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Why Better Urban Planning Won’t Reduce Traffic — but Taxes Will

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As urban areas become more congested, and concerns over the environmental damage that can be caused by vehicle emissions grow, many municipalities are adopting land use guidelines that encourage compact development. A city with greater density, they theorize, will reduce the need to drive by bringing services and retail closer to the areas in which people live.   

But new research co-authored by Wharton real estate professor Gilles Duranton finds that such policies may not have as great an effect as planners believe. In “Urban Form and Driving: Evidence from U.S. Cities,” Duranton and Brown University professor Matthew A. Turner find that increases in density cause only minimal decreases in aggregate driving, meaning it is unlikely to be a cost-effective policy for responding to traffic congestion or automobile-related pollution.

Duranton recently talked with Knowledge@Wharton about their findings and how they might be applied by businesses or governments.

An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.

Read more at: http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-better-urban-planning-wont-reduce-traffic/

 

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