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Old 03-11-2014, 09:58 AM
 
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Over the past few years I have shifted from using a car to get groceries to making more trips on foot. I notice I get a little more selective about what I buy when on foot, due to the knowledge that I'll have to walk it home, which in some ways has resulted in better dietary and economic choices. For example, instead of multiple 2-liter bottles of soda, which weigh 4 pounds each, cost $1-1.50 and last a day or two in my household, I buy boxes of tea. The tea weighs a lot less than the soda, costs less (50 cents per 2l) and is healthier for me (just tea and water) plus I have a lot fewer plastic bottles to put in the trash. So it's better for the environment, better for my pocketbook and better for my own health.

I also notice that when I do take a car (maybe one trip a month) I tend to buy a lot more stuff because I can, which results in the stuff that I buy and take home but don't use, so I just throw it out, or eat more so it won't get thrown out. More waste, more waist.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:01 AM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,856,291 times
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Originally Posted by wburg View Post
If home delivery wasn't practical, Amazon.com wouldn't make quite so much money. Today I can order groceries online from Safeway, as well as flowers, pizza and lots of other things--to the point where we're getting close to "delivery drones" to deliver burritos!

Other technological advantages we have now include real-time tracking: a modern app can pinpoint the exact location of a delivery truck, updated in real time, so someone expecting a package could look up where their package is, and know whether they have time to step out for a minute before they arrive. Currently this is used by "people delivery" services like Lyft and Uber, high-tech variants on taxi service, so you can see exactly where the taxi coming to pick you up is, and how long it will take to arrive.

Car-sharing services also limit the need for a car and parking spaces while still providing its convenience. Sure, there are times when you want a cargo vehicle to carry stuff from Point A to Point B. But if you only need that service a couple times a month, why be responsible for its care and feeding the rest of the year? Pay for a few hours of Zipcar service to carry that Christmas tree home.

High-tech apps and geolocation also make transit easier to use. A growing number of cities have real-time information at bus stops and light rail stations, so instead of just staring at the sign and hoping the bus arrives based on the schedule, you can look up and know exactly where it is, and how long you will have to wait--including alerts about service interruptions.
Home delivery of some goods isn't practical. Groceries and the store will charge extra for it. Peapod charged quite a bit extra. Pizza has always been available if you live within the delivery area, but what if you do not? The place I used to buy pizza from would limit it to an 15 min drive from the store. Without traffic and with the expressway I could get there in 15 mins. but no way could I expect them to deliver to me too far away by street.

The problem is you have to be there to get the item which can be a drag. Real time alerts don't help when you need to transfer from one bus to another...still gota wait.

As for car sharing, only found downtown and in more well off locations. Expensive if you plan to use daily.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:08 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,248 posts, read 26,220,119 times
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Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
To me, the amount of scattered employment and free parking is a direct impact of the automobile ruling the transportation system. I suppose all these debates and louder lobbying for transit projects has something to do with trying to change the current environment. There's surely no clean/easy way to change it from what it is now to where it's going. And while (or IF) that is to be rectified, transit is still going to be a bad option for most people for a long time.
Well, it is what it is. There's no point in talking about how things could have been different because things are not different. What we've got is a decentralized, auto-centric landscape and transit planners need to work from that reality.

At the end of the day, I think urbanists think a lot more about suburbanites than the other way around. And it's not just because the former think the latter are engaging in behavior that's destructive to the environment, etc. It's also because every person that moves to suburbia is another person that's not creating more demand for the things urbanists want. Urbanists need these people to move closer in to get more bars, bike lanes, transit, etc. Suburbanites don't need the urbanists to enjoy their lifestyle.

I'm not sure if suburbanites really care about people moving into cities all that much. I think the attitude is more or less "do what you want to do." The problem arises when urbanists want to spend money on transit projects, which many people living in the suburbs often find unnecessary or not particularly well-suited to their transportation needs.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:12 AM
 
Location: Mt. Airy
5,311 posts, read 5,327,543 times
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Well, it is what it is. There's no point in talking about how things could have been different because things are not different. What we've got is a decentralized, auto-centric landscape and transit planners need to work from that reality.

At the end of the day, I think urbanists think a lot more about suburbanites than the other way around. And it's not just because the former think the latter are engaging in behavior that's destructive to the environment, etc. It's also because every person that moves to suburbia is another person that's not creating more demand for the things urbanists want. Urbanists need these people to move closer in to get more bars, bike lanes, transit, etc. Suburbanites don't need the urbanists to enjoy their lifestyle.

I'm not sure if suburbanites really care about people moving into cities all that much. I think the attitude is more or less "do what you want to do." The problem arises when urbanists want to spend money on transit projects, which many people living in the suburbs often find unnecessary or not particularly well-suited to their transportation needs.
All true. However, if more momentum truly is picking up and more people are moving into walkable areas with demand for transit, then suburbanites may start caring more (if they aim to keep things as they currently are). To be honest, I believe a lot of the arguments in this forum stem from that concept, whether it's true or not.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:15 AM
 
8,328 posts, read 14,556,250 times
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Originally Posted by chirack View Post
Home delivery of some goods isn't practical. Groceries and the store will charge extra for it. Peapod charged quite a bit extra. Pizza has always been available if you live within the delivery area, but what if you do not? The place I used to buy pizza from would limit it to an 15 min drive from the store. Without traffic and with the expressway I could get there in 15 mins. but no way could I expect them to deliver to me too far away by street.

The problem is you have to be there to get the item which can be a drag. Real time alerts don't help when you need to transfer from one bus to another...still gota wait.

As for car sharing, only found downtown and in more well off locations. Expensive if you plan to use daily.
The flip side is, home delivery of most goods is practical. The argument that delivery isn't practical because you can't order home delivery of a pizza from 50 miles away makes no sense--if you want a pizza delivered, order from a pizza place closer to home! I don't live in a particularly dense neighborhood, but there are at least 20 pizza places that deliver to my home--not counting the Chinese, Indian, Thai etc. places that deliver, including a bike-delivery service that contracts out to multiple restaurants to provide delivery for them, even if the restaurant itself normally doesn't deliver.

Car-sharing doesn't work if you're using it every day--if you have to use a car every day, then car ownership is probably the better option. Car-sharing is intended for people who occasionally need a car, but not very often.

In short, you're deliberately picking scenarios that don't fit the service described. Kind of like saying that nobody should buy swimsuits because a swimsuit doesn't keep you warm in winter. While the statement "a swimsuit doesn't keep you warm in winter" is objectively true, the purpose of a swimsuit is not to keep you warm in winter--so the argument that they're not warm makes no sense. And reversing the scenario reveals that fallacy--wearing a warm parka to go swimming in summer is uncomfortable, expensive and inconvenient, just like the constant expense and maintenance of a car in a walkable neighborhood.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:30 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,248 posts, read 26,220,119 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
All true. However, if more momentum truly is picking up and more people are moving into walkable areas with demand for transit, then suburbanites may start caring more (if they aim to keep things as they currently are). To be honest, I believe a lot of the arguments in this forum stem from that concept, whether it's true or not.
I don't think suburbanites care so much about keeping "things as they currently are." I don't think they have a goal of ensuring that a certain percentage of the metro area remains suburbanized. If anything, the people who truly enjoy the suburbs want more people to move into cities so that their communities feel less crowded. Urbanists, on the other hand, have a goal, and suburanization is antagonistic to that goal.

I haven't looked at every single metro in the U.S., but I did look at data in the DC Metro area, and the trend is that you see growth in DC, but obviously way more growth in the suburbs. The inner ring, walkable suburbs (i.e., Hyattsville, Silver Spring, Arlington, Alexandria, etc.) have not seen nearly as much growth as the distant suburbs and exurbs. While you see soaring white populations in some census tracts of inner ring burbs, you often see major declines in all other populations, leading to an overall net population loss.

So if we put the data in the proper context, is it really that things are trending away from suburbs towards cities? Or is it the case that that's mostly for the readership of Atlantic Cities, Streetsblog, City-Data, etc?
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:30 AM
 
2,941 posts, read 3,856,291 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wburg View Post
The flip side is, home delivery of most goods is practical. The argument that delivery isn't practical because you can't order home delivery of a pizza from 50 miles away makes no sense--if you want a pizza delivered, order from a pizza place closer to home! I don't live in a particularly dense neighborhood, but there are at least 20 pizza places that deliver to my home--not counting the Chinese, Indian, Thai etc. places that deliver, including a bike-delivery service that contracts out to multiple restaurants to provide delivery for them, even if the restaurant itself normally doesn't deliver.

Car-sharing doesn't work if you're using it every day--if you have to use a car every day, then car ownership is probably the better option. Car-sharing is intended for people who occasionally need a car, but not very often.

In short, you're deliberately picking scenarios that don't fit the service described. Kind of like saying that nobody should buy swimsuits because a swimsuit doesn't keep you warm in winter. While the statement "a swimsuit doesn't keep you warm in winter" is objectively true, the purpose of a swimsuit is not to keep you warm in winter--so the argument that they're not warm makes no sense. And reversing the scenario reveals that fallacy--wearing a warm parka to go swimming in summer is uncomfortable, expensive and inconvenient, just like the constant expense and maintenance of a car in a walkable neighborhood.
There are pizza places that delivered near me but I didn't like them at all. Why limit myself when I can just drive and get it. There is only maybe one Chinese place that delivers near me(not sure if they still do). I'd love to see a bike delivery service roll through some of the rougher areas of Chicago(talk about getting jumped/robbed/knocked off the bike).

I live in an walkable neighborhood, it is just that it does not have the density/lack of parking to make car ownership less attractive and I think other than young singles and maybe retired folks the market for those kinds of areas may be limited.

In my view there are a lot of real world scenarios where car ownership trumps non-car ownership but many of those who advocate for urbanity have ways of shielding themselves from the effects. If young and single then you are not hauling groceries for a wife and two kids. If well off and in an area well served by taxis, you can go hail an cab and not have to wait for it to arrive. Maybe there is car sharing. If working 9-5, M-F then transit is fully available. If higher income then more delivery options and more small stores nearby. IMHO I don't see much about needing public transit so that handicapped people can get somewhere, or elderly people or poor people. It is always why can't I bike, walk, when the person asking for it had the option to drive.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:40 AM
 
Location: Mt. Airy
5,311 posts, read 5,327,543 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I don't think suburbanites care so much about keeping "things as they currently are." I don't think they have a goal of ensuring that a certain percentage of the metro area remains suburbanized. If anything, the people who truly enjoy the suburbs want more people to move into cities so that their communities feel less crowded. Urbanists, on the other hand, have a goal, and suburanization is antagonistic to that goal.
The folks who love driving, low density development, big box stores, etc. must care. I mean, you see some people come into this forum casting a lot of disdain at anyone even talking about closing a dense urban street (far far from their house) down from auto traffic. That seems like concern to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
I haven't looked at every single metro in the U.S., but I did look at data in the DC Metro area, and the trend is that you see growth in DC, but obviously way more growth in the suburbs. The inner ring, walkable suburbs (i.e., Hyattsville, Silver Spring, Arlington, Alexandria, etc.) have not seen nearly as much growth as the distant suburbs and exurbs. While you see soaring white populations in some census tracts of inner ring burbs, you often see major declines in all other populations, leading to an overall net population loss.
A LOT of this has to do with two things IMO: 1) Cost, 2) schools. The DC metro has been growing like a wild fire and there isn't enough housing. Costs in Manassas are a lot less than anything close to DC. Of course, you may know more about it than I do, so maybe there's something else to it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
So if we put the data in the proper context, is it really that things are trending away from suburbs towards cities? Or is it the case that that's mostly for the readership of Atlantic Cities, Streetsblog, City-Data, etc?
It's more complicated than that. In a country that's decidedly suburban in nature, and has been so for 80 years now, change is not going to be dramatic. Cities are growing again, transit is being invested in and there's a spark of interest in urban living again. Those, in and of themselves, are very large trends within an American context. The reason those publications broadcast these types of articles is because current interest in urban/transit living has boomed compared to historic interest/investment. It's an exciting time, and while the nation is still decidedly suburban in nature (and will continue to be), there are major changes happening that are different from any other time in the last 60 year at least.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:44 AM
 
508 posts, read 551,719 times
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Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
Regarding the issue of "cost" of riding the bicycle in time - that's ludicrous. Why not subtract the alleged "cost in time" (time, I might add, that you are NOT going to be paid for anyway) from the cost of a gym membership? Or is gym membership too expensive because of the "cost" of the time you would spend using it? The "extra" time spent on the bike is time you don't have to dedicate separately in a gym (and time spent traveling there and back). It's time you OUGHT to be taking for your health anyway.

There are lots of reasons why people don't use mass transit. Where mass transit is easily available, comes by frequently, and runs on time, it gets used a LOT. Portland OR when I lived there had a very efficient frequently used well-designed mass transit system. I used it all the time - except when I was riding my bike. And I used it sometimes then as well, riding my bike to a convenient stop and slinging the bike onto the rack on front, then riding.

I didn't own a car at all for the vast majority of the time I lived there - I lived, actually, in Gresham and rode in via bike, bus and rail to downtown Portland. I finally bought a beater because I needed to schlep both my son AND groceries around and it got to be too hard.

And here is a reason why a lot of people don't use mass transit more often - they make it VERY inconvenient to get any shopping done. Sometimes you aren't even allowed to have a grocery cart on the bus. Or, they get impatient and rude (the drivers, I mean) to someone trying to haul a grocery cart up those steep steps. There is nowhere to brace a cart, or yourself with an armload of groceries. You can't go carless if mass transit doesn't at least try to support performing activities of daily living such as grocery shopping.

But more important even than that is the issue of timeliness and reliability. If you have a job, and you want to get to your job on the bus, this nearly always involves walking at both ends, and may also involve one or more transfers along the way. In order to get to work on time, buses need to be at their stops when they are supposed to be there, so you can make your connections, which ALSO need to be on time, so you can arrive at work on time. "On time", when riding a bus, usually means getting there 30 minutes to an HOUR early - because bus schedules are so inconvenient in so many town. AND unreliable.

I once waited 40 minutes for a bus past the time it was supposed to be at the stop. It was not the bus driver's fault. It was not due to an accident or unusual traffic. It was because the city planner or whoever comes up with the bus schedule routed the buses without any regard whatsoever for the laws of physics, or the realities of driving in traffic, starting, stopping, letting passengers embark and disembark, nor even the traffic lights, stop signs, and railroad crossings along the way. This nimrod apparently took the total distance, divided it by 60 (as in miles per hour), and decided that's how long the route should take. OK, I exaggerate a bit - he probably divided it by 45.

To make it even worse, you couldn't even depend on each bus coming along 40 minutes late - because the router would CANCEL the next bus because they were too far behind. The "logic" being that allegedly the THIRD bus in line was going to "catch up" to the printed schedule. Which was an impossibility, because it was late too. Only now you have some poor person (many actually) standing there waiting patiently for bus #2, expecting it to be 40 mins late - only it never comes at ALL, and now bus #3 won't be there until it's usual (not scheduled, but USUAL) arrival time, which is 40 minutes past its scheduled arrival.

In other words, the dispatchers back at the office were working on the same unrealistic schedule that the buses already couldn't maintain, but everybody trying to RIDE the bus has to work with the real world schedule.

People have to get to work on time or they lose their jobs. When they can't rely on buses to get them there - even when they plan to arrive early - they are forced to buy some kind of a beater car, at the very least. Once they HAVE the car, they will use it for everything - because the buses are STILL unreliable and too far between to be of any practical use.

The transit systems in Portland OR and Chapel Hill/Durham NC work pretty darn well. Decades ago, the bus system in Dayton OH ran very well and was convenient and easy to use (I'm talking in the 70's, I have no idea what its like now).

Even the Chapel Hill system wasn't that great in the long haul. It ran frequently and pretty much on time during the day, schlepping students around - but when classes weren't running, if you were trying to use the bus to get back and forth to work - they didn't run that often and they didn't go that many places.

In Columbia, MO, the buses seem to run pretty much on time - but they have this weird way of designating the routes that makes one bus seem to be 2. So when you look at the routes, it looks like bus Red East will turn around just before the depot and make its loop back - but it doesn't. They redesignate the same bus as Red West and it continues to the depot and on to the other half of its route, then loops back to the depot, then TURNS BACK INTO bus Red East, and THEN it completes its loop. So if you think you're going to ride the bus around to your stop - you can, but it'll take you an HOUR longer (or more) than the route map shows.

It makes it very difficult to figure out when you can make connections, and which bus you are actually riding. Once you get your head wrapped around the weird mapping and route designations, they run on time - it's just trying to figure all that out that's the issue.

Everywhere else I've ever lived, there either were no city buses, or there might as well not have been. The absolute worst - described above in some detail - was in Huntsville WV.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:50 AM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,248 posts, read 26,220,119 times
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Originally Posted by AJNEOA View Post
This comes down to developed environment and norms to me. In a dense urban environment, most people aren't making a huge grocery shopping trip (I never do). In the burbs, people probably are, and in that case people probably have a car.
I personally make huge trips (or rather my wife makes huge shopping trips). I'd rather spend one evening buying a whole bunch of stuff instead of taking several trips to the store to grab things on an as needed basis. The lines in the market can get long, so if I'm going grocery shopping (rare), I'm going to take my time and get everything I need.
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