Currently viewing the tag: "Washington D.C."

GOOD Magazine has published an interactive graphic comparing our country’s largest mass transit systems (here). The abbreviated study looks at Chicago, San Francisco, New York City, Boston and Washington, DC. It’s an interesting visual study of what ‘works’ and reminds us that if you build it, maintain it and keep it convenience, the masses will come. What do you think?

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Supporting good transportation policy is not about ideology, but education. In an interview with Blueprint America, ranking Republican John Mica of Florida has this to say:

“If you’re on the Transportation Committee long enough, even if you’re a fiscal conservative, which I consider myself to be, you quickly see the benefits of transportation investment. Simply, I became a mass transit fan because it’s so much more cost effective than building a highway. Also, it’s good for energy, it’s good for the environment – and that’s why I like it.”

In response, David Alpert of Greater, Greater Washington suggests we cycle more fiscal conservatives through the Committee so that they learn the myriad benefits to be derived from investing in public transportation.

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Exciting news for livable cities advocates — it looks like bike sharing will finally be coming to America in 2008. According to sources, Washington D.C. is likely to be the first U.S. city to implement such a program, at least the modern version similar to many European cities.
The program, similar to Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, and other European cities, will likely be funded through an agreement with a major advertiser (such as Clear Channel), which will pay for the system in return for exclusive advertising rights on bus shelters and other outdoor furniture.

Unlike Paris, however, Washington will initially roll out a “lite” version of bike sharing, offering about 120 bicycles at 10 locations around the city. Details such as costs for usage and membership have not yet been announced. If all goes according to plan, the first phase of the D.C. program could start in March or April of 2008.

As for the bikes themselves, they will be locked into docking stations that will be opened with special cards for members. Washington plans on using a “sturdy” bike, which can be adapted to people of various heights. The bikes will also have some special features including a small front wheel that makes it “more maneuverable, but also quirky enough to discourage theft.” For nighttime safety, all bikes will be equipped with automatic lighting.

Chicago is also in the process of implementing bike sharing. The Windy City is studying two proposals, one from France-based advertising giant JC Decaux — which operates the Paris system — and one from London-based OYBike. The city’s mayor, Richard Daley, has expressed strong interest in a bicycle program, having viewed the Paris system.

“Mayor Daley’s vision is to make Chicago the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States,” said Ben Gomberg, bicycle program coordinator for the city.

“In Chicago, almost 60 percent of all trips by city residents are three miles (nearly five kilometers) or less, which are distances very suited for bicycling. That’s why we’re interested.”

Additionally, Gomberg said Chicago is flat and relatively compact compared to many US cities, making cycling easier. He said city officials see many advantages to the program including improving physical fitness and reducing pollution.

Besides Washington and Chicago, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon are also in the process of launching their own bike sharing systems. Given the direction New York is going in, I expect to see it added to this list in the near future. While all of this pleases me tremendously, I’ll be ready to party the day Miami (or Miami Beach and Coral Gables) takes the bike sharing plunge. I’ve said it so many times: Miami is blessed with natural cycling conditions most cities could only dream of.

The timing is right. With gasoline costing over $3/gallon, global warming concerns reaching the forefront, increasingly unbearable traffic congestion, and a national obesity crisis, there couldn’t be a better time for Miami (or any major city) to devise a bike sharing program. Moreover, given the global popularity and proven success of these programs, the formula for implementation is well established.

Come on Miami, it’s time to act.

Photo: Courtesy www.flickr.com

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Global:

  • A Town in Germany has decided to handle its traffic problems by removing all the traffic signals. The plan is to remove all signals in the city center to make life easier for pedestrians, evening the playing field and forcing traffic to no longer dominate the roads.

“The idea of removing signs to improve road safety, called “Shared Space,” was developed by Dutch traffic specialist Hans Monderman, and is supported by the European Union.”

Meanwhile Columbia, Missouri Business owners and a local developer are upset that the federally funded PedNet program will hamper vehicular traffic in favor of friendlier pedestrian and bicycle options. Who knew?

“The concern for the business owners and anyone who lives in the area is that the intersection will be less friendly,” Lindner said. “And vehicular traffic is always going to be the major mode of transportation in Columbia, so you can’t ignore the impact on it. We should be trying to alleviate congestion, not do things to make it worse.”

  • Discussions are underway about possibly merging the metropolises Hong Kong and Shenzhen into one Mega-City. The plan is being considered to make the region more competitive in the global market and to better link the existing cities.
  • Burj Dubai has officially surpassed Toronto’s CN tower, making it the tallest free standing structure in the world at 555 meters and 150 stories. Like most things in Dubai, the buildings’ final height is a closely kept secret, but it is expected to rise between 750 and 800 meters…

National:

  • They say everything is bigger in Texas, but Arlington’s Public Transit system is the smallest for cities with 350,000+ inhabitants. Actually, Arlington doesn’t even have a Public Transit System, garnering it the distinction of the largest American city without one.

“Arlington residents have voted down a public bus system three times in the last 27 years, worried about big buses lumbering down their quiet suburban streets, as well as the cost of a service that many believe would benefit only a few. But advocates say the city’s growing population, coupled with the pain of higher gasoline prices, make buses an easier sell now.”

Sell? You shouldn’t have to sell anyone a public transit system. If they want to choke in their own congestion and sprawl then so be it. Let them degrade their own quality of life rather than spend money on a transit system in a city where people clearly don’t get “it.”

  • The D.C. Council is working on some legislation which would make Bicycle parking a requirement at all apartment buildings with more than 8 units and 10% of automotive parking capacity at commercial establishments.
  • This excerpt speaks for itself:

“The Minneapolis bridge collapse on Aug. 1 led Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters to publicly reflect on federal transportation spending priorities and conclude that those greedy bicyclists and pedestrians, not to mention museumgoers and historic preservationists, hog too much of the billions of federal dollars raised by the gas tax, money that should go to pave highways and bridges. Better still, Peters, a 2006 Bush appointee, apparently doesn’t see biking and walking paths as part of transportation infrastructure at all.”

Click here for the full article

Local:

  • FAU trustees approved plans to build a 30,000 seat, $62 Million stadium for the Owls’ football team on the Boca Raton campus. Construction is set to begin in 2009.
  • More reasons why converting every neighborhood into its own municipality is such a bad idea: identity crisis. The suburban bedroom community of Davie has been struggling to find itself for the past few years amid all the other South Florida “cities.”
“With all of the cuts, Transit will be down to 34 million annual miles of service. That’s seven million more miles, a 26 percent increase, that have been delivered since late 2002 when Miami-Dade County voters approved a half-cent sales-tax increase for transportation.

But it’s a whopping 10 million miles short of the 44 million miles that former Mayor Alex Penelas promised by 2008 during the campaign. The agency never got close, peaking at 38 million miles in December 2005 and paring back in three subsequent lineups.

In Transit’s defense, ridership has remained steady as the miles have been cut — an indicator that the planning and scheduling gurus aren’t sacrificing riders.”

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