Mixed land uses are associated with greater social cohesion, according to a new study. Dense places without diversity, however, can have the opposite effect. As walkable cities become a growing focus of urban planning and decision making, the social impacts on health, vibrancy, and social cohesion are often harder to quantify. The authors use open-source data to quantify and find correlations between urban infrastructure and form types with social cohesion. Understanding these relationships offers insights into the future of urban planning and decision making that balances density, diversity, and community connection.
Conventional thinking holds that congestion stifles the economy. Sitting in traffic or having it take longer to get someplace important would seem to be a drain on productivity. On the contrary, a group of Texas researchers looking at travel survey data from the Puget Sound area of Washington State found that travelers exposed to traffic congestion and travel delay will simply find a means of getting from point A to point B that doesn’t rely on driving. Their novel approach incorporates data on whether people choose to live in places that support their preferred travel options or way of life, addressing the question of residential self-selection.
America’s outward, car-oriented growth has meant that people now travel much farther for basic needs. According to new research, only 12.1% of trips to basic amenities happen within a 15-minute walking radius of residents’ homes in the median U.S. neighborhood, and the frequency of those types of trips varies greatly depending on income.
Transportation engineering is a highly skilled job. Not only does it require the obvious technical expertise, but it also requires working closely with the public, speaking their language, and knowing how to assess tough tradeoffs in meeting their needs. Most engineers only learn these skills on the job, which raises important questions about how the educational system can leave them better prepared.
Critics argue that car-free streets do not reduce overall traffic. Several new studies counter these claims and illustrate the benefits of creating areas that put people first.
Many highways that once cut through cities across the country are now coming of age, and the state DOTs responsible for maintaining them are beginning to wrestle with what those facilities should look like in the coming decades and, in some cases, whether they should be there at all. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has signaled strong interest in rethinking these highways and USDOT will soon be inviting applications for its $1B Reconnecting Communities program, authorized through IIJA. That will be good news for a small number of agencies facing mounting pressure from community members pushing for innovative thinking on urban freeways.
Housing and transportation are the top two expenses for the average household in the U.S. Increased housing near high-quality transit can reduce transportation costs, but does not come without the risk of higher housing costs and potential displacement. Two studies released this year can help us understand the ways in which transit can be a net benefit, and some of the pitfalls to watch out for.
We all can identify a walkable neighborhood, whether we live in one or know what we expect to see in one: good sidewalks, connectivity to surrounding areas, and many destinations. But new research suggests those considerations might be significantly different for dog owners. Since more than one third of households own dogs, complexity is thrown into concepts like the “15-minute city” or cities designed for all age groups and abilities.
As the window closes for comments on the eleventh edition of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD)—the national standard governing all traffic control devices—strong criticism of the manual is coming from industry professionals and safety advocates alike.
New considerations for setting speed limits have the potential to shift the practice away from the historic norm of service to drivers, and toward the safety and accommodation of all users.