andrea Osgood

In addition to their many advantages, cars also cause problems: traffic congestion, air pollution, energy consumption, and even reduced mobility for those who don’t own a car. Carsharing is a new form of vehicle ownership that can help address these problems. Membership in a carsharing organization increases access to cars but also encourages judicious use of them. In essence, carsharing converts the high fixed costs of owning a car (purchase price, insurance, taxes, and maintenance) into smaller units—the per-hour or per-mile price of driving a car. By spreading the fixed costs of a car over many users, carsharing makes automobile travel an option for those who cannot afford to buy their own vehicle. But because users pay a high marginal cost for every hour or mile they drive, carsharing also gives members a strong incentive to drive less. In this way, carsharing can both increase mobility for people who might otherwise be carless and also reduce auto travel among members who previously owned their own car. This reduction in auto travel carries a host of benefits to society, from reducing local traffic congestion to slowing global climate change.

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  • Just Image 1

Just Road Pricing

Lisa Schweitzer and Brian D. Taylor

Economists have long advocated road pricing as an efficient way to reduce congestion and improve the environment. Many critics, however, object to road pricing on the grounds that it unfairly burdens low-income drivers. Implicit in these objections is the idea that existing transportation finance methods burden the poor less, or at least spread the burden more fairly. Most of the equity concerns about road pricing stem from the fact that it is regressive; that is, poorer people spend a larger share of their incomes on tolls than do wealthier people. But in the US, road systems are financed primarily through fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees, property taxes, and, increasingly, sales taxes—all of which are also regressive. Thus the relevant question is not simply whether road pricing is regressive, or even if it will burden the poor. The relevant question is whether road pricing will burden the poor more than other ways of paying for roads.

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  • Restricting 1

Restricting New Infrastructure: Bad for Business in California?

Karen Chapple and Carrie Makarewicz

Planners throughout California are preparing to implement SB 375, a law that requires metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to consider the impact of land use decisions on climate change, and requires that future planning decisions reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Among other provisions, the bill encourages municipalities and developers to concentrate infrastructure and development in urban areas or close to public transit hubs in order to reduce vehicle use. The bill also includes a number of provisions to better coordinate the provision of housing and transportation infrastructure. SB 375 could have profound effects on California’s cities. If MPOs and local governments change their housing, transportation, and land use plans in response to the law, then infrastructure funds, private investment, and housing will likely be steered into more compact patterns, and development will occur primarily in places where it already exists.

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  • Vibrant 1

Vibrant Sidewalks in the United States: Re-integrating Walking and a Quintessential Social Realm

Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris and Renia Ehrenfeucht

As a transportation mode, walking is healthy for individuals and beneficial for the environment. Fifteen years ago, the US Surgeon General highlighted the importance of walking for exercise as a means of combating obesity, diabetes, and other diseases. Since then, a wealth of studies published in public health and medical journals have extolled the virtues of walking. Moved by concerns about climate change, energy, and congestion, transportation planners now view walking as an inexpensive and enjoyable activity that could replace short auto trips, thus reducing congestion and fossil fuel consumption. Yet despite the general consensus that walking brings many benefits, policymakers still aren’t sure how to increase the amount of walking people actually do. One of the most obvious approaches is to improve pedestrian infrastructure. Walking is harder in places without good sidewalks, and the sidewalks in many cities are in terrible disrepair. Many other places have no sidewalks at all. But good sidewalks, while important, will not by themselves lead to more walking. Changes in the built environment are a necessary but not sufficient condition for a pedestrian-friendly city.

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  • Fixing 1

Fixing Broken Sidewalks

Donald Shoup

Public infrastructure often decays invisibly, and we are shocked when a bridge gives way or a water main breaks. Sidewalks, however, decay right before our eyes and under our feet. Perhaps because sidewalks fail gradually rather than collapse spectacularly, many cities have neglected sidewalk repairs and have let neighborhoods become less walkable. In Los Angeles, for example, 4,600 of the city’s 10,750 miles of sidewalks need some degree of repair at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. Despite this backlog, the city fixed an average of only 67 miles of sidewalks a year between 2000 and 2008. Even if sidewalks miraculously stopped breaking, at that pace it would take 69 years to repair all the existing damage.

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