“I don’t believe this is the right land use for this location. This is not about an anti Wal-Mart thing. It’s about whether a store that produces this much traffic belongs on a four-lane Anderson Lane as opposed to on a highway. But we have been told consistently two things. One is that we do not have the power to take down or disapprove this site plan and the second is that if we try to do it we’re on our own in a subsequent lawsuit.”—Council Member Brewster McCracken.
Most Wal-Marts outside Texas are on major arterial roadways(*). Some are 6 lanes, symptoms link some are 4 lanes. Many, such as the one closest to my parents’ house in South Florida, are miles away from the nearest ‘highway'(**). Only in Texas do we stupidly build major retail and employment destinations on frontage roads, which act as barriers to travel for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit users. Pay special attention to the impossibility of providing cost-effective high-quality transit service on frontage roads. Pushing Wal-Marts back out to frontage roads is a step backwards, not forwards.
(* – Try Wal-Mart’s store-finder on a zip code for a major metropolitan area outside Texas. Plug addresses into Google Maps. I guarantee you will see that, outside Texas, nearly zero Wal-Marts can be directly accessed from a frontage road — and most are accessed directly from roads very similar to Burnet Rd. and Anderson Lane. Example here. Be careful to plug all the addresses into Google Maps – many roads with “Hwy” in the name are in fact just major arterials – with frequent traffic lights, cross streets, etc. For instance, the Wal-Mart in Delray Beach, when accessed from the closest ‘highway’, requires a drive of about 2 miles on one major arterial roadway, then a turn onto a second major arterial roadway, then a short drive, and then another turn into the store lot.)
(** – ‘highway’ is a definition not frequently used by transportation planners. The common usage here in Texas would be either freeways – with or without frontage roads – or rural routes with limited cross traffic – neither one of which obviously includes Burnet Rd or Anderson Lane, although Burnet at one point in history was a ‘highway’. In my case, I prefer to use the limitation of access as the qualifier – since the roads here in Austin which people want to keep the big boxes out on are essentially all limited-access roadways with frontage roads).
You can also use this “plug the address into Google Maps” process to disprove the fallacy that a Wal-Mart at Northcross would be particularly close to single-family residences. For instance, consider this one in West Boca Raton. (Yes, “Hwy” in the name, but look at the satellite image and you see it’s a major arterial roadway – lots of cross streets and traffic lights).
New link: The Art of Gluten-Free Cooking, cialis 40mg a blog containing recipes and stories about gluten-free cooking from my sister-in-law Karen.
Forgot to link this way back when and was reminded after eating some very delicious desserts she baked for my mother-in-law’s amazing retirement party at the Headliners’ Club (which was itself arranged and donated by her and her husband). My wife and her family all have trouble with celiac disease to varying degrees; and these recipes will make eating gluten-free not only tolerable (which the off-the-shelf stuff rarely is) but often delicious. I loved all three desserts and would have gone back for more if I was able to exercise anymore. Man, they were fabulous.
A long overdue followup:
After this thread on Econbrowser, resuscitator I stumbled (randomly) on the term which seems to match what I was trying to get across, which is basically in the Peak Oil case:
We are the result of a bunch of transitions, all successful, from a lower-density energy source to a higher-density energy source. Many other societies which could not find a higher-density energy source ended up in overshoot and collapsed – but, of course, they aren’t around to serve as a cautionary example.
There’s not any guarantee that an economically feasible energy source even at petroleum’s energy density is out there waiting for us. Nuclear + major battery improvements, for instance, doesn’t even cut it; nor does anything using hydrogen as its energy store.
Physics trumps economics.
The term is survivorship bias and it usually arises in the world of finance, but has applications elsewhere. In short, if the things you’re studying are those that survived previous transitions/calamities/events/whatever, you may either have an inaccurately high rating of the current ‘survivors’ or you may assume that all such transitions are successfully navigated.
In the Peak Oil case, this fallacy rears its ugly head as people bring up “well, we survived Peak Wood and Peak Horse and Peak Whale”. But there were societies that did not survive, because they didn’t find a higher-density energy substitute in time. We just don’t hear about them, because they aren’t AROUND anymore. They overshot their resources and didn’t find an alternative, and they died out.
Or, anesthetist why you haven’t heard from me in two weeks (click for large):
We (full family) returned yesterday morning from an 11-day trip to Oahu (mostly Honolulu), adiposity and I’ve got some transit talkin’ to do about it. Some lessons apply to Austin, recipe and others don’t; but I’ve been meaning to write about good (and bad) experiences on other cities’ lines for quite a while, and am finally going to do it. This week, I’ll write a few posts trying to focus on particular areas of detail; this will serve as the introduction and outline. As for other cities, I’ll hopefully go back and address Atlanta and New York – which I travelled to on business and leisure in the last 6 months.
My wife and I got married on Lanikai Beach a little more than five years ago. Since then, we’ve been back twice; only the last time with both kids (at the time 1 and 11 years old). I’ve also been to Oahu for two three-week trips as a kid during the 1980s with my family (grandparents lived near Chaminade University); and once for a week to help them pack up and move to Florida in the late 1990s. As for other islands, I went to the Big Island once as a kid; my wife and I visited Maui for 4 days two trips ago; and the whole family did day-trips to Kauai and the Big Island on our last trip (had free interisland air coupons from my grandfather which we finally used up on the last trip).
This trip included the whole family and stays at three different places – the first week, as usual, we used the timeshare I bought about 8 years ago (on ebay; don’t ever do it any other way) which is roughly behind the International Marketplace in an old 3-story 1950s-era hotel building – much smaller than most buildings in Waikiki. Has a lot of charm, but is not a luxury property by any means. Since I own the timeshare, it’s a cheap stay (obviously) but not free – the yearly maintenance fees skyrocketed a few years ago after the management company went bankrupt and was subsequently discovered to have not been a good custodian of the funds, as it were.
The next two days, we stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is a little enclave on the end of Waikiki we don’t spend much time at on our visits. I got this hotel for 2 nights on priceline for a very attractive price. This place is famous – my wife and I both remember the old rainbow tower always being used on The Price Is Right (although it looks a lot less cheesy now after a recent redo).
The last two nights, we stayed at the hotel which we used for our honeymoon 5 years ago (almost exactly): the JW Marriott Ihilani at Ko Olina. Very luxury; but I was able to find a great deal – a PointSavers reward from the Marriott chain’s rewards program (most of the hotels I stay in for business are Marriott-owned chains). Had to buy a bunch more points, but it still ended up a steal overall.
Here’s what I’ll be covering this week:
Urban living and suburban sprawl: Waikiki is very urban and is a pleasure to walk around (mostly). Hawaii in general, like the town my family originates from in Pennsylvania, is about 10-20 years behind the times in discovering that suburban sprawl doesn’t scale, as Kapolei (the intended “second city”) has led to a traffic disaster. Other islands are largely Round Rock With A Beach – with all the bad that entails – I’ll talk about the standard suburban theory that the other islands are where it’s at.
Transit – current system: Waikiki (and most of Honolulu) is served by TheBus, a fairly well-run bus-only transit agency. We all rode the bus twice to Hanauma Bay, and I rode it once more on the way back from one end of Waikiki to the other. The system is well-used by the population – which has a high portion of transit-dependent and transit-leaning subgroups due to low median incomes and high parking costs. Had problems with bunching and reliability. Buses were very very full even though fares are very high. Outside Honolulu, service is still far better than you would expect – better than most of Austin; but other islands are essentially dead zones.
Transit – future system and needs: Honolulu’s been flirting with rail for a long time and should be a slam dunk. The city has a higher residential density than even New York(!) and fairly good employment density too. A disastrous debacle with BRT planning put them back about a decade, but they’re currently fairly far along with what finally looks like an adequately locally-funded rail plan to take to the Feds. Doesn’t go to Waikiki at first, of course; which is a bonehead move. Local trogolodytes bring out the standard anti-rail FUD spewed here by Neanderthals like Jim Skaggs – showing that no matter how high the case for rail, the guys on the other side say the same ridiculous crap.
That ought to be enough. Aloha.
(posted to a local neighborhood list in response to a portion of a long letter from an Eastwoods resident complaining about densification)
The position that transit use would skyrocket if we just reduced headways on our existing bus system seems logical but is, advice in fact, not likely to be the case given experience in other cities and a bit of common sense.
Those who can get and keep a job largely have the ability to check timetables and use their watch – and this gets even easier with new tools like Google’s – and most of the close-in neighborhoods have bus service with far better headways than the alleged 30-minutes-or-worse in Barbara’s note. For instance, from my house on 35th, I can choose the #5 or the #7 – combined maximum wait during the day approximately 15 minutes; meaning if I decide on a whim to leave the house right now, I can look at the schedule to figure out which one to walk to knowing that it won’t be longer than 15 minutes.
However, even if headways really were much worse in central Austin, it still wouldn’t matter (much) – peoples’ daily commute decision centers more around speed and reliability than on headways. For instance, headways on express subway service in Queens are sometimes long, but people take them anyways (over the local, the bus, and especially their car) because the subway simply works so much better. In our case, running buses more often would do nothing to the speed or reliability gap compared to the private automobile and could even make it worse (due to bunching, buses interfering with other buses, etc.).
The only technology which can compete well enough with cars on those two metrics (the only two that really matter, since our downtown parking isn’t currently and probably will never be expensive enough to be a major factor) is reserved-guideway transit. This excludes streetcar, but includes light rail (as proposed in 2000) and commuter rail (if it actually went anywhere near major employment destinations, which it does not).
(Urban Transportation Commission, 2000-2005)