If you remember from yesterday’s post: “Hot on the trail in search of transportation in ‘The Big Raisin’,” I poked fun at the process of using the internet in searching for Fresno-transportation-related-newsworthy ideas to write about. All joking aside, in revisiting the “1000 Friends of Fresno – Transportation and Urban Renewal” Web site, I later learned after visiting this site’s home page, that the “NEW 2006 US CITY RANKINGS: FRESNO RANKS #33 OF 50 FOR SUSTAINABILITY, Fresno ranks 46 out of 50 for Public Transportation” graph, there is an apparent tie to another Web site – Sustain Lane.
So, in visiting this site, I was immediately introduced to: “Sustain Lane Presents: The 2008 US City Rankings.” In search of Fresno’s 2008 sustainability rankings (as opposed to 2006), I wanted to learn if we improved or if things had actually gotten worse. What I can tell you is based on this measure Fresno fell four points. Whereas in 2006 Fresno ranked 33 out of 50 of America’s “50 most-populous cities,” two years later, we had dropped to 37th place. Of course, this is based on a bevy of criteria including: Planning and Land Use; Water Availability; Energy/Climate Change; Housing Affordability: Local Food/Ag; and, of course, the four lead-off categories of City Commuting, Metro Transit Ridership, Metro Congestion and Air Quality.
In some areas, Fresno improved. In others it did not. In fact, the rankings, relative to other cities in some of the categories assessed, had worsened.
Take, for instance, “Metro Transit Ridership.” Still in the Sustainability Danger (Red) zone, it did, however improve by one point over what it was two years earlier. But “Air Quality,” on the other hand, also in the Red zone, was ranked 50th, receiving the lowest or poorest ranking. “Air Quality” in ’06 in Fresno was 43, so in this department, the situation had become more dire. Where Fresno excelled is in the areas of “Metro Street Congestion” (with a ranking of six) and “Solid Waste Management” (with a ranking of four), indicating leadership in sustainability (Sustainability Leader).
But let’s consider how the rankings were determined.
According to Sustain Lane, “The 2008 US City Rankings were developed using a combination of primary and secondary research directed by SustainLane. The study tracks the same data sources as in previous years and is supplemented by a new water supply metric for 2008. The 50 most-populous US cities were included in the study, based on population as measured by the US Census Bureau.”
Furthermore, “Data and information from these cities are drawn from surveys and interviews from 2007-2008 and from publicly available sources published in the period between 2002-2008.”
With respect to “Metro Transportation” and “Metro Congestion,” data was obtained from the “Texas Transportation Institute’s 2007 Urban Mobility Study analyzing regional general public transit ridership” and “regional freeway and surface road congestion by metro region,” respectively.
“Commute to Work” data, meanwhile, was obtained from the “2005 Census/American Fact Finder commute-to-work information (released in July 2007).”
“Air Quality” data on the other hand, was “US EPA air quality data and information for all of 2007 (Median Air Quality Index, combined with US EPA Clean Air Act Non-Attainment information, converted to a numerical scale).”
If the Sustain Lane analysis is repeated this year, I’ll plan on making the Fresno transportation- and air quality-related results available in an upcoming report.