Richard Florida: Decline of the Burbs is Not Just About Gas Prices

Via Planetizen, Richard Florida argues the decline in the popularity of suburbs is not just a product of rising oil prices, but a result of a new "spatial fix" that is reorganizing how and where people live their lives. From Florida's column in the Globe and Mail:

What's happening here goes a lot deeper than the end of cheap oil. We are now passing through the early development of a wholly new geographic order – what geographers call “the spatial fix” – of which the move back toward the city is just one part.

Suburbanization was the spatial fix for the industrial age – the geographic expression of mass production. Low-cost mortgages, massive highway systems and suburban infrastructure projects fuelled the industrial engine of postwar capitalism, propelling demand for cars, appliances and all sorts of industrial goods.

The creative economy is giving rise to a new spatial fix and a very different geography – the contours of which are only now emerging. Rising fuel costs are one thing, but in today's idea-driven economy, it's time costs that really matter. With the constant pressure to be more efficient and to innovate, it makes little sense to waste countless collective hours commuting. So the most efficient and productive regions are the ones in which people are thinking and working – not sitting in traffic. And, according to detailed research by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman, commuting is among the least enjoyable, if not the single least enjoyable, of all human activities.