Jim Russell — a self-described “geographer studying the relationship between migration and economic development” — is a little sick of hearing that making a neighborhood more “walkable” will attract young professionals.
“Urban planning trends are conclusions in search of justification,” he gripes in a blog post for Pacific Standard (which has set for itself the lofty goal of grappling “with the nation’s biggest social, political, and cultural issues by focusing on what shapes human behavior …”).
Russell gets a laugh out of the fact that college towns (Cambridge, Mass.; Columbia, S.C.; Berkeley, Calif.; Ann Arbor, Mich.) dominate one list of places where commuters walk to work the most.
“Stop the presses,” he cracks. “University students and employees walk to campus.”
Russel points to a story the New York Times ran this week on the slow pace of sales at a new complex of apartments, condos and townhouses that’s a short walk from shops, restaurants and Princeton University. The Times’ Ronda Kaysen writes that, “By most calculations, the 100-unit complex … should be a model for new urban development,” but that only a handful of units have sold.
One possible explanation? There’s no direct train into New York City.
“People follow jobs,” Russell writes. “Sidewalk ballet be damned. The creative class wants a direct train to work.”
Meanwhile, in the San Francisco Bay Area — one of the most walkable communities in the nation — tech companies like Google, Facebook and Apple operate shuttle buses to take workers south to Silicon Valley, sparking protests by locals. Source: psmag.com.