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Old 01-08-2015, 10:04 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memph View Post
Here's all the states plotted out in average VMT vs weighted density. New York State is densest, followed by DC. The big outliers are Wyoming with a VMT of 16,948 and Alaska with a VMT of just 6719 despite the low density.
That's a surprisingly tight fit there. I wonder if what it'd would be if urban % [by census definition, which lumps suburban with urban] was graphed against VMT. I wonder how Canadian provinces would fit, would they follow the American trend, or be different?

I assume most Canadian provinces would have high weighted densities but very low standard densities. Unless, the rural and small city driving habits completely skew the average, the weighted density number probably is the more relevant measure.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:33 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Alaska having such a low VMT makes total sense. Nearly half the population lives in Achorage, which has fairly broad city limits due to being a consolidated city-county (more or less), but aside from a few "suburbs" to the Northeast along Route 1 (Eagle River, Chugiak) has its development in a pretty small area. Many of the smaller cities are very geographically isolated. Due to topography cities in the southern panhandle (such as Juneau) have no road connections with the outside world, and require use of ferries or planes. The same goes for Kodiak and towns in the Aleutians. And while many mainland areas (such as Fairbanks) do have road connections to the outside world, there's nothing surrounding them for many hours, so there's really no reason to live far out, even before you consider how bad the outlying roads might be for half the year. I'm also guessing that there isn't universal car ownership among Alaska Natives out in the bush.

Edit: Juneau in particular looks surprisingly urban. Downtown Anchorage seems to be a wasteland of parking lots though.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:37 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Alaska: 9.8% of households don't own a car, about the same as the US average (9.1%). Less drove to work alone (67.4% vs 76.3%)
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:52 AM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschaton View Post
Alaska having such a low VMT makes total sense. Nearly half the population lives in Achorage, which has fairly broad city limits due to being a consolidated city-county (more or less), but aside from a few "suburbs" to the Northeast along Route 1 (Eagle River, Chugiak) has its development in a pretty small area. Many of the smaller cities are very geographically isolated. Due to topography cities in the southern panhandle (such as Juneau) have no road connections with the outside world, and require use of ferries or planes. The same goes for Kodiak and towns in the Aleutians. And while many mainland areas (such as Fairbanks) do have road connections to the outside world, there's nothing surrounding them for many hours, so there's really no reason to live far out, even before you consider how bad the outlying roads might be for half the year. I'm also guessing that there isn't universal car ownership among Alaska Natives out in the bush.

Edit: Juneau in particular looks surprisingly urban. Downtown Anchorage seems to be a wasteland of parking lots though.
LOL! Have you been to Juneau? I have. 31,000 people.
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Old 01-08-2015, 11:59 AM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
LOL! Have you been to Juneau? I have. 31,000 people.
I think he's referring to its density not its size. It does appear to look like more of a "walking city" than Anchorage.
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:09 PM
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I think he's referring to its density not its size. It does appear to look like more of a "walking city" than Anchorage.
It's the state capital, a government city. That makes a difference. Most of the residents probably work for the state, and it's not large. Anchorage is much bigger-almost 300,000 people with an MSA of almost 400,000. It gets a little harder to keep everything walkable in a larger area.
Anchorage, AK MSA Population and Components of Change -- Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University Home
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:11 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nei View Post
I think he's referring to its density not its size. It does appear to look like more of a "walking city" than Anchorage.
Admittedly it does look like the main residential areas of the city are up near Juneau International Airport, which is a 15-20 minute drive from Downtown, and not really walkable to downtown or accessible by transit. Still, it looks like virtually no one lives any further away than this, which makes it very strange for a small-size city within the United States.
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:13 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Agreed, though exploring on streetview it looks more compact than most American towns of its size, which I think is what eschaton meant. The walk to work rate isn't that high, btw (7.2%); slightly below the state average. Similarly, Victoria BC is a provincial capital has a high walk to work rate is more compact than most if not all 300,000 metros in North America.
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:18 PM
nei nei won $500 in our forum's Most Engaging Poster Contest - Thirteenth Edition (Jan-Feb 2015). 

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Location: Long Island / NYC
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Here's another post from that blog, suggesting that use segregation plays a role in VMT as well.

But when the researchers filtered out differences in income and density between Great Britain and the U.S., the British still traveled less.

The reason behind the travel discrepancy, the researchers suspect, lies in the strict separation of space for living, working, and shopping that is common in the U.S.

Tell me how much you drive, and I
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Old 01-08-2015, 12:20 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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Problem with Canada is that census tracts only cover metro areas, the rest is just dissemination areas which are typically around 300-1000 people.

BTW as I mentioned before, I'm not so much convinced that 6 units per acre vs 8 units per acre doesn't make a difference, but they might be more reflective of smaller cities.

If you take a city like Regina, SK, with about 200,000 people, the average worker lives twice as close to work as someone from Toronto, despite Toronto (urban area) being 2x denser. But Toronto has 25-30x more people, so despite being 2x denser, it's about 20-50 miles across compared to 8 miles across for Regina. The likelihood of someone from Regina working over 8 miles from home is pretty low unless they work on the small number of large scale farms or the few small satellite towns. Meanwhile the likelihood of someone from Toronto living over 8 miles from work is pretty high.

It's likely that a good chunk of the low-ish density areas are in small cities that are the US equivalents of Regina, places like Peoria, Wichita, Odessa, Macon... The big metro areas will also have neighbourhoods around that density, however higher density neighbourhoods will probably be found almost exclusively in larger metro areas.

That doesn't mean density has no effect. If Regina had a density comparable to maybe one of the denser Dutch or British or Belgian small cities (still about 1/2 the density of denser Southern European small cities), then maybe it would be just 4 miles across and commutes would be twice as short still. And if Toronto was the density of Atlanta, then maybe commutes would be even longer, maybe twice as long as they already are.

But density can only do so much on its own. The relationship between the diameter of a city and density is not linear, it's the relationship between area and density that is.

ex
a 10,000 ppsm city of 1 million = 100 square miles, if it's a square shaped city, it's 10x10 miles.
a 5,000 ppsm city of 1 million = 200 square miles, if it's a square shaped city, it's 14x14 miles.

So for a city to decrease its diameter by half, you need to make it not 2x denser but 4x denser. That's a pretty big increase, especially since while the residential land can be made denser, the streets, parks, cemeteries, airports, landfills, etc can't really be made denser and even industrial areas, while they can be made somewhat denser are going to be difficult to make 4x denser. To make up for this, the residential (and commercial) component will actually have to be more than 4x denser.

So to really decrease VMT you need to mix uses and improve the alternatives to driving as well. The latter tends to come more naturally with higher densities, since higher densities means more transit users, which leads to more frequent service, which leads to even more transit users through higher mode share, which leads to more transit improvements, leading to even higher mode share, etc and higher transit use also means development starts to orient itself to be more convenient for transit users since they make up an increasingly high % of workers and customers. So instead of employers and retail clustering around interchanges and the roads leading up to them, they'll start clustering around transit stations and the streets leading up to them (if zoning allows).
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