Why American Public Policy Is Biased Against Transit Based High Density Living

On Mother Jones, Kevin Drum asks why there is a suburban bias in America's political institutions? Is it because the Senate overrepresents the residents of sparsely populated states? Or is it mostly due to geography and the relatively recent founding of our country, which have produced fairly low-density urban areas and therefore a naturally weaker constituency for high-density living?

On the Bellows, economist Ryan Avent responds. The whole thing is worth reading, but some of the key responses:

Older cities were built densely around 19th century transportation technologies, such that beyond the urban border -- and beyond the reach of mass transit -- density rapidly declined to nothing. Automobile ownership brought this cheap, nearby, undeveloped land within easy reach and led the rush into what became the country's great suburbs. (Suburbanization began before the car, along rail and streetcar lines, but automobile ownership changed the game entirely.)

He then describes the plight of the poor, white flight from the city, urban distrust as a culture war issue.

It didn't help when urban centers enjoyed a resurgence thanks to growth in knowledge industries, populated by pointy-headed, organic-food loving liberals, or when urban neighborhoods slowly recovered thanks to interest by gays, artists, and other unsavory types.


More at the Bellows


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Tags: Urban Life | Urban Planning

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