Skip to content

Posts from the Streetsblog.net Category

Via Streetsblog California
View Comments

Take CalBike’s Survey About California’s June Primary

California needs elected representatives that understand the importance of stress-free, connected bikeways. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog LA

The California Bicycle Coalition is in the process of planning candidate endorsements in the 35 state races that are up for election in the June 7th California primary. CalBike knows that it is crucial to elect representatives who understand the importance of strong complete streets policies and of building good low-stress bike networks for everyone to use.

To help it formulate an endorsement strategy, CalBike is looking for feedback on candidates and issues that matter to bicyclists in the state. Fill out the survey here—it takes about ten minutes, and asks about your affiliations and interests.

Who doesn’t want to share their opinions?

While you’re at it, if you’re not registered or you’ve moved in the past year, register to vote.

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

A University Built Around the Car Sees the Light

Fresno State University was, until very recently, your prototypical car commuting school. The school began as an isolated agricultural institution and is still connected to a large university farm. Its transportation services haven’t extended much beyond subsidized parking.

Fresno State University is trying to transition from a drive-to campus to one with a more balanced menu of transportation options. This pedestrian scramble is designed to reduce pedestrian injuries. Photo: Stop and Move

Fresno State University is trying to transition from a drive-to campus to one with a more balanced menu of transportation options. This pedestrian scramble is designed to reduce injuries. Photo: Stop and Move

But over time, writes James Sinclair at Streetsblog Network member Stop and Move, the area around Fresno State became more residential. And the university’s transportation systems began to creak under the weight of increasing traffic.

Now, Sinclair reports, the university seems to be getting serious about moving beyond the car, and it’s rolling out a respectable Transportation Demand Management program.

He outlines what’s included:

Free Bus Passes

Also new as of last summer, Fresno State students and staff now have unlimited free access to FAX and the Clovis bus systems!

Scramble Crosswalk

This one was a very pleasant surprise, and another example of Fresno State finally (FINALLY) realizing that the infrastructure around the campus influences which mode of transport people use…

Unfortunately, the walking/biking facilities are poor. Very bad lighting at night, narrow sidewalks, and then an intersection which strongly favors cars.

Read more…

Streetsblog NYC
View Comments

Transit Investments and the Failure of Randal O’Toole’s Short-Term Thinking

The Los Angeles Times' recent story about transit ridership ...

The Los Angeles Times has been making a recent dip in transit ridership out to be a devastating failure. Graph: LA Times

The Los Angeles Times recently ran a big story to the effect that the region’s major investments in transit are not paying off, since ridership has recently declined.

But there are a lot of problems with the paper’s analysis, which Streetsblog LA looked at last week. Jarrett Walker at Human Transit has also taken issue with how the LA Times published sweeping conclusions about long-term investments based on just a year or two of data.

When professional transit critic Randall O’Toole seized on the LA Times piece to characterize transit investment as wasteful, Walker put together an epic rebuttal.

The claim that transit ridership has peaked, Walker points out, relies on a dubious reading of the numbers:

When he tells us that ridership “peaked,” he’s confessing that he’s playing the “arbitrary starting year” game. To get the biggest possible failure story, he compares current ridership to a past year that he selected because ridership was especially high then. This is a standard way of exploiting the natural volatility of ridership to create exaggerated trends. Again, the Los Angeles Times article that got O’Toole going made a big deal out of how ridership is down since 1985 and 2006, without mentioning that ridership is up since 1989 and up since 2004 and 2011. Whether ridership is up or down depends on which past year you choose, which is to say, it’s about what story the writer wants to tell.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Chris Christie Sticks It to Pedestrians for No Discernible Reason

In 2014, 170 people were killed while walking on New Jersey streets, accounting for 31 percent of total traffic deaths in the state (about double the national share). In addition, 13 people were killed while biking that year.

To address the problem, lawmakers and advocates in New Jersey have been working on a bill to establish a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Council to advise multiple agencies in state government.

The measure sailed through the state legislature, but Governor Chris Christie had other ideas. Cyndi Steiner and Aaron Hyndman at New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition report that Christie, the same guy who stopped the ARC transit tunnel, issued a “pocket veto” to kill the measure:

Legislation sponsored by state Senators Nia Gill and Diane Allen, as well as Pamela R. Lampitt, Daniel R. Benson, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, and Tim Eustace in the Assembly, to create a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Advisory Council had won unanimous approval from the Senate (October 2015) and Assembly (January 2016), and with the Governor’s signature, would have established a new commission designed to carry on the work of the NJDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council (BPAC). The new Council would have examined issues related to pedestrian and bicycle safety and would advise the governor, legislature, NJ Department of Transportation and other state agencies on solutions that will make New Jersey communities safer and friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Will Toronto Get Cars Out of the Way of the King Street Streetcar?

Toronto's King Street, despite running through some of the city's most densely populated areas, has been designed more like a suburban thoroughfare. But that is about to change. Photo: Wikipedia

Toronto’s King Street will be redesigned to prioritize transit and walking. Photo: Wikipedia

Despite running through some of Toronto’s most densely populated areas, King Street is designed like a suburban road. Cars have dominion while the city’s streetcar has no dedicated right-of-way despite high ridership — so it sits in heavy traffic. But it looks that’s about to change.

Toronto recently announced plans to overhaul King Street by 2017 with a pilot project to shift space from cars to pedestrians and transit. The specifics have yet to be worked out, but Brandon Donnelly at Network blog Architect this City says it sounds very promising:

This isn’t to say the street will be closed to cars. I would imagine that at least 1 lane would remain for cars going each way. Instead it will be redesigned to prioritize transit, pedestrians, and cyclists.

So why is this exciting?

The King streetcar is currently broken. If you’ve ever taken it across downtown during rush hour, you know exactly what I mean. It’s infuriating. You might as well be crawling on your hands and knees. One of the goals of this initiative will be to get it working again. Good.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Sacramento Freeways and the “Small Town Mindset”

“It’s time to drop the small-town mindset and go for a big fix.”

The street grid is in tact under Sacramento's Capital City Freeway. Image: Systemic Failure

The street grid is intact underneath Sacramento’s Capital City Freeway. Photo: Systemic Failure

That’s how Tony Bizjak of the Sacramento Bee described plans to widen the gridlocked Capital City Freeway through the city at a cost of $700 million. Highway widening, to him, must be emblematic of a “big-city mindset.”

But as Network blog Systemic Failure points out, other California cities have taken the opposite approach — achieving growth by tearing down elevated highways:

When San Francisco removed the Embarcadero and Central freeways, it helped launch a property boom that made the city’s real estate some of the most valuable in the country. Across the Bay, Oakland is seeing a similar renaissance with the removal of Lake Merritt’s 12th Street Viaduct and the Cypress freeway relocation. Oakland (yes Oakland) has now passed San Jose to become the nation’s 4th hottest rental market. There is now talk in Oakland of removing I980 as well.

Inner-city highway removal has been so successful, you have to wonder why many cities cling to their outdated design.

Systemic Failure says the Capital City Freeway is a great candidate for this kind of teardown, if only city leaders would recognize it:

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

If Congress Cared About Climate, Its Transport Bill Would Look Much Different

Breezewood,_Pennsylvania_road

The politics of gas prices and truck industry lobbying factor into federal transportation policy more than the prospect of an overheated planet and rising oceans. Photo: Ben Schumin/Wikimedia

With a few exceptions, the five-year transportation bill heading to President Obama’s desk continues what has been the core function of federal transportation policy for more than 60 years — sending a ton of money to the states to spend on highways.

Preventing a big step backward was about as much as you could hope for, given the climate denying, anti-urban strain of the party controlling Congress. Still, writes Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic, the bill amounts to an abdication of responsibility for preventing catastrophic climate change:

In light of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP-21) currently underway in Paris, the FAST legislation’s adherence to the federal policy of spending the large majority of transportation funding on highways is a disappointment, to say the least. Coming from a Congress whose members have openly expressed their contempt for any American responsibility for reducing carbon emissions, it is hardly a surprising move.

Nonetheless, in intentionally choosing to support transportation modes that are worse for the climate, the Congress has chosen to use its legislative powers to reinforce our country’s negative contribution to a darkening planetary nightmare. By holding a sheet over our collective heads, our Congress is perhaps hoping no one will notice the inconvenient truth that funding for more highways represents.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

More “Nervous” Drivers Are Exactly What’s Needed

The deaths of two pedestrians and a bicyclist in quick succession in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood have local street safety advocates demanding reforms and the mayor promising swift action.

A vision for a safer Forbes Avenue has been advanced following the death of Susan Hicks near the University of Pittsburgh. Image: Bike PGH

After Susan Hicks was killed by a driver while biking near the University of Pittsburgh, this concept for a safer Forbes Avenue is gaining momentum. But a writer at the Post-Gazette thinks people walking and biking are the problem. Image: Bike PGH

So naturally a crack reporter had to interject that, hey, pedestrians sometimes break traffic rules!

A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette piece by Ed Blazina adopts the perspective of a Port Authority bus driver who complains people on foot “create the greatest hazard.” Patrick Miner at Network blog Rebuilding the Rust Belt says Blazina has done a masterful job illustrating the mindset that leads us to accept these deaths:

Disregard the overwhelming number of heavy machines (cars) with non-professional drivers holding smart phones, speeding dangerously on Forbes and Fifth. Forget the Public Works Department, the Port Authority, and PennDOT who’ve thus far neglected – grossly – to create alternatives to driving through the busy corridor. Don’t blame the universities for failing to institute and enforce a slow school zone through Oakland, where thousands of people cross the streets during rush hour.

No, the problem – the “hazard” – is all those damn people.

Blazina also wonders, “if these perils of the traffic nightmare in Oakland make professional Port Authority bus drivers nervous, imagine what those conditions can do to regular motorists.”

But that’s exactly what anyone operating a heavy machine on crowded streets should feel, says Miner:

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

True Story: Ratings Agency Pins Dangerous Roads on Car-Free Young People

The financial ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has a new report out that presents a bizarre theory about dangerous conditions on American streets. It’s the Millennials’ fault, “but not in the way you think,” they say. Prepare yourself for some ratings agency clickbait!

Millennials, causing crashes by riding the bus! Photo: US PIRG

Millennials, creating danger by riding the bus! Photo: US PIRG [PDF]

Standard & Poor’s blames Millennials not only for the poor state of transportation infrastructure but also the impending decline of the entire American economic enterprise. Here’s why: They’re driving less.

Richard Masoner at Cyclelicious has more:

A new report from Standard & Poors Credit Research (“Millennials Are Creating Unsafe Conditions On U.S. Roads–But Not In The Way You Might Think, purchase for $850 if you want to read the whole thing) claims this new trend of driving less, and driving in smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, leads to less gas tax revenue (which is true), which in turn leads to less funding for road projects (also true), which in turn makes driving more dangerous! (ummmm… what?)

Because Millenials choose to spend their money on locally built housing instead of imported cars and fuel, S&P predicts financial doom for America:

“This drop in funds available to construct and repair the country’s infrastructure could, in our view, weigh on growth prospects for U.S. GDP, as well as states’ economies, and, in some cases, where states and municipalities choose to replace the lost federal funds with locally derived revenues, could hurt credit quality,” said Standard & Poor’s U.S. Chief Economist Beth Ann Bovino.

Masoner couldn’t plunk down $850 to read S&P’s illuminating study, so he has to speculate somewhat:

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

A Conservative Case for Truck Tolls

Republican lawmakers in Rhode Island are trying to pay for roads and bridges without new tolls on trucks.

"The real welfare Cadillacs have 18 wheels," says conservative blog Strong Towns. Photo: Transport PVD

“The real welfare Cadillacs have 18 wheels,” says Strong Towns. Photo: Transport PVD

James Kennedy at Transport Providence is wondering what’s so conservative about giving a free pass to the interests that inflict the most damage on roads, since everyone else will have to pay instead:

One way we can assess the usefulness of a piece of infrastructure is to think of how much it costs, how much wealth it produces, and what people are willing to pay for it. Anti-tollers are saying that the price they’ve set is zero.

People will respond that we pay for roads through gas taxes. That’s only partially true. Road infrastructure is paid for in this country through a variety of means, and only about half of road cost is covered by gas taxes. That is both a function of the gas tax being low, and our spending being too high.

Gas taxes also have the fault of charging higher fees to users of local roads, and then essentially turning much of their funding over to highways, interchanges, and bridges. This is one reason tolls make sense: assigning a cost to going on a particular piece of infrastructure is more optimal than having a kind of gas tax slush fund that RIDOT can use at its discretion. The tolling requires, by federal law, that those bridges that are tolled are the only ones that can be paid for. This is truly GOP thinking if ever there was such a thing.

Tolls also make sense because they charge the users that use the most, in terms of weight. The proposal to toll trucks comes in the face of the fact that a single truck does 10,000 as much damage to roads and bridges as one car.

All sorts of scare tactics have come forward about the effect of tolls. It’s true, in a matter-of-fact sense, that truckers will try — to the extent that the market allows — to pass the cost of tolls on to consumers. But not to toll is also to pass that cost, just through some other means.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike PGH reports that air pollution levels on neighborhood streets dropped dramatically during an open streets event. And Seattle Bike Blog has an update on the city’s efforts to encourage biking and walking to school.