ACCESS 46, Spring 2015

ACCESS 46, Spring 2015

Introduction: The Road Less Traveled

John A. Mathews

When I used to think of people biking to work, I pictured sweaty MAMILs (middle-aged men in Lycra) on ultra-light road bikes—riders who finished the Tour de France and then changed for their morning staff meeting. The reality is that not many people who bicycle are professional cyclists. I certainly don’t have an ultra-light road bike and a closet filled with polyurethane fiber. I just have my trusty 15-year-old mountain bike, and a cotton shirt or two.

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The Social Context of Travel

Michael Smart and Nicholas J. Klein

Imagine two young families living next door to one another in an apartment building in the Castro district of San Francisco, one of the most well-known gay neighborhoods in America. The two families are alike in most regards, but one couple is straight and the other is gay. Neither have children. They have similar jobs and incomes, and they both like living in a dense urban environment. Their daily travel patterns, however, are very different. The gay couple’s trips to work, shops, restaurants, bars, and friends’ houses are more local than that of their straight neighbors down the hall.

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The First Big-Box Store in Davis

Susan L. Handy, Kristin Lovejoy, Gian-Claudia Sciara, Deborah Salon, and Patricia Mokhtarian

Davis, California, is well-known in transportation circles for having the highest share of bicycle commuters in the US, due in large part to pioneering efforts starting in the 1960s that created an extensive bicycling network. Less well-known is the substantial effort Davis has made to avert the kind of sprawl found in most US cities. Multi-family housing is distributed throughout the city, neighborhood shopping centers are within a short bike ride for most residents, and the city has improved sidewalks, landscaping, and public spaces to promote its traditional downtown. Davis restricts development beyond the current urban boundary while at the same time encouraging infill development within the boundary. As a result, Davis is the sixth densest urbanized area in the US and an exemplar of what small cities can achieve with coordinated policies and careful planning.

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Suburban Transit in Mexico City

Erick Guerra

Over the past decade, governments and development agencies have invested significantly in high-capacity transit in Asian, Latin American, and African cities. Beijing’s subway system grew from just two lines in 2000 to one of the world’s largest metro systems today. Each year, a dozen new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines open in cities around the world. Concerns about economic competitiveness, congestion, sprawl, pollution, and accessibility for the poor and middle class motivate these investments.

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A Bathtub Model of Downtown Traffic Congestion

Richard Arnott

William Vickrey is the “father of congestion pricing” and a Nobel Laureate in economics. While watching the ebb and flow of traffic from his Manhattan office, he developed a hypothesis that the dynamics of rush-hour traffic have the same properties as water flowing into and out of a hypothetical bathtub.

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Can We Have Sustainable Transportation without Making People Drive Less or Giving up Suburban Living?

Mark Delucchi

City planners, transportation analysts, and policymakers have struggled to reconcile the promises and problems created by suburban land use and automobiles. On the one hand, automobile use and suburban living are widely and highly valued; as people become wealthier, they tend to buy cars and live in bigger homes farther away from central cities. Many urban planners, however, blame automobiles and automobile-driven sprawl for a wide range of problems, including climate change, road fatalities and injuries, rising traffic congestion, ugly urban form, oil dependency, and increasing social fragmentation. Most approaches to these problems focus on curtailing automobile use and its impacts. Outside of densely populated cities, however, it is hard to reduce personal automobile use.

THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Painting the Present, Imagining the Future

Richard Willson

I am a transportation researcher and a landscape painter, two activities that couldn’t seem more different. But are they? Transportation models are an abstraction from reality. Painting, even representational painting, requires abstraction from an infinitely complex visual field. Both types of abstraction require decisions about what is in and what is excluded. So perhaps transportation research and painting have more in common than we might think. Furthermore, do transportation paintings provide insights that transportation research excludes?

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