News Roundup: June 25, 2013

Photo by dbking.
Police Unit Taking Closer Look at Deadly Crashes (New York Times)
A double-whammy of great news coming out of New York: the NYPD is taking vehicle collisions more seriously, expanding their team of investigators and not dismissing them as "accidents" so readily, and they also mention Streetsblog NYC as being particularly on top of the police department about the issue, which is richly-deserved. The money paragraph is right here: '“For big cities, they’re on the leading edge of the curve,” said Roy E. Lucke, a retired Chicago-area traffic officer and the director of transportation safety programs at Northwestern University. Most cities think of traffic deaths as somehow less worthy of investigation, he said. “Our mantra has always been, ‘Tell me how they’re less dead,’ ” he said.'

Urban Home Values Are Rising Faster Than Suburban Ones (Atlantic Cities)
Richard Florida reports that house prices per square foot are rising at a faster rate in urban areas than suburban ones, and that the difference is greatest in some areas not historically known for their high urban living standards: Detroit and Phoenix top the list, with the more likely candidates of Miami, New York, and Boston rounding out the top five. Even more interesting, "high-rise" neighborhoods grew in value more quickly than the average urban area, and areas with high levels of diversity in terms of both sexual orientation and race and ethnicity did the best of all.

We Shouldn't Build More Park and Rides (Seattle Transit Blog)
Park and rides frequently accompany rail and commuter express bus service into the suburbs as a way to boost ridership, but STB contributor Ben Schiendelman argues that this is counterproductive. The reason, essentially, comes down to induced demand: the people who switch to the park and ride transit are just replaced by even-more-distant suburb-dwellers for whom traffic was previously too heavy to justify driving. In effect, we pay millions of dollars to increase the total number of miles driven. The basis of the argument is actually similar to a post I wrote about downtowns back in December.

Mailbag: Scale of Economies (Strong Towns)
Chuck Marohn shares an email from a reader, who wondered, why are economists so positive about news of increasing car sales, when the majority of states don't manufacture vehicles or many of their parts. While the sales may be good on a nationwide scale (maybe), a state like Maine that receives all its cars from other states (or countries) is sending many millions of dollars across its borders every year and the benefits they receive are hard to see. And that's before considering that the money would probably be better spent on other things even if the cars were made locally.

Fossil Fuel-Funded Foundation Not Very Good at Predicting Rail Ridership (Streetsblog)
We all saw this one coming, right? The Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank that's viscerally anti-urban and pro-sprawl/car sent out a few "researchers" last year during the first week of LA's new Expo light rail line to estimate ridership. They made the utterly inane assumption that ridership would not significantly increase over the next century or more--and stuck by that position when challenged. Unsurprisingly, they were wrong. Ridership jumped from their 13,000 estimate to 18,000 within two months, and is on track to reach its 2020 goals before the end of this year. (It's currently over 26,000 trips per day.) Somehow I doubt we'll be seeing a Reason Foundation mea culpa any time soon.