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Things I Didn’t Know

According to the Federal Highway Administration, Angelenos drive 23 miles per resident per day. This ranks the Los Angeles metro area 21st highest among the largest 37 cities. The champions (or losers) are probably Houston, followed by Jacksonville and Orlando, all of which are over 30 miles per day. New Yorkers drive the fewest miles (17 VMT per resident per day), thanks in large part to relatively high transit ridership and lots of walking trips.

This comes from Eric Morris’ final entry in his counterintuitive traffic quiz, dedicated to shattering all myths of Los Angeles mobility.

He goes on:

Despite our reputation, we Angelenos don’t exhibit any particularly great predilection for freeway travel either. Los Angeles ranks 14th out of the 37 largest metro areas in terms of highway miles driven per resident per day. To be sure, this is above the median, but it hardly points to the sort of unique freeway fetish Angelenos are accused of harboring.

But before you go toss that copy of L.A Story in the trash, on one important measure, L.A. is right where you’d expect, however: America’s worst congestion.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 at 3:34 pm and is filed under Congestion, Things I Didn't Know. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Things I Didn’t Know”

  1. anonymouse Says:

    LA has rather fewer freeways than you might expect. In particular, the dense and congested Westside has a very low density of freeways, with a pretty big area between the 101, 405, and 10 freeways not really being near any freeway at all. And if you look at the structure of the city, it’s mostly 1920s style streetcar suburb grid, rather than the tangled mess of cul de sacs that typify more recent suburban developments.

  2. Jack Says:

    The data on average miles driven is probably skewed. Most Angelenos suffer on their crowded roads and this data probably doesn’t include/receive the same level of analysis as the freeways. However when I visit LA and stay at friends’ homes I rarely use a car. Walking/cycling gets me everywhere I want to go and I gather many others who live next to the ocean enjoy the same lifestyle. Compared to most cities built on sprawl, LA has many areas that are quite enjoyable and don’t require the use of motorized vehicles. Houston really sucks as it has chosen a lifestyle based on highways (many areas of LA does too).

  3. Michael O'Brien Says:

    Another factor: the LA conurbation is more dense than the New York region. In fact, it’s the densest city in the U.S. by a considerable margin. In theory, greater density would correlate with shorter trips.

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

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