I guess I should describe where I live a bit for those who are not cognizant of our geography. The Metroplex has roughly the population and land area of Massachusetts, and is one large mostly urban/suburban area. We have slightly more than 8K mi2 of land area in roughly 9K mi2 of total area. The state of MA has just under 8K mi2 of land area in a little more than 10K mi2 of total area. Our contiguous urban area is roughly 65 miles on the east-west axis, and 45 miles on the north-south axis using a business card marked in 10 mile increments off of the Google Maps image to measure with. This would be like if Boston went from Boston Bay to 20 miles west of Worcester east-west, and from Woonsocket to Nashua north-south (and yes I know that is from Rhode Island to New Hampshire). Around that urban core is farmland at the moment but at the rate we keep adding citizens that will cease to be true sometime around 2040 to 2050.
About 30% (rough estimate from people I know in GIS) of our surface area is some kind of pavement. This is one of the major contributors to the “Heat Island Effect” that raises our summer time highs and prevents cooling at night. Hence why I call this place the Suburbs of Hell. Texas is hot enough without all that concrete and asphalt making it hotter. This is also one of the reasons why it’s so hard to get bicycle transportation facilities made here, almost every open space is paved over already, and nobody has the foresight to see that making more room for modes of transport that use less space per person will result in fewer cars clogging up existing roads, allowing those roads to be smaller with fewer lanes. Another barrier to bicycle transportation in this place is the shear size of the place, as I mentioned from one edge to the other of the urban core is 65 by 45 miles, it is not unusual for someone to travel 80 miles a day just going to and from work and never cross one of the two psychological “barriers” of the area, I35E and I30. I’ll post about that in a later addition to the blog, but in a nutshell people west of I35E tend to not go east of it and vice-versa, people north of I30 tend to not go south and vice-versa. It’s not like there is a wall there, but people just don’t cross those boundaries unless they live very close to them.
So, that’s where I live. Roughly 2400 mi2 of urban core with over 6,000,000 people, surrounded by concrete and asphalt, in an area of 9000 mi2. Where I live that rural area is currently a half-hour bike ride away, but that distance is getting further every year. I used to live 10 minutes away from “country”.