Friday, April 04, 2014

Urban Institute study: Poor people need cars


From an Urban Institute study, Driving to Opportunity, on transportation options and housing voucher recipients:

* Over time, households with automobiles experience less exposure to poverty and are less likely to return to high-poverty neighborhoods than those without car access.

* Among those relocating from their baseline neighborhoods, program participants with access to automobiles moved to areas with lower concentrations of poverty, higher concentrations of employed adults, higher median rents, more owner-occupied housing, lower vacancy rates, greater access to open space, and lower levels of cancer risk.

* When we control for other factors influencing residential mobility, program participants with 

access to automobiles move to neighborhoods with higher levels of school performance by the 
time of the final survey.

* Access to vehicles positively influences neighborhood satisfaction, particularly in neighborhoods with low levels of transit...

* Keeping or gaining access to automobiles is positively related to the likelihood of employment.

* On earnings, both cars and transit access have a positive effect, though the effect for auto ownership is considerably greater...

Our findings underscore the positive role of automobiles in outcomes for housing voucher participants. Automobiles increase the likelihood that voucher participants will live and remain in high-opportunity neighborhoods—neighborhoods with lower poverty rates, higher social status, stronger housing markets, and lower health risks than neighborhoods in which those without cars live. 

Cars are also associated with improved neighborhood satisfaction and better employment outcomes. The importance of automobiles arises not because of the inherent superiority of the mode, but because public transit systems in most metropolitan areas are slow, inconvenient, and lack sufficient metropolitan-wide coverage to rival the automobile...

Cars facilitate searching for and commuting to jobs and therefore increase the likelihood of finding and retaining employment. Conversely, employment can provide households with the necessary resources to purchase automobiles; income is one of the strongest correlates of automobile ownership

The importance of automobiles to employment persists even in studies that control for the simultaneity of car ownership and employment decisions. In general, automobile ownership is associated with higher employment rates, weekly hours worked, and hourly earnings. Automobile ownership also reduces racial disparities in employment rates and unemployment duration.

Automobiles can be particularly important for low-income women who often juggle paid work with household-serving responsibilities and would benefit greatly from the flexibility offered by driving. Many studies have examined the effect of automobile ownership on outcomes for welfare participants—largely poor, female-headed households. These studies produce similar results: a positive association between household automobiles and employment rates, the likelihood of leaving welfare, and an increase in earned income.

For low-income households without access to automobiles, public transit is essential, which is why many of them choose to live in dense, transit-rich urban neighborhoods. However, despite transit’s importance, findings on the relationship between public transit and employment outcomes are mixed, likely because employment access by public transit—even in the transit-richest of urban areas—still pales in comparison to access by automobile...

Thanks to Atlantic Cities for the link.

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25 Comments:

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the author:

"by the 1950s, shortsighted transportation planning made them a necessity in many communities."

Anti-car nut alert! People chose to live in communities that make car driving a necessity. We need to make SF more like these other, more normal communities because that's what people need and want.

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

I doubt the bike lobby will ever let go of the delusion that they are out there to serve people who can't afford autos versus people who are rich enough to buy in a location where they don't have to (all of the time).

 
At 7:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rkeezy, are you saying people don't need cars to live in the city? Sounds like more anti-car lies to me.

 
At 9:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correlation is not causation.

 
At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rkeezy, why would someone pay more to live in a location where they don't have to drive all the time? I thought people want to drive everywhere. That's part of America's Freedom (TM).

 
At 10:30 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"I doubt the bike lobby will ever let go of the delusion that they are out there to serve people who can't afford autos versus people who are rich enough to buy in a location where they don't have to(all of the time)."

Yes, like the crucifix in Christianity, the bicycle is a potent symbol of an activity---and a belief system---that addresses all personal, political, and environmental ills. Cycling is therapeutic for the unwell, it preserves energy and combats global warming, it provides the poor with inexpensive transportation, etc. Never mind the intrinsic dangers in riding bikes that they deny or downplay, including the UC study that highlighted those dangers and that the Bicycle Coalition and Streetsblog are strenuously ignoring.

That's why the MTA is struggling over its annual Collision Report. The last one was issued way back in August, 2012. What's the problem? If, as the UC report found, the city has been using a seriously flawed system of counting accidents on the streets of the city, it will have to conclude, among other things, that riding a bike is a lot more dangerous than City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition has been telling people. That undermines the city's policy of redesigning our streets on behalf of a small minority of cyclists with the effective lobbying organization.

Jason Henderson, a reliable weathervane on the latest trends in BikeThink, recently played the class struggle/therapy/feminist cards in the Guardian.

This Urban Institute study puts the lie to all that. Turns out that poor people need cars to expand the reach of their job search and then to commute to those jobs when they get them.

Working people in the US have long known this reality, since more than 86% of workers in the US commute by car.

Just one more reality-check on the bicycle fantasy.

 
At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like the conclusion of the study is that the people that need cars the most are the least able to afford them. Not sure why that's a good thing.

 
At 1:09 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

That clearly is not "a good thing." The study suggests that some kind of voucher or aid program to help housing voucher recipients buy and/or rent cars is a possible solution.

 
At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The study suggests that some kind of voucher or aid program to help housing voucher recipients buy and/or rent cars is a possible solution."

Sounds like a plan. We could defund public transit and transfer all the funds to subsidizing private car manufactures and rental companies. Also we'll need to spend more on highway construction, which can only happen if we raise the gas tax, which will hurt the poor... where were we going with this..

 
At 3:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob you keep touting this UC study about bicycle injuries. It seems to be your latest argument against bicycle riding—and I'm sure there is no end to your excuses. Anyhow, the reason bicycling is dangerous in SF is bc we haven't added infra for it yet. Once we have great infra, the injury rates will drop. Look forward to continue to hear more excuses though. You're full of them.

 
At 4:20 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Why do so many of your cyclists have reading disorders? Carbon monoxide poisoning? Diesel fumes? I transcribed the study here, since there's a paywall on access to the study itself.

If you had read the study before you made your stupid comment, you would know that one of its main findings is that "cyclist-only" accidents---those that don't involve another vehicle---were the most unreported accidents of all. Hence, they had nothing to do with "infra."

The study found that the city has been relying on police reports in counting cycling accidents, ignoring thousands of such accidents treated at San Francisco General, the city's primary trauma center.

An important implication of the study: if the city has been radically under-counting cycling accidents, it's probably also under-counting accidents to pedestrians and motorists, too.

The city is now grappling with this reality, which is why it hasn't issued a Collision Report since August, 2012.

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Sounds like a plan. We could defund public transit and transfer all the funds to subsidizing private car manufactures and rental companies. Also we'll need to spend more on highway construction, which can only happen if we raise the gas tax, which will hurt the poor... where were we going with this.."

You were climbing up your own asshole. Don't let me interrupt you.

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hah, good one Rob! So I guess the idea is we as a society should accept that cars are a necessity of life along with food and shelter and something the government should supply to every citizen. Is this going to cover insurance too? This is going to get expensive with all the subsidies to the car companies, the insurance companies, the higher health care costs, etc. Might be cheaper just to build housing for the poor people close to their jobs. Ooops, that would be "smart growth", nevermind.

 
At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to read the EIR for implementing this plan, since we're putting a lot more cars on the road. I wonder if congestion would be affected at tall. I guess we're going to need to build some new roads.

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This isn't a "plan." It's a study that shows access to cars helps poor people find and keep jobs.

"Might be cheaper just to build housing for the poor people close to their jobs. Ooops, that would be smart growth, nevermind."

What jobs? One of the main conclusions of the study is that having a car makes it more likely poor people can find a job in the first place, since it increases the area of the job search.

 
At 9:34 AM, Blogger Rkeezy said...

"Rkeezy, why would someone pay more to live in a location where they don't have to drive all the time? I thought people want to drive everywhere. That's part of America's Freedom (TM)."

Your weakly worded sarcasm aside, the point is that no matter how much you try transform this city into a place where cars are not needed, they're not going away, nor are the people who use them and need them. The people pushing these changes aren't doing any kind of measuring to see what the impacts have been, because the data that has been collected (actual measuring of traffic, versus polling people who show up to certain community meetings) that the movement has many flaws.

The changes have just increased traffic and decreased safety across the board. Sorry, we don't live in Amsterdam (I keep hearing it's the basis for many of these changes) - maybe you should move there if you love the traffic design so much?

 
At 11:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we are going to embark on a huge new entitlement program, why not just give poor people a lump sum of $50,000 every 5 years? That's how much a car is going to cost per year with insurance, fees, repairs, parking, etc. They can spend that on a car or spend it however else they like. This way, at least the government doesn't bear the cost of adminstrating a Federal car-buying program.

 
At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rkeezy, the question I asked was why someone would want to live somewhere where they don't have to drive everywhere? Sure, people in Amsterdam might, but we are Americans, we *want* to drive everywhere. So I'm still puzzled why the demand for housing is so high in SF since no one (except the Dutch) actually wants to live somewhere where you don't have to drive.

 
At 4:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The study suggests that some kind of voucher or aid program to help housing voucher recipients buy and/or rent cars is a possible solution."

Sounds like communism

 
At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The changes have just increased traffic and decreased safety across the board. Sorry, we don't live in Amsterdam (I keep hearing it's the basis for many of these changes) - maybe you should move there if you love the traffic design so much?"

There's a lot of great places where traffic flows freely: Stockton, Tracy, Fremont, Hayward..the whole state of Nevada..the list goes on.. No one walks at all and traffic moves fast. You might want to look into moving there, Rkeezy. Why stay in such a congested hellhole like SF where no one wants to live anyway?

 
At 11:09 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Actually, driving in SF isn't bad, as Curt Sanburn pointed out way back in 2005. That's what City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition want to put a stop to.

 
At 1:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Actually, driving in SF isn't bad, as Curt Sanburn pointed out way back in 2005. That's what City Hall and the Bicycle Coalition want to put a stop to."

Yep, and just as the EIR report predicted, traffic has gotten worse since the Bike Plan:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Downtown-traffic-seems-worse-but-studies-show-it-5379797.php#page-1

""Local roadway speeds have crept up, actually," said Tilly Chang, executive director of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, which oversees the city's transportation sales tax and serves as its official congestion management agency."

One wonders who pays Tilly Chang's salary. Could it be George Soros?

 
At 11:15 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Nope, city taxpayers have paid her salary for years. Chang has spent most of her career at SFCTA pushing the unpopular Congestion Pricing idea.

The problem with this Chronicle article is that its contents don't really support the notion that traffic is getting better downtown, not to mention the fact that the city's credibility is now non-existent, since it can't even count traffic accidents in the city.

Chang is just singing for her supper with some phony upbeat bullshit about city traffic.

 
At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The problem with this Chronicle article is that its contents don't really support the notion that traffic is getting better downtown"

Looking forward to your devastating takedown of the Chron story, or was that pretty much it?

 
At 4:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The writer's opening paragraphs assume that what Tilly Chang is telling him about traffic is true, that traffic downtown is getting better. But the paragraph before the fold starts to backtrack: "...the reason the streets may seem more crowded is that they're busier..." more bicycles, more pedestrians, a "surge in construction," etc.

A few paragraphs later, we get this sentence:
"Speeds through 95 percent of the intersections monitored in the city's core remained the same (58 percent) or decreased (37 percent)."

So where's the big improvement? Especially if 58% of the streets were the same and 37% were actually worse?

And we're also told that there are more cars entering the city on the Golden Gate Bridge, but, oddly, Caltrans says there was no change in the number of cars "where Highway 101 enters the city at the Golden Gate Bridge..." Which makes no sense, since the Golden Gate Bridge is Highway 101.

And Tilly Chang is telling the writer that "traffic volumes on freeways other than the Bay Bridge have remained flat over the past five years." No shit! Those were the Great Recession years, so that is not exactly big news.

And the number of people parking in city garages has actually increased by 1%.

The rest of the story tells us that traffic is bad downtown just like it always has been, capped off by the lie that there's been a 96% increase in bike riders in the city in the last seven years.

There's no story here. Sounds like Tilly Chang just gave the writer a line of upbeat bullshit to justify all the anti-car policies her agency and the MTA are implementing on city streets. This is journalism as stenography.

 

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