Urban Living as Antidote to Oil Price Fluctuation

The national conversation that has surrounded the most recent gas price jumps has been predictably frustrating.  A whole lot of finger-pointing, but little self-analysis.  Perhaps the most frustrating aspect about this conversation is the lack of creative and constructive solutions for people who wish to inoculate themselves from price spikes.   We usually hear the primal urges (drill baby drill) as well as the technological advances (alternative fuels).  However, the simplest solution that the public can act on is to live in a neighborhood that has transportation options.

These neighborhoods are in short supply and high demand in Indianapolis.  This is why it is critical for Indianapolis to continue to see new infill developments.  Urban Indy blogger Chris Corr has estimated that there are approximately 4,000 apartment units in Center township in the following four categories: completed since 2010, currently under construction, proposed/approved and proposed/unapproved.  Many of these are close enough to the downtown core that they can add density without too much negative impact, as long as the developments cater to pedestrians and cyclists.  If the city can ever get its transit act together, watch out.

Living in a city means that our family doesn’t have to pile in a car for every small trip.  It means that we can save money on gas and car maintenance, and have more to spend on things we actually want to buy.  Having these options will only become more attractive over time for the younger generation, which doesn’t seem to want to buy cars.  It is critical for our city continue to attract new people, while improving on the infrastructure for current residents.

We are fortunate to have an attractive brand in the middle of the Rust Belt, but of course, much more work needs to be done.  According to the 2010 Census, most of the core neighborhoods are still losing population.  Opportunity awaits for a full urban neighborhood rebirth.  People will turn to the city for answers when dealing with higher gas prices.  I hope Indianapolis is prepared to answer them.

Comments 6

  • I whole-heartedly agree with this article. I’m currently living in Fishers and commute downtown, and much like the rest of Fishers, I whine and complain about the gas prices.

    However, unlike my counterparts I’m actually doing something about…moving closer to work. Hopefully by May I’ll have found a great new home to rent in Broad Ripple and I’ll be commuting by bike downtown.

    We’ve chosen to live in Broad Ripple because it’s a short walk/bike ride to great dining and entertainment, and also close enough that I can bike to work every day (this was a must when choosing a location). At $4+/gal, I’ll be saving $150-200/month just in gas…and I’ll be much healthier from all the exercise!

  • Great piece Kevin. When we bought our house last year, a primary goal was to live close to work. Because of our proximity — and in spite of the fact that we both still drive to work — we only spend about $100/mo on gas for two cars. Even if gas goes to $8/ga, we’d still only be spending about $200/mo.

  • We recently sold our home in Fletcher Place and are looking to buy a house, preferably in FP, but we are also looking in FS, Old Northside, and Mass Ave. In the meantime, we are renting a place (super low rent and no lease term) in Greenwood. Gas is brutal! Can’t wait to get back downtown.

  • Chris Corr hits it: driving is not a “yes-no” choice. We can all drive less with some planning and care. Combine trips (always shop on the way home from work, for instance). Share rides. Etc. And even if we do “pile in the car for every trip”, we can choose to make every trip shorter.
    The advantages of living anywhere in Center Township include that it’s not far to anywhere in Marion County by car, and in many neighborhoods, there are good public transit choices that can help reduce driving trips.

  • If Indy ever gets streetcars running throughout the mile square I don’t know if I will be able to resist the temptation to live downtown.

  • It’s funny how you never hear this side of the story. People that live in places that they don’t have to always drive to get to work/home/grocery spend less on gas and aren’t affected as much. Now if there were only more places like NYC and Chicago where you could truly live car-free, then you could avoid the payments, insurance, registration and maintenance. Increasing gas prices is not front page news to me. Here’s a good article on user travel modes that relates well to this article- http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kbenfield/massive_study_confirms_that_de.html

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