Linklist: March 8, 2012

Steve Mouzon: The price of speed:

“The need for speed devours huge chunks of American cities and leaves the edges of the expressways worthless. Busy streets, for almost all of human history, created the greatest real estate value because they delivered customers and clients to the businesses operating there. This in turn cultivated the highest tax revenues in town, both from higher property taxes and from elevated sales taxes. But you can’t set up shop on the side of an expressway. How can cities afford to spend so much to create thoroughfares with no adjoining property value?”

[Interesting, but it misses (1) the accessibility point of transportation networks, and (2) commercial property slightly removed is much more valuable [accessibility again]. That said, property values in freeway-less cities might be net higher, but one needs to carefully and empirically test this hypothesis.]

Nokohaha: The Free-Way :

“When Detroit told America they really couldn’t do much better than 25 miles per gallon, David Edmonson built his own car, small and light. In 1977 his Free-Way vehicle won mileage contests achieving 80.3 miles per gallon. In 1978 with his scored 88.3 MPG in a contest based on actual road driving conditions. the following year Edmonson found financial backing and manufactured the Free-Way for High Mileage Vehicle Co. in Burnsville. The car was offered in two body styles. An open air Freeway cost less and came with a smaller engine and a snap down cover. The Freeway II was a fully enclosed, all weather vehicle with more standard features and a larger engine. These single seat commuter cars were powered by a 12 or 16 horsepower gasoline engines or 4 horsepower electric motors. The 12 horsepower Free-Way was guaranteed to get 100 miles per gallon at a steady 40 miles per hour.”

Reihan Salam: The Senselessness of Kenyan Transportation Policy :

“In Nairobi, a sprawling, rapidly growing city of over 3 million, commuters rely heavily on nimble private van services, or matatus. Yet the Kenyan government intends to ban this indispensable backbone of the city’s transportation network, presumably to channel commuters into state-approved taxis and buses that have proved inadequate to the challenging task of getting Kenyans where they need to go in a bustling, polycentric city. Dayo Olopade, author of The Bright Continent, a forthcoming celebration of indigenous African entrepreneurship, offers a defense of the matatus and a report on the efforts of matatu drivers to fight back against the government. She acknowledges that the matatus often run afoul of traffic regulations. It’s worth adding, as Michael Munger has observed regarding Chile’s old system of private buses, that it is not the mere existence of private jitney vans that has causes traffic problems. Rather, it is a broader tangle of issues, ranging from weak states that can’t enforce traffic regulations, the lack of a market for curb rights, etc. There is a case for bringing order to Nairobi’s streets — but I seriously doubt that’s the reason the matatus are being banned. “