As you may have noticed, we love maps, especially interactive ones. I just came across a nifty new little tool from the Center for Neighborhood Technologies that shows annual spending per household on gasoline in 52 major metropolitan throughout the US:

The maps provide data for the years 2000 and 2008, enabling comparisons for the eight-year period between annual household gasoline expenses, monthly household transportation expenses (including vehicle purchase price, insurance and maintenance) and monthly household transportation expenditures as a percent of income. Across the 52 metro areas studied, residents spent a combined $107.4 billion more on gasoline in 2008 than in 2000, an average increase regionally of 155%.

As we might expect, the difference between walk- and transit-friendly urban areas and car-friendly suburbs is staggering. City-dwellers spend $2,100 less per year, on average, than out-ring suburbs. A  household in NW Portland averages $0-$1,600 per on gasoline, whereas a household in a suburb like Lake Oswego, OR spends $3,000 to $3,800. The message? We’re spending a far greater percentage of our income in 2008 on transportation than we were in 2000—and gas prices are hurting those of us with fewer choices about how to get around far more than the city dwellers who have the freedom to walk or bike or take the bus.

If one were to compare a map from the CNT tool to a map of walkable neighborhoods (courtesy of, it might look something like this:

Gas spending walkscore maps



I don’t mean to suggest that folks living in the outskirts are to blame for this; housing costs in the city are expensive and are often not economically feasible. And as we wrote a few weeks ago, these economic trends are starting to erode housing prices in the suburbs. But smart policy can encourage denser, walkable communities in the ‘burbs too, and we might see a little more yellow on the map.