Peak Car presentation

Taking to the street

I gave a brief Pecha Kucha presentation last night at CNU-DC‘s bimonthly 20×20 series. My topic was “Peak Car: nothing to fear here,” in a weak attempt to fit into the month’s Halloween theme. Peak Car doesn’t mean Apocalypse Now — cars will continue to be an important way for millions of people to get around — but it means that a whole series of assumptions around having to always increase pavement supply need to end, and a new set of assumptions around sharing urban spaces among many modes (and methods of interaction) needs to begin.

PK presentations don’t lend themselves to extensive quotes or footnotes, so here are three bonus items:
1. Mark Halper’s article at SmartPlanet provided background on the cost of alternative automotive fuels. Takeaway: $4+ “gas” is here to stay, regardless of whether it’s actually gasoline or something else. Joel Garreau made this point in Edge City (p. 126) back in 1991, and despite all the technological advances since then, it still holds true.
2. Christine MacDonald wrote in CityPaper about Joe Mamo, who holds a near-monopoly on DC’s gasoline supply — but not because the gas business is lucrative (it’s in a long term decline, as even oil industry CEOs admit), but because they’re an opportunistic real estate play: “The market is changing. A lot of properties are being used for best and highest use, as the properties become more expensive. So the chances are less and less gas stations in the future.”
3. The takeaway: car access to a location will slowly mean less and less in the future. Non-car access to a location will increase in importance. There are great tools out there, like Mapnificent, which can help us visualize these relative differences.

Stay tuned for a February follow-up about how America can love its streets once again.

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