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Old 01-07-2015, 08:30 AM
 
410 posts, read 390,446 times
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An article that compares vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and fuel consumption at different density levels. The main takeaways are these:

1. Only the steepest increases in density reduces car usage.
2. People in high density areas consume less fuel as they tend to drive smaller more fuel efficient vehicles.

Drive a lot? Housing density may not be to blame
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:47 AM
 
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Interesting data looking at VMT per capita by state

10 States with the lowest VMT per capita:
Alaska - 6,719
New York - 6,767
Hawaii - 7,331
Nevada - 7,809
Rhode Island - 7,867
Pennsylvania - 7,889
Illinois - 8,238
Massachusetts - 8,293
New Jersey - 8,299
Washington - 8,482

10 States with the highest VMT per capita:
Wyoming - 16,948
Mississippi - 13,414
Alabama - 13,408
Oklahoma - 12,698
New Mexico - 12,259
North Dakota - 12,248
Missouri - 11,819
Indiana - 11,672
Vermont - 11,579
Georgia - 11,503

Table 5-3: Highway Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT): 2005, 2010 | Bureau of Transportation Statistics
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:10 AM
 
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
12,456 posts, read 11,963,283 times
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This shouldn't be surprising. A classic streetcar suburb (or a modern west coast suburb) has yards a hell of a lot smaller than a quarter acre, and hence much higher residential density than say the typical suburb in the Northeast or Midwest. But just because it is higher density doesn't mean there are a substantive number of amenities within a 5-15 minute walking radius. And unless it's served by some very good mass transit, most people will use their cars for work.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the majority of the dropoff in vehicle miles traveled is not due to neighborhoods being walkable per se, or because of mass transit, but simply location. Areas with more than 5,000 units per square mile tend to be either within core cities or in some cases in first-ring suburbs. These people aren't just more liable to not own cars, or to willingly sometimes use transit, but when they do drive it's more likely to be much shorter trips compared to someone in the exurbs, since most will not be commuting to jobs outside of the city center.
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:20 AM
 
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Interesting data that seems to provide support towards the idea that higher density does not mean having to give up one's car, as many of the "Agenda 21"-obsessed, density opponents seem to fear.
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Old 01-07-2015, 10:51 AM
 
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I'd enjoy reading the full study report. It would be very interesting to compare equivalent households--wealth, income, # of family members, etc.--in varying densities and see how vehicle ownership, VMT, and gas consumption changes along the axis of density. From the blog it is not clear if they used the more granular census tract or the more broad residents/sq mi.

And this says nothing about the effect of or relationship with the availability and quality of alternative means of getting to work--walking, biking, public or private bus, rail, etc. For example, even if you happen to live in a relatively dense inner-ring suburban neighborhood, if your job is only practically accessible by car for what ever reason, you're likely going to own and use a car.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
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A few points:

Bigger cities tend to be a bit denser, but take up a lot more land, hence often have longer commutes than smaller cities that are less dense but cover a much smaller area
SW Ontario Urbanist: Does sprawl lead to shorter commutes?
That doesn't mean people won't drive less if you have a denser city compared to a city with a similar population but lower density

1000-3000 units per square mile is not that dense, at 2.6 people per household, that's 2600-7800 per square mile. Even if that's density measured at the census tract level, that's a density comparable to typical Houston, Phoenix, Denver or Dallas suburbia, or on the low end of Long Island suburbia. If it's measured at the individual unit level, than we're talking 1.5-5 units per acre or houses on 0.21-0.64 acre lots, which is more typical of lower density suburbs like the post-1950 suburbs of Midwestern cities.

My guess is the <50 units/sq mi is mostly rural areas where you just do one big shopping trip a week because it's far away and likely work from home or on a farm or something... or maybe at the nearest small town
50-250 units/sq mi is probably largely big city exurbs
250-1000 units/sq mi might include a lot of small towns/small cities
1000-3000 units/sq mi is probably mostly big city suburbs
3000-5000 units/sq mi is maybe lower density pre-WWII neighbourhoods (think Columbus or Denver rather than Manhattan, Brooklyn or even North Side Chicago), suburban garden apartment and townhouse complexes, but depending on how density was measured, maybe even these would be above 5000 units/sq mi and 3000-5000 units/sq mi would still be mostly fairly standard issue suburbia
5000 units/sq mi, depending on the methodology, it could including lower density pre-WWII areas and higher density multifamily and small lot SFH suburbia in addition to the Brooklyns and Philadelphias.
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Old 01-07-2015, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,768,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darkeconomist View Post
I'd enjoy reading the full study report. It would be very interesting to compare equivalent households--wealth, income, # of family members, etc.--in varying densities and see how vehicle ownership, VMT, and gas consumption changes along the axis of density. From the blog it is not clear if they used the more granular census tract or the more broad residents/sq mi.

And this says nothing about the effect of or relationship with the availability and quality of alternative means of getting to work--walking, biking, public or private bus, rail, etc. For example, even if you happen to live in a relatively dense inner-ring suburban neighborhood, if your job is only practically accessible by car for what ever reason, you're likely going to own and use a car.
You're commute will at least probably not be too long though. If you live in an inner ring suburb, more or less in the middle of the metro area, at least you probably won't have to drive across the whole metro for work. In a place like Southfield, MI or Irving, TX, you're within 5-10 miles of most of the urban and suburban job centres.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:08 PM
Status: "Summer!" (set 29 days ago)
 
Location: Foot of the Rockies
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Quote:
Originally Posted by impala096 View Post
Interesting data looking at VMT per capita by state

10 States with the lowest VMT per capita:
Alaska - 6,719
New York - 6,767
Hawaii - 7,331
Nevada - 7,809
Rhode Island - 7,867
Pennsylvania - 7,889
Illinois - 8,238
Massachusetts - 8,293
New Jersey - 8,299
Washington - 8,482

10 States with the highest VMT per capita:
Wyoming - 16,948
Mississippi - 13,414
Alabama - 13,408
Oklahoma - 12,698
New Mexico - 12,259
North Dakota - 12,248
Missouri - 11,819
Indiana - 11,672
Vermont - 11,579
Georgia - 11,503

Table 5-3: Highway Vehicle-Miles Traveled (VMT): 2005, 2010 | Bureau of Transportation Statistics
Interestingly, the states with the highest VMTs are not known for having lots of "suburban sprawl" with the possible exception of Missouri (St. Louis and KC), Georgia (Atlanta) and maybe Indiana (Indianapolis and the Gary-Hammond area). There is not one MSA in Wyoming >100,000 people, though Cheyenne is close. Bismark, ND is just a little over 100,000, and Fargo ND/Moorehead MN is a little over 200,000, with some of that population in MN. Burlington, VT doesn't even have 50,000 people.
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Old 01-07-2015, 07:41 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,768,007 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallsAngel View Post
Interestingly, the states with the highest VMTs are not known for having lots of "suburban sprawl" with the possible exception of Missouri (St. Louis and KC), Georgia (Atlanta) and maybe Indiana (Indianapolis and the Gary-Hammond area). There is not one MSA in Wyoming >100,000 people, though Cheyenne is close. Bismark, ND is just a little over 100,000, and Fargo ND/Moorehead MN is a little over 200,000, with some of that population in MN. Burlington, VT doesn't even have 50,000 people.
Probably largely to do with high rural populations, here's how the high VMT states rank in terms of % rural population.

Wyoming - 13th
Mississippi - 4th
Alabama - 9th
Oklahoma - 16th
New Mexico - 30th
North Dakota - 10th
Missouri - 20th
Indiana - 22nd
Vermont - 2nd
Georgia - 28th

Not a perfect correlation, but still, mostly more rural than average. Actually every single one of those states have a higher rural % than the US Average of 19.3%, New Mexico comes closest at 22.6% rural, Vermont is 61.1% rural. The most rural state is Maine btw.

The low VMT states.

Alaska - 14th
New York - 40th
Hawaii - 47th
Nevada - 49th
Rhode Island - 45th
Pennsylvania - 32nd
Illinois - 42nd
Massachusetts - 48th
New Jersey - 50th
Washington - 36th

Except for Alaska, mostly quite urban. The most urban state is California (unless you count DC) - btw suburban counts as urban in these measurements.
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Old 01-07-2015, 08:01 PM
 
Location: Thunder Bay, ON
2,610 posts, read 3,768,007 times
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Someone on another forum also got the weighted densities (people per square mile) of each state, which basically gives the density of the average census tract for that state.
US states by weighted population density - SkyscraperPage Forum

I'd added the densities and density rank.

High VMT states

Wyoming - 999 (44th)
Mississippi - 695 (50th)
Alabama - 942 (46th)
Oklahoma - 1602 (32nd)
New Mexico - 2,109 (26th)
North Dakota - 1,569 (33rd)
Missouri - 1,896 (28th)
Indiana - 1,740 (31st)
Vermont - 947 (45th)
Georgia - 1,551 (34th)

So generally pretty low densities. Among the 10 least dense states that didn't make the 10 highest VMT states you have West Virginia (49th), Arkansas (48th), Maine (47th), South Carolina (43rd), South Dakota (42nd) and Montana (41st).

VMT rankings of these other low density states

West Virginia: 24th (too poor?)
Arkansas: 11th
Maine: 15th
South Carolina: 20th
South Dakota: 16th
Montana: 12th

So even though not quite top 10 these still drive a fair bit.

The low VMT states.

Alaska - 1,834 (#29)
New York - 28,162 (#1)
Hawaii - 8,480 (#2)
Nevada - 5,420 (#7)
Rhode Island - 5,034 (#8)
Pennsylvania - 4,889 (#9)
Illinois - 6,661 (#5)
Massachusetts - 6,586 (#6)
New Jersey - 7,941 (#4)
Washington - 3,345 (#16)

The top 10 densest and top 10 lowest VMT lists are almost the same. Only difference is California and Maryland which make top 10 densest (#3 and #10 respectively) but not 10 lowest VMT, and Alaska and Washington which don't make the top 10 densest.

VMT rankings

California: 40th
Maryland: 32nd

So they still don't drive that much.
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