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How Portland (Maine) Pairs Car-Share With Parking Reform

Is your city skittish about reducing parking minimums? Here’s one way to ease people into the idea that new buildings shouldn’t be forced to include lots of parking along with housing, and it comes from Portland — Maine.

The expanding number of places you can pick up a shared car in Portand, Maine. Image: Rights of Way

Portand, Maine’s car-share fleet is growing as its parking mandates shrink. Image: Rights of Way

Network blog Rights of Way reports that this city of 66,000 pairs the reduction of parking mandates with the expansion of car-share. C Neal MilNeil writes:

It’s hard to believe, but UhaulCarShare has been operating in Portland for over six years now.

They started with four cars parked near Monument Square and the ferry terminal.

As of this fall, they’ve doubled the local fleet to 8 cars and expanded into South Portland with a car parked at the Southern Maine Community College campus.

A lot of UhaulCarShare’s success here comes from a helpful new reform of parking rules in the city’s zoning requirements. For the last few years now, city planners have allowed a reduction in developers’ expensive parking-construction mandates if the developers agree to sponsor a carsharing vehicle on-site.

Several new apartment buildings have taken advantage of this incentive, most recently Avesta Housing’s 409 Cumberland Avenue apartment block, which built only 18 basement parking spaces for its 57 new apartment units and sponsored a new UhaulCarShare vehicle to be parked on-site. This arrangement benefits everyone: reduced construction costs for the developers, reduced housing costs and more mobility options for residents, and a more convenient carsharing network for neighbors.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Bike Portland reports from Mayor Charlie Hales’ bike commute yesterday, his fourth Monday in a row riding to work. Urban Review STL photo blogs the experience of navigating the way to St. Louis’s new Ikea store by wheelchair. And Plan Philly wonders if SEPTA should provide all the city’s students with discount transit passes.


Today’s Headlines

  • Man Tries to Walk Under Big Rig Trailer, Gets Leg Crushed at Howard and Fremont (SFBay, Hoodline)
  • SF Chronicle Opposes Bike Yield Law; More on the Mayor’s Opposition (ABCKTVU, UA)
  • Muni Rolls Out Service Increase, Route Changes, and New Articulated Buses (KRON, KTVU)
  • Supes Consider Raising Transportation Sustainability Fee for Developers; Vote Postponed (Examiner)
  • Mission Bay Alliance Says Warriors Arena Should Go to Bayview: More Room for Parking (Exam)
  • BART Delayed After Death on Tracks at Ashby (Appeal, CBS); 19th St Elevators Get Rehab (KRON)
  • Concord BART Riders Complain That New Schedule Shifted Crowding Problem to Them (CBS)
  • Pacifica Driver Shuts Down Post Office By Crashing Into it (SM Daily Journal)
  • Road Near Woodside Littered With Tacks Apparently Placed to Deflate Bike Tires (ABC)
  • Menlo Park to End Street Mini-Park Trial; Some Merchants Want Parking Back (Almanac, ABC)
  • Palo Alto Makes Trial Road Diet Permanent on Charleston-Arastradero (PA Online)
  • Santa Clara University Tests Startup’s Driverless Golf Cart-Like Shuttle (Mercury News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Mayor Lee Vows to Veto Bike Yield Law

Updated at 6:46 p.m. with image of Mayor’s veto letter at the bottom.

Mayor Ed Lee has vowed to veto the “Bike Yield Law” put forward by six supervisors. Assuming the mayor follows through, it will take a vote from eight of the 11 supervisors to override him.

Mayor Lee and SFPD Chief Greg Suhr, seen here riding Bay Area Bike Share in 2013, have missed the point of the Bike Yield Law. Photo: Aaron Bialick

In a comment to the SF Chronicle, Lee showed that the point of the ordinance remains beyond him:

I’m not willing to trade away safety for convenience, and any new law that reaches my desk has to enhance public safety, not create potential conflicts that can harm our residents.

So the mayor’s spin is that the majority of supervisors want to “trade away safety for convenience.” How tone-deaf.

The Bike Yield Law, of course, is all about safer streets through the efficient allocation of law enforcement resources. By legitimizing the normal practice of bicyclists yielding at stop signs — even the SFPD captain who cracked down on rolling stops does it! — the ordinance would help urge police to focus enforcement on violations that actually hurt people.

Supervisor Scott Wiener explained it to the Chronicle:

When you have a cyclist that is approaching an intersection at a slow speed, cautiously and not violating anyone’s right of way, it doesn’t make sense to be ticketing them. That’s not creating any kind of danger. That’s not hurting anyone. That should not be the focus of law enforcement…

If the cyclist is blowing through the intersection and not entering slowly and cautiously, they absolutely should get a ticket. But when you look at what is causing injury and death on our streets, it’s not a cyclist entering an intersection at a few miles an hour.

So far, Lee’s legacy on safe streets and sustainable transportation is mainly one of obstruction, and this case is shaping up no differently. But if the experience with Prop B is any guide, Lee might come around to the Bike Yield Law after everyone else has already embraced it.

There’s growing recognition at City Hall that San Francisco will make streets safer by acknowledging the need to update a flawed law. As Wiener told KPIX, the Bike Yield Law is an example of how “San Francisco frequently lead[s] the way and lead the nation in terms of smart, progressive, forward-thinking policies.”

If Mayor Lee really cares about safer streets, he won’t stand in the way of an effort to bring traffic law into the 21st century.

Updated 6:46 p.m.: Supervisor John Avalos tweeted this photo of Mayor Lee’s letter explaining his opposition to the board:

Streetsblog USA
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Scenes From the Big Car-Free Day in Paris

The air was noticeably clearer yesterday over the city of Paris, where people walking, biking, skating, and otherwise getting around without a motor took over streets generally packed with cars, including the Champs Elysées. About a third of Paris was free of motorized vehicles from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for buses and taxis. Car speeds were capped at 20 kilometers per hour in the rest of the city. Mayor Anne Hidalgo, at the urging of activists, initiated the massive car-free event as a lead-in to the city hosting COP21, the United Nations’ upcoming conference on climate change. Paris is plagued by diesel exhaust, and the skies over the city were noticeably bluer yesterday, according to the Guardian. The exhaust cleared. The rumble of traffic was gone. People seemed happier and less stressed. One of the tens of thousands who took to the streets told the Guardian it was “like a headache lifting.” Camille Carnoz of the bike activist group Vélorution said she hopes the car-free day leads to permanent changes:

Today is symbolic, it’s about giving people a dream, showing us what a city could look like without cars, a type of utopia. But we need to go further, with more and larger cycle routes, better parking spots for bicycles, slower speed limits. There’s a lot to be done.

Here are a few more views of the day without cars. Read more…
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The Cafe Table Test — What Outdoor Seating Tells Us About Places

You can tell a lot about a place by its outdoor seating. So says Darin Givens at ATL Urbanist, who compares a sidewalk in Atlanta where cafe seating looks inviting to a place where it essentially fails.

In downtown Atlanta, outdoor seating is natural and inviting. Photo: ATL Urbanist

In downtown Atlanta, the outdoor seating is inviting. Photo: ATL Urbanist

The first photo he shares is from Broad Street in downtown Atlanta:

Most every weekday afternoon office workers, GSU students and even a residents like me all descend on the restaurants here. Many people have their lunch on the inviting sidewalk cafe tables al fresco style.

This is the kind of street-level activity you can find in many cities wherever there are buildings that predate cars (the ones in the background above date to the 1880s). Having these tables and people and stores all together serves as a type of signifier of urban vibrancy. You look at this and think, “yep, this is what a city is supposed to look like.” It looks alive.

Darin compares that scene with a Starbucks on Howell Mill Road in Northwest Atlanta:

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • Mayor Lee Plans to Veto the “Bike Yield Law” He Doesn’t Understand (SFGate)
  • SFPD on Sanford’s Rolling Stop: “We’re Not Looking for Cyclists” Who Slowly Roll Stop Signs (CBS)
  • SFPD IDs Vehicle Model in Hit-and-Run That Severely Injured Man on San Jose Avenue (ABC)
  • More on the Mission “Home Zone” (M. Local), Push for Pagoda Theatre Site Purchase (KQED, SFBay)
  • Critical Mass Once Again Its Peaceful, Liberating Self After Man’s Attack on Driver (SFGate)
  • Flywheel Sues State Over Ride-Hail Regulation (Examiner); Taxi Medallions Worthless (KQED)
  • Advocates Call on Gov Brown to Sign Law Banning Bike/Ped Tolls on State Bridges (Examiner, Marin IJ)
  • Bay Bridge Contractor’s Penalties for Shoddy Work Far Outweighed By Bonuses (SF Chronicle)
  • Matier & Ross: BART Being Investigated for Missing Tickets; Free BART Passes for APTA Attendees
  • Housing Construction Starts on S. Hayward BART Parking Lots With Help From 49er Joe Montana (Biz)
  • Caltrain Hits Unoccupied Car in Burlingame, Stranding Riders for Hours Without A/C (SFGate)
  • Volkswagen’s Emission-Cheating Devices May Have Come From a Lab in Belmont, Lawsuit Says (NBC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Census: 95% of New SF Commuters Since 2006 Don’t Drive Solo

As San Francisco’s economy booms, a lot more people are commuting, and very few are doing it in a car.

Between 2006 and 2014, the city saw a net growth of about 86,400 commuters, and 95 percent of them don’t drive, according to data from the US Census American Community Survey. The ACS numbers provide the best available year-to-year data on commuting habits, though because of sampling error they are not absolutely precise.

The numbers show a clear trend: Transit, walking, and bicycle commuting are each growing markedly faster than solo car commuting.

Among SF residents, the number of transit commuters and solo drivers is now about equal — a significant gain for transit commuting since last year’s survey.

Changes in driving and transit use among SF residents only. Image: Jeremy Pollock/Twitter

Changes in driving and transit use among SF residents only. Image: Jeremy Pollock/Twitter

Among all workers in the city, 40 percent now primarily take transit to work, surpassing solo driving (33 percent drive alone, and another 9 percent carpool).

Read more…
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Boulder’s New Bike Lanes Work Well, But the City May Yank Them Anyway

Boulder, Colorado, is considered one of the best cities for biking in the U.S. But the car is still king on Boulder’s streets, and designs like road diets and protected on-street bike lanes are still new concepts for people to digest.

The Folsom bike lane via People for Bikes.

The Folsom bike lane when it was under construction, via People for Bikes.

This summer, the city embarked on a plan to “right-size” four major streets by adding bike lanes and four-lane-to-three lane road diets, which have been shown to minimally affect traffic congestion. The idea was to start with Folsom Street as a one-year pilot project, collect data on the effect of the new design, and go from there.

But after some initial blowback, city staff have recommended scaling back the Folsom redesign just a few months into the pilot phase, reports the Daily Camera. (In addition to citing “community input,” officials bizarrely said they expect a harsh, snowy winter thanks to El Niño, and are worried the bike lanes won’t be cleared well.)

The decision now goes to City Council, where members seem to be okay with backsliding on this major street safety project.

Eric M. Budd at Articulate Discontent says that if the city caves, it will be especially troubling because the initial data from the redesign has come in, and it’s working well:

The Folsom project, after eight weeks, is coming in-line toward the desired metrics—travel times have moved closely to the modeled projections, reducing speeds (but the 85th percentile speed is still 20% above the speed limit), and data so far showing reduced crashes. The staff recommendation discussed none of these improvements our community has gained through the street change.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines

  • SFMTA’s First “Home Zone” Safety Project Successfully Slows Drivers in the Mission (SFMTAAppeal)
  • Driver Gets Stuck on Duboce and Church Muni Boarding Island After Trying to Enter Bike Lane (Hoodline)
  • Driver Hits Fire Hydrant at Divisadero and Fell While Pulling Out of Gas Station (Hoodline)
  • Top of Driver’s Big Rig Hits Tree on Mission at Fourth Street, Closing Block to Vehicles (SFGate)
  • Muni Forward Service Increase Begins Tomorrow During Muni Heritage Weekend (SF Examiner)
  • SFMTA Circulates Petition for Bernal Heights Residential Parking Permit Zone (Bernalwood)
  • Bay Area Transit Agencies to Pay for Stolen Clipper Cards Rides Taken on Same Day (ABC)
  • Marin Assemblyman Marc Levine Introduces Legislation to Replace MTC and BATA (Mercury News)
  • Caltrans Penalizes Eastern Bay Bridge Span Contractor for Shoddy Work (KQED, SFGate)
  • Elderly Livermore Driver Who Crashed Into Gym, Killed Woman, Nearly Did Same Thing Last Year (ABC)
  • 14-Year-Old San Jose Student on Life Support After Driver Hits Him Near Campus (CBS)
  • Emergency Response Vehicles Delayed By Dumbarton Bridge Traffic (ABC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


The “Bike Yield Law”: It’s How Captain Sanford Rolls, Too

Even John Sanford is not immune to practicing the safe, common-sense ethic that most people on bikes use to negotiate stop signs. SFPD’s Park Station captain is the latest officer to be filmed within the Park District executing the completely normal practice of slowing and yielding, and not necessarily coming to a full stop, during a ride with bike advocates last month.

As SF Weekly reported, Morgan Fitzgibbons of the Wigg Party posted video today of Sanford’s rolling stop at a stop sign on John F. Kennedy Drive’s parking-protected bike lanes in Golden Gate Park. It’s exactly the sort of safe behavior that John Avalos and five other supervisors want to legitimize with a “Bike Yield Law” ordinance, after bike commuters reportedly received tickets for similar behavior during a crackdown instituted by Sanford.

“I just wanted to show this was normal behavior, that even the poster child for the bike crackdown shows on a bicycle,” Fitzgibbons told SF Weekly. The assertions from Sanford and SFPD Chief Greg Suhr that it’s dangerous to allow people on bikes to safely roll through stop signs “are just so silly,” he said.

Chief Suhr told KQED this week, “Stop signs are pretty simple. They say ‘stop.’ They don’t say ‘yield,’ they don’t say ‘slow down.’”

Fitzgibbons had refrained from posting the video until today because he worried it would seem like an act of undue shaming toward Sanford. But in an email conversation I had with him yesterday, he changed his mind after I put it like this: If even Sanford does rolling stops, who doesn’t?

“After thinking about it we realized he has nothing to be embarrassed about — treating a stop sign as a yield sign is a perfectly normal, safe, reasonable thing to do,” Fitzgibbons wrote in a post on Facebook that featured the video. “If he wants to be embarrassed by his own hypocrisy, that’s his problem.”

Read more…