Sunday, June 15, 2008

A little more on Gas and Urban Land

Yesterday, I made an assumption that each household made five trips per day--this was pulled out of thin air, because I couldn't find an estimate.

I have found one here: in 2001, the average American made four trips per day. The average household has a little more than 2.5 people, meaning that the average household made ten trips per day. According to the US Census, 77 percent of these trips involve a driver without passengers; 11 percent involve carpooling. If the average car pool has two passengers (that is probably too high), then car trips per day per household is more like eight than five. From a static standpoint, I underestimated the impact of gas prices on urban form. But as one commenter noted, dynamics will tend to attenuate some of the impact (on the other hand, close in places where transit is a choice will now be at a greater advantage than places on the fringe).

People often wonder why European densities are so much higher than US densities. Part of it is history (Paris and London largely developed before automobiles); but part of it is that Europeans have been paying high prices for gasoline for a long time, and that they have had transit as an alternative. That said, the dynamics of European cities has been toward sprawl--central Paris has been losing population to its suburbs for the past fifty years. But I will leave the discussion of that to another post.


Anonymous said...

Could this lead to fuel cost inspired gentrification of cities, whereby lower income households are priced out of cities and forced into suburbs where access to transportation and city services is more difficult?

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