With this in mind, let’s take a look at the Federal Department of Transportation’s budget for project funding in Fiscal Year 2008. Using completely backward, archaic philosophies, DOT has set aside $42,000,000,000 for highway projects, and a trifling $1,400,000,000 for transit projects. That’s right - $42 billion for highways and $1.4 billion for transit. We can certainly see where DOT’s priorities still lie.
How on earth are we supposed to improve inner city and regional transit, with the feds only dolling out $1.4 billion for transit projects? How are cities supposed to improve sustainability, reduce congestion, and improve mobility? Plus, when you consider all the money going towards highway building/expansion, it makes it even more difficult for transit systems to compete.
“There’s still a lack of understanding how fundamentally broken the transit program is. The demand for transit has never been higher…at the same time, the federal government substantially underfunds transit, so it’s very competitive to get those funds”, says Brookings Institution fellow Robert Puentes.
Unlike federal highway funds, which states receive based on a formula and may spend as they wish, money for new transit projects is awarded at the discretion of the FTA. The agency doesn’t have much to dole out. The FTA has proposed spending about $1.4 billion on new transit projects next fiscal year, compared with $42 billion that states will receive for highway maintenance and construction, according to federal figures. More than 100 transit projects across the country are expected to compete for federal money in coming years, according to a federal report.
In deciding which projects deserve funds, FTA officials consider primarily which would attract enough riders and save them enough time to be worth the investment. They also consider the state and local governments’ ability to help pay for construction, maintenance and operating costs. Other considerations include impact on air quality, development around stations and the ability to move lower-income workers to jobs.
FTA evaluations can take years, because it rates a project — and grants permission for it to move forward — at several different points, controlling it from preliminary engineering through construction.
So there you have it. This is what Miami is up against; this is what America is up against. It goes to show that our federal government is not serious whatsoever about curbing driving demand, pursuing sustainability, or fighting climate change. Until this gross discrepancy is corrected, we cannot expect any appreciable improvement in transit, traffic congestion, or the quality of our urban environments.
How do we fix this? It comes down to politics. We need to help elevate smart growth to the forefront of political issues for subsequent election campaigns. These planning issues are so important, so critical to millions of people, it’s unfathomable that they have not commanded more press time. I mean, after all, smart growth lumps together so many classic issues like the environment, energy, oil (gas prices), climate change, health care, and poverty. The trick will be finding a way to consolidate these issues, which will require a unified effort by leaders of each sub-issue.
Sooner or later it will happen, so let’s do what we can to make it sooner.
The Guggenheim is cracking, its 12 layers of paint are chipping off and a new computer simulated model is here to show us what the facade really looks like.CitySkip:
The new era of Reality TV? Voyeurism, of course. The new HBO Voyeur program can be found here…
The effects of London’s Congestion pricing:
- In 2006, around 70,000 fewer vehicles entered the same area each day.
- Before charging began, some 334,000 vehicles entered the original zone each day.
- An increase in cycling within the zone of 43 per cent.
- Congestion Charge generated provisional net revenues of £123m in 2006/07, which will be spent on further improvements to transport across London, particularly bus services.
Transportation costs get personal as TOW finds that Quicken lacks inputs for non-vehicular dependent transit costs. TOW goes on to confront the absurd cost of car ownership (on average, 18% of Americans’ income) and our uncanny dependency on it…
The 787 Dreamliner was unveiled on July 8, 2007 on schedule…
“…the U.S. House of Representatives has unveiled a plan to become carbon Neutral by the end of its current term. Legislation has also been introduced to make the entire Capitol complex- all 23 buildings- carbon neutral by the end of 2020.”
2020? So much for setting the example…
- Free Rides on Tri-Rail all day with this voucher…
- Free Rides on MDT, only if you win a T-shirt on El Zol or Hot 105… Come again? What’s up with MDT’s lack of participation this year?
- BCT is encouraging participation, no free rides…
- Palm Tran is M.I.A.
- LYNX is M.I.A.
- JTA is M.I.A.
- Free Rides on LeeTran (Fort Myers)
- MCT is M.I.A. (Monroe County)
- RTS is Participating (Gainesville)
- SCAT is participating (Space Coast)
- HART is Participating (Tampa)
The reason weather is rarely discussed on this site is because we think for the most part it is a non-issue. By and large,
Another thing to keep in mind is that most people commute early in the morning when temperatures are nearly at their coolest, which is certainly bearable even during
In poorly designed places, heat does have the potential to be oppressive. This is why it’s so important to adhere to quality urban design principles, with buildings having short setbacks coupled with awnings or sidewalk shade trees (this usually means higher density – one more reason why it’s not an evil thing). Mayor Diaz is trying to attack this issue with a Tree Master Plan, with goals to improve the City’s tree canopy by 30% by 2020. Developers need to do their part, too, by making their street frontages more protected from sun.
This is one more reason why low-density sprawl is so bad, especially in
And lastly, rain is definitely a non-issue for pedestrians - all you need is an umbrella!
Photo courtesy of slowernet’s flickr photostream
As you may already know, I support bicycles. I am a huge advocate for improved bicycle infrastructure in Miami, including a comprehensive Bicycle Master Plan.
Nonetheless, I often speak to people who have concerns about using bicycling as a legitimate form of transportation, even if Miami had hundreds of miles of separated bike lanes.
Some of the more popular concerns include fear of theft, lack of secure racks, and problems with the bike’s generous proportions, particularly when on a crowded train or attempting to store it inside of a building. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution to most of these concerns: folding bikes.
The folding bicycle certainly isn’t new technology, but it’s rare I see people using these bikes and even rarer to hear people talk about them.
A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to the amazing convenience of the folding bike. I was in Brooklyn at the time, and was planning on going down to Philly for the weekend to visit some old friends. Lucky for me one of my friends allowed me to borrow their new Dahon.
After learning how to fold and unfold the bike, I packed some clothes in a backpack, and raced off through Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, and into Lower Manhattan. I decided to test its convenience on the subway – no problem. Even fumbling at bit, it only took about one minute to fold up the bike and it was light (only like 20-25 lbs.) enough to carry right over the turnstile. The C train was relatively crowded, but I was still able to get a seat comfortably while holding the folded bike.
At Penn Station, I didn’t have to worry about maneuvering a regular sized bike through masses of people, nor having to lug it up or down stairs/escalators. I boarded Amtrak, stowed the bike in the rack above my seat, and read a book during the hour and change trip.
Upon arriving at 30th Street Station in Philly, I didn’t even have to bother with cab fare – I just unfolded the bike and road off to meet my friends about 12 or 13 blocks away. Upon arriving at my friends’ place, I folded the bike back up, walked past the doorman without any looks or objections, took the elevator with ease, and stored it in their small apartment without feeling guilty about space.
I was hooked. I just ordered a Dahon myself, and can’t hardly wait another day for it to arrive. In the meantime, let me share with you just a short list of benefits for folded bikes:
- Integrates flawlessly with all forms of transit. Instead of taking up a bunch of space on a Metrorail car, or loading and unloading a regular sized bike on the front of a bus, the folded bike is easy to carry on board
- They usually fold up in just 15-30 seconds
- Most of them fit conveniently into a duffel bag or suitcase – perfect for carry-on luggage on planes
- They take up a fraction of space in your home (especially great for smaller living spaces)
- No longer do you have to worry about them getting stolen from some random chain-up or even a rack. You probably won’t even need to buy any chains or locks in the first place
- You could even bring it into the office. Put it in a carrying bag, it stores easily
- Performance is as good as or better than regular sized bikes, depending on what model and/or brand you use
- Allows you the freedom to go just about anywhere; its convenient integration with transit is particularly beneficial
Photo courtesy of joelmann’s flickr account
A recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the city really illustrates how Vancouver operates on a different plane than most U.S. cities. Below are several excerpts and quotes from the article, which I feel illustrate my point well:
- For starters,
Vancouverresidents waged a 10-year battle to keep freeways from its urban core in the 1970s, eventually defeating a plan that would have placed a highway right through its Chinatownand adjacent its downtown waterfront.
- “We are the only North American city of any significance without an interstate at its core,” said Gordon Price, an urban affairs professor at
Simon Fraser University, who used to serve on ‘s City Council. Vancouver Vancouver’s core has become one of the most thriving urban areas in North America.
- Density has been a trademark of
’s success. “The greater the density, the better it is for transit. But density must be sensitively designed so it welcomes people at street level. ‘Once you get the street right — the first 30 feet of a building — how high you go is not important,’ Price said.” Vancouver
- “Density is good”, says Larry Beasley, former city planning director for
, who has been recognized worldwide as helping create a new urban model Vancouver
- City leaders readily admit that their
model is counter-intuitive. Vancouver
Note: We are always mentioning on TransitMiami how many aspects of smart growth, like higher densities and less parking, are very counter-intuitive.
- “We are building cities we don’t actually like,” Price said. “Everyone can drive everywhere for everything. But if it’s the only game in town, it doesn’t even work for the car.”
- However, in building a wide pedestrian and bicycle path around downtown, it created an environment free from cars.
- “There’s no better alternative to the car than walking,” Beasley said. “We have been doing everything in our power to make walking comfortable. We actually have fewer cars coming into the downtown area than we had 10 years ago.”
- The city also has invested strongly in transit, including rapid rail, commuter rail, electric buses, streetcars and ferries.
- “We like that it’s hard to get in and out of downtown (by automobiles)…We have a policy to not even expand one lane of roads coming in and out of our city.”
- One agency in Greater Vancouver — TransLink — oversees all transportation, including roads. Transportation projects and operations are largely financed through gas taxes, which total nearly $1.60 a gallon compared to 25.9 cents in
. And TransLink has total flexibility on how it can spend its money, meaning gas taxes subsidize transit and other modes of travel. Georgia
Alas, what I find very exciting is that only one agency, TransLink, oversees all transportation including roads. This allows for transportation planning to be much smoother and cohesive, especially in comparison to our terribly fragmented system with several competing entities. This also makes it much easier for planners and administrators to enhance and maintain transit. And, what I really love is that TransLink isn’t afraid to rise gasoline prices even higher through gas taxes - something unfathomable for most U.S. cities.
photo courtesy of clashmaker’s flick account
According to the Herald’s article, the project’s developer Carlos Rua has admitted his frustration with Grove NIMBYs, whom he has been trying to negotiate with for more than a year over building standards and specifications.
Now I know I have lambasted this project in the past for the incredible oversupply of parking being proposed, but as time goes by and this project continues to linger, I find myself disheartened by the lack of progress. I’m tired of looking at the large vacant parcel adjacent to the station as it sits fenced off waiting for the project’s groundbreaking. It’s really sad when you are forced to choose between bad urban design and vacant land, especially on such an important block.
I find it interesting, though, that of all the Grove NIMBY complaints, I haven’t heard any objections over the elephantine parking allotments that will surely contribute disproportionately to increased traffic congestion in the area.
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The second picture below clearly shows how much street space is wasted by all these private, single- occupant vehicles.
The last picture below illustrates just how small a space is used by the same number of people when they are pedestrians.
All of these pictures help us to see the intrinsic link between land use (e.g. density, urban design, parking requirements, etc) and transportation. In turn, it helps us understand how high quality urban land uses that emphasize density, pedestrian-oriented design, and transit instead of automobiles actually make for more sustainable environments than less dense or more sprawling locales which facilitate private automobile usage.
When you can to begin to grasp this concept, you will have begun to understand how unsustainable the auto-centric city is even with an unlimited supply of the cleanest, greenest fuel technology.
Photos courtesy of terrian.org and streetsblog.com
For those of you that didn’t know, today was national boycott gas stations day, an ill-conceived plan to deal a financial blow to the oil industry for the steady increase in gas prices. Let me begin by clearly stating why this will not work:
National boycott gas stations day was a short-sighted band-aide-like attempt to solve one of our most critical national problems. I say band-aide because like many of our “solutions” if failed to adequately address the real underlying issue (like the solutions for the “property insurance crisis,” but I’ll touch on that subject at a later point), instead the boycott focused on the rising cost of oil and its effect on our economy rather than concentrating on our addiction to a limited natural resource and viable alternatives to keep our economy vibrant and people mobile.
We’re too focused on the rising cost of gas and its effect on our pocketbook to realize that we’ve dug ourselves an enormous suburban grave. Many of our neighborhoods are un-navigable to anything but vehicles, often missing sidewalks in some of the newer communities in west-Dade. Should gas prices rise sharply further beyond the affordable realm for many, the effects of our unchecked, unplanned growth will place a greater economic strain on our lives as we search for yet another quick fix to our mess…Someone better call J&J quick, because we’re going to need some more Band-aides…
A good example for realizing such a system can be found within the 27th Avenue beautification project, which should be finalized in the next couple months. I find this to be one of the most encouraging, visionary projects in a long time in Miami. The concept is simple: implement bike lanes on 27th Avenue, between US-1 and South Bayshore Drive, giving bicyclists a dedicated right-of-way from the bay to the Metrorail. Of course the improvements in the pedestrian realm are also much needed and will certainly enhance the corridor from that aspect; however, the biking infrastructure will make the prospect of riding transit much greater for those living near 27th Avenue and >0.5 miles to a transit station.
This model should be adapted for the following streets, at a minimum:
This also has the potential to significantly reduce congestion on these thoroughfares, especially during rush hours . Under the current system, massive park-n’-ride lots are designed to encourage people who want to use Metrorail, but cannot easily (or quickly) get there by walking, to drive to stations. Then, they are faced with $4.00 parking fees. Biking to the stations instead would eliminate these issues.
Furthermore, if Mayor Diaz really wanted a world-class Green Policy, he would embrace this plan by requiring all new commercial buildings in the CBD and Brickell to provide bicycle parking and locker rooms with showers so riders could clean up before work if necessary. Toronto has amended its zoning laws to require that new large-scale developments provide storage and showering facilities for bikers. Given the excessive parking requirements currently mandated by the City, I don’t think it would be too much to ask to provide these bike-friendly facilities - at least if you really care about sustainable transportation and traffic reduction.
Lastly, providing the bike infrastructure has inherent benefits even without everyone using it to connect to transit. Biking presents a fast, efficient, dirt cheap transportation alternative to the automobile. If you use 10MPH as an average biking speed, one could go from Downtown Coral Gables to Downtown Miami in just 20 minutes; it would take just seven minutes to travel one mile. This is significant, given that nearly two-thirds of trips under one mile are taken by the automobile.
This is part II in a series on biking in Miami. Part III will look more specifically at some potential routes…
- The Developer Billionaire partnership Leviev Boymelgreen composed by Lev Leviev and Shaya Boymelgreen, known in Miami for Marquis and Vitri, have decided to split their partnership, citing a difference of opinions towards future development. Boymelgreen sees a formidable future in the Miami market, opted to stay with the Miami land holdings concentrated around the Carnival center, while Leviev maintained ownership of the NYC properties. Besides the developers’ optimistic stance on Miami’s market, it interesting to note that he is considering developing rental units or workforce housing in the CBD, a stance we have long advocated to help alleviate Miami’s recent housing shortages…
- Miami is ranked 63 in the top 100 most liveable cities by Business Week, down a notch from last year. In browsing through the list I was compelled to notice that all but one of the top 15 cities have Streetcars, Trams, or LRT running through the city streets. Coincidence? I think not…(Via: Spacing Wire)
- Open Road tolling is coming to a highway near you…
- Jersey City is quickly becoming the model of the urban future according to this article in today’s USA Today. I should note, on top of existing transit, the city recently completed a light rail transit line to continue to facilitate transit use for the more than 40% of its residents who ride regularly…
- Blog Update: I’ve somehow neglected to add a link to Cyburbia to the website. Cyburbia was founded in 1994, and is the Internet’s oldest continuously operating planning-related Web site; it functions today as a portal and busy social networking site for planners and others interested in the built environment. Check it out…
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