As people concerned with the environment, we are always worried about things like how much we fly, if our food is organic, and whether we recycle. But there’s something else that we don’t directly control that is perhaps even more important to the safety and longevity of the planet, and that’s the efficiency of our urban roads and highways. And if you care about such things — and you should — you might be interested to know that a recent study shows that among the 12th largest urban areas in United States, Miami — Miami! — has the most efficient, lowest-impact road system of all.
Granted, Miami has some good geographical stuff going for it in this regard. The Atlantic Ocean is at its eastern border and the Everglades is at its west, so this limits the amount of sprawl it can generate. Miami has only 1,462 miles of road, 3,807 people per mile. Contrast that with Atlanta, which has a similar population (about 5.5 million for each city’s greater metropolitan area) and 4,048 miles of road, only about 1,400 people per mile.
Roads are rather expensive undertakings. And the stuff that goes on on roads (most people call it driving) obviously creates a lot of pollution. Reducing the miles of road per person is absolutely essential to creating a more ecologically efficient infrastructure. Of course, on the flip side, it also has the potential to make traffic fucking terrible, and in Miami it definitely does, but we all have to make sacrifices.
Oh, and by the way, Los Angeles is not the worst offender in this bunch, like you might think it would be. It is smack in the middle. Washington, Philadelphia, Houston, Boston, Detroit, Dallas, and Atlanta all have a worse miles to people ratio than Los Angeles. So maybe make all your mean L.A. driving jokes about Atlanta. Even though no one will laugh at them that way.
America's most efficient city is... Miami?, Greater Greater Washington.
Get Grist in your inbox