Gas price mapping

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How the World Works' post Triumph of the City Dweller points to a new mapping tool from the the Center for Neighborhood Technology showing relative residents' gas costs within metropolitan areas, both absolutely, and as a share of the regional median household income, for 2000 and 2008. The outcome? Downtowns win!

Now, yes, as Andrew Leonard points out, "Flash forward to 2008: The entire map is SCREAMING RED" ... with the few outliers of low household gas spending speckling downtown. it emphasizes things are rough for almost everyone - but that would seem to show a compelling need to address people's inability to go about their life without spending a crazy amount on gas.

It looks like they're calculating this using the regional median household income, rather than localized. This would definitely make a difference in the "percent of income" category - the areas with relatively lower spending in the Ann Arbor/Detroit/Flint MSA also have lower income populations - impoverished neighborhoods and college student dominated neighborhoods. Many of the outlying ex-urban areas that have relatively higher gas spending have higher income populations. But I think that mapping by regional median income is the right choice here. Their intent is to look at characteristics of places, rather than the people who live there, to say, "If you lived here, your gas spending would change in this way." (And, in some cases, the populations follow the affordable transportation locations - college students in particular want to live where they can easily get to campus and the bar.)

I have a few further quibbles, but for a quick visual demonstration, it works pretty well.

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More than the gas prices, look at the total transportation costs in absolute terms. Gas is only about 1/3 of the $900+ that most households are spending per month on their cars. Mindboggling. Our two car household spends half that. Of course, I'll be damned if I know where that extra $450/mo is going...

Capital/depreciation (car)

Capital/depreciation (car) costs? Insurance? Maintenance? Plane tickets? Bus fare? Bike helmets?

Some of those can easily add to $450/mo, others would be...difficult.