Mesmerizing Commute Maps Reveal We All Live in Mega-Regions, Not Cities


Even if you dont hate your commute—even on the days free of gridlock, packed buses, and sweaty uphill bike rides—its probably tinged by a least a little drudgery. Not your favorite part of day, perhaps?

Maybe, though, you’ll feel better knowing you’re taking part in a powerful economic movement. Like, literally. The best way to measure functional economic geography is through commutes, says Alasdair Rae, an urban and regional analyst with the University of Sheffield. Commutes, for all their crumminess, double as a measure of local health and wealth.

Thats why Rae and Dartmouth College geographer Garrett Dash Nelson zoomed in on commutes in their newest study of American megaregions, published this weekin PLoS ONE. Complete with colorful and compelling maps, their research shows that Americans’ commutes aren’t defined by city and state lines. Rather, commuters move within megaregions—massive blobs that center on major metropolitan areas, paying no mind to political borders.

The places that do have robust regional planning organizations can get hamstrung by crazy complex legal and bureaucratic rules, sothe decisions they make don’t have a lot of practical oomph. If they did, megaregions might be able more effectively pool their political capital and funds to create transportation solutions—a multi-cityhigh-speed rail system, perhaps—that make it easier for people to get to work. Because as Rae and Nelsons work shows, the nations most important economic centers feed from many communities.

The researchers hope these maps will give people—and the officials who make decisions for them—a better idea of how their region functions, and the impetus they need to reach across state, county, and metropolitan lines to come up with mobility solutions that work for everyone who hits the road in the morning. Because there is nobility and purpose in your commute. There is even nobility and purpose in the commute of the dude who cut in front of you on the highway.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/12/mesmerizing-commute-maps-reveal-live-mega-regions-not-cities/

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