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monsoon

Best Cities for an Oil Crisis

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SustainLane has created a rather interesting ranking of cities that are best prepared to deal with a 70s style oil shock. They ranked the 50 largest cities in the USA. Not surprisingly, the top 10 are the places that have done a good job in creating mass transit and/or good public and urban places. (i.e. less automobile dependent development)

The ranking included factors such their residents' commute practices, which was weighted most heavily, as well as public transportation ridership and city sprawl. Traffic congestion and local food and wireless network access also were taken into account.

  1. New York City

  2. Boston

  3. San Francisco

  4. Chicago

  5. Philadelphia

  6. Portland

  7. Honolulu

  8. Seattle

  9. Baltimore

  10. Oakland

What should be noticed here are the lack of Sunbelt cities on this list.

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I wonder if they did not take into account the heavy use of fuel oil for heating in the Northeast.

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monsoon, i really think it has a lot to do with density (close to everything), possibly public transit and people that walk/bike to work, which may be a reason why there's a lack of sunbelt cities (you know the car dependent types).

haha nevermind im basically repeating what has been stated in your post :D

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Great link cities such as Boston has loads of various transporation options that are both fuel and non fuel dependant so that in a crisis one does not have to use there own car. With NYC for example people in CT can hop on a Metro North train into Manhattan from cities such as Bridgeport, Stamford and New Haven and New Jersey residents can hop on those ferries or take a subway from Hoboken and once in the city there are cabs, buses, subway, etc.

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Rapid transit still needs power. While there are many ways of generating it, Oil still supplies a good portion. Also, as was pointed out before, you have to account for heating, moving stuff around (the trucks and delivery vehicles), electricity for running buildings and lights, and for some of those cities, busses use fuel, too.

I think most likely that a city such as San Fran and Honolulu would win out if it wasn't biased towards promoting mass transit, as they have a much better climate and compact city where you do not have to go far. I would go so far as to put Honolulu above the others (if you take into acocunt the tourist industry), since it doesn't have the build-up that San Fran has.

I personally would rather see a focus on promoting other forms of fuel and power.

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What about Honolulu puts it on that list? I thought it was a car dependent city.

It has density, especially in its downtown areas, and its public transit system has won awards even though it lacks and rail lines.

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What is surprising - density was not a factor in the methodology used, though density is certainly a product of the findings.

We looked at the areas most directly impacted: how people get around, where their food comes from, and how they work.

Hence, a city with greater density, particularly in the city core evidentally results in decreased congestion & commute periods - not to mention most importantly higher transit usage.

The two factors I'm not personally aware for these dense cities, is access to food & telecommuting / wireless internet rates. But even then - the classic urban model still makes the most sense, despite the past 60 to 80 years of automobile-oriented growth, particularly in the sunbelt region.

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Houston and Oklahoma City would be rolling in money in the event of an oil crisis...

That is debatable, as of yet - there has not been an oil crisis that will compare to the eventual oil crisis of the future. We're most likely closer though, as one researcher noted that last year marked the 'halfway' point of oil availability.

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What about Honolulu puts it on that list? I thought it was a car dependent city.

Considering gas is outrageously high there and it is highly dependent on tourism, an industry which would get creamed by higher fuel prices (tickets to Hawaii cost enough as is) I would say they would not do well if an oil crisis erupted.

New York is the obvious one that could handle it.

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Considering gas is outrageously high there and it is highly dependent on tourism, an industry which would get creamed by higher fuel prices (tickets to Hawaii cost enough as is) I would say they would not do well if an oil crisis erupted.

New York is the obvious one that could handle it.

Not having read the report, I would imagine that the fact that so little money needs to be spent on heating and cooling, you don't have a lot of long distance commuting, and there is a fairly good supply of food available (cattle is big on the big island, plus great growing seasons for other crops). Their economy would suck, but they are probably one of the closest states to self sufficiency if needed. And Honolulu does have public busses and is looking at some form of rapid transit.

I would probably doubt New York would do so well - everything has to be shipped in, and that costs fuel, as well as all that electricity. Plus they have a much more extreme climate.

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Im proud to know that Seattle made into the top 10... Its rather dense, has good public transportation and relies very little on electricity from fuel; they get most from hydro dams. I love Seattle and this topic only reaffirms my love :-D

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i think that an oil crisis would be disasterous for any city, regardless of its transportation network. you are still going to have a large number of drivers, not to mention trucking and transport companies, construction companies, landscapers, suburban office parks, energy companies, delivery companies and companies who deliver as part of what they do (pizza, furniture), house call plumbers and handymen, auto mechanics, parking garages and gas stations, etc. is any city devoid of these things? keep in mind that the health of a city is connected to the health of the suburbs that surround it and vice versa. nobody is immune just because they may have a subway system.

new york may have subway commuters, but how many industrial, delivery, courier, taxi, moving and trucking firms are based in the area? $6 per gallon would hit that city as hard as anywhere else.

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My own cheap theory is that the cities that will be most poised for survival are those of the Great Lakes region, completely because of the proximity of potable water (needing minimal treatment). Toronto, Chicago, and even Detroit and Buffalo all draw their water from the nearby surface sources, as opposed to the systems of faraway reservoirs that supply New York and San Francisco. This is not because the water has to be transported a lesser distance, but because if/when things get really desperate these are the cities where you'll be able to go stick your face in the lake and drink, or at least cart water home.

As to the statement that mass transit uses energy/fuel as well, yes it does. But when we have a true crisis and our ostrich-minded political culture can no longer ignore it, the sensible approach will be to direct government subsidies/rationing to serve the modes of transportation that reflect the greatest efficiency. Buses are less fuel-efficient per measure of distance than cars, but they are far more efficient per person-mile because of their carrying capacity.

When this happens, we will also see an obvious drop in demand for road construction. Assuming transportation spending remains the same, one would expect much of it to be redistributed to transit services and the road spending to be refocused on maintenance and adaptation to the modes that will rise in prominence (for example, bicyclists could take over the outer lanes of freeways once people aren't driving on them anymore, but to do so safely the roadway would need to be modified to eliminate the chance for accidents between cars and bikes). Right now it is so difficult to build transit because there's hardly any money for it and many cities around the country are competing for the increasingly limited federal funding: we fund road construction at over 30 times the amount we fund transit. Once that balance is leveled somewhat, or especially tilted in favor of transit, catching up shouldn't be that painful.

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My own cheap theory is that the cities that will be most poised for survival are those of the Great Lakes region, completely because of the proximity of potable water (needing minimal treatment). Toronto, Chicago, and even Detroit and Buffalo all draw their water from the nearby surface sources, as opposed to the systems of faraway reservoirs that supply New York and San Francisco.

Just wanted to point out that NYC draws water from the Hudson River right at its doorstep. SF and every other California/Southwest cities are a completely different story however.

The question is ambiguous between simply surviving or continuing as before. New York is extremely vulnerable to peak oil for several reasons:

- Air travel, remember that the NYC area has two of the world's busiest airports. Flight is essential to tourism and international business, which are essential to New York.

- Taxicab service, which carry the big spenders all around the city to theaters, restaurants, clothing boutiques, business lunches, etc

- Freight movement. Currently only 1% of NY's freight comes in by rail, the rest by truck.

- Heating and cooling, as mentioned.

New York certainly got by before the oil economy kicked in, but it was a very different place. Peak oil will be hugely disruptive everywhere.

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Just wanted to point out that NYC draws water from the Hudson River right at its doorstep. SF and every other California/Southwest cities are a completely different story however.

I thought NYC had a pair of aging aquaducts that handled all of its water needs, and that a third one under contstruction would allow for them to close each existing aquaduct for maintenance.

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I wonder if they did not take into account the heavy use of fuel oil for heating in the Northeast.

that is a very good point I live in Boston in a fairly small 1 bedroom apartment and my heating bill was over or close to 200$ a month from November-March...

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that is a very good point I live in Boston in a fairly small 1 bedroom apartment and my heating bill was over or close to 200$ a month from November-March...

OMG!! $200 a month! :shok: I would have a stroke to spend that much!! Of course, your AC costs are probably much lower in the summer than mine. I average about $130 a month June-August on electric.

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Birmingham has probalby got to be one of the worst for an oil crisis. Everything in Alabama is spent on highway developement. The cities have to fund mass transit on their own. Birmingham has almost no good mass transit, thought there are plans to expand bus service and put a light rail system in downtown.

Birmingham used to have the second largest streetcar system, but now, it has the most awful traffic problems in Alabama.

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