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Norwegian Town Pays Cyclists and Pedestrians “Reverse Toll” Money

How’s this for bike- and pedestrian-friendly? A town in Norway is paying people to bike and walk.

Norway cyclists got a bonus for their good deed in the form of "reverse tolls." Photo: Wikipedia

Cyclists in Lillestrøm, Norway, got a bonus in the form of “reverse tolls.” Photo: Wikipedia

It only lasted for a week, but Eric Britton at World Streets says it’s a completely rational economic policy response:

As part of Norway’s ongoing European Mobility Week celebrations, around 10,000 NOK (€1,200) was handed out in the town of Lillestrøm to pedestrians and cyclists in “reverse toll money.” The money symbolised the health benefits of walking and cycling, including better fitness, improved air quality and more efficient transport.

Cyclists received around €12, while pedestrians gained €11. Calculations carried out by the Norwegian Directorate of Health shows that active transport provides the state with a saving of 52 NOK (€6) per kilometer for pedestrians and 26 NOK (€3) per kilometer for cyclists. An average bike trip in Norway is 4 kilometers, providing a health benefit of 100 NOK (€12), while an average walking trip is 1.7 km, worth almost 90 NOK (€11)

The only thing I have to say about this is: EXCELLENT!

This is not a light-weight, happy go lucky, feel-good idea. It is world class economics. Full cost pricing: All you have to do is run the numbers and you can see where it is best to spend the taxpayer money.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Rails-to-Trails explains how Florida’s Amendment 1 could be a watershed moment for protecting environmentally sensitive land and expanding trails in the Sunshine State. The Dallas Morning News’ Transportation Blog says Zipcar is moving into the Big D. And Urban Velo has an update on the woman whose “crime” was riding her bike on a Kentucky road — she was jailed this week.

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DC and New Orleans Closing the Bike Commute Gap With Portland

Perennial cycling leaders like Portland and Minneapolis have seen progress slow, while some less well-known biking cities are making gains. Image: Bike Portland

Growth in bike commuting has slowed in Portland and Minneapolis, while some less well-known biking cities are making gains. Graph: Bike Portland

New Census numbers are out, providing fresh data on how Americans are getting to work, and Michael Andersen at BikePortland has noticed a couple of trends.

The mid-size cities best-known for biking haven’t made much progress lately, Andersen writes, while other cities have made rapid gains:

2013 Census estimates released Thursday show the big cities that led the bike spike of the 2000s — Minneapolis, Seattle, Denver and, most of all, Portland — all failing to make meaningful changes to their commuting patterns for three years or more.

Meanwhile, the same figures show a new set of cities rising fast — first among them Washington DC.

Read more…

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When Highways Are Barriers to Opportunity

Looking at a map of commute times, Patrick Kennedy at Walkable Dallas-Fort Worth finds that people who live in census tracts with some of that region’s lowest household incomes spend the most time traveling to and from work. Many commutes are more than an hour each way.

Kennedy says this is what happens when road-building guides private investment — and it’s a vicious circle. As Dallas sprawls northward away from the urban core, he writes, places of employment become less and less accessible for those who can least afford “to get cars and get on the road.”

The darker the purple, the longer the drive. The poorest residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region have some of the longest commute times. Image: Walkable DFW

The darker the purple, the longer the drive. The poorest residents of the Dallas-Fort Worth metro region have some of the longest commute times. Image: Walkable DFW

With swaths of the city losing jobs and population, Kennedy says all those highways built to connect are, in reality, serving as barriers.

We have cut off opportunity from entire parts of the city, specifically with the notion of trying to connect people with highways. We’ve done the opposite. It’s obvious that highways disconnect across them, but the constant job and population creep northward is indicative of a deeper, systemic, and more pernicious form of disconnection: distance. Traversing that distance is not the answer, particularly when our solutions to traversing that distance, more highways, only serves to exacerbate the problem, by moving things further and further away.

The highway builders, thinking they’re serving populations as they exist, don’t realize that they themselves are the scientist with their finger in the petri dish stirring it around and affecting the very results they’re supposedly objective about.

Elsewhere on the Network: Bicycle Transportation Alliance discovers that Daimler employees in Portland are very much into biking to work. Second Avenue Sagas comments on the gondola fad in NYC. And Greater Greater Washington reports on a Washington Post columnist and his war on traffic enforcement.

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How to Improve 3-Foot Passing Laws

After a couple of vetoes by Governor Jerry Brown, California finally has a 3-foot passing law.

As of June, 24 states plus the District of Columbia have such a law, which requires drivers to give cyclists a minimum buffer of 3 feet when passing from behind. With California’s law in effect as of today, Rick Bernardi of Bob Mionske’s bike law blog says 3-foot laws are good for cycling, but could be improved.

There's room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that takes effect in California today. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/sfbike/7000434589/in/set-72157629263668356/##SF Bike Coalition/Flickr##

There’s room to improve 3-foot passing laws, like the one that took effect in California today. Photo: SF Bike Coalition/Flickr

Bernardo points out that some laws, including California’s, provide exceptions for drivers that weaken cyclist protections. Minimum passing distances should be commensurate with motorist speed, he says, and intentional “buzzing” should be criminalized.

The law should also make collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass, Bernardi writes.

When drivers collide with a cyclist while passing, they will often attempt to shift the blame to the cyclist: “The cyclist came out of nowhere” is one common explanation for a crash. “The cyclist suddenly swerved into my path” is another commonly heard explanation. If the cyclist is seriously injured or killed, the driver’s explanation may be the only explanation we hear. More often than not, when a driver says that the pass was “safe” but the cyclist did something that doesn’t make any sense, it really means that the driver wasn’t paying attention, or was passing too close. But under the law, injured cyclists must prove that the driver’s pass was unsafe. 3 foot laws can be strengthened by making collisions prima facie evidence of an illegal pass. This means that when a driver is passing a cyclist and a collision results, the law would presume that the pass was too close. The driver could still rebut this presumption with evidence to show that the pass was not too close, but now the burden of proof would be where it properly belongs — on the driver who has the responsibility to pass at a safe distance.

Also on the Network today: Streets.MN says investing in transit for “millennials” and “millennials” alone is a bad idea, and the Wash Cycle takes a tour of the Capital Bikeshare warehouse.

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With Permit Parking, John Cranley Could Help Cincinnati Despite Himself

Chalk this one up as a worthwhile proposal offered in bad faith.

Streetsblog readers may remember Mayor John Cranley as the pol who wasted a ton of taxpayer money trying to kill the Cincinnati streetcar. But lately Cranley has come out as a would-be parking reformer, proposing a $300 annual fee for on-street parking in Over-the-Rhine, a historic neighborhood on the streetcar route.

Mayor John Cranley's proposal to charge for curbside parking could help Cincinnati neighborhoods more than he realizes. Photo: ##https://www.flickr.com/photos/taestell/15094122075/in/pool-over-the-rhine##Travis Estell/Flickr##

Mayor John Cranley’s proposal to charge for curbside parking could help Cincinnati neighborhoods more than he realizes. Photo: Travis Estell/Flickr

Not surprisingly, Cranley is getting blowback from some quarters. But Randy A. Simes at UrbanCincy says the plan is right on the merits.

To better understand how this proposed permit fee stacks up, let’s consider that it averages out to approximately $25 per month. According to the most recent State of Downtown report, the average monthly parking rate in the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine and Pendleton is $89. This average accounts for approximately 36,400 monthly parking spaces available in 2013.

While this average monthly parking rate is skewed by much higher rates in the Central Business District, many lots and garages reserved for residential parking in Over-the-Rhine charge between $40 and $110 per month. This means that Mayor Cranley’s proposal would put the city’s on-street parking spaces nearly in-line with their private counterparts.

This is a smart move. We should stop subsidizing parking as much as possible. Therefore, such a proposal should not only be examined in greater depth for Over-the-Rhine, but all of Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods.

All well and good. The thing is, Cranley makes no bones about the fact that he considers the fee as retribution against streetcar supporters. “They should be asked to pay a much higher fee for cars they still have on the street,” Cranley said on a local radio show. “[It] is consistent with the philosophy of the folks who are pushing the streetcar, which is this will reduce the need for cars, so those who want to bring cars into Over-the-Rhine … should pay for the amenity that they so desperately wanted.”

Cranley’s motives may be suspect, but ironically, by placing a value on curbside parking he may end up helping constituents he holds in contempt.

Elsewhere on the Network: Bike PGH welcomes Pittsburgh’s new bike and pedestrian coordinator, and Rights of Way celebrates the arrival of the first bike corral in Portland, Maine.

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Lagos Bus Rapid Transit Handles 25 Percent of All Commuters

Six years after Lagos, Nigeria, launched the first Bus Rapid Transit program in all of Africa, the system handles a whopping 25 percent of all commutes and plays a key role in the city’s ongoing effort to reduce stifling vehicle congestion.

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Lagos BRT connects the mainland to the central business district on Lagos Island. Map: World Bank

The average Lagos commuter spends over three hours in traffic each day, writes the City Fix. Installed on a wide 22-kilometer (13.6-mile) north-south highway that connects to the central business district, Lagos BRT is modeled on South American systems like those in Curitiba, Bogotá, and Santiago. Though it doesn’t incorporate all elements of full-scale BRT, bus riders pay before boarding and wait for buses in newly-constructed shelters. A physically separated bus lane was implemented along 65 percent of the route.

From the City Fix:

This BRT service has had a significant impact on transport in Lagos, and already has daily ridership of 200,000 people. Despite accounting for 25% of commuters, the BRT system contributes only 4% of all traffic. Further, the system was constructed at the relatively low cost of USD $1.7 million per kilometer. In comparison, Bogotá’s TransMilenio cost about USD $6 million per kilometer.

Lagos is building on its BRT system with investments in a range of other sustainable transport options. In a speech at last month’s Mail & Guardian conference on urban migration and renewal, Lagos Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola outlined six areas of infrastructural investment in mass transit. These included a light rail project called “Eko Rail,” a suspended cable car system, and improvements to the existing ferry system.

The light rail system is planned to encompass seven routes and will be integrated with the BRT corridor, hugely expanding the city’s transit capacity. The City Fix suggests Lagos focus on transit-oriented development and congestion pricing to go along with the new transit lines.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Transportation for America is bracing for another last-minute budget scramble from Washington, and A/N Blog highlights the latest TIGER grant recipients.

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Two Visions for a Closed DC Freeway, But Only One Shows Any Vision

Image: Greater Greater Washington

Image: Greater Greater Washington

David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington reports that city traffic engineers and city planners have very different ideas on what to do with a closed freeway segment in southeast DC.

The District Department of Transportation came up with a range of proposals for the Southeast Freeway between the 11th Street Bridge and the Barney Circle neighborhood. But all of them, writes Alpert, “primarily focused around moving cars fast, and … would be, at best, unpleasant to cross on foot.”

Unhappy with the DDOT offerings, residents and a city council member enlisted the Office of Planning to give it a shot.

“OP’s options still look at four-lane boulevards and even four-lane parkways, but much with much more appealing designs like a big park next to and partly on top of the road,” says Alpert. Other renderings from the planning department show the street grid extending into the freeway, with townhouses, larger buildings, and a mix of the two.

But regardless of configuration, says Alpert, the city hasn’t put forth a proposal to reduce the number of lanes designated for driving: ”[E]ven OP’s study assumed that there need to be four lanes of traffic, as that’s what DDOT insists on.” Alpert continues:

Read more…

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It’s OK to Build Transit-Oriented Development Before Transit

Which should come first: transit or transit-oriented development?

Mountain View, California's Shoreline Boulevard is seen as a potential mixed-use transit corridor. Image: City of Mountain View via Streetsblog SF

Mountain View, California’s Shoreline Boulevard is seen as a potential mixed-use transit corridor. Image: City of Mountain View via Streetsblog SF

Streetsblog San Francisco reported Monday that residents of Mountain View, California, are trying to figure out how to accommodate thousands of tech employees without overwhelming local transportation infrastructure. One-fourth of all workers in Mountain View travel to and from an office district that houses Google, LinkedIn, and other companies, yet in 2012 the city council prohibited mixed-used development there.

It’s an election year in Mountain View, and some council candidates say it’s a bad idea to put dense housing in an area where public services, including transit, don’t exist.

They’ve got it wrong, says Jarrett Walker at Human Transit.

[T]here’s not enough transit there because there aren’t enough people there, yet. Transit is easy to add in response to seriously transit-oriented development, but as long as you have a development pattern that is too low-density or single-use for transit, you’ve locked in lousy transit service as an outcome.

So whenever someone gives you this line as a reason to oppose a transit-friendly development, ask: “Well, what would it cost to provide good transit, and who should pay for that?”

Often, as in Mountain View, extremely frequent transit into the nearby transit hub can achieve plenty, and is not that expensive, because of the very short distances involved.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Better Institutions reports on the housing boom in downtown Los Angeles. A View From the Cycle Path says making driving more expensive isn’t the only way to get people out of their cars. And Greater Greater Washington has a nice piece on a pedestrian desire path that, once blocked, got an upgrade from a strip mall developer.

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Miami Highway Builders Try to Sell a New Sprawl Project to the Public

The Miami Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) wants to build a highway extension in the southwest fringes of the city, near the edge of the Everglades, and to do that it needs to ingratiate itself with the public. At an open house to kick off the public-facing phase of the planning process, agency staff were well-prepared and friendly, reports Matthew Toro at Transit Miami. After all, he says, “all good salespeople are.”

MDX makes its pitch. Photo: Matthew Toro/Transit Miami

The agency team displayed maps giving the impression that MDX will take on “a comprehensive socio-environmental, socio-economic, and socio-cultural evaluation of the project.” But whenever Toro asked probing questions, he was met with an evasive reply or an answer that suggested MDX simply has no ideas besides “widen roads”:

Any response that wasn’t overly deflective still didn’t register as sufficient justification for a new highway. For example:

Me: If the underlying problem is that nearly all of Miami’s suburbanites commute from the west to the east, why would people want to lengthen their commute by driving farther west, just to ultimately go east again?

MDX (paraphrased): Well . . . some people already go west onto Krome [SW 177th] Avenue to go back east again.

Me: Yes, a handful do, but Krome Avenue is currently set to be widened by FDOT, and that will accommodate the relatively few who do.

MDX (paraphrased): Yes, that’s true; Krome is to be widened; but we need to look into whether widening Krome will be enough.

Me: . . .

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Can Columbus Get Its Sprawl Under Control?

The green area shown on the map will all be filled in with sprawl in Columbus by 2050 if nothing changes. That would represent a near tripling of Columbus' land area. Image: MORPC, Colubus 2020 and Columbus ULI via Architect's Newspaper

The green area will all be filled in with sprawl by 2050 if current patterns don’t change — more than tripling the land area of Columbus. Map: MORPC, Columbus 2020 and Columbus ULI via Architect’s Newspaper

There’s a new study out examining the future of Columbus, Ohio, and the results are a little scary. This growing city in central Ohio has an Atlanta-like geography — no physical barriers on any side. And if current development patterns continue, Chris Bentley at the Architect’s Newspaper reports, the region’s physical footprint is expected to more than triple by 2050 as population grows by 500,000:

The Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), Columbus 2020 and ULI Columbus hired the planning firm Calthorpe Associates to assess the development impact of current trends and make recommendations aimed at curbing patterns that could balloon the region’s environmental problems and its residents transportation budgets.

From the current city land area of 223 square miles, said the study, Columbus and its suburban jurisdictions could swallow up an additional 480 square miles by 2050 if current trends continue. The culprits include large lots for single-family homes and traditional suburban-style development…

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