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Talking Headways Podcast: A Bus Full of People Should Go Ahead of a Tesla

This week’s episode returns to the Shared Use Mobility Summit in Chicago for a great discussion of how the changing technology and information landscape could yield more equitable outcomes. Jackie Grimshaw of the Center for Neighborhood Technology moderated this panel featuring Anita Cozart of Policy Link, Rob Puentes of the Eno Center for Transportation, and Joshua Schank of LA Metro.

The discussion touches on several interesting topics, including the idea that innovation doesn’t have to arise from technology, the fact that not all people are benefitting from transportation investments, the measurement bias in the models we use to make transportation decisions, and much more. I highly recommend a listen.

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Vanterpool: Trump Can’t Take Away Our Ability to Make Transit Better

In less than two months, Donald Trump will be sworn in as president, and he’ll be working with a GOP majority in Congress that is highly antagonistic to transit funding, climate sustainability efforts, and other policies that benefit walkable urban places. It’s a scary scenario for transit riders.

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool

Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool. Photo: David McKay Wilson/Binghamton University

But if you want better transit, now is not the time to get discouraged. At a Riders Alliance panel in Soho last night, Tri-State Transportation Campaign Executive Director Veronica Vanterpool delivered a message to transit advocates — all politics is local, and city residents still have the power to win important transit victories:

Where I see a positivity is in us, and it’s in the energy in this room, and the energy in cities that we see across this country. The outlook is glum, and it’s grim. But we need to focus and remember that a lot of the wins and a lot of success has happened at the local level and at the state level. And not just in transportation — think about, you know, paid sick leave. Those were local fights, when the federal government wasn’t making these changes. There’s a lot of innovation that has happened in the cities. We cannot let that die. We need to wrap that up. We need to empower local and state advocacy, and make sure that our state government and our state elected officials, and our local government and our local elected officials, are representing what we want.

Keep going for those easy wins, because that is how we inform our elected officials…You know, all politics is local. Even at the federal level. They want to look to their district for examples. They want to look to their states and their counties for examples. Let’s give them the right examples to run with, to heed, to model. So they’re looking to us. Let’s show them. Let’s give them the message that we want them to deliver.

Vanterpool said advocates also need to refine their messages in a way that effectively communicates to rural and suburban communities the value of investment in transit.

Read more…

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The ‘Peanutabout’ Concept Could Be a Breakthrough for Diagonal Streets

A proposed design in Cambridge. Image: Kittelson and Associates via Boston Cyclists Union.

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

Wickedly good biking ideas continue to pop up in Massachusetts.

Last year, it unveiled the country’s best state-level bikeway design guide and Cambridge opened the country’s best new bike lane on Western Avenue.

On Tuesday, the Boston Cyclists Union shared the inspiring back story behind a new concept for the long, complex seven-way intersection created by the acute crossing of Cambridge and Hampshire streets. Like a lot of good ideas in modern American bicycling history, it involves Anne Lusk, a Harvard public health professor who’s been a major brain behind the spread of protected bike lanes in the United States. Last summer she connected BCU with engineering firm Kittelson and Associates, and dominoes started falling:

In mid-September, Bike Union executive director Becca Wolfson and representatives of Kittelson met with City of Cambridge staff to present our findings regarding the feasibility of the peanut design and the conceptual rendering for it.  The City had considered and rejected as infeasible a roundabout solution for Inman, but had not considered a peanut-style mini-roundabout.  The staff were favorably impressed and have since indicated an interest in including this roundabout approach alongside the “Bends” solutions as the pubic process moves forward.

In his post, BCU writer Steven Bercu lists the various advantages of this design for people walking, biking and driving. Here are the benefits for bicycle travel:

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Getting On-Street Parking Tech Right

Getting the price of on-street parking right is important for commercial areas in cities. Setting prices to ensure that about one space per block remains open reduces double-parking, cuts down on unnecessary traffic, and can speed up buses as a result.

You're going to change for parking? Good! What's the right equipment? Photo: Wikipedia

You’re going to change for parking? Good! What’s the right equipment? Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Putting the right price on parking isn’t always popular, but by choosing good systems and technology to manage curbside spaces, cities can make it easier for motorists. Paul Barter at Reinventing Parking has written a handy guide to 18 different types of on-street parking management, from very low-tech cash payment to state-of-the-art GPS-based systems.

He concludes that the best systems are digital and track payment via license plates or vehicle registration numbers, as opposed to the physical space the car occupies. Of those, he highlights these four options as the best for cities today — read the whole post for a detailed look at how these systems work:

The digital pay-by-plate options seem to do best to maximize parking-management effectiveness and minimize the pain.

They score highly on most of the key criteria mentioned earlier, especially high convenience for users, easy price adjustment, data stream, low-cost integration with enforcement, low transaction costs, suitability for motorcycles, and ability to integrate with permits and special discounts.

This means that any city tackling this issue afresh today should probably focus on these options (in pay-by-plate mode): 
12: Smart (digital) multi-space meters with Pay-by-License-Plate
15: Pay-by-smart-phone-app
16: In-vehicle meters, or
17: Global Positioning System (GPS)-based in-vehicle meters
or some combination of 2 or more of these (including all of them together).

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Preet Accepts Trump Invitation to Keep His Post (Bloomberg, Politico)
  • Jersey Lawmakers Say Cuomo Is the Problem With PABT Planning Process (Politico)
  • DiNapoli Says Cuomo’s Thruway Authority Isn’t Prepared to Deal With Long-Term Costs (LoHud)
  • Ruben Diaz Jr. and James Oddo Want Taxpayer-Backed Citi Bike in the Bronx and Staten Island (News)
  • Oddo and Steve Matteo Intro Bills to “Protect” Freshly-Paved Streets From Utility Contractors (DNA)
  • Operating the Staten Island Ferry Is About to Get More Expensive for NYC (Advance)
  • De Blasio Increasingly Relies on Helicopter to Bypass Dysfunctional City Streets (NYT 1, 2)
  • Bayside Residents Get a Big Helping of DDC Incompetence (QNS)
  • How NYC’s Curb Space Management Stole Christmas in Dyker Heights (NewsPost)
  • Speaking of Grinches — It’s a Non-Divisible Load, Sure, But Did This Trucker Have a Permit? (Gothamist)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Monday: Tell CB 12 to Get on Board With Dyckman Street Upgrades Already

The DOT plan includes painted bike lanes on Dyckman Street between Broadway and Nagle Avenue and a protected bikeway between Nagle and 10th Avenue. Image: DOT

The DOT plan includes painted bike lanes on Dyckman Street between Broadway and Nagle Avenue and a protected bikeway between Nagle and 10th Avenue. Image: DOT

DOT will bring its plan for new bike lanes on Dyckman Street in Inwood back to Community Board 12 next Monday.

Local residents have been asking DOT for a protected bike lane on Dyckman, a major neighborhood thoroughfare that connects the east side and west side greenways, since 2008. CB 12 requested that DOT come up with a proposal for better bike infrastructure on the corridor — Dyckman currently has painted lanes on the east and west ends, but they don’t connect — in 2011 and 2012.

But when DOT put forth a plan last spring, CB 12 declined to support it. Instead, after years of talking around Dyckman improvements, the board’s transportation committee asked DOT for more meetings. Since then DOT has conducted site visits with CB 12 members to discuss the plan further, the agency told Streetsblog.

DOT has proposed a road diet for Dyckman between Broadway and Nagle Avenue, with a painted median and center turn lane flanked by one general traffic lane and a five-foot painted bike lane in each direction. Between Nagle and 10th Avenue, in place of existing painted bike lanes, DOT would install a nine-foot two-way protected bikeway on the south side of the street.

In addition to the bike lanes, the plan includes new median islands for pedestrians at Vermilyea and Post avenues and a painted curb extension and new crosswalk where Dyckman intersects with 10th Avenue, which right now is a vast expanse of asphalt.

The DOT plan for Dyckman is not the end-to-end bikeway that locals first proposed when George W. Bush was in the White House, but it would impose some order on a chaotic, heavily-trafficked street, acknowledging the presence of people on bikes and making intersections safer for walking.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Federal Regulators Will Let U.S. Railroads Run Faster, More Efficient Trains

European-designed traincars are on their way to the U.S. Photo: Paris' high-speed TGV via Wikipedia

American passenger railroads will be able to save hundreds of millions of dollars annually by using trains designed to standard European specifications. Photo of France’s TGV, via Wikipedia

Why are American trains so expensive and yet so slow? One factor that rail advocates often point to is the Federal Railroad Administration and its rail safety regulations — rules that are finally on the verge of changing.

Antiquated regulations that date all the way back to the late 1800s (they were updated in the 1930s) compel American passenger rail operators to use trains designed like “high-velocity bank vaults,” as former Amtrak CEO David Gunn once put it. While European and Asian railcars became lighter and sleeker in recent decades without compromising safety records, FRA rules continued to insist on heavy, slow, outdated, and expensive equipment.

That finally appears set to change with the FRA’s release of new draft safety rules for traincars.

The FRA expects the new rules will enable railroads to use trains that are safer, more energy efficient, and cheaper to operate. The rules will allow American passenger train operators to purchase rolling stock designed to European safety standards (but not Japanese standards), without going through an expensive waiver process.

Read more…

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The 111th Street Safety Project Has Changed, But Queens CB 4 Has Not

DOT's updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two-way southbound traffic flow and omit the new crosswalks included in the original plan (below). Images: DOT

DOT’s updated 111th Street plan (top) maintains two southbound traffic lanes and omits marked crosswalks included in the original plan (bottom). Images: DOT

If DOT is going to implement a safer design of 111th Street in Corona, it won’t be thanks to the local community board. Despite a watered-down safety plan intended to appease opponents of DOT’s original proposal, the CB 4 transportation committee declined to vote on the plan, citing “remaining questions” about traffic on the corridor.

The city’s first plan for 111th Street, which local residents, community organizations, and Council Member Julissa Ferreras had pushed for, would have reduced the number of motor vehicle lanes, narrowed crossing distances for pedestrians, added marked crosswalks, and put a two-way protected bike lane along Flushing Meadows Corona Park. That version was opposed by Assembly Member Francisco Moya, who said 111th Street carried too much traffic during large sports events at Citi Field and the U.S Open to eliminate moving lanes.

DOT studies and video evidence suggested Moya didn’t have a leg to stand on, but in an announcement last month, the city revealed a weaker version of the redesign, saying it had won over Moya while retaining support from the original coalition. The new design retains a two-way protected bike lane and wider medians, but only eliminates one moving lane in each direction, maintaining two southbound lanes instead of one. It also does not include some marked crosswalks that were in the original plan.

Last night, DOT reps came equipped with piles of research about the traffic conditions on 111th Street, including time-lapse photos from two locations on the corridor and traffic studies of more than 30 large events in the area. Residents were also surveyed about how they get to the park and their concerns about park access.

The traffic studies concluded that there just isn’t much congestion on 111th Street, and the survey revealed that Corona residents are much more worried about speeding on 111th Street than about traffic back-ups.

But CB 4 members refused to believe the evidence.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Old Places Built for Driving Are Failing New Residents Who Don’t Own Cars

Langley Park, a low-income suburb of Washington, D.C., was built around cars. But now its residents rely a lot on walking, and the environment puts them at risk. Photo via Greater Greater Washington

Langley Park, a suburb of Washington, D.C., was built around cars. But many current residents rely on walking, and the street environment puts them at risk. Google Street View via Greater Greater Washington

Langley Park in Prince George’s County, outside Washington, D.C., took on its current form when World War II vets moved there in large numbers, aspiring to the suburban lifestyle: a single-family house with a yard.

The area was built around cars. But as in many other suburban areas, the population has changed over time. Now, reports Carolyn Gallagher at Greater Greater Washington, Langley Park is largely Latino, lower income, and home to many recent immigrants. Many current residents get around by walking and transit, even though the area wasn’t built for walking. Gallagher writes that officials aren’t doing enough to make the streets safe for people on foot:

People aren’t just going to and from their cars; they’re walking, hanging out in front of stores, or sitting on retaining walls and shooting the breeze. One strip mall even has a semi-regular street preacher. Armed with a megaphone and boundless conviction, he exhorts and cajoles passersby in equal measure.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • De Blasio: MTA, Not NYC, Should Subsidize Fares for New Yorkers With Low Incomes (News, Gothamist)
  • Related: TransitCenter Explains How TfL Uses Payment Tech to Cap Fares for Cost-Conscious Riders
  • Yesterday’s Vision Zero Happy Talk Rings Hollow to the Voice; More: GothamistPost, AMNY, News
  • Hank Miller: Funding Street Redesigns Would Show de Blasio Is Committed to Vision Zero (News)
  • Thousands of Motorists Are Cheating Toll and Traffic Cameras and Getting Away With It (News)
  • 50th Precinct CO Blames Senior, Left Brain Dead, for Being Hit by Driver on Broadway in Riverdale (Press)
  • In New York, a DWI Homicide Conviction Gets You Probation and Community Service (Post)
  • Family of Clara Almazo Settles Suit With Sociopath Who Killed Her in Front of Grandson (Advance)
  • Cuomo Vetoes Bill to Restore Job Protection for City School Bus Drivers (Post)
  • Council Approves Rent-Regulated Housing Projects in Manhattan and the Bronx (Politico)
  • Damn Citi Bike (Advance, News, News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA