Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"The biggest problem presented in the report is the fact that cities are being planned especially for cars and for adults,"~~~
Redevelopers have tighter funding these days.
Learning to live without a car. Moving from the burbs to the bright lights.
I used to make a big grocery shopping trip just about every Saturday, driving several miles to a store and throwing half a dozen shopping bags into the trunk. Now I can walk to a supermarket three blocks away~~~
Suburbanization and climate change. They are linked.
Apple will spend some cash to revitalize a Chicago Subway Station.
I couldn't agree with Ryan more on this point.
There is a terrible chicken-and-egg problem to transportation planning, in which planners express regret that there is so little transit demand and so much traffic before building new roads. They have to accommodate the demand they've got! But you can't have transit demand if you don't have transit, and if you don't recognize that, then you're doomed to keep building roads forever. No one in the mind of the planners has yet invented a substitute for the automobile.~~~
The electric transit revolution is upon the British. Trolleybuses return.
He said one great problem facing cities was historic under-investment in public transport, which meant services were under heavy strain or, on city fringes, non-existent. Better planning was needed to ensure communities were not separated from jobs and services. "Isolated communities breed social exclusion and entrenched disadvantage," Mr **** said. 'Increasing density in cities is part of the solution to urban growth, alongside greenfield development." He said the development had to happen with regard to climate change, with carbon emissions reduced through better design and greater consideration of water use.Why Australia's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. The willingness to punish for past and possible future transgressions was not unnoticed either.
Kevin Rudd wants to seize greater control of urban planning by denying infrastructure funding to states and councils that won't agree to improve public transport and ban haphazard housing development.If only didn't spend more money on cars than transit here in the United States and had rules with teeth. But in the current system everyone has to get theirs whether they deserve it or not.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Officials in India are calling for high rises. I'm surprised they didn't go up before.
Businesses in the UK are starting to use carshare companies instead of keeping their own fleets.
Integrating BRT with a Metro should be a no brainer.
I can see why folks in East LA wanted a subway. Its a dense area and it would have been nice. But whining about it and getting upset right before it opens seems a bit lame to me.
Lots of regulation of safety on commuter rail are causing a strain.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The Obama administration may funnel more federal aid directly to cities and bypass states, Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to the president, said during a Chicago appearance with her former boss, Mayor Richard M. Daley.I'll believe it when I see it happen.
The precedent for this is Capital Metro in Austin, which is the only public agency in the United States that has ever required a vote for city services for which it already had the money to construct. In fact if a vote was required for every rail project in the United States we might not have successful rail projects in San Diego, Houston, or Denver who's first lines were built with existing funds without voter approval.
We don't have votes for road expansions, only bond measures to pay for them. We don't have votes for water treatment plants or new sewer systems that we have money for. Perhaps if we need to raise money we would ask the people. What is so different about rail transit infrastructure that requires a pure democratic vote? Isn't that why we elect city council members? To make more informed decisions on these issues than the general electorate can take on.
It's actually a road we've been traveling down in California and other places where elected officials wimp out behind expected voter mandates instead of taking a strong stand. Many places have councils that have taken a stand against streetcars and other projects which is great because they are stepping up to say yes or no, but whenever a council gets close to making a decision in their favor, it seems like these pure democracy votes pop up for something that doesn't require a tax increase. Ultimately infrastructure decisions shouldn't be left up to a vote unless there is a tax increase involved. I imagine that nothing would ever get done if it were the case that every infrastructure decision needed a vote. It's bad enough as it is with lacking political will in this country to do anything forward thinking, why put another layer on it?
Jim Davis, Garfield via Photobucket
But soon you might be thinking about tramways as Abu Dhabi looks to potentially build 340km of tramways.
The project, known as the Abu Dhabi Light Rail Transit/Tram study involves 340 kilometers of tram lines and is one of several major transportation projects that make up the Surface Transport Master Plan. The department expects the LRT to start operating in 2014.What I'm wondering about with these tram plans in middle eastern cities is are they connected to urban development plans that focus on walkability? It seems that a common complaint about the system in Dubai is that buildings aren't really in sync with how the transit operates. But that is likely a building design issue with urbanism in the area around the line. I say this mostly because it looks like there is a good grid pattern in the city.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The area is being dubbed “the Innovation Corridor,” says James Lockwood, a spokesman in Mayor Chris Coleman’s office. “Since all the utilities have to get in there to move lines because of the installation of light rail, they saw this as a great opportunity to figure out what to do to create smart grid technology to improve energy efficiency for businesses and homes,” he says.I just hope they aren't asking for free cable...
In Union City, the State raid threatens to delay the 100-acre BART Station District redevelopment project. The project, a collaboration between the Union City Redevelopment Agency, other local transit agencies and the state and federal governments, includes remodeling the BART station to create a two-sided station with additional parking; nearby new housing; new offices; and retail space. This transit-oriented development has been in the works for 10 years.Here's a solution. Fix prop 13! Fix the budget process and hold a constitutional convention. Cut out the shell games because everyone is tired of you not bringing enough lunch money and bumming off of them.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Tampa is looking at a transit tax in 2020. By the time they implement it and build something, I'll be 50. When I think about all the things that happened between 1950 and 1970 I'm amazed that we can move with such sloth these days.
Houston residents are getting ancy about their lack of euclidean zoning regulations. I kind of like the lack of definitions inside the loop. It's a nice experiment in what can happen, even though there really are parking and setback regulations.
Monday, October 19, 2009
For example I believe downtown Oakland was a little hamstrung when BART decided to split off trains to Fremont before going through a downtown Oakland station. With four lines instead of two going through downtown Oakland, it seems like it could have changed Oakland's equasion. Currently there is high frequency in the morning and evening rush, but at other times it could really use more trains into and from San Francisco. When there are opportunities to provide more service to a major destination, it seems like more service is a wise move that might be able to set the table for other improvements.
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I don't have as many transit pictures from this trip as I wasn't in cities as much. I did visit Milan and Turin and got a couple of streetcar, bus, and train shots but i'll share those later. I also took a lot of different modes of transportation, basically everything except a bike which i've already gotten crap for on facebook :) The final tab is such: Car, tram, train, subway, bus, cog railway, arial ropeway (tram), boat, plane, taxi, foot. Lots of foot. I did see a lot of bike sharing in small towns which was surprising and I really enjoyed my boat rides, which I don't do much here. In any event, here are some of my favorite places from the trip. I'll get back to regular blogging tomorrow.
The beaches were mostly stones
This is Zoagli (Zwal-e) The towns on the coast hug the hills
In Zoagli we got to see how silk and velvet fabric was made
We drove through the Alps on Mountain Roads
See the three portals for the road?
Drove through the upper lakes, prettiest bus stop ever?
Scene from the top of the aerial ropeway
Portofino was nice
My Great Grandparents likely graced these spots in the hills above Chiavari in a small commune called Ne. It was really great to see where at least part of my past came from. The terraced hills are everywhere, these are for olive trees.
The Cinque Terre was amazing
and the water was blue, but a color I had never seen.
It was a great way to take a break. I highly recommend going to Italy, especially the Piedmont south of Turin.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
Ah. That's the way patriot. Let the OPECs keep their gasoline. We'll just tap into a far more efficient energy source. Man....power. If we all learn to pull our weight. Nobody, nobody will be able to siphon away, our high life.
HT Twin Cities Streets for People for the Reminder.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
So now I had to get to the acupuncturist in Montclaire. I left an hour before the appointment as the 59 comes every hour from Lake Merritt BART. I sat in the back of a 30 foot VanHool bus and watched the really nice houses pass by on the hills. It was actually a nice ride if not a little bumpy. But there was a catch. My appointment was going to be over at 5 but the last 59 went to the Rockridge BART at 4:15 or so. Not good. So I had to figure out a way back. Well where the 59 dropped off the 18 picked up and I was lucky enough that it ran every 15 minutes into the evening. So when I was done at 5 I hopped on the 18 and traveled on the other side of the hill from the 59. It took me to the 12th Street BART station and I hopped on the 24th street and mission turn around train to go home since I wouldn't be going to my Gramma's house.
I was thinking a bit negatively that there wasn't a 59 but my roommate pointed out that we are lucky to live in a fairly transit friendly place in the bay area and the fact that there was an 18 at all was good. It was still at 15 minute headways so yes, that was pretty good. I imagine that if I were in Houston or somewhere else this wouldn't have worked. So my car died, but i knew that I could depend on transit to get me where I needed to go. It took a little more time, but I got to watch the world go by instead of having to slog through traffic.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
I've got the longhorn patch which has brought me closer to fellow Texans randomly on BART and the Hey Mercedes buttons of my favorite band that have gotten comments from some rock kids. Though no one has said much about the SF Municipal Railway or the Market Street Railway pins, it might be because we're usually smooshed together on the J Church.
The thing though is that unlike bumper stickers, you have to be in close quarters to see what the pins and buttons say, which makes people a bit more cordial than if they were in the space of their own car. No honking on transit.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
It’s funny but I think the advertisements for Apple’s IPod are fairly accurate. Especially in
Now with the IPod, we can have thousands of songs in a device that is the same size of our wallet, allowing us to listen to whatever we want to, whenever we want to. But while the IPod can be hooked up to the car, it seems to be more useful from a transportation standpoint to walkable transit oriented neighborhoods. When you get out of a car the radio turns off or there is a tape transition, but when you leave a train or bus, the music continues on kind of like a soundtrack to your life.
In my opinion, it’s this soundtrack quality that can give transit a bonus versus the car. There are many songs that if I play them in my car they bring back memories. Specific places on a road from Austin to Houston when I would drive home for Christmas or Thanksgiving are imagined in my head when I listen to the particular song I like to play on that stretch of road. Since I had a CD changer in my trunk and not the front deck I would even pull the car over to switch CDs if the one I wanted for that certain section of road was not available in the changer.
Now I’m finding that I’m having similar experiences with transit and my Ipod. However instead of just in the car, I have it for walking around the city, places along bus routes and inside of department stores. It even allows me to drown out the awful music at say the Gap or other places where they try to match the brand with music types. Well what if I want to shop in the Gap or Target listening to some metal or opera? They wouldn’t play those over the speakers but with the great equalizer we can.
There might be some drawbacks including awareness of your surroundings that might lead to some unfortunate altercations with automobiles or with the less desirable and under discussed elements of city life. There is always an issue of being social as well; shutting people out by just having headphones on is easy. But if anything, the great equalizer is incredibly more social than say an automobile. People in their own pods of space cut off from having to deal with social situations has led to rises in the instances of road rage however I’ve never heard of anything called Pod Rage. It might exist but from what I’ve seen, people are generally passive when bumped into with their IPod versus people bumped into who don’t have one on.
There is a serious issue that should be discussed as well with regards to hearing though. I know I’m guilty of listening to my IPod much louder than I should if I’m in a subway to drown out the external noise. However this could lead to long term hearing damage and such is said your eardrums are like lobsters, once their cooked there is no going back. I’m thinking about whether I should get noise canceling headphones or just read with earplugs which might be a soundtrack setback.
But with all that being said, I see the Ipod and MP3 players in general as a great transportation equalizer. You can create a soundtrack of songs you like but now it won’t apply to just your car but rather memories and experiences of life in general.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
I would however like to share something I wrote up on the plane ride over to Vienna...
I’m sitting here on a KLM flight to Amsterdam then to Vienna Austria for vacation with my family in Eastern Europe. The seat to my left is empty and the movie Oceans 13 just finished but I noticed something so true. Earlier there was a man sitting next to me from Visalia. It’s a small town in Central California where agriculture is the lifeblood of the community. Earlier I overheard him talking to the man on his left from Stockton, which is quickly becoming a bedroom community for the Bay Area. He asked what he did for a living and the man replied “I’m a developer”.
Now I’m not usually one to listen in but of course being an urban planner I had to hear what was coming next. The man from Visalia was uncomfortable in his seat being about 6’4” or so. Of course these planes are more like cattle cars than luxurious transportation but his knees were sitting in the cracks of the seats in front of us and his elbow was in my ribs. But he continued cheerily talking asking the developer, if there was any more room to build in Stockton because of the disappearance of farmland. The man from Visalia asked, “Why don’t you build up instead of out?” The developer replied, “There is plenty of land left to build on.” Under my breath I said “Yeah right” realizing what kind of developer he was.
The man from Visalia kept going on about resources and conservation and even ended up discussing taking vegetable oil from fast food restaurants for reuse. He then moved on to me asking what I did. I said “I’m an urban planner.” He seemed surprised. “That guy next to me is a developer.” I nodded and said “Yes I heard.” He asked what I did specifically and I told him. He then went on to discuss his former job as a parole officer and the travesty of the red car. “The Mayor was a crook” he said. “Ripping out all those streetcars.” People I talk to always seem launch into the benefits of transit without provocation. I never prodded him or even told him about my thoughts on the subject but he told me about it anyways. He was around for the red car and seemed specifically upset about their demise. “You’d never be able to build it back today” he said. I told him they were trying.
Throughout the flight he kept getting hit in the knees by the lady in front of us who tried to lean her seat back. He had to protest each time which led him to ask to move seats. The flight attendant was more than happy to help him out so he was out of there leaving me and the developer an empty seat between us. As we both put our stuff on the tray table where the man from Visalia was sitting I noticed the book he put down juxtaposed with the one that I put down. His was a hardcover deep crimson red book titled “Empire”. Mine was a softcover book by Jared Diamond called Collapse about the collapse of several civilizations throughout history by climate change among a number of other factors including war and societal suicide (ie: Easter Island). It really stuck in my head the difference between the two sets of warring factions in the sprawl fight. The ones who think there are endless spoils to be had and a never ending supply of resources, and those who are looking to avoid a collapse. I’ve never seen the fight in such black/white or good/evil terms and probably will never again because of course it is never so simple. I’m not a hardcore environmentalist or anything but for a moment there I realized why I do what I do.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
"The LRT is not just about moving people," says Bob Boutilier, the general manager of the city's transportation department. "It's about building a city."I wish more transportation leaders would get this simple point.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s $1.5 billion discretionary grant pool won’t come anywhere close to meeting its requests, as states and other transport groups sent in applications for $56.9 billion to cover highway projects as well as transit, rail, seaport and other construction needs.