Sunday, March 17, 2013

Surprisingly simple congestion solution, Houston dominates web hosting (?!), H-town accolades, low taxes, and more

It's been a while since the last post with smaller misc items, and they've been stacking up so much I'll need to spread them over at least two posts and possibly more.  Here we go with the first round:
  • Event announcement: Jeb Brugmann will be speaking on "Can India‚Äôs Cities Be Made to Work?" this Wednesday night at Asia Society Texas.  Details here.
  • Great Chronicle op-ed today by a Rice student on how they came to love Houston over their four years here.
Excerpt: "Where I had once seen a homogenized concrete blanket, I now see a diverse quilt with intricate and innumerable connections. Each section of Houston, from Chinatown to Midtown, not only forms a distinct and unique town unto itself but adds to the color and character of the rest of the city. Taken together, they form the most dynamic city in America. My hometown of Albuquerque might cherish its past and tradition, but Houston constantly evolves toward the future. To outsiders, this makes Houston look like an unplanned mess, but those who live here know to embrace the lack of predestined plan. It is why the city eschews zoning laws with pride."
Finally, let me end with this great TED talk on reducing traffic congestion based on the congestion charge experiment in Stockholm (hat tip to Jay).  A token 1-2 euro congestion fee in the core reduced cars by 20% and nearly eliminated congestion.  Because traffic congestion is nonlinear, just a small reduction in cars can lead to a large reduction in congestion.  It incentivized a lot of people with schedule flexibility to shift their trips outside of rush hour.  Also, even though it was very unpopular at first, it quickly became overwhelmingly popular with 70+% support.  I suspect it's politically impossible, but I think something similar for freeways coming inside the loop or getting on the loop at rush hour could have a similar impact here.  Something to ponder...

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