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Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education
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9 Reasons the U.S. Ended Up So Much More Car-Dependent Than Europe

9 Reasons the U.S. Ended Up So Much More Car-Dependent Than Europe | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
Understanding mistakes of the past can help guide U.S. transportation policy in the future.

 

In 2010, Americans drove for 85 percent of their daily trips, compared to car trip shares of 50 to 65 percent in Europe. Longer trip distances only partially explain the difference. Roughly 30 percent of daily trips are shorter than a mile on either side of the Atlantic. But of those under one-mile trips, Americans drove almost 70 percent of the time, while Europeans made 70 percent of their short trips by bicycle, foot, or public transportation.  The statistics don't reveal the sources of this disparity, but there are nine main reasons American metro areas have ended up so much more car-dependent than cities in Western Europe.


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article gives a nice comparison between American and European car use.  It points out cultural differences as well as governmental policy differences that lead to different views on public transportation and car usage.

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Kendra King's curator insight, January 28, 2015 7:51 PM

According to this article, “U.S. (transportation) planners” look to Europe for inspiration as the planners try to decrease Americans’ “car dependency.” Instead of giving answers about how to solve the “car dependency” issue, the author provided nine reasons for why Europeans walk and bike more. Ideas like how the European infrastructure was built (i.e their zoning laws, highways, and biking/pedestrian lanes) were discussed. I found the implication that European’s were able to walk more because residential areas and businesses were intermixed the most interesting of all these reasons. It could never really matter because most of America’s land is already developed, but it did make me remember an earlier study mentioned in the article in which 70% of Americans wouldn’t walk a mile when they could. Triggering this just made me think that intermixing our buildings wouldn’t matter because we are too lazy to walk. Some may come back with the idea that a lack of relaxed pedestrian and bike lanes prohibit this option. However, with the amount of sidewalks around, I just keep thinking it all goes back to how much we exercise (which isn’t much). So honestly, it is an unhealthy attitude that planners need to change. Meaning some drastic action would need to occur in order to actually change people’s habits.

 

 More drastic ideas like decreasing government subsidies on oil, taxing cars, and implementing policies that “shifted behavior” (i.e. no parking zones) were also explained. However with oil companies and car industries around, I don’t actually see lobbyist letting that happening in the short term. Ironically, the article mentioned that the reason U.S. planners were thinking about how to change transportation was because the model the county uses is “unstainable.” This means the transportation system cannot be maintained for either “environmental, social, or economic reasons” (see included link for definition). Thinking about these factors, I just kept coming back to oil. Environmentally it is a fixed resource, socially people want less of it due to climate change, and economically it is typically more costly. What this all means is that an alternative energy source is needed. When that eventually happens, America will probably believe the transportation system is sustainable again regardless of “urban sprawl” and lack of “public transportation.” I say this because the author pointed out how America thought itself stable during the 80’s and 90’s when energy prices were low thereby implying the bigger issue is the oil needed to change people’s behavior. 

 

Overall, the author did provide an in-depth list that made me pay attention to the cultural and government differences between America and Europe from the way space interacts with these regions.

 

*http://environment.transportation.org/environmental_issues/sustainability/#bookmarksubSustainableTransportation

Jared Medeiros's curator insight, February 4, 2015 6:41 PM

 A big reason why people are more car dependant in America is because we are a lazy nation.  Americans are always looking for the easy way to accomplish things, so if you can drive a mile to work in 2 minutes or walk in 15, its almost guarenteed that the American is walking! This is obviously a general term and does not apply to all Americans but a vast majority would opt for the vehicle.  As someone who has taken several trips to Europe, people there are in far better shape than in America and i'm sure that fitness along with better eating habits attribute to that.  

Another reason I believe America is more dependant than Europe on cars is because it is far easier and cheaper to travel via train or subway in Europe.  Train stations and public transport in America are expensive and only take you to highly populated areas while the trains in Europe will take you all over the continent.

 

Gene Gagne's curator insight, November 18, 2015 2:40 PM

This has major impact on health issues, because nobody wants to walk or bike anymore which most of us did until 16 years old, it is a good form of exercise and can keep a persons body weight down. Which would lead to less health issues. Also the pollution from the vehicles and illegal dumping of tires and batteries and oil which leads to environmental problems. Socially we would meet more people and even see more of our surroundings if we drove less. Economically we as individuals would save money by not driving or would we? We would save on gas, licenses, maintenance, but on the other hand our renewal of licenses, registration, and even taxes on the vehicle help support our schools, busing and other community projects. This funding would be cut and therefore taxes will rise on something else we would end up paying for. I personally just think as Americans we drive everywhere and spend less time taking bikes, walks even skateboards all over the city which we loved to do as teenagers. I don't expect to be rollerblading or skateboarding at an older age but why do we stop at 16. It is because we are allowed to under the law to drive and everyone can't wait until high school to get their license. Once we give up our bikes and rollerblades, skateboards, walks it is hard to go back to it.

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Ultra-Dense Housing

Ultra-Dense Housing | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Seven million people living in 423 square miles (1,096 sq km).

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This is disturbing to me.  These apartments are smaller than prison cells.  I find it awful that families have to squeezes into such small spaces.  I cannot imagine being able to live is such a small space without feeling trapped.  I felt trapped and claustrophobic just looking at the pictures!

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Joseph Thacker 's curator insight, April 15, 2014 5:57 PM

Wow, I cannot imagine living in these conditions. It looks smaller than a prison cell; only people pay to live there. These extreme living conditions are a result of over population in an area. It seems the city of Hong Kong is running out of places to build and house the abundance of people living there. It appears the average person in Hong Kong lives in these conditions due to the high price tags on larger apartments. This is a sad reality.   

Jess Deady's curator insight, May 1, 2014 11:06 AM

Living in such close quarters must be incredibly hard to do for those people who are new to Hong Kong and know something different. For Chinese residents, this is normal. Living in such small areas is a part of the Chinese daily life and culture. China is so population dense that this is the result of living there, tiny living spaces.

James Hobson's curator insight, October 6, 2014 3:47 PM

(in-class 4: Hong Kong)

What I take away from this is the theme of supply and demand. Though these condiions seem stereotypically negative, it seems like those who live in the photographed homes are relatvely well off (food, TV, clothing, etc.). This supports the view that living in these tight conditions is less of a choice and more of something that has to be put up with. Now that Hong Kong has been developed 'across', it'd be a good guess to say that recently investments have been made to build 'up' with highrises and skyscrapers (unless like Dubai they sat to mak either own islands, whic geographically would be less likely here). The questionof sustainability is also an issue, i.e. at what point will it be impossible to cram in any more inhabitants? I wonder if a future migration / spreading-out into other areas has started to occur yet or will soon, like the suburbanization which occured in the U.S. after the advent of the automobile. If so, would it be mainland China, despite the political tensions?

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Sustainable Urbanism

"Jaime Lerner reinvented urban space in his native Curitiba, Brazil. Along the way, he changed the way city planners worldwide see what’s possible in the metropolitan landscape.  From building opera houses with wire to mapping the connection between the automobile and your mother-in-law, Jaime Lerner delights in discovering eccentric solutions to vexing urban problems. In the process he has transformed the face of cities worldwide."


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This video is enlightening.  The speaker uses the city as a model for fixing problems in the world.  Instead of seeing the city as an enemy to environmentalism, he purposes changing the cities and reworking old sites like quarries into something that is useable today.  He also advocates the integration of the transportation systems to make commuting more feasible as well as less pollution generating. 

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Seth Dixon's curator insight, February 15, 2014 8:02 AM

Jaime Lerner does not see cities as the problem; he sees urbanism as the solution to many global problems.  This video outlines practical plans to rethink the city to be more sustainable.  Click here to see the trailer for a documentary about the urban changes in Curitiba, Brazil. 

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What Pollution? Hong Kong Tourists Pose With Fake Skyline

What Pollution? Hong Kong Tourists Pose With Fake Skyline | Geography 200 | Scoop.it
Picture this: Tourists visiting one of your city's most prominent attractions are unable to see it because of smog, haze and a bevy of other airborne pollutants. What's the solution?

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

Well this is certainly one way of ‘solving’ their pollution problem.  Tourists upset, no problem, give them a backdrop to pose in front of.  I find this just crazy; rather than trying to clean up the air the government is instead covering over the problem.

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Jared Medeiros's curator insight, April 22, 2015 7:17 PM

Major cities in the world should take a deeper look into controlling pollution problems in their cities.  At some point, these places will no longer attract people to live in these areas, thus lowering the impact that these industries may have.  But as long as people are still living here by the millions and there is tourism, and buisness is booming, nothing will be done about the issue.

Courtney Barrowman's curator insight, May 27, 2015 12:08 PM

Summer reading KQ4: pollution, smog, megacity, sustainability

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, November 25, 2015 6:22 AM

Pollution is a huge issue facing both Hong Kong, and the rest of China in general. So far the government  has done little to actually combat the problem. The Chinese governments response has been to pretend that the problem does not really exist. A fake skyline can just erase the problem. In reality dealing with the pollution issue would actually help the Chinese economy. When people seek to go on a vacation, they are seeking a destination that is clean and safe. Who wants to visit a place were, you have to ware a mask to prevent the breathing in of armful chemicals. A cleaner less polluted china would lead to an expanded tourism industry.

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Flexible Urban Planning

mixed used train-tracks/market place...

 


Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

I found this video disturbing.  Maybe because we have train safety taught to us were they stress that you need to stay away from the tracks, here the people are sitting next to a train track and even have goods for sale that the train drives over.  I think it is interesting how they reclaim the space but the mom in me worries about kids getting run over by the train.

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Kendra King's curator insight, April 13, 2015 9:15 PM

On the one hand this disturbed me. All I kept thinking when I saw the people go back on the tracks is that they could easily be killed.In fact, I wonder how many accidents have ever occurred near this area. All it would take is some sort of malfunction on the train in which the horn wasn’t sounding to provide ample warning or someone gets in another person’s way so there isn’t enough time to close down the shop. On the other hand, this made me realize just how efficient a population could become at using space. Everything was timed so that the entire area moved out of the way without an issue. So rather than let any land go to waste, the area uses it despite the risk to its population. Though it really isn't like the population has a choice though. So in instances where there is such overpopulation, it is interesting to see how well the society can adapt to the phenomenon. I do wonder what would happen if the country becomes more developed and the population declines. Would this type of land continue in the future or be disband? I know that in our country there are many laws that would make this illegal, but our country also has the space avoid developing the land in such a manner. When comparing it to the laws of the United States, I would think the country would eventually drift away from this use of land when possible. However, now that I watch the video, I have a new appreciation for maximizing land and I hope that the efficient could continue. Just in a less scary manner. 

Lora Tortolani's curator insight, April 20, 2015 2:51 PM

Talk about using every inch of space available to you.  I find this video crazy not only because of the safety hazards, but just how people seem to go about this like it is normal.  This would never take place in America!

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, May 7, 2015 1:29 PM

An absolute amazing dynamic is seen in this video.  To say that Bangkok is trying to use most of its open space up would be an understatement.  In developed countries, you would not only never see this happen but you would not even see a thought of doing something like this.  There are violations every where you look.