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Mapping the Smells and Sounds of the Sensory City

Daniele Quercia and Luca Aiello of Bell Labs are pioneers of sensory mapping in cities. They have been able to map smells, sounds, and how people feel on their favorite walking routes.

On the podcast Daniele and Luca discuss why people are so focused on noise instead of sound, the languages of smell and sound, as well as the chromatic layers of smell. They also explain why they believe technology, not urban design, is the key to changing our urban landscapes.

Tune in for a look at whether cities of the future will be able to control your feelings, how smell affects public health, and how people of different socioeconomic status travel about a city.

Streetsblog.net
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67 Congress Members Tell Feds: Measure the Movement of People, Not Cars

A proposed rule from U.S. DOT could undermine transit. Image: Transportation for America

If U.S. DOT doesn’t change its proposed congestion metric, 50 people riding in a bus will count as much as one person in an SUV. Image: Transportation for America

The federal government hands states about $40 billion a year for transportation, money they can basically spend however they want. The result in many places is a lot of expensive, traffic-inducing highways that get clogged with cars soon after they’re finished. Can measuring the effect of all this spending lead to better decisions?

U.S. DOT is developing a metric to assess how well states address congestion. This is a minefield — if the new congestion rule only measures the movement of cars, it’s going to entrench 60 years of failed transportation policy. Unfortunately, the first draft of the DOT rule left a lot to be desired.

Reformers have been pushing the agency to revise the rule so it takes a broader, multi-modal view of congestion. Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America reports 19 senators and 48 U.S. representatives have written a letter to U.S. DOT [PDF] demanding a healthier approach.

The Congress members write:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • “Let Detroit Vote for Better Transit,” Advocates Tell Obstructionist Politicians (Detroit Free Press)
  • Large Congressional Delegation Wants Smarter Congestion Rules From U.S. DOT (T4A)
  • Study: Traffic Deaths Up in Cities That Turn Off Red Light Cameras (AP)
  • CityLab: The Way We Fund Sidewalks Is A Problem
  • Ford and MIT Collecting Data on Pedestrian Behavior for Self Driving Cars (Industry Week)
  • Study Highlights Risk Streetcar Tracks Pose to Cyclists (Treehugger)
  • Austin May Be Considering a High-Frequency Network for Buses (Austin Monitor)
  • Real Estate Study: Atlanta’s MARTA Good for Business (Curbed)
  • DART Holding Meetings to Expand Streetcar (DART)
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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: Broomfield, Colorado vs. Hillsboro, Oregon

Second round action continues in Streetsblog’s hunt for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America. Rochester narrowly beat Buffalo earlier this week to clinch the last spot in the Elite Eight.

Today a very sad bus stop in a Denver suburb takes on a disaster in the Portland burbs. Which one is Final Four material?

Broomfield, Colorado

image1 (2)

This comically inept entry on US-287 beat out a Portland bus stop on an elevated road in the first round. Submitter Aaron Schultz says:

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Report: Access to Car-Share and Bike-Share Is Worse in Communities of Color

Graph: Shared use Mobility Center

In many major American cities, communities of color have worse access to car-share and bike-share than majority white neighborhoods. Chart: Shared Use Mobility Center

Car-share and bike-share services are making it easier to go without owning a car in American cities, but access to “shared-use” systems remains limited in communities of color compared to majority-white neighborhoods, according to a new analysis from the Shared Use Mobility Center [PDF].

Urban areas with low car-ownership rates and strong transit are ideal for car and bike sharing. But a SUMC study found communities of color were being left out. Map: Shared Use Mobility Center

SUMC’s map of where car-share and bike-share would be most useful in Portland.

SUMC developed a method to analyze which places have the most potential for car-share and bike-share usage across 27 American metros. Areas with relatively high transit ridership, low car ownership, and small blocks (which enhance walkability) are where share-use systems can be most useful, according to SUMC.

SUMC then compared these areas of “opportunity” for car-share and bike-share to areas where the services are actually available. In many cities, SUMC observed that dense low-income neighborhoods lack access to shared-use systems even though they have the necessary characteristics for success:

While they have been often passed over by private operators, these neighborhoods have many of the key qualities — including high population density, transit access, and walkability — needed to support shared-use systems. Additionally, the opportunity to scale up shared modes in these neighborhoods is especially compelling since they stand to profit most from the benefits of shared mobility, including reduced household transportation costs and increased connectivity to jobs and opportunities outside the immediate community.

A clear racial disparity is apparent in many cities. In Chicago, for instance, 72 percent of low-income, majority-white neighborhoods have access to shared-use systems, according to SUMC’s analysis, but only 48 percent of low-income communities of color do. The disparity persists regardless of income levels. In well-off majority-white Chicago neighborhoods, 77 percent of households have access to car-share or bike-share, compared to just 49 percent in affluent majority-minority neighborhoods.

Not all cities have these disparities, but the pattern is alarmingly common.

Read more…

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Can a Major Minneapolis Transit Project Survive Regional Dysfunction?

The Twin Cities’ Orange Line bus rapid transit project ought to be a slam dunk. According to Sean Hayford O’Leary at streets.mn, it will provide frequent service and travel times similar to the region’s successful light rail lines, which carrying tens of thousands of passengers daily. At just $150 million to construct, the Orange Line will be a bargain.

The funding agreement for the Orange Line, which would connect communities south of downtown Minneapolis, is in jeopardy. Map via streets.mn

But dysfunctional regional politics may cut off $45 million in funding, O’Leary reports, threatening the project:

Residents of South Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington got some very bad news last week. In response to a move by Dakota County to leave the Counties Transit Improvement Board, CTIB is considering withdrawing its funding for the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit.

Although end-to-end, the line connects Dakota County to downtown Minneapolis, the vast majority of the capital investment, stops, and riders are within Hennepin County. Although I do not agree with Dakota County’s decision to leave CTIB, I am outraged that the CTIB board is playing political games with a much-needed, cost-effective transit line that will serve my community.

I spoke with Christina Morrison, the Metro Transit project manager for the Orange Line. According to Morrison, 92% of the 2040 Orange Line boardings are anticipated to be from Hennepin County. This is overwhelmingly a project that will serve Hennepin County residents and businesses.

What’s more, according to Morrison, CTIB’s $45 million contribution would come from the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 — and Dakota County’s payments to CTIB would not terminate until the end of 2018. Even with their withdrawal, Dakota County would still be paying their fair share toward this project.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Urban Edge shares survey data showing that Houston Metro riders, not long after a major bus network redesign, are largely satisfied with service. And Transportation for America reports from North Nashville, where the neighborhood is trying to repair damage done by an urban highway with an assist from U.S. DOT’s Every Place Counts initiative.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Boston Advocates: MBTA Violated Civil Rights When It Ended Late Night Service (Globe)
  • Pittsburgh Bike Safety Campaign: Cyclists “Aren’t Always Right,” “Are Always Fragile” (WESA)
  • Horrifying Australian Traffic Safety Campaign Imagines Human Body Meant to Withstand Crash
  • Cleveland, Mobile, Pittsburgh Snag Funds in New Round of TIGER Grants
  • New Federal Rule Will Require Transit Agencies to Develop Asset Management Plans (MassTransitMag)
  • Doctors Worried Pokémon Go (i.e. Cars) Endangers Kids (KSAT)
  • Edmonton Planning a Calgary-Like Protected Bike Lane Network (Metro News)
  • Mercedes Demonstrates Self-Driving Bus in Amsterdam (Treehugger)
  • Detroit’s “Sprawl King” Trying to Kill Plans for Decent Regional Transit (Motor City Freedom Riders)
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America’s Sorriest Bus Stop: Kansas City vs. St. Louis County

The second round of competition in the search for the Sorriest Bus Stop in America gets underway today. (The poll is still open until midnight in the Buffalo vs. Rochester match if you haven’t voted yet.)

Two bus stops in Missouri go toe-to-toe today. Kansas City’s entry overcame some tough competition from D.C. in the first round. Meanwhile, St. Louis County — also home of the reining Sorriest Bus Stop — triumphed over a sorry bus stop in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Which one is Final Four material? Vote below.

St. Louis County

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 2.05.42 PM

This bus stop by a highway ramp serves Maryville University (just to the right over the trees) in the suburb of Town and Country in St. Louis County. It was submitted by Richard Bose, who says it’s worth considering “the amount of wealth put into the auto infrastructure and even the landscaping nearby compared to the bus stop.”

Between Missouri DOT, St. Louis County DOT, and Metro St. Louis, there’s plenty of blame to go around — but you’ve gotta pin most of it on the transportation departments for creating an environment that caters entirely to motoring, not walking.

Read more…

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Tim Kaine Took a Stand Against Cul-de-Sacs

Even though the Democratic Party’s strongholds are in cities, we probably won’t hear much about urban transportation and development policy at the Democratic National Convention this week. City issues seldom get much play when political parties are focused on scooping up swing votes in the suburbs.

Tim Kaine. Photo via Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine

But Hillary Clinton’s VP choice, Tim Kaine, is the former mayor of Richmond, Virginia, and experience running a city is surprisingly rare for someone on a presidential ticket.

So Greater Greater Washington writers have weighed in on his urban policy track record. Here’s a look at the evidence.

Before he was mayor, Kaine made a name for himself as a lawyer fighting housing discrimination, writes Joanne Pierce:

Kaine was on the board of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia from 1986-1994 and 2011-2013, starting before he got into local politics.

He helped represent HOME against Nationwide Insurance, which had labeled minority neighborhoods as undesirable and pulled its agents from those areas. He also helped represent HOME against General Services Corp, which made apartment brochures that featured more white people and lacked equal housing logos and language. Staff members testified that company management talked to them about how to deter black people from renting in their properties.

When he served as governor of Virginia, Kaine ensured the Silver Line would be built, writes Canaan Merchant:

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Today’s Headlines

  • Next City Provides a Guide to the Democratic Party Platform
  • At DNC, Ride-Hailing Breaks Records and Dems Get to Try Electric Buses (Philly Mag, NGT News)
  • GGW Writers Sound Off on Tim Kaine’s Urbanism Credentials
  • With Feds Backing Away From Texas Rail, Opposition Could Mount (Texas Trib)
  • Rail Advocates Cheer Progress on Northeast Expansion Plans (WAMC)
  • Two South Carolina Mayors Agree That Transit Is Lacking (Charleston Biz Journal)
  • People for Bikes Campaign to Boost Cycling in 10 Cities (Curbed)
  • Mobile, Alabama, Presses for Amtrak Stop (AL.com)
  • APTA Recognizes Six Transit Agencies for Sustainability Progress
  • Where Tucson’s Streetcar Stands at 2nd Anniversary (AZ Daily Star)
  • Jersey Shore Mayor Wants to Rob Pedestrians of the Right of Way (Philadelphia Inquirer)