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Donald Shoup, an Appreciation

Donald Shoup at the 2011 launch of SFpark, which put his ideas about curbside parking management into practices at a large scale. Photo: Bryan Goebel

On Tuesday, the news came that after 41 years of teaching at UCLA, Donald Shoup, distinguished professor of urban planning, will retire. For all of us who have had our paths in life profoundly influenced by his research, writing, and teaching on parking and transportation, it’s a good time to reflect. I never got to take a class from professor Shoup, but he has had more influence on my life and career than any of the professors whose classes I did attend.

Back in the spring of 1992, I was a student at Stanford in Washington, DC, studying international development. I was beginning to realize that before I tried to go to someone else’s country and tell them how to improve their lives, I needed to learn a real practical skill and see if I could accomplish something at home, in a culture I actually understood. That same spring, an article appeared in the Washington Post — “Subsidies Support a Drive-to-Work Habit” — about the ways in which the federal tax code subsidizes parking while withholding tax benefits if people walk or bike or take transit. It piqued my interest.

Siegman

Patrick Siegman, a principal at Nelson/Nygaard, is known as “the first Shoupista” for his work implementing Shoup’s ideas.

I knew that a large and remarkably ugly parking structure had recently been built outside my dad’s office on the Stanford campus, and I knew that I could get a permit to park in it for about $6 per month. I wondered how much it cost, and who really paid for it.

When I got back to Stanford in the fall, I went to see my future boss, Julia Fremon, the manager of Stanford’s Office of Transportation Programs.  I asked her how much it cost to build and operate a parking space on campus, and who paid for them. She said, “I’ve been wanting to know that too.” Then she gave me a list of people to interview, and offered me a spot on the University’s Committee on Parking and Transportation. Encouraged by this, I went to Green Library, descended into the stacks, and discovered the writing of professor Shoup.

All that year, I devoured articles and monographs authored or co-authored by Donald Shoup. I still have my original dog-eared copies of all those articles on my office bookshelf, and I still reference them today, when I’m out in the world trying to persuade city planners and council members to think differently about transportation. There were all those great articles, some newly published: “Employer-Paid Parking: the Problem and Proposed Solutions,” by Shoup and Willson; “Parking Subsidies and Travel Choices: Assessing the Evidence,” by Willson and Shoup; and most importantly, “Cashing Out Employer-Paid Parking,” the big Federal Transit Administration report by Shoup.

Professor Shoup managed to make the apparently dry topic of parking economics and regulation not only worth studying, but compelling, fascinating, and at times, hilarious. I vividly remember sitting down in the stacks, reading his research papers on parking and laughing aloud at the insanity of it all.

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Streetsblog.net
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Don’t Be Mistaken: Vancouver Gets a Lot for Its Transit Dollar

Vancouver's transit system is subsidized at a relatively small rate of 20 cents per ride. Graph: Canadian Urban Transport Association via Human Transport

Vancouver’s transit system is subsidized at a relatively small rate of 20 cents per ride. Graph: Canadian Urban Transport Association via Human Transport

Vancouverites go to the polls in May to decide whether to raise sales taxes to fund a slate of transit improvements. But polls show the measure is headed for defeat.

Other arguments aside, Jarrett Walker at Human Transit says one supposed “con” — that transit provider TransLink is incompetent and wasteful — ought to be nipped in the bud. To the contrary, Walker says, Vancouver transit is a great deal.

The numbers confirm that Metro Vancouver is getting excellent value for its transit dollar. Todd Litman of Victoria Transport Policy Institute recently put these numbers together.

First, subsidy per passenger-kilometer (one passenger moving one km on transit). What do regional taxpayers pay to move the massive numbers of people they move every day? Less than 20 cents per ride, which is right on the Canadian average and far better than what’s achieved in the US, Australia, or New Zealand.

One measure of this is passenger-kilometers per capita. How much personal transit does Vancouver provide?  How many people can travel, and how far, to access jobs and opportunities without contributing to traffic congestion?

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Today’s Headlines

  • DOT to Unveil $478B Transpo Funding Proposal Today (Detroit News)
  • “CTFastrak” Bus Makes First Run in Hartford (AP, Fast Lane)
  • In Cities, Transit Entrepreneurs Are Jumping Ahead of the Government (National Journal)
  • Georgia House Passes Bill to Spur Development Around Atlanta Beltline (AJC)
  • Seattle Times: Ed Murray Shaping Up to Be “The Bike Mayor”
  • Portland’s Orange Line Under Budget, On Time to Open in September (KPTV)
  • In Cincinnati, a Threat to Ramp Up Streetcar Costs (Cincinnati.com)
  • Philly Could Look to Boston as Model for Beefing Up Commuter Rail (Next City)
  • How an Ohio Town Pulled Off a Bikeable Highway in the Burbs (GGW)
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Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Tampa vs. Fort Worth

It’s almost a shame that these two titans are meeting in the second round of the Parking Madness tournament, because both Tampa and Fort Worth look like they have champion potential.

Yesterday, Syracuse knocked off Newport News, Virginia, to join Camden in the Final Four. Now it’s up to you to decide who gets the third slot.

Tampa

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This crater advanced past Waterville, Maine in round one. Submitter Joshua Redman wrote:

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Streetsblog.net
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Comparing 20 Years of Housing Growth in American Cities

Here’s an interesting way to visualize how different regions are growing (or not). Using a tool developed by the University of Virginia Demographics Research Group, Michael Andersen at Bike Portland shares these charts showing where housing growth has happened relative to city centers. The dark brown lines show the number of occupied housing units at one-mile intervals from the urban core in 2012, and the orange lines show the distribution in 1990. The gap between the lines tells you where housing growth has happened, and there is huge variation between regions.

In Denver, for instance, you can see that housing growth was concentrated between eight and 20 miles from the city center:

Image: Bike Portland

Denver: The orange line shows occupied housing units in 1990. The brown line shows 2012. Image: Bike Portland

In other places — especially large, in-demand coastal cities like LA — housing growth has barely changed (note that the y-axis is scaled differently in each chart):

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Today’s Headlines

  • Brookings: People Are Living Farther From Work (Planetizen)
  • Distracted Driving by Teens at an All-Time High (CBS Philly)
  • Sprawl Is Stifling the U.S. Economy (Vox)
  • Well-Educated Young People Moving to the Densest Cities, Driving Up Local Incomes (Atlantic)
  • Ohio PIRG Finds the State’s College Students Want More Transportation Options
  • Slate: So What If There’s More Uber Cars Than Taxis in New York City?
  • Senator Mike Lee Pushing Legislation To Make It Hard to Raise the Gas Tax (The Hill)
  • New York Fills in Parking Crater With Parking-Free Housing and Retail (Streetsblog NYC)
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Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Newport News vs. Syracuse

Yesterday, Camden knocked off Detroit in Parking Madness, giving the Garden State the first spot in our Final Four.

Today’s match pairs up dreadful parking expanses in Newport News and Syracuse, and it’s up to you to tell us which is the worst.

Syracuse

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 3.27.46 PM

That right there is the picture that put Syracuse over the top in its first-round matchup with Asheville. Marshall Allen sent us this entry. He wrote:

This image is of downtown Syracuse just south of the I-690/I-81 interchange. This elevated highway goes through the heart of the city and since its inception, the land immediately adjacent to the highway, has suffered the consequences of low property values for 50 plus years. Additionally, Syracuse’s economy is well past it’s prime. These two things have combined to create this horrific parking crater in the heart of New York State’s Central City.

Let’s compare it to a a historical photo, graciously provided by the University of Oklahoma Institute for Quality CommunitiesShane Hampton:

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Two Key Factors That Can Make or Break a Bike-Share Network

What if you could dramatically increase the usefulness of a bike-share system without adding any bicycles or docks? Researchers at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business have come up with a model that they say could help even the most successful bike-share systems in the world get more bang for the buck.

Paris' Velib bike share could attract 29 percent more riders if a few key changes were made, researchers estimate. Photo: Wikipedia

Researchers estimate that even Paris’s much-used Velib bike-share could attract 29 percent more riders by optimizing the location and size of stations. Photo: Wikipedia

The Booth School team focused on two factors: station accessibility (or how long it takes people to get to a station) and bike availability (or having at least one bike to check out at a station). After collecting minute-by-minute ridership data from 349 stations in Paris’s highly successful Velib system over a four-month period, they modeled the effect of these factors on ridership.

Researchers found that decreasing the distance to access stations by 10 percent boosts bike-share trips by about 7 percent, while a 10 percent improvement in bike availability can increase system usage about 12 percent.

Interestingly, given a fixed number of docks and bikes, improving the accessibility of a network can diminish its availability, since the system would have a larger number of stations spaced closer together, but each station would be smaller. The inverse is also true — designing for greater availability can reduce accessibility.

However, networks can be optimized taking both accessibility and availability into account. In the researchers’ model, simply rearranging existing Velib bike-share docks — adjusting the size and location of stations — could attract 29.4 percent more trips.

Streetsblog.net
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Car Storage for a Few Trumps Safe Streets for All in San Diego

About 250 people packed a San Diego Church earlier this week, taking sides on a plan to improve street safety. Photo: BikeSD

About 250 people packed a San Diego Church earlier this week to discuss a plan to improve street safety. Photo: BikeSD

A major street safety campaign in San Diego is running up against the fierce territorial instinct that only on-street car parking can instill.

After a two-year public process, a plan to create safe biking and walking access to Hillcrest and other neighborhoods reached a local advisory group called Uptown Planners. The plan calls for adding bike lanes on major thoroughfares, and business owners have objected to the loss of 130 parking spaces. The opponents have also spread misinformation about how the plan will affect car traffic on local streets.

Uptown Planners play an advisory role in local government. At its meeting earlier this week, the NIMBY contingent prevailed, writes Sam Ollinger at BikeSD:

While many of us were out last night testifying and desperately pleading for safer access through along University Avenue to a board that ignored all public testimony for safer streets, except for the comments on using public spaces for private vehicle storage, a 74 year old woman crossing Camino Ruiz in a marked crosswalk suffered life threatening injuries after being hit by an SUV. No word yet on whether the driver has been charged.

Earlier this month, our endorsed candidates Michael Brennan and Kyle Heiskala were successfully elected to the Uptown Planners at the Community Planning Group election. But last night’s meeting was a special meeting and Brennan and Heiskala haven’t yet been seated — so they were unable to vote on the issue.

Uptown Planners ended up voting 10-0 against the proposal, essentially saying that bike lanes should go elsewhere and calling for the project to start from scratch, with “mitigation for any loss of parking.” Ollinger says the outcome disregarded plenty of testimony at the meeting:

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Today’s Headlines

  • GOP Blocks Bernie Sanders’ Plan to Boost Infrastructure By Closing Tax Loopholes (USA Today)
  • The Number of Parking Spaces in Boston Is Dwindling (Boston Globe)
  • Mayor of Fort Worth Holds “Rolling” Town Hall Meetings on Bike (Star Telegram)
  • Miami Has a Plan to Tax Tourists to Fund Transit (Miami Today)
  • Suburban Growth Isn’t Catching Up With Urban Areas in Twin Cities (Star Tribune)
  • Downtown Denver Down to 42,000 Parking Spaces — Planetizen Wonders If It Can Remain Vibrant
  • Boston Proposal Would Build 10,000 Affordable Units Aimed at Millennials (Boston Globe)
  • Coalition of U.S. Mayors Pushing for Long-Term Transportation Bill (The Hill)
  • AFL-CIO Lobbying to Defend the Gas Tax (The Hill)