Smart growth focuses on the development of compact, walkable cities with houses and jobs located close together. By shortening residents' commutes, this form of urban design aims to cut transportation-related energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. California is already pursuing smart growth in order to meet emissions reductions set by the state's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).
In a behavioral economics study, researchers at San Francisco State University found that a 10 percent increase in a city's smart growth features -- including housing density, jobs per capita and public transit infrastructure -- would lead to a 20 percent decrease in the number of vehicle miles traveled per household, per year.
"We found that changing the way cities are designed would significantly reduce travel demand," said Sudip Chattopadhyay, professor and chair of economics at SF State. "People's travel habits would change, and they would drive less."
These latest results stand in contrast to previous studies that have suggested that smart growth only has a small impact on transport demand. Chattopadhyay says that in the past economists have struggled to find the right methodologies to understand how people's behavior changes in response to urban planning.
For the present study, Chattopadhyay developed an innovative way to predict people's behavior, particularly how people make decisions about where to live. The study focused on 18 urban areas across the United States and used census data and information from the 2001 National Household Travel Survey and the National Transit Database.
The study found that smart growth strategies yield greater reductions in car use compared to the use of fuel tax increases. It suggests that a 10 percent increase in the dollar cost of driving one mile would result in an 18 percent decrease in annual vehicle miles traveled per household, compared to a 20 percent decrease from smart growth strategies.
"It's only a few percent points but it is a significant difference," Chattopadhyay said. "Smart growth is a more gradual, long-lasting change and it generates employment. Tax increases can be implemented more quickly but they are subject to change depending on the political situation."
Chattopadhyay notes that there are other benefits of smart growth not measured in his study. Neighborhood design that encourages walking, for example, may improve residents' health, and the development of compact cities might prevent urban sprawl and help preserve open space.
"Do Smart Growth Strategies Have a Role in Curbing Vehicle Miles Traveled? A Further Assessment Using Household Level Survey Data" was authored by Sudip Chattopadhyay and Emily Taylor, who graduated from SF State with a master's in economics in 2010. It was published online on Sept. 11, 2012 in The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy.
The paper is available online at: http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejeap.2012.12.issue-1/1935-1682.3224/1935-1682.3224.xml
Elaine Bible | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.05.2017 | Life Sciences
23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering