ACCESS 24, Spring 2004

Editorial: Spread-City Everywhere

Melvin M. Webber

It happened first in America, but by now spread-city is becoming the standard urban form worldwide. Ease of economic transaction and social interaction among distant partners has assured success for the new-style city, even though it diverges so far from city forms of the past. First there was that historically extensive series of technological developments that, cumulatively, reduced the friction of geographic space: the astrolabe and compass, sailing ships, canals, telegraphs, railroads, paved roads, telephones, radios, automobiles, airplanes, the Internet. All of them connected people located in different places and, increasingly, permitted them to behave as though they were in the same place. Each technological development contributed to parallel institutional developments extending to ever-more-distant locales.

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2017-05-30T22:32:31+00:00Categories: ACCESS 24, Spring 2004|Tags: , |

Brazil’s Buses: Simply Successful

Aaron Golub

During the next hour, about three hundred buses will come screaming down the avenue below my apartment here in the Copacabana district of Rio de Janeiro. Although three hundred buses an hour is a lot, many avenues in many cities in the world have even higher bus flows. But these three hundred Brazilian buses are different from most. They average less than three years of age, they’re full size (forty feet plus), and carry 85 passengers each. The higher flows in other cities generally consist of older or smaller minibuses. The Brazilian buses are owned by private operators, many with fleets ranging in the hundreds—and a few in the thousands. Most important, they make a profit, receiving no support or subsidy from any public agency. Indeed, buses are big business in Brazil, and have been for decades.

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Motorizing the Developing World

Daniel Sperling

In rural areas and small cities of China and India, millions of small locally made three- and four-wheel “rural vehicles” are proliferating. In China, the vehicles are banned in large cities because of their slow speed and high emissions, but even so rural vehicle sales in China outnumber those of conventional cars and trucks. These vehicles, which cost anywhere from $400 to $4,000 each, are the heart of millions of small businesses, transporting farm products, construction materials, and locally manufactured products. They also serve as the principal mode of motorized travel in rural areas.

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2017-05-30T22:32:51+00:00Categories: ACCESS 24, Spring 2004|Tags: |

Keeping Children Safe in Cars

Jill Cooper

Child-safety seats baffle parents, even the most technologically oriented and safety-conscious ones. Selecting the right seat is complicated because seat types change as a child grows. Seats and harnesses must be assembled and installed in the car, and that can be tricky or nearly impossible depending on the car’s age and model. Finally, securing a child in the seat can be challenging, even if she cooperates. If the child is sleeping, wiggly, or impatient, it can be extremely trying. Securing the child and, for some, installing the seat may be repeated several times a day.

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Scrapping Old Cars

Jennifer Dill

Starting in 1968, rising federal standards have been reducing emissions from new automobiles. But all vehicles deteriorate over time; their pollution-control equipment breaks down and emissions rise as they age. So fleet turnover is crucial to reducing total vehicle emissions. However, over the past thirty years turnover has slowed, and the personal vehicle fleet has been aging, in part because cars just last longer. Also, households today own more cars than they did thirty years ago. Instead of trading in an old car for a new one, they are now more likely to just add another, letting a teenager drive the older one or perhaps keeping it as a back-up. In 1970 only three percent of the automobiles on the road were fifteen years old or older; in 2001 sixteen percent were fifteen or older.

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Reconsidering the Cul-de-sac

Michael Southworth and Eran Ben-Joseph

For over five decades developers, homebuyers, and traffic engineers have favored the cul-de-sac, a basic building block of the American suburb. Despite its popular success, the “loops and lollipops” street pattern has been repeatedly criticized by many leading architects and planners, particularly New Urbanists, who strongly advocate the inter- connected gridiron pattern. The cul-de-sac has come to symbolize all the problems of suburbia— an isolated, insular enclave, set in a formless sprawl of similar enclaves, separated socially and physically from the larger world, and dependent upon the automobile for its survival. Nevertheless, much can be said in favor of the cul-de-sac street as a pattern for neighborhood space.

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2017-05-30T22:49:39+00:00Categories: ACCESS 24, Spring 2004|Tags: |
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