A random walk down Main Street
US suburbs have often been characterized by their relatively low walk accessibility compared to more urban environments, and US urban environments have been char- acterized by low walk accessibility compared to cities in other countries. Lower overall density in the suburbs implies that activities, if spread out, would have a greater distance between them. But why should activities be spread out instead of developed contiguously? This brief research note builds a positive model for the emergence of contiguous development along “Main Street” to illustrate the trade-offs that result in the built environment we observe. It then suggests some policy interventions to place a “thumb on the scale” to choose which parcels will develop in which sequence to achieve socially preferred outcomes.
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