• Go Tell Anti-Roadie

     (This post is part of a series.) It appears that a growing number of Seattle residents are questioning whether the Alaskan Way Viaduct—the elevated highway that hugs the Seattle waterfront through downtown—ought to be torn down and replaced with…well…nothing at all. There has been a lot written about this in the past few years—especially recently. This is not nearly as radical an idea as it might seem. Portland removed a...
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  • Ada Boy!

    The governments in and around Boise, Idaho, are finally making some progress on planning for smart growth. They’ve agreed to a process to create a single growth blueprint. It’s a welcome step for the metropolitan area that has earned the dubious distinction of most sprawling in Cascadia.
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  • Are you dense?

    John Holtzclaw, a transportation researcher from the Bay Area of California, has an interesting website that shows the relationships between residential density and driving. It includes photos of different San Francisco neighborhoods and data on their density, fuel use, and air pollution rates. One point: high density doesn’t necessarily mean high rise. You can also use his calculator to check your own neighborhood’s (projected) fuel consumption. But you’ll have to...
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  • Hybrid Vigor?

    Although hybrid gas-electric vehicles—including the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight and a version of the Civic—are certainly becoming more common, they’re still a rarity on the roads: in 2003 there were less than 44,000 registered in the entire U.S. By contrast, there are about 230,000,000 non-hybrid cars and trucks in the US. Virginia and Maryland have the most hybrid cars per capita—with 4.5 and 3.4 hybrid vehicles for every...
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  • Population Density in Las Vegas, NV

    Of the 12 non-Cascadian cities studied by Sightline, greater Las Vegas is the densest, with half of its residents living in compact communities in 2000.
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  • Reading List

    Here’s a provocative essay by one of the Northwest’s greatest living writers Jonathan Raban. It argues that Seattle’s beautiful setting and self-concept as a back-to-nature capital have crippled its city building, actually causing its failure to grow more urbane, more dense, less sprawling. The argument is contradicted by many counterexamples. (Vancouver and Portland have similarly stunning settings and outdoorsy cultures but more successful architecture and city planning. The differences are...
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  • Getting Railroaded

    The typical “green” position is to favor transit, especially rail transit, in all circumstances. But Cascadia’s long-term prospects depend on spending public dollars as efficiently as possible, which means supporting judicious, cost-effective investments in public transit. One worrisome example of ill-guided spending on transit is Sounder’s north commuter line, which connects Seattle with Everett. The full taxpayer cost per rider is in the hundreds of dollars per trip-money that would...
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  • The Road Worrier

    Just as you might expect, highways cause air pollution. Or, to be more precise: all else being equal, places with more highway miles per capita tend to produce higher levels of air pollution from vehicles, because people drive more. Among the 66 large cities ranked in terms of miles of highway lane per capita, Seattle and Portland were 44th and 45th, respectively. Not bad, but the highway miles per capita...
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  • Trim Waists, Build Up

    Roger Valdez of the Washington State Public Health Association today argues in the Seattle Times for concentrating more development in downtown Seattle, not to save farmland, but to save lives. Density boosts walking and cuts fat. It’s not a new message, but it is a new and welcome messenger.
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  • Boise-Area Population Density Map

    Boise, Idaho, is the Northwest’s most sprawling metropolis
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