The biggest problem I have with walkable city proponents is their turning blind eyes to luggage, business clothes, bad weather, distance, and running errands on the way. I have lived in walkable cities, in suburbs, and in the boonies. The huge advantage of a car is increasing my flexibility in where I work and shop and live. Riding a bike to work on 90 degree 90% humidity days? Buying a week's worth of groceries on a bike? Stopping by my fav Thai restaurant for take-home dinner for four? No, no, and no.

Walkable cities for living, working, and shopping only work when everything is close together, and that limits my choices way too much. It's great having movie theaters, restaurants, grocery stores, and five and dime stores within a few blocks; but almost by definition, you can do that for only a fraction of the population, and the great demand raises the prices.

I moved out of one walkable city when I found living in the suburbs with a car was cheaper and had more opportunities.

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Another important point is that many people prefer living in suburbs because suburbs can offer many amenities that are incompatible with high population densities, like detached homes (no noisy neighbors sharing common walls/floors); private lawns, pools, and gardens; and easier access to parks and wilderness areas.

The real issue with "car-centric" planning is not so much about urban cores as it is about making suburbs more friendly to pedestrians and bicyclists. American zoning codes tend to create too much artificial separation between brick-and-mortar retail businesses and residences, to cause too much concentration of retail into large shopping complexes or in big box outlets (often located at the edge of each city to optimize the poaching of sales tax revenues from neighboring jurisdictions), and to prevent a healthy mix of higher- and lower-density housing in residential areas by artificially favoring lower-density housing (to exclude poor people and harvest more sales and property tax revenues).

The result is that American suburbs are not as walkable or bikeable as they could be, but car drivers suffer too--to run local errands suburban drivers have to make longer trips and deal with more traffic on major arteries as they do so, and often find it more challenging to park their cars once they reach their destination unless a land-intensive parking lot accompanies it. A better, more market-oriented solution doesn't have to be anti-car; it has to be more liberal about what is allowed to be built in and near residential areas.

Better infrastructure for bicycles and pedestrians is nice too, but providing such infrastructure doesn't have to be fundamentally at odds with the use of cars in suburbs. The main reason why conflicts often emerge over this in American cities is that retrofitting existing roads to accommodate bikeways often comes at the expense of parking or at the expense of a car lane, but it is the larger inefficiencies in existing patterns of land use that set up this conflict in the first place.

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This is a great comment.

I've lived in the US, Europe and Australia.

Where I live now, Canberra, is very suburban. But many of the suburbs are like mine. There is a shop, a cafe and a Primary (Elementary) School within waking distance. Within bike riding distance there is a High School and many more shops and restaurants.

Now with work from home it's all even better.

Suburbs can be good places when walking and bike riding and having shops and things is allowed and encouraged.

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"Buying a week's worth of groceries on a bike? Stopping by my fav Thai restaurant for take-home dinner for four? No, no, and no."

This is just plainly not true. I do both of these regularly. You don't even have to be like a huge bike nerd or anything. Just have to know that panniers exist or hell just mount a milk crate to a bike rack.

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In the rain or snow? On a hot humid day? No.

I know people who do live like that, no car, just bicycles, in a walkable city. They don't have the choices I have, and they have learned to expect one or two bicycles stolen every year.

I like bikes -- for recreation, when getting sweaty and dirty is an option, and when I don't have to worry about thieves.

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Your thinking is too all-or-nothing. For most people in North America, 100% of their trips are made with their car, and a typical North American city might have a total mode share of 2-5% by bicycle. A huge amount of trips people make are less than 7km, and are on days where it isn't raining, snowing, or too hot. There's a huge opportunity to push on the margin so that 10% or 20% of trips are done by walking/biking.

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But people still need cars. Reducing use by 10 or 20% doesn't eliminate the need for them. I walk lots of places. I still use the car.

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Jun 8, 2023·edited Jun 8, 2023

It does reduce people's need for cars if they replace half of their car trips with biking/walking/cycling. Many households in North America have one car per person. With 2 teenage kids a family will easily have 4 cars. If they reduce how much they use their cars, they can make do with 3, 2, or even 1 car. People who are on margin will be able to get rid of their car entirely if bike infrastructure is made better.

Less trips also mean less infrastructure needs to be built for them, etc etc.

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Josh, it looks like Felix is just piling fallacies on top of fallacies. Probable troll.

He seems to think that if you have things located within walking distance from your house, you can’t do anything on a rainy day. Strange guy.

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First you said 10% or 20%. Now you say half.

If people can afford a car for every person, and want them, who appointed you as their better, to tell them to mend their evil ways?

You haven't responded to the lack of choice and flexibility that cars provide. That is the real driver here, pun intended. People can walk and bike now; I know some that do. I know a whole lot more who don't. Given the choice, they make theirs, you make yours.

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The main fallacy of anti-walkability dummies is that they assume you are FORCING walkability on them if you build, say, a bike lane on a downtown street. In reality, you're giving people more transportation options. That point seems to have gone way over Felix's head.

Cars just aren't practical for city centers and never will be.

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The point that has gone over your head is apparent in these comments, and even yours ("Cars just aren't practical for city centers and never will be.") -- and yet they are in fact practical and in use every single day in every city.

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Yeah not going to happen if you have kids. If you completely change everything about American cities, then some subset of the population with money can run around an urban core with their kids, but the rest of us will always be too far out to benefit.

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American cities only became car-dependent because of government intervention, not because of consumer preference. If we lifted our zoning laws and removed parking minimums we'd immediately get much denser, pedestrian-friendly cities because there's such a big market demand for it.

Price per square foot is highest in walkable areas. Always has been.

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Your premise that government intervention came first is illogical. Why would governments intervene before cars were common place? Why would they mandate parking minimums before there were many cars? It makes no sense. It is ludicrous.

There's a book, Romance of the Rails, all about urban and interurban rail and bus transit. At every step of the way, governments supported the status quo and fought the new-fangled replacements. First they banned the new tech, then they taxed it, hen they subsidized it, and endless cycle. Horse coaches, horse-drawn rail coaches, electric rail coaches, electric trolley coaches, all the way to the present, every step of the way, the cycle repeated over and over. Your premise that this would be reversed for cars defies history.

Read the book. The guy loves passenger trains, yet still shows how economically inefficient they are, how they take up more road space than cars, cost more, waste more.

Then get back to me. Otherwise you are just touting theory.

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I also lol’d at your recommendation of a Randal O’Toole book. Lmao.

You need to learn some basic 20th century history. There was recently an interview with a transit historian published in Bloomberg where he describes several factors for the decline of rail in the US. They were all government-imposed.

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Still attacking the messenger. Please tell us your employment background, your hobbies, your parents, and your political leanings. Otherwise all criticisms of your messages are apparently ill-informed drivel.

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If we removed zoning and parking minimums we’d immediately have more walkable, transit-oriented cities because that’s what commands higher value on the market. Nothing in your comment addressed that fact.

Parking minimums are going to be remembered as one of the stupidest policies in American history.

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At least you don't call parking minimums subsidies.

How can you tell what commands higher market value? What are your references? Even a plausible theory would be more useful than a mere assertion.

I'd love to live in a city with no government distortion of markets, no zoning, parking minimums, building codes, etc etc etc. But without an example, your assertion is just an assertion.

There are zillions of policies worse than parking minimums. Hyperbole does your argument no good.

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I'm calling parking minimums subsidies because when they are imposed, they increase the supply of parking above what it otherwise would be, and shifts the costs of car use from motorists onto society as a whole and in particular property owners, businesses, and non-motorists.

They shift behaviour by eliminating the ability for cyclists, transit users, and pedestrians to capture the financial benefits of living a car-free or car-light lifestyle. They have to pay the cost of parking regardless of whether they drive or not, so on the margin people drive more than they otherwise would.

There are more kinds of subsidy than just direct, explicit cash transfers. There are also implicit and indirect subsidies. At any rate, it is a market distortion which encourages sub-optimally high car use and imposes the costs of it on the rest of society. Maybe you call that something other than a subsidy but please realize you're just arguing semantics.

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It may limit some choices, but expands others: If I'm going by car, I can't spontaneously meet up for drinks because someone needs to drive. I have to budget time for exercise because I'm not walking or cycling every day. Same for spending time in nature.

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Great. You have a choice. Do not take choice from me.

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Anti-urbanist dummies want to force people to drive a car for every single trip. They need to stop taking away people's choices.

We should remove oil subsidies, parking minimums, single-family-only zoning, and make sure to toll the highways so they actually start paying for themselves. Then build out bus lanes and bike lanes so we can expand people's choices.

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Ah yes, urbanists who don't understand that fuel taxes do pay for roads, and much of them is diverted to pay for your bicycle lanes.

"Dummies" for starters. Then respond to the actual questions, not the ones you make up, like thinking "anti-urbanists" want to force people to drive; no one has ever claimed that except you as a strawman. What "anti-urbanists" want is for urbanist dummies [sic; like being called named?] like you to stop forcing all the motorists to ride or walk in the rain.

And who is going to pay for your bicycle lanes without motorist fuel taxes? Are you going to charge annual bicycle fees? Register all bicycles? Arrest bicyclists on unregistered bicycles? Exempt mountain bikes and kid bikes and BMX bikes? Where are you going to hold bicycle road races, and are they going to pay for road closures and inconvenience to all the motorists?

Lay off the personal attacks, respond to the questions, and you will get more respect.

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Fuel taxes don’t nearly cover the cost of roads and highways; they’re just a continuous moneysink to the taxpayer. We need to toll most of our highways to cover the enormous cost of maintenance.

Bike lanes are proven to be good for local economies and retailers and actually save the city money since bikes don’t wear down the roads. Bikes also don’t kill people.

The rest of your post was basically schizophrenic rambling tbph. Lol.

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I don't want to take any choice from you. There are advantages and downsides to a car-centric life-style and city, and there are other trade-offs in a walking/cycling oriented lifestyle and city. Anyone can do as he please, as far as I am concerned.

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"Walkable cities for living, working, and shopping only work when everything is close together, and that limits my choices way too much"

Everything is not close together because it has deliberately been designed for car use. In a traditional medieval town centers everything is close together.

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No. Everything not close together because there are too many choices to crowd into such a small space.

A traditional medieval town is not known for its plethora of choices.

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How did it have more opportunities?

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Eh? How does more distance, more area, more stores, have more opportunities? What are you asking?

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Distance etc. doesn't produce more opportunities in itself. I guess the differece between us is the kind of opportunities we want.

Probably, the relative size of our countries shapes our different preferences: in Holland, all the big cities are within an hour traindrive. Also, the train to Paris takes 3,5 hours, to Berlin 6 hours etc. The USA is much bigger and eveything is further apart.

The one time I really miss a car is when I go on holiday, because without it I can't take as much stuff as I would like to..

I do appreciate your comments. I thought everyone would want to live in a walkable city. It is is refreshing and interesting to encounter another viewpoint.

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"I thought everyone would want to live in a walkable city."

This kind of thinking is why we have so many problems.

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I would like to live in a walkable suburb. I work remote, I chose where I live because it isn't a big city. But the downtown area is very walkable. But I have to drive to get to it first. Eliminate zoning and a lot of that driving goes away, as I can walk/bike to the stuff that is nearby. But still get to the other things that are further away and use a car for them.

There are all kind of tradeoffs involved. There is a neighborhood school that my daughter could walk to. But we drive her 20 minutes to a different school instead. It isn't because our neighborhood school is bad, I am sure its fine. But we made other choices that better meet my daughter's needs. And I need a car to make that happen.

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For the other side of the coin, consider than cars get less subsidy per passenger-mile than any other means of transportation: https://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=18116

Now, that link isn't dispositive of the matter, perhaps implicit subsidies (like parking requirements/on-street free parking/etc.) are much bigger than that. But it does highlight the problem of trying to predict what free-market urbanism would actually do. Maybe it'd be the Netherlands. Maybe it'd be Houston. Maybe it'd be some weird thing that doesn't yet exist and would ill-fit existing categories (I highly suspect that'd be the case). We might just get more of everything, as living arrangements try to target various customer niches.

Wanting a specific kind of outcome, and advocating for a deregulatory policy to achieve it, is likely to leave the asker disappointed. And it also blinds you to government interventions that favor your particular outcome (if you hate the suburbs you'll probably never bother learning about Urban Growth Boundaries and how these actively raise the price of suburban housing by limiting the supply of land).

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This is my general approach to everything: Choose the moral means and accept whatever ends result.

Yes, you can't choose a specific outcome, that leads to literal "ends justify the means" thinking. I would love to end zoning* and end subsidies for cars and transit. Making the road/street distinction, I would toll the roads and turn streets over to the local POA* for maintenance.

I think the end result would tilt the balance towards less cars, it might even hit that 10-20% talked about upthread. But if it went more or less car oriented, I wouldnt care.

*with a possible exception for heavy industrial

*in some places, they may need to be created as special districts for that purpose. But they should be small.

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I've seen essentially three types of construction at scale. All in the suburbs/exurbs.

1) Master planned HOA townhome/condo communities centered around some kind of walkable outdoor mall space (often with parks and amenities and such). You can walk around that area, but you need a car to get to work or (often) school.

2) Master planned hoa townhome/single family communities where the development is walkable and maybe has some amenities but there is no walkable commercial outdoor mall.

3) Some mix of the above.

In every case people need cars to function, but can do some walkable fun stuff on weeknights/weekends.

I get the feeling everyone would choose this if they could afford it, and generally its more affordable then city living.

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The other type of development that used to happen at scale was construction by many hands. A town would be platted, small lots sold to individual owners and the individuals would build four themselves. No subsidies or special zoning deals required. That is no longer common now because most zoning &building codes makes it functionally impossible to build except in expensive and circumscribed ways.

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I'm actually rather critical of 'Not just bikes" and similar (decidedly anti-libertarian) urbanists for two big reasons.

1) His content is very anti-suburban; it's fine to have preferences, I don't like suburbs much myself. But he, like many urbanists, has convinced himself that everyone would deep down rather live in a dense city, and the only reason suburbs exist is because of pernicious forces driving urban sprawl; he supports heavy handed regulations to counteract it. There's a surprisingly lack of comprehension of the fact that other people have different preferences. Many people like living in suburbs and prefer having lots of space and low density to walkability, and low taxes and the mobility of cars to the high taxes and constraints of mass transit.

2) He largely ignores the question of cost of living. He constantly criticizes Houston, for example, without ever acknowledging that, however unpleasant he (and I) may find Houston compared to San Francisco, the reason why the former is growing rapidly and the latter is shrinking is because Houston is cheap, and many of the reasons for its cheapness are because of things, like minimal regulation and low taxes, that he wants done away with.

I think this is actually a big problem with the urbanist movement. I say this as someone who prefers cities. There's such an obnoxious obliviousness to the idea that their preferences are subjective and not everyone shares them. They seem in denial of the fact that many people don't want to pay the high taxes necessary to support extensive public transit, for example. In fact cities like that are growing rapidly in the US.

Urbanists also suspiciously avoid many of the glaring problems of cities in the US (and to a lesser extend Europe) like crime, rising taxes, and deteriorating public services, that are driving people toward the suburbs because, it seems, such issues aren't politically convenient for them. Even in areas where one might think libertarianism and urbanism would be concordant, like deregulating development and land use, urbanists seem as often hostile as sympathetic. Urbanists tend to be fairly pro-central planning. Market urbanism would be a fine thing, but one shouldn't pretend that conventional urbanism wouldn't be one of its biggest enemies.

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I recommend strongtowns.org over Not Just Bikes.

There is some crossover, but there is less of that attitude on it. And I try to make sure the libertarian mindset is present via comments.

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>Suspiciously avoid

It’s not really suspicious. “Walkable cities” is usually code for “anti-suburbs.” There’s a very strong undertone of “white flight caused this” in all of his videos because, as he’s admitted, he’s liberal and pro central planning. It’s less that he feels everyone shares his preferences, and more that he feels morally justified in shoving them on everyone.

Additionally many, *many* of his statements in his videos are just flat out incorrect, even if his overall thesis is not. He clearly does not do much research (or if he does it’s extremely biased) and it’s difficult for me to take him seriously.

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I don't think we will ever reach a zero car equilibrium and I'm not sure that that would be desirable. But I agree that cars as a means for transportation are subsidized by the government through roads and that has consequences. I think of this with regards to parking in particular. Many locales have mandatory parking minimums which are inefficient. Having big chunks of valuable land that go unused for parts of the day for parking seems silly. Dynamic pricing for parking might also help with.

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It is so strange that "the environment" is often synonymous with "CO2 and greenhouse gases" when it's particulate pollution that kills thousands. Otherwise I am endorsing this letter.

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This point supports a move away from car-centrism. Vehicle exhaust, brake pads, and tires are a major source of particulate pollution in urban areas. Not to mention all the extra concrete and asphalt infrastructure, the construction of which emits particulates, is required to support the level of car use in North America.

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Why don't electric vehicles solve this problem? We're not more than a few generations away from predominately electric cars probably. The environmental argument for the anti-car position is on borrowed time.

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Electric cars still have brake pads and tires which emit a lot of particulates, and still have thousands of times the environmental cost of a bicycle when you include mining, manufacturing, shipping, maintenance.

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Bingo, Josh. Particulates from car tires are poisoning our waterways. Something’s got to change in this country’s transportation infrastructure.

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My bicycle tires wore out much sooner than my car tires, both time-wise and distance-wise, and so did my shoes. Bicycle gears need lubrication. Bicycle brakes wear out. All that detritus was left on the streets. Bicycles and walking are not pollution-free. Until that pollution has been measured, it can't be compared.

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Using passenger-mile is a dumb metric for comparing modes of transportation.

O'Toole promotes car-dependency because he is paid by an oil company. He's also a massive hypocrite, advocating single-family zoning while calling himself "anti-planner". Lol.

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Ooooh, paid by an oil company! Tell you what, attacking his message should be easy if he is such a tool spouting nonsense. The fact that you resort to attacking the messenger instead of the message tells me a lot about how realistic his message is.

Pound the facts or pound the law, but when you pound the table, you tell the world you have neither facts nor law to pound.

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Actually, Felix, I deconstructed his message as well. That clearly slipped your little mind.

I also let you know why O’Toole fumbles over himself so much: he is a paid propagandist (and also a huge joke, referencing O’Toole is the quickest way to discredit yourself when discussing anything related to planning or transportation). Lol.

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Let me repeat this, since you keep making the same dumb personal attacks.

If O'Toole is such a clown, a paid propagandist, a huge joke, then it should be easy to refute his arguments. That book is full of facts. Show them to be false or selective. Show the errors in his logic. Show he lied.

Who are you a paid propagandist for? Who is your employer? It seems mighty convenient that you call O'Toole a paid propagandist for Big Oil but won't tell us you are are shilling for?

Put up.

Or shut up and lay off the personal attacks. You only illustrate how weak your own bare assertions are when that is your first line of rebuttal.

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Not only did I refute O’Toole’s flaws (of which there are thousands), I suggested you look at the Bloomberg article with historian Nicholas Dagen Bloom as an alternative to give you some basic education.

It’s amazing how nothing in your posts is true. Lol.

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My little mind. Labeling him a paid propagandist. Your personal attacks betray your lack of actual argument.

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O’Toole is a paid propagandist for the oil industry. Thats a fact.

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I ride motorcycles, have lived/worked in Amsterdam, Stockholm, Switzerland, and elsewhere: I had my own car and cycle, usually left them parked. Rode a pedal power bicycle with big panniers. Now ride ebikes, hate getting near traffic (Live in San Francisco Bay).

- Wet weather annoys when one is used to a poncho or so. Cold/Snow is really not an issue.

- Attire was sport coat and dress slacks. Same on motorcycle, carry rain suit/poncho.

- Hot weather, take bus or train.

- Used to stop and pick up carry out on my bike (and motorcycle here) all the time.

- Summary: one gets used to the norms of one's peers. Bikes are convenient in a non-car world.

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You haven't addressed the greater choice and flexibility from cars.

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Great share, I'm a fan of Scott's work and had him on my podcast here: https://rss.com/podcasts/stranded-technologies-podcast/789782/

Another great blog I can recommend is Zach Caceres, this post gives a good first impression: https://www.startupcities.com/p/why-do-cities-blame-their-customers

Here is also a map (of my own) of the emerging space of new cities & network states, to develop entrepreneurial solutions: https://twitter.com/NiklasAnzinger/status/1652651110174273536

I'm myself based in Prospera - the most advanced and ambitious new city development in the area: https://prospera.hn/

See you in a few weeks talking on my podcast, Bryan!

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So I followed your link, trying to find the map you mentioned, of the start up cities. No map on twitter, just an image with faux links that you can't click on. So I followed the link to the 'further explanatory notes' on substack. Where there is also no map, just the same image with the faux links you can't click on, and a lot of discussion of this and that, but no links to a map of start up cities, or even any links to information about any of the start up cities. But there was a 'download google docs files' link, so, I clicked on that. Yet more copies of the image with, of course, nothing but faux links to click on. ??

How about an actual map of the 'start up cities'? or even just a list of links to information about the start up cities you list in the image?

Showing where the cities are geographically would be very helpful. Indicating which ones are actually far enough along that someone could actually go and live there would be very helpful too.

Instead all you seem to have is a list of 18 cryptic names like 'Liberstand' and 'Montelibro' and nothing elsep.

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That is very strange, it still works for me ...

I think this is the best startup city map with geo (the one above is logos): https://www.startupcitiesmap.com/

Does this one work?

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Ah, now that is what I was looking for.

Although extremely disappointing in terms of actual options:

I limited my search to US/Canada/UK/Australia/New Zealand, since I didn't want to learn a new language, and to cities that are actual start ups (rather than, say, a city that attracts startups, which of course is an entirely different thing). 6 possibles:

1 in the UK, Free Society Foundation: ‘exact location has not been made public’.

5 in the US:

Creators Cabin is a community of remote cabins for independent online creators in the Texas Hill Country “a residency program for creators” “8 bedrooms and bathrooms spread across 3 cabins, an outdoor spa, community gathering spaces, and an area for vans. It sits on 28-acres of the Texas Hill Country” “Each month, we still vote on creators to win a free residency at our cabins.” So, not a city, or even a neighborhood, certainly not someplace you can go and live— a subsidized residency program for 8-16 people (8 bedrooms) — looks like ‘creators’ are invited for a month or so sabbatical. But, not relevant to anyone looking for a place to live.

Culdesac Tempe is the first car-free neighborhood built from scratch in the US that will accomodate housing, recreational parks, and full walkable ammenities. Their communities prioritize biking, walking, and transit over cars and parking and they partner with leading mobility companies to deliver convenient and affordable transportation services.

Bad news: looks like you can’t actually buy a home there, or anything like that. Only option is renting an apartment.

Now leasing

Studios from $1340/mo

1 bedrooms from $1550/mo

2 bedrooms from $2180/mo

3 bedrooms from $2990/mo

Here’s what they’ve currently got available:


The project of Bleutech Park Las Vegas will be constructed with net zero carbon footprint buildings within their own insular mini-city. It shall include automated multi-functional designs, renewable energies, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, Internet of Things, robotics, and be powered by 5G. * Exact location hasn't been made public.

Telosa's vision is to create a new city in the United States of America that sets a global standard for urban living, expanding human potential, and becoming a blueprint for future generations. * Exact location hasn't been made public.

Praxis is a grassroots movement of modern pioneers building a new city. They are technologists, artists, and builders. Their goal is to build a place where its residents can develop to their fullest potential; physically, culturally, and spiritually. * Exact location hasn't been made public.

Bottom line.

At present 5 are vaporware, I wish them the best of luck.

One is a residency program for ‘creators’: can’t tell for sure but looks like the idea is one month or a couple of month sabbaticals. But, not relevant to anyone looking for a place to live

One, in Tempe Arizona, is a real place, with real apartments, currently available, which you could actually go rent, right now, and actually go live there. Looks like a nice place, but somewhat disappointing to most of us since it doesn’t look like you can actually buy a home there. All they have available is rental apartments. That might work for someone who is just out of college, but what about the rest of us? Perhaps one could buy a home on the outskirts and sneak in.

The map also has an option ‘Cities that act like startups’ (eg old established cities that are, I guess, doing innovative things). Lots and lots of these, but, I’m not sure how excited I should be, the list is long, but the inclusion criteria is hard to guess: Nashville, Atlanta, Seattle WA, Portland, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, etc, etc, etc. ?? I’m not sure what the inclusion criteria is, and the map isn’t any help. Their little blurb on each city says nothing at all about in what way(s) the various cities are ‘acting like a startup city’. And the link is to the Wikipedia page for each city.

So, don’t pack your bags anyone. Unless you don’t have any interest in owning your own home. In which case, maybe check out Tempe.

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I like Market Urbanism because it's what cities naturally gravitate to when people are given choices. Americans will pay more to live in walkable, convenient neighborhoods. Harness that market demand and consumer preference to create sustainable cities.

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I live in Manhattan and will walk to anything within a 2 mile radius, which means I'm almost always walking. I think this is a very worthwhile cause and I'd love to see walking more prioritized in NYC and other cities.

That said, the people who bike in my neighborhood are more dangerous to me than drivers, because bikers, mostly, do not believe they have to obey any traffic signals. I've been to Amsterdam and there, in contrast, I found the bikers to be considerate and obedient to the rules.

Maybe it's a New York or maybe even an American deficit of civic awareness and duty.

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Just spent a delightful weekend in NYC, but found being a pedestrian in midtown Manhattan more unsettling than anytime in the past half century. The bikers are terrible. It's not just running lights, which I've gotten used to, but it's sadly commonplace to see them on sidewalks and going the wrong way on one-way streets.

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A car obeying all traffic laws is still 100x more dangerous to you than a cyclist breaking one or two traffic laws.

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When I think about how American cities are designed it always reminds me of Bastiat’s “Petition of the Candlemakers”. We build cities as if 80 years ago there were a successful petition of automobile manufacturers and associated industries to stop the unfair competition of people’s legs.

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Hmm. I wouldn't vote with my dollars to walk 3 miles to work in subzero temperatures. Nor would I want to live in the type of housing that would be available 3 miles from anyplace that would hire me. I hike when I want to, but it's not when it's freezing or sweltering hot and I had a poor night's sleep before a business meeting, etc.

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Those are perfectly reasonable preferences to hold, but you should have to pay for your costly choices rather than be subsidized by everyone else.

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As in pay fuel taxes, pay for the garage and driveway, and pay stores who pay for parking lots?

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Fuel taxes don't even come close to paying all of the road infrastructure and and don't account for the implicit subsidies motorists enjoy in North America. In many cities it's even illegal to build anything in the spot on your property where a garage would normally go. That is a huge implicit subsidy towards people with car-dependent lifestyles because those who are not car-dependent cannot capitalize on that fact to, say, have a bigger home.

In most cities in North America, parking minimums dictate that for every land use there's a minimum number of parking spots required. This is again an implicit subsidy that forces everyone else to pay for the lifestyle of car drivers. That is to say, businesses that charge less, but provide less/no parking are impossible to build, so even cyclists pay for the parking lot.

There are so many more, from the decades of subsidy to car manufacturers (see the new 13 billion dollar subsidy to the Ontario VW battery plant, Biden's industrial policy), the lack of fair compensation to those who are injured, disabled or killed by cars, and so many more ways...

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You'll have to provide a citation for that assertion about fuel taxes, explain why governments divert so much fuel tax money to other purposes, and explain what taxes bicyclists and walkers pay.

Forcing store owners to build extra parking is not a subsidy, it is a cost. That land is not free. It costs money to buy and maintain, and someone pays property taxes on it. All those expenses come out of customers' pockets.

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I really don't understand how you can say that government mandated parking minimums are not an implicit subsidy. Municipalities require land owners to provide a minimum amount of parking spaces per square foot (exact minimums per square foot differ by land use -- retail, office, residential, etc). This means that you have to pay for parking whether you drive or not. People who don't drive have to pay for that parking space whether they use it or not, so drivers are the ones who use the parking, but the cost is spread over everyone. That is certainly an implicit subsidy if there ever was one.

On taxes, sorry but I trust you to google it yourself on how streets are paid for. They are paid for out of general revenue and the spending on road infrastructure is not pegged to be equal or proportional to fuel tax revenue. A lot of roads are funded by municipalities which get most of their revenue from property taxes, and don't directly receive any fuel tax revenue at all. There's also electric vehicles which don't pay fuel tax.

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A subsidy is someone else paying for something. A store which owns a parking lot paid to buy it and pays to maintain it and pays property tax on it, and then passes all those costs on to the customers. Where is the subsidy?

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Cars get less subsidies per passenger mile than any other form of transport in the US.

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This is really great parody, thanks for the laugh!

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I’m sorry you’re unable to perform basic research but I don’t see why this comments section should bear the cost of reading your ill-informed opinions.

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Jun 10, 2023·edited Jun 10, 2023

I assume you're talking about the AntiPlanner's article?

The article sums up how much is spent by gvmt on roads compared to transit systems, and divides by km's traveled on those systems to come up with the fact that cars are less subsidized per km than transit. But conveniently his calculus leaves out such enormous chunks of subsidy as

- parking minimums

- thousands of thumbs-on-the-scale like building codes that forbid homeowners from even building where the garage would normally go (in Winnipeg this is the case, you cannot build so much as a fence in the spot where a garage belongs LOL)

- legal system that grants cars priority access to public space over walkers/transit/cyclists (see for instance the invention of the Jay Walking concept by car manufacturers in the early 1900s)

- literally tens of billions of corporate welfare given to car manufacturers, fossil fuel companies, battery plants etc (Canada announced recently 13billion handout to VW battery plant in ontario, and an other one to VW's competitor ...)

- are all the people killed, injured, disabled by collisions valued at zero? doesn't that count as a subsidy of sorts, that drivers are given the free ability to kill people with no recourse because it makes their mode of transport more convenient?

- what about the air pollution, noise pollution, etc? The fact that people aren't compensated for that could be considered a subsidy of sorts...

- if there weren't cars on the road, a bus transit system would run 10x faster, so the use of cars directly causes the reduction of km per $ achieved by most transit

- critically, fundamentally the entire premise of this analysis is 180 degrees wrong from the start. Why is the one true metric the $/km traveled? Of course people who drive travel a lot more compared to people who take transit/bike. The end goal of a transportation system is not to get people traveling as much distance as possible. By that logic, we could add a few nascar loops and have everyone drive in a circle, and it would actually improve efficiency of the system.

Overall, the article is an example of obviously motivated reasoning and is written by the "Anti Planner" who's views are extremely inconsistent, hypocritical, and just plain wrong. As often is the case with urbanist issues, the YouTube channel Oh the Urbanity covers him as well as I could have https://youtu.be/uJ1ePlln6VE

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Pretty much none of these things are subsidies. In almost all cases the cost of these things falls on the direct user of the car except your example of noise pollution.

But if we are including “being inconvenienced by a mode of transportation” and not charging the owner(s) of said transportation for every infraction as a “subsidy”, then essentially all public transit gets trillions per year due to delays (which have a direct man-hour equivalent unlike noise pollution which is vague and ill-defined).

Also including “if X didn’t exist, I’d be more efficient, therefore X existing is a form of subsidy” is petulant and childish, as is implying that those killed in vehicular collisions get not recompense. People are not let off for drunk driving or vehicular manslaughter, they are charged and punished, this is forcing the owner of the transportation to take responsibility for his/her actions. Trying to intuition pump “so you don’t care if people die?” is not only incredibly dishonest and scummy, it’s pretty moronic since car users are not allowed to kill people like you imply.

All of this has already been explained to you though and it seems you’re intellectually incapable of understanding.

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As has already been pointed out, mass transit is more subsidized than cars in the US. And even within cities, people like me who barely use the trains because they're terrible still have to pay taxes for people who do. I'd sure love it if train-riders in NYC actually had to pay the full price with the fare rather than get 70% of the cost paid by taxpayers.

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I’m glad that so many American cities are realizing how stupid parking minimums are and have subsequently ended their minimum parking requirements. We’re seeing an exponential growth in cities repealing parking mandates.

Zoning reform is making progress though much slower. But because there’s such a huge demand for walkable neighborhoods it’s basically an inevitability.

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This sounds like an idea driven by the particular weather of Europe and the American west coast. I defy anyone to make Chicago or Houston into walkable cities, because of their winters and summers respectively. So this is a recipe calling for everyone to leave those cities.

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It looks like the point went way over your head.

Just get zoning laws out of the way, expand people's property rights, and they will build walkable neighborhoods out of market demand. In the US the government prohibits us from building walkable neighborhoods in most of the land. Even 79% of chicago's residential land is zoned single-family. Lol.

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I just don’t think a walkable city works very well in more extreme climates, so the residents are going to want roads for cars. I.e I think your prediction of market demand is wrong for much of the US -- wherever it is too cold, hot, or wet for too much of the year. I mean, there’s a bodega within easy walking distance from my house, but most of the year is over 85 degrees and most of the rest is raining, so I’m getting in my car. And as long as I’m in my car, I’m going to a larger grocery store because it has more variety and easier parking.

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The irony of your posts is that Houston actually got rid of parking minimums and has seen a massive boom in pedestrian-oriented development in their city center.

It’s hilarious to me that you keep holding Houston up as an example because Houston is building more apartments than almost anywhere in the United States.

Austin and Dallas, too, are steadily transforming from car-dependency to have more variety of transportation options and housing types.

That’s what happens when you get Big Government zoning and parking minimums out of the way.

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Does anyone know of some walkable cities in the US? or even Canada, New Zealand, UK, Australia? I would be interested in living in a walkable city, but, learning a foreign language is really more of a commitment than I'd be willing to make.

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Parts of New York, Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Boston, Vancouver BC, Washington DC, Portland, Quebec City are pretty walkable.

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I'll +1 the request for a post digging into Market Urbanism, with a focus on what startup cities (like Próspera and Itana) can do differently from the very start and in the incentive structure. Ciudad Morazan can act like a development landlord and maintain control, but I'm curious how one can create an environment where Jane Jacob's dynamic city thrives.

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