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Talking Headways: Affordable Housing – Will They Throw Tomatoes or Flowers?

This week I’m joined by Meea Kang, Rail~volution board member and founding partner of Domus Development. I caught up with Meea at the Rail~volution conference to talk about what it’s like to be an affordable housing developer building sustainable projects. We discuss the 16 variances needed to do transit-oriented development in Sacramento, workforce housing in Tahoe on a bus line with 60-minute headways, and what it takes to pass a state law that reduces parking requirements near transit.

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Comparing the Price of Parking Across U.S. Cities

This article was cross-posted from City Observatory

How much does it cost to park a car in different cities around the nation?

Today, we’re presenting some new data on a surprisingly under-measured aspect of cities and the cost of living: how much it costs to park a car in different cities. There are regular comparisons of rents and housing costs between cities. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports on regional price variations among states. But the price of parking falls into a kind of unlit corner of the statistical world.

Parking is central to the operation of our automobile dominated transportation system. There are more than 260 million cars and trucks in the United States, and most cars sit parked about 95 percent of the time.

It isn’t free, in any sense of the word. (Flickr: reflexblue)

It isn’t free, in any sense of the word. (Flickr: reflexblue)

While we have copious data about cars—the number registered, the number of gallons of gasoline they burn (over 140 billion), the number of miles they travel (over 3 trillion)—we actually know precious little about the scale of the nation’s parking system.The best estimates suggest that there are somewhere between 722 million and more than 2 billion parking spaces in the United States.

Read more…

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Center City Philadelphia Commuters Increasingly Arriving by Bike

Where bicyclists were once a trickle in Philadelphia, they are now a steady stream.

Bike commuting in central Philadelphia is on the rise, according to a recent report by the Center City District, which found about 1,400 cyclists entering the center city from the south during the peak rush hour.

Thousands of cyclists pour into Center City Philadelphia daily, largely on two buffered bike lanes. Graph: Center City District

Thousands of cyclists pour into Center City Philadelphia daily, largely on two buffered bike lanes. Graph: Center City District

Randy LoBasso at the Bike Coalition of Greater Philadelphia explains the increase is happening even though the infrastructure is less than ideal:

In their new report, “Bicycle Commuting,” Center City District reports that cyclists entering Center City on northbound streets during rush hour (8am-9am) “was up 22 percent over the … last count in 2014” and up 79 percent since 2010.

According to CCD’s bike counts, cyclists are using Center City lanes specifically engineered for high bike rates — like Spruce Street and 13th Street, which have wide, buffered bike lanes.

And Center City residents and commuters agree that motor vehicles parking in those bike lanes is especially annoying for Philadelphia road users. A Transportation Priorities Survey, also released by Center City District, found that the most important issues hindering mobility are vehicles blocking lanes, lack of enforcement and poor street conditions.

Cyclists are well aware of the problem of people in motor vehicles thinking they can pull over into a bike lane without fear of being ticketed, and without care for the other road users who can get injured when they do so.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA Will Bring Back the Shuttle in the Tunnel (SFExaminer)
  • More on SFMTA Pulling Out Safe Hit Posts (SFist)
  • Car Carnage Getting Worse Despite Tech Advances (KQED)
  • BART Delayed Early This Morning (KRON4)
  • Free Car Storage in Marina Except for the Destitute (SFExaminer)
  • More on Cooling Rental Market (MercNews)
  • More Housing Supply Coming–Eventually (Curbed)
  • Bike Share Discounts for Low Income Riders (EastBayTimes)
  • Secretary Foxx Talks About Transportation Future (Curbed)
  • New Park Developments for Alameda (MercNews)
  • Who Will Repair San Carlos Sidewalks? (DailyJournal)
  • Commentary: Contrary View on Contra Costa Measure X (SFChron)

Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA
Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA


Time to Fix Oakland’s Streets: Vote Yes on KK


Potholes like this one might be inconvenient or uncomfortable for a car driver, but they can cause a cyclist to crash, and are unacceptable. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Oakland voters, as with voters throughout the Bay Area and the nation, will have quite a slew of decisions to make on November 8.

KK is one of the easiest.

Measure KK is a $600 million general obligation bond to invest in Oakland infrastructure and affordable housing. As the Yes on KK campaign writes, it “…will improve quality of life citywide by re-paving streets, rebuilding cracked and deteriorating sidewalks, and improving bicycle and pedestrian safety. It will also repair and improve parks, libraries, and public safety facilities.”

Or, to quote our friends at Bike East Bay: Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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When People Aren’t Afraid to Walk in the Street With Cars

Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz wasn't design to be a shared space where pedestrians have priority, but Richard Masoner says that's how it functions on weekends. Photo: Cyclelicious

Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz wasn’t designed to be a “shared space” where pedestrians have priority, but Richard Masoner says that’s how it functions on weekends. Photo: Cyclelicious

“Shared spaces” are streets where driving is allowed but walking and biking take priority. They are designed without curbs, signage, and other typical markers that separate cars from people on foot. The design cues are subtler. Everyone mixes together in the same space, and drivers travel slowly enough that they can make eye contact with pedestrians.

Can you have an “accidental” shared space — a street with curbs where people are still comfortable walking in the road? Richard Masoner at Network blog Cyclelicious says Pacific Avenue in downtown Santa Cruz functions as a shared space on weekends even though it wasn’t planned as one:

Most of those driving — even tourists with out-of-state license plates — take care to watch for people meandering into the street from arbitrary locations.

This kind of slow traffic naturally improves safety for people on bikes. I’ve talked to people who strongly dislike riding with traffic, but feel perfectly fine biking through downtown.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • N-Judah Shuttle Working (SFBay)
  • More on Subway Survey (SFGate, Curbed)
  • Transit Improvements for San Bruno Ave (SFBay)
  • SFMTA Fast at Keeping Streets Dangerous (Hoodline)
  • SFMTA and How to Name a Station (SFExaminer)
  • Warm Springs BART Station May Open After Election (SFChron)
  • Brooklyn Basin Shoreline Project Details (Socketsite)
  • Transportation at Issue for Proposed Menlo Park School (DailyJournal)
  • San Rafael Quiet Zone for SMART Train (MarinIJ)
  • State Proposition 53 Could Hurt Rail Modernization Plans (EastBayTimes)
  • Commentary: Vote Yes on C1 (SFChron)

Get state headlines at Streetsblog CA
Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA


Subway Metadata Master Plan

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A "heat map" of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

A “heat map” of where San Franciscans want to see subways. Image: ConnectSF

Yesterday afternoon the Land Use and Transportation Committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors heard a presentation from transportation officials on efforts to design a “Subway Master Plan,” a long-range blueprint for a subway network for San Francisco.

From a release on the meeting from Supervisor Scott Wiener’s office:

Today at the Land Use and Transportation Committee, City transportation agencies delivered a presentation on their work to create a Subway Master Plan. Supervisor Scott Wiener called for the development of the Subway Master Plan last year, and authored an ordinance requiring the policy be developed. At the hearing, the Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) and the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA) presented the initial findings – which they have called the Subway Vision — that they have been developing over the last year.

Streetsblog readers will recall that in August the SFMTA and other agencies launched a web page that invited people to draw subway lines and stations where they would most like to see them. The computers then combined the “over 2,600 unique submissions that ranged from a single line to a comprehensive system,” explained Sarah Jones, SFMTA’s Planning Director. “The most consistently drawn lines were in prior plans we reviewed, but also saw some other areas being opened up.”
Read more…

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Private Toll Road Backed By $430 Million in Federal Funds Goes Bust

From the beginning, there were plenty of reasons to suspect that Texas 130 — a private toll road between San Antonio and Austin — was a bad idea.

For one thing, the state of Texas looked into extending the highway in 2006 and concluded it wouldn’t generate nearly enough toll revenue to pay for construction.

Nevertheless, when two private firms, Cintra and Zachary Corp., decided to take the project on in 2008, the state of Texas and federal officials were happy to help. Cintra and Zachary put together a deal to build the $1.35 billion freeway. They lined up $430 million in federally-backed TIFIA loans, and promised to share toll revenues with the state of Texas and pay $25 million upfront.

Today, four years after the road opened, it is bankrupt. Katherine Blunt at the San Antonio Express-News has done some Pulitzer-worthy reporting about Texas 130 and the questions raised by similar toll road projects. Here are a few of the highlights of her report:

Read more…

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You Don’t Have to Trash BRT to Make the Case for Light Rail, and Vice Versa

In cities considering a light rail project, it’s common for transit opponents to suddenly cast themselves as big believers in bus rapid transit. They don’t really want to build BRT, they just want to derail the transit expansion. The light rail advocates then have to make their case not only on the merits of the project, but also in relation to the strawman BRT project.

That’s the position supporters of Seattle’s big transit expansion ballot measure, ST3, find themselves in right now. Taking on the faux pro-BRT crowd in a recent post, Anton Babadjanov at Seattle Transit Blog argues that building a BRT equivalent of the proposed light rail lines wouldn’t be that simple or cheap:

How do we get this? We can’t simply reallocate a general purpose lane for this. This is a political non-starter. While it is relatively cheap to implement, no car commuter wants to lengthen their commute so that “somebody else” can have a better transit or carpool trip. People have never supported this en masse.

The only option we have is to build the new right-of-way — either widen the freeway or build the lanes in a separate structure using viaducts and tunnels as appropriate.

Babadjanov concludes that building BRT with new rights-of-way could save 20 percent compared to light rail, but its capacity would be lower. It’s a reasonable argument for the specific situation Seattle transit advocates are in right now. But I’ve seen the post’s headline — “BRT Is Not Cheaper Than Light Rail” — shared online as though it applies in every situation, which is just not true.

Read more…