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Donald Shoup, an Appreciation

Donald Shoup at the 2011 launch of SFpark, which put his ideas about curbside parking management into practices at a large scale. Photo: Bryan Goebel

On Tuesday, the news came that after 41 years of teaching at UCLA, Donald Shoup, distinguished professor of urban planning, will retire. For all of us who have had our paths in life profoundly influenced by his research, writing, and teaching on parking and transportation, it’s a good time to reflect. I never got to take a class from professor Shoup, but he has had more influence on my life and career than any of the professors whose classes I did attend.

Back in the spring of 1992, I was a student at Stanford in Washington, DC, studying international development. I was beginning to realize that before I tried to go to someone else’s country and tell them how to improve their lives, I needed to learn a real practical skill and see if I could accomplish something at home, in a culture I actually understood. That same spring, an article appeared in the Washington Post — “Subsidies Support a Drive-to-Work Habit” — about the ways in which the federal tax code subsidizes parking while withholding tax benefits if people walk or bike or take transit. It piqued my interest.

Siegman

Patrick Siegman, a principal at Nelson/Nygaard, is known as “the first Shoupista” for his work implementing Shoup’s ideas.

I knew that a large and remarkably ugly parking structure had recently been built outside my dad’s office on the Stanford campus, and I knew that I could get a permit to park in it for about $6 per month. I wondered how much it cost, and who really paid for it.

When I got back to Stanford in the fall, I went to see my future boss, Julia Fremon, the manager of Stanford’s Office of Transportation Programs.  I asked her how much it cost to build and operate a parking space on campus, and who paid for them. She said, “I’ve been wanting to know that too.” Then she gave me a list of people to interview, and offered me a spot on the University’s Committee on Parking and Transportation. Encouraged by this, I went to Green Library, descended into the stacks, and discovered the writing of professor Shoup.

All that year, I devoured articles and monographs authored or co-authored by Donald Shoup. I still have my original dog-eared copies of all those articles on my office bookshelf, and I still reference them today, when I’m out in the world trying to persuade city planners and council members to think differently about transportation. There were all those great articles, some newly published: “Employer-Paid Parking: the Problem and Proposed Solutions,” by Shoup and Willson; “Parking Subsidies and Travel Choices: Assessing the Evidence,” by Willson and Shoup; and most importantly, “Cashing Out Employer-Paid Parking,” the big Federal Transit Administration report by Shoup.

Professor Shoup managed to make the apparently dry topic of parking economics and regulation not only worth studying, but compelling, fascinating, and at times, hilarious. I vividly remember sitting down in the stacks, reading his research papers on parking and laughing aloud at the insanity of it all.

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Streetsblog.net
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Don’t Be Mistaken: Vancouver Gets a Lot for Its Transit Dollar

Vancouver’s transit system is subsidized at a relatively small rate of 20 cents per ride. Graph: Canadian Urban Transport Association via Human Transport

Vancouverites go to the polls in May to decide whether to raise sales taxes to fund a slate of transit improvements. But polls show the measure is headed for defeat.

Other arguments aside, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit says one supposed “con” — that transit provider TransLink is incompetent and wasteful — ought to be nipped in the bud. To the contrary, Walker says, Vancouver transit is a great deal.

The numbers confirm that Metro Vancouver is getting excellent value for its transit dollar. Todd Litman of Victoria Transport Policy Institute recently put these numbers together.

First, subsidy per passenger-kilometer (one passenger moving one km on transit). What do regional taxpayers pay to move the massive numbers of people they move every day? Less than 20 cents per ride, which is right on the Canadian average and far better than what’s achieved in the US, Australia, or New Zealand.

One measure of this is passenger-kilometers per capita. How much personal transit does Vancouver provide?  How many people can travel, and how far, to access jobs and opportunities without contributing to traffic congestion?

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Today’s Headlines

  • Drivers Hit Two Men in Crashes at Washington and Montgomery, on Mission Street Sidewalk (KTVU)
  • DPW Begins Installation of Pedestrian Signal at Crosswalk in Front of City Hall (SFMTA)
  • Chiu Announces Assembly Bill to Allow Muni Cameras to Ticket Drivers Cruising in Bus Lanes (SFGate)
  • Stanley Roberts Catches Scooter and Car Drivers Abusing the Embarcadero Bike Lane
  • Mission Economic Development Association Joins Push for Safer Streets (Mission Local)
  • Poll: Majority of SF Voters Support Moratorium on New Housing in the Transit-Rich Mission (Examiner)
  • Hoodline Recounts the Freeway Revolt That Stopped the Panhandle Freeway
  • SFPD Park Station Captain Raj Vaswani Moves to Bayview After Less Than a Year (Exam, Hoodline)
  • AC Transit General Manager David Armijo Resigns Suddenly (SFGate, SFBay, CoCo Times)
  • Silicon Valley’s Housing Shortage Forces Many to Commute Hours From Cities Like Stockton (KQED)
  • Hit-Run Driver Kills Pedestrian on Hwy 580 in Hayward (ABC); Driver Kills Ped in Martinez (SFGate)
  • Caltrain Kills Tenth Person on Tracks This Year (ABC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Eyes on the Street: Polk’s Extended, Unprotected Bike Lane Blocked By Cars

Photo: Chet Anderson

This week the SFMTA extended the southbound bike lane on Polk Street from Post up to Union Street. The stripes are in, and the bike lane symbols are still being stenciled.

Two Streetsblog readers have written in about drivers double-parking in the bike lane and even cruising in it. You can chalk it up to the newness of the lane up to a point, but as with the prevailing design of most SF bike lanes, the Polk extension puts people on bikes in the door zone, unprotected between parked cars and moving cars and routinely blocked by double-parkers. Some double-parking enforcement will be needed for the bike lane to provide any meaningful safety improvement.

The southbound bike lane extension is the first in a package of interim bike and pedestrian safety measures coming to Polk in the next few months, after the SFMTA Board of Directors approved the watered-down redesign earlier this month. Other improvements in the works include protected bike signals at four intersections on the southbound bike lane south of Geary Street, as well as painted bulb-outs. The full redesign is set to begin construction next spring.

Polk, looking south toward Pine. Photo: Henry Pan

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SFPD Explains: Driver Won’t Be Charged for Killing Cyclist at 14th & Folsom

A ghost bike at the corner where Charles Vinson was killed. Photo: GhostBike.org/Twitter

Three witnesses told SFPD investigators that Charles Vinson, 66, biked through a red light when he was killed by a driver at 14th and Folsom Streets on March 2, according to police officials.

An SFPD spokesperson told Streetsblog earlier this week that Vinson had been found at fault, contrary to an initial witness cited in the press who said the driver ran a red. The spokesperson declined to provide details at the time, since “the case is still open and active, we do not discuss open and active investigation matters.”

SFPD Sergeant Eric Mahoney later explained the department’s investigation, telling Streetsblog that Vinson may have misjudged the traffic signal timing at the complicated intersection. SFPD Traffic Company Commander Ann Mannix shared the same details with the SF Examiner yesterday.

Mahoney said Vinson was traveling eastbound on 14th and was hit by a driver headed northbound on Folsom. According to three eyewitnesses, Vinson began to ride against a red light. However, given the signal timing at the intersection, it’s also possible the driver blew through a red light. Police have yet to determine if that is the case.

“We’re not 100 percent sure what the vehicle did, but we’re 100 percent sure what the bicycle did,” said Mahoney. “The bicyclist, I’m thinking, assumed that as long as nobody’s going to make a left turn in front of me, I can keep going straight.”

Mahoney said the driver can’t be charged since it was established that Vinson had a red light. “Not saying that what [the driver] did or didn’t do was unimportant, but once we’ve established a violation here, we know that, even if we can prove [the driver had] a red light, the DA is not gonna charge that person with a crime because there’s a contributory factor.”

So there you have it: If you make a mistake on a bike, the law will give a pass to a motorist who strikes and kills you, even if there’s conclusive evidence of reckless driving.

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Streetsblog USA
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Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Tampa vs. Fort Worth

It’s almost a shame that these two titans are meeting in the second round of the Parking Madness tournament, because both Tampa and Fort Worth look like they have champion potential.

Yesterday, Syracuse knocked off Newport News, Virginia, to join Camden in the Final Four. Now it’s up to you to decide who gets the third slot.

Tampa

original-9

This crater advanced past Waterville, Maine in round one. Submitter Joshua Redman wrote:

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Streetsblog LA
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120 Groups Call for More Funding for CA’s Active Transportation Program

bikesandcars

California should invest more to increase biking and walking, say community groups and advocates. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

A broad coalition of organizations this week called for California to increase funding for walk and bike projects. More than 120 organizations signed a petition urging the state to increase its investment in the Active Transportation Program (ATP), citing cost savings and health benefits from better bike and pedestrian infrastructure and the low level of funding currently available.

The ATP provides $300 million biannually for projects that encourage people to take trips by bike or on foot, including infrastructure (paths, lanes, sidewalks, crossings) and programs (education, safe routes to schools). In the last round, announced in the fall, many more projects applied for the program than could be funded, leaving over $800 million worth of ready-to-go projects on the table.

“We know that 20 percent of trips by Californians are on foot or by bicycle, but despite the overwhelming demand for projects that create safer streets, sidewalks, bike lanes, and pathways, the state Active Transportation Program still only receives around one percent of Caltrans’ annual budget,” said Jeanie Ward-Waller, Senior Policy Manager for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.

The 120 organizations that have signed on so far [PDF] include community and advocacy organizations that focus on health, walking, biking, the environment, equity, and economic policy. Several cities also signed the call for more funding.

The coalition emphasizes cost savings from investing in active transportation, which are less expensive to build and require less maintenance per trip than highways. It also refers to the recent Smart Growth America report, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, that presents data on community economic benefits from better bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

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Streetsblog.net
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Comparing 20 Years of Housing Growth in American Cities

Here’s an interesting way to visualize how different regions are growing (or not). Using a tool developed by the University of Virginia Demographics Research Group, Michael Andersen at Bike Portland shares these charts showing where housing growth has happened relative to city centers. The dark brown lines show the number of occupied housing units at one-mile intervals from the urban core in 2012, and the orange lines show the distribution in 1990. The gap between the lines tells you where housing growth has happened, and there is huge variation between regions.

In Denver, for instance, you can see that housing growth was concentrated between eight and 20 miles from the city center:

Image: Bike Portland

Denver: The orange line shows occupied housing units in 1990. The brown line shows 2012. Image: Bike Portland

In other places — especially large, in-demand coastal cities like LA — housing growth has barely changed (note that the y-axis is scaled differently in each chart):

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Today’s Headlines

  • SFBC Challenges SFPD’s Blaming of Charles Vinson, 66, in His Fatal Bike Crash (SF Examiner)
  • SFBike Seeks Nominees for This Year’s Bike-Friendly Business Award
  • Christian Science Monitor: Is “Leap” Transit Widening Gap Between Rich and Poor?
  • Urban Life Signs Readers Weigh in On Second Transbay BART Tube’s Potential Aligments
  • Two Injured After 70-Year-Old Driver Crashes SUV Into 7-11 Store in Daly City (KTVU)
  • VTA to Increase Train, Bus Service for Sunday’s WrestleMania at Levi’s Stadium (Mercury News)
  • #1 Reason Berkeley is the “Best College Town”? Transit (Daily Californian)
  • San Rafael Driver Knocks Down Power Pole on East Francisco Boulevard (Marin IJ)
  • Man Struck on Hwy 580 in Livermore (ABC); Tour Bus Catches Fire on Hwy 101 in Menlo Park (KRON)
  • CityLab: Denser Development Around CA High-Speed Rail Will Curb Water Usage

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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“Vie Bikes” Looks to Make Cargo Biking Accessible for SF Families

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Photo: Vie Bikes

More San Francisco parents are discovering that cargo bikes are the new family minivan. But while it’s increasingly common in SF to spot a parent pedaling their helmeted offspring around, cargo bikes and motorized bikes remain off the radar of most families looking for better ways to get around the city.

In leading bike-friendly cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, cargo bikes are no secret — they’re ubiquitous. Now, utilitarian biking in SF could get a leg up with the impending public launch of Vie Bikes, a company that will let families test out cargo bikes and bikes with electric motors.

Vie is currently testing out its services before the big public reveal next month, providing access to family-friendly bikes without the expense and hassle of having them shipped overseas. Vie staff will also offer consultation and maintenance services to customers.

“We’re trying to knock down barriers,” said Kit Hodge, one of Vie’s three co-founders, who was previously the SF Bicycle Coalition’s deputy director.

Vie will deliver bikes to the customer’s door and offer on-street consultation on how to use the bikes. The bikes can also be rented for trial periods, and the company will accept trade-ins for “when your life changes.”

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