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There’s this famous graphic in the transportation planning field, showing 60 people on foot, by bus or by car:

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The German bike advocacy agency Fietsersbond has an even better one I snapped last week while visiting with the Alliance for Biking and Walking

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What I’ve found in researching my book is that this does not tell the whole story.  The major consumer of paved space in the street in stopping distance betwen vehciles.  At the national average speed of 31 MPH, cars in traffic take up about 3% of an acre on the roads with themselves and safe following distance.    I didn’t have 40 cars or a permit to close a straight stretch of road.  So I whipped up a pic of what this would look like in Sketchup.
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That is 1.2 acres for forty cars.  I wonder what an acre of real estate would cost on the free market in most cities.

To be fair, the average occupancy of cars in traffic has been 1.6 for the last four decades,   So I divided 40 cars by 1.6 and got 24 cars.  A more reasonable 72% of an acre.  And of course these cars will each need 325 SF of space to park in a parking lot, or about 170-200 SF to park curbside.

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I’d love to see those photo montages redone with how much space cars actually take up in cities.  Maybe telephoto lenses are still  too expensive for that.

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