Urbanization

Is China Considering a Divorce From Its Car Culture?

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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If the 20th Century was the era of America’s honeymoon with the car, the 21st has given way to the reluctant realization that this suitor has come with some baggage – air pollution, urban sprawl, obesity, and traffic congestion, to name a few.

It is not just the U.S. that is contemplating a car “divorce.” The same scenario is playing out in other parts of the developed (and developing) world, just at varying paces and in different degrees.

While “many Chinese still associate car ownership with status, cars are losing their appeal as a status symbol in most segments in China’s mega-cities,” concludes a new report from management consulting firm Bain & Company, Inc.

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Urbanization the Hottest Real-Estate Trend in 2015

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

Urbanization – migration away from the suburbs and to the central city – will be the biggest real estate trend in 2015, according to a new report from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The Emerging Trends in Real Estate report, in its 36th year of publication, makes projections in commercial and residential real estate for the coming year. It is a widely utilized and respected industry report. The newest report surveyed more than 1,400 people involved in the real-estate market, ranging from real-estate investors to property managers.

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Transit is a Commonality of Booming, Vibrant Cities

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab and In the Capital]

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The smartest move for real-estate developers is to continue investing in cities that have many transportation options available to their potential tenants.

And growing cities need to embrace transit-oriented development to remain competitive.

Those are the findings of a recent report that explores 10 major cities (Mexico City, Manhattan, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Washington D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Boston, and San Francisco) experiencing rapid population growth. Most commercial and residential development in these places has been transit oriented.

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As Driving Habits Change, Places That Cater to Millennials Thrive

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

An employment opportunity brought Matt Smith (above right), a 30-year old business-development manager, to the Washington D.C. area from Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania in 2009.

He chose to live in Arlington because of its urban feel and plethora of transportation options. “Arlington feels like D.C. to me, but it’s cleaner and greener,” said Smith, who works at goDCgo in the same suite as Mobility Lab. “I hear people complain about the Metro here and I just don’t get it. We don’t have anything like that where I’m from.”

Smith’s appreciation for transit is aligned with those of his peers, as furthered in yet another new study, this one from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) and the Frontier Group, linking Millennials with changing attitudes and habits around the automobile.

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Roanoke, Virginia Placemaking Shows a City on the Rise

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Big cities aren’t the only places working hard to create terrific communities. I was reminded of this fact when visiting Roanoke, Virginia over the past few days to attend CityWorks(X)po, a conference for change agents and placemakers. Going in, I was completely unfamiliar with the city, but was delighted with what I discovered there during my short visit.

It was the friendliness of Roanoke’s residents that I first noticed. This wasn’t just the small-town Southern hospitality that’s a cliché. The congeniality of the city’s residents seemed more significant, somehow, and more genuine. People had an open manner and authenticity I was unaccustomed to in hectic Washington D.C., with its preoccupation on political affiliations and “optics.”

Then I discovered Roanoke’s downtown area. “It’s only about five square blocks, but they’ve done a real nice job fixing it up over the past couple years,” said Harry, my hotel shuttle driver. That was a bit of an understatement. The downtown public plaza was actually the result of a crowdsourcing project launched at (X)po in 2011, according to conference organizer Amy McGinnis.

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Where You Live Determines Whether You Use Transit

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[Written by Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Transportation choice in America is largely a product of where one lives, which is both directly and indirectly dependent upon core values and attitudes.

This is a major finding in TransitCenter’s Who’s on Board: The 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey, and it supports the idea that transportation and land use are inextricably linked.

While there is a high demand for quality public transportation nationwide, such infrastructure is often missing in the places where Americans currently live. The findings support the idea that there is an unmet demand for mixed-use, walkable urban places – called WalkUPs, a term coined by Christopher Leinberger, chair of George Washington University’s Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis.

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Suburbanites Seek Status Behind “Velvet Rope,” Argues Transit Activist Ross

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Why do so many Americans choose to live in the suburbs, despite the increasingly long commute times and lack of community often associated with these places?

Benjamin Ross, a Washington D.C.-based transit activist whose grass-roots lobbying efforts led to the planned Purple Line in Maryland, argues that suburbia has a persistent allure because it is a great “velvet rope” separating those of means from the rest of us.

Status-seeking, Ross says, is the psychological underpinning of suburbanization, leading Americans to seek out the cachet purported by suburbia’s bigger houses, bigger lots, and bigger SUVs. Ross makes a convincing argument to this effect in his new, meticulously-researched book, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism.

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