Skip to content

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

10 Tips for Cities Ready to Replace Car Parking With Safe Space for Biking

Former parking spaces in Boulevard de Maissonneuve, Montreal. Photo: JasonParis

pfb logo 100x22

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

A curbside parking spot is just 182 square feet of urban space. But for advocates of better American bike infrastructure, few obstacles loom larger.

Right now in San Diego, a long-brewing plan to add better pedestrian crossings and a continuous protected bike lane to the deadliest corridor in the city is fighting for its life in large part because some merchants on four commercial blocks don’t want to risk removing any auto parking.

Before and after plans for University Avenue in San Diego.

The merchants aren’t wrong that private parking spaces have commercial value to nearby properties. But bike lanes, street trees and better sidewalks would have commercial value too — and creating San Diego’s first comfortable crosstown bike network would also bring value to the entire city, not to mention lessen retailers’ dependence on car parking.

For cities everywhere, converting on-street parking spaces into anything else is one of the greatest challenges in urban planning.

Though it’s probably never been done without a fight, many cities have succeeded. Here are the best approaches we’ve seen from North America and beyond.

Read more…

Streetsblog NYC
View Comments

Streetsblog Retains BlankSlate to Strengthen Our Bottom Line

Earlier this year, I wrote about the imperative for Streetsblog to generate more revenue from our website. With so many unsold impressions, ads were a clear opportunity to put Streetsblog’s sizable reach to use strengthening our bottom line. Today I’m pleased to announce that we’ve retained BlankSlate to help us sell ads and make good on that potential.

BlankSlate is an experienced shop that works with several other publishers similar in size to Streetsblog. Their team will be selling ads and setting up ad networks on Streetsblog, and you’ve probably noticed the new ad zones on the site this week. BlankSlate has also set up filters to prevent automotive and fossil fuel industry advertisements from appearing on Streetsblog, which should keep many heads from exploding.

Streetsblog is a 501(c)3 non-profit, and we continue to rely on reader contributions and foundation support to fund our work. Ads are the third leg of the stool, and we’re excited to be working with BlankSlate to build a durable publishing operation.

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Modernizing How People Pay to Park in Downtown DC

The new ParkDC zone. Image: DDOT via Greater Greater Washington

The downtown ParkDC zone. Image: DDOT via Greater Greater Washington

Washington, DC, is poised for big improvements to its performance parking program.

Michael Perkins at Greater Greater Washington reports that ParkDC is set to expand “on some of downtown’s most in-demand blocks” in Gallery Place. By resetting meter prices every few months based on the rate of occupied curbside parking spaces, the new ParkDC zone could match or exceed the responsiveness of San Francisco’s groundbreaking SFPark program.

Taking lessons from pilot programs it conducted in other parts of the city, Perkins writes, DDOT will employ a range of tools to gauge occupancy and set prices in the downtown zone.

Under the performance parking program, DDOT will use cameras and sensors to measure when parking spaces in the designated area are occupied and when they’re empty.

Each quarter, the agency will measure that data against a target occupancy rate of 80-90% (or about one empty spot per block) and adjust how much it costs to park in a given spot accordingly. It’s possible that prices will change more frequently after the first few quarters, and DDOT will assess ParkDC’s overall impact sometime before the end of 2016.

Charging market rate for parking will make sure there are enough empty spots for people who need them while also eliminating an oversupply. That, in turn, will cut down on the congestion that comes from people driving around looking for somewhere to park…

According to Soumya Dey, DDOT’s director of research and technology transfer, ParkDC will use a number of methods to gather occupancy data. A traditional “hockey puck,” transaction data from the meters, historical data, cameras, and law enforcement data are all among the ways DDOT will know how many people park, and when, on each block. Dey said the hope is to use fewer embedded sensors, and to evaluate which method is most cost-effective.

Elsewhere on the Network today: PubliCola notes that Hillary Clinton’s first campaign video shuns cities. Transitized spots a troubling trend in urban big box development. And Bike Portland reports that Portlanders are petitioning to have their city stripped of its platinum “bike-friendly” status.

78 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Lawsuit Appeal Halts Muni’s Central Subway Turnaround Planned in Dogpatch (Potrero)
  • Thursday: Community Meeting on Octavia Blvd Safety Upgrades, “Freeway Revolt Memorial” (Hoodline)
  • Bulb-Outs, Rain Gardens Completed Along Oak and Fell Street Bike Lanes (Hoodline)
  • SFMTA Puts Stickers on Parking Meters to Make Tow-Away Times Clearer (Hoodline)
  • SFPD Still Searching for Robbers Who Killed Bridget Klecker in Car Chase at Calif. and Kearny (ABC)
  • Supervisor Yee: Installing GPS on City Vehicles Could Save Lives and Money (SF Examiner)
  • BART Riders Continue to Cope With “Crush Loads” as Substantial Improvements Await (SFGate, CBS)
  • Caltrain Receives Used Train Cars From LA Metrolink to Be Refurbished Over Next Year (CBS)
  • “Echo Boomers” Crave Family Housing in Urban Places (Chron), But Bay Area Fails to Build it (Biz)
  • SF Chronicle: CA’s System of High Traffic Fines Leading to Suspended Licenses is a “Debtor’s Prison”
  • Bay Area Roads See No Improvement in Pavement Quality Over Past Year (SFBay)
  • Caltrans Opens $63 Million “Flyover” Ramp in San Jose at Highway 280/880 Interchange (NBC)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

71 Comments

Why Townsend Street Needs Protected Bike Lanes at 4th and King Station

This post supported by

Anyone who uses Townsend Street’s eastbound bike lane to commute to Caltrain is sure to run into a litany of obstacles: Taxis, shuttles, private autos, and Muni buses obliterate the poor bike lane in the fight for curb space. (Much of the curb is reserved as a taxi stand.)

Sam McCandlish sent in this video, filmed by a friend of his, showing the chaotic scrum faced by bike-to-Caltrain commuters. The often-impassable conditions cause some people to resort to riding on the sidewalk. In 2011, the SFPD targeted sidewalk riders at the Fourth and King station while ignoring drivers blocking the bike lane.

In the video, a few Bay Area Bike Share users can be seen walking their bikes in the bike lane in the opposite direction to get through the mess. Fourth and King is the busiest bike-share hub in the city at peak commute hours.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
View Comments

Caltrans: Don’t Forget, California’s Highways Were First Built for Bicycles

“Did you know the movement to create a state highway system came not from automobile drivers or manufacturers, but bicyclists?”

As part of Caltrans’ 125th Anniversary, the agency is creating a video series about the history of the state’s agency. The first video highlights Caltrans’ current shift away from auto-centric planning to multimodal planning by acknowledging that the push for safe bicycling in California actually predates the state’s transportation agency.

In the video Caltrans director Malcolm Dougherty defends the agency’s history as “trying to move people and moving goods” before getting into how exciting the new plan for multimodal planning is.

“We need to be looking at transportation a little bit differently than we did in the past. It needs to be a multimodal, integrated transportation system so that people can move around the state as efficiently as possible,” says Dougherty, ending his interview.

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
View Comments

TransForm’s Transportation Choices Summit Coming to Sacramento

West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon addresses a bike tour at last year’s TransForm Summit. Photo: Melanie Curry/Streetsblog

TransForm, an Oakland-based organization that advocates for sustainable transportation, smart growth, and affordable housing throughout California, will hold its annual Transportation Choices Summit in Sacramento in two weeks, and invites all interested parties to register for the event.

The day-long summit offers the opportunity to connect with agency officials, advocates, transit riders, bicycle and pedestrian advocates, researchers, and policy makers working on transportation, and to influence the outcome of current legislation.

“This summit really is the primary opportunity for advocates to create a statewide collaboration about legislative priorities,” said Denny Zane of MoveLA. “It expands the universe of voices in the capitol and coordinates them also. That’s a remarkable service and I really appreciate the efforts of TransForm and its partners to put this together.”

At last year’s summit, participants learned about and worked to influence issues including where cap-and-trade funds should be invested. In 2015, California is facing new possibilities for transforming its future transportation landscape, with a second round of funding for Active Transportation Programs coming online, increased interest in sustainable transportation from Caltrans, and several proposed laws moving through the legislature that could benefit—or compromise—bicycling and walking in California.

“There are some really big opportunities this year,” said Zane. He pointed out A.B. 1135, the Building Homes and Jobs Act, authored by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.  “Maybe not everyone gets the connection between affordable housing and transit, but we do,” he said. “If you’re going to build a transit system that is both equitable and effective, you need to have high propensity users living nearby. Affordable housing is crucial to our transit system.”

This year’s summit will have sessions on a range of issues, and a keynote speech from Manuel Pastor, Professor of Sociology and American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California and member of the Strategic Growth Council. The full agenda is here [PDF].

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
View Comments

Leah Shahum Launches “Vision Zero Network” to Raise the Standard for Cities

Leah Shahum, former head of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will head up the Vision Zero Network. Image courtesy of Leah Shahum.

Leah Shahum, former director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, will head up the Vision Zero Network. Photo: Melissa Balmer

Vision Zero — the idea that we should no longer accept traffic deaths and serious injuries — is gaining momentum as a framework for thinking about city streets and transportation, as more American cities adopt the goal of ending traffic fatalities.

But what actually constitutes a Vision Zero policy? What are the best strategies to dramatically reduce traffic violence? Which cities are doing it right, and which are talking the talk without walking the walk?

A new organization, the Vision Zero Network, seeks to help American cities adopt the most effective street safety policies. The organization launched today under the leadership of Leah Shahum, former executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, with support from Kaiser Permanente.

The purpose of the Vision Zero Network will be two-fold, says Shahum. First, the group aims to connect officials in leading Vision Zero cities to facilitate the sharing of best practices. Second, it will establish benchmarks to determine whether cities are backing up the rhetoric with real policy action.

“We really want to make sure that there’s a meaningful standard to being a Vision Zero city,” said Shahum. “And that’s not the reality so far. Because this concept is so new.”

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
View Comments

Let Food Trucks Operate Anywhere, Just Get the Parking Prices Right

Treat food trucks just like any other vehicle -- charge them to park, says Kennedy. Photo: Transport Providence

Managing food trucks is largely a matter of managing curbside parking, says James Kennedy. Photo: Transport Providence

Tension between food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants is common in cities. That’s because food truck businesses are naturally attracted to the same areas as restaurants: places with lots of pedestrian activity. In Providence, the city has responded to pressure from restaurant owners by asking food trucks to stay away from business districts.

James Kennedy at Transport Providence says there’s a smarter solution — get the price of curbside parking right:

As with many problems in Providence, the food truck situation comes down to poor parking management.

A parking spot is like real estate that we insist is free most of the time (against all logic). Then, when people treat that spot as if it’s free, we get annoyed with them, because of course many of the things that a person will do in a free space go against what we might want as individuals. This is what sets the stage for the conflict on Thayer: the parking is metered, but an arbitrary, fairly low rate, instead of being based on occupancy levels. It makes perfect sense that restaurants who pay rent for building space should want trucks to do the same, but the rules that are set up by the business district and the city don’t allow for that to happen. The result is a semi-detente where food trucks are kind of allowed, but kind of not allowed. Businesses don’t like uncertainty, and that’s exactly what this is.

Read more…

10 Comments

Today’s Headlines

  • Robbers Fleeing Cops in Car Hit Two, Killing Woman (ABC, SFGate); SFPD Chief Defends Chase (KTVU)
  • UCSF Shuttle Driver Reportedly Passes Out, Hits Parked Cars on Opposite Side of Stanyan (Hoodline)
  • Scenes From This Weekend’s Market Street Prototyping Festival (Curbed)
  • Willie Brown to Dianne Feinstein: SF Traffic is “Gridlocked” Because Bike Lanes (SF Chronicle)
  • Off-Duty Sheriff’s Deputy Won’t Be Charged for Allegedly Pulling Out Gun Over Fender Tap (Examiner)
  • SFMTA Official on Leap, Chariot: Better Alternatives to Driving Put Us on the Right Path (CNET)
  • More on CA Senator Dropping Mandatory Bike Helmet Bill From KQED‘s Bryan Goebel
  • Bike Rider Killed By Amtrak in Oakland (SFGate); Milpitas Driver Hits Cyclist, Golfland (NBC)
  • DUI Driver in Richmond Flees Police, Hits Car and Kills Occupant (NBC)
  • Menlo Park Planning Commission Recommends Bike Lanes on El Camino Real (Almanac)
  • VTA May Let More Palo Alto Employers Provide Discounted Transit Passes (Green Caltrain)
  • CA Cell Phone Driving Tickets Dropped 25 Percent Over Three Years and No One Knows Why (CoCo)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA