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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

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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)
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Parking Madness 2015 Elite Eight: Detroit vs. Camden

Today it’s on to round two in Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in an American town. Our first Elite Eight matchup features two cities struggling to rebuild in the wake of some serious urban disinvestment, and these parking craters certainly aren’t helping. It’s Camden vs. Detroit.

Detroit

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The above image, submitted by reader Luke Klipp, is what carried Detroit over the California suburb of Walnut Creek in the first round. Klipp explains this area is right next to the Renaissance Center, where General Motors is headquartered. Klipp said:
Detroit’s waterfront is really sad when compared to its Canadian neighbor across the river, Windsor, whose waterfront is three miles of uninterrupted parkway. By comparison, Detroit has a couple parks near the Renaissance Center and then lots of parking right up to the waterfront.

Thanks to the talented Shane Hampton of the University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities, we have historical photos to compare this area to what used to be.

Check it out:

streetsblog_detroit1951

This photo is from 1951. It looks like the area was already becoming a bit pockmarked. Detroit, being the birthplace of the American auto industry, may have been an early parking crater adapter.

Let’s look at the competition:

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Making the Case for Complete Streets

This complete street redesign in Hamburg, New York, decreased collisions 57 percent. Photo: Smart Growth America

This street redesign in Hamburg, New York, decreased collisions 57 percent. Photo: Smart Growth America

Redesigning streets to make room for people is a no brainer. “Complete streets” projects that calm traffic and provide safe space for walking and biking save money, reduce crashes and injuries, and improve economic outcomes. Need further convincing?

Smart Growth America has done some number crunching, looking at the impact of 37 complete streets projects from communities across the country. Here are the major findings from SGA’s new report, Safer Streets, Stronger Economies.

Complete Streets Are a Bargain

The average cost of a road diet — reducing the number of motor vehicle lanes on a street — was $2.1 million. In other words, pocket change. Per mile, three quarters of the complete streets projects came in below the cost of a typical arterial street project cited by the FHWA.

Here’s an amazing example: Portland, Oregon, spent $95,000 restriping Multnomah Boulevard and adding signs and bollards. That tiny investment reduced speeding by half and increased cycling 44 percent.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Growing Up and Out in Houston

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This week and next I’m joined by Christof Spieler, a vice president of Morris Architects who serves on the board of Houston Metro, to talk about Houston. Everything is bigger in Texas, including the podcasts.

Christof tells stories about how planning works in Houston, including how Intercontinental Airport was sited during a backroom deal and how people inside the city think about zoning and development. We discuss projects like the “Ashby Highrise,” the growth of roads and sprawl around Houston, and Exxon’s move out of downtown along the region’s newest 170-mile ring road. Yup, 170 miles.

So please join us for part one of the Houston podcast. Next week we’ll discuss high-speed rail in Texas, Houston’s new bike lanes, light rail expansion, and the implementation of the new bus network.

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Driver Who Rammed Minneapolis Protestors Charged With Traffic Offenses

A teenage girl was injured when St. Paul resident Jeffrey Rice drove into a November street protest. Image: KSTP.com

A teenage girl was injured when St. Paul resident Jeffrey Rice drove into a November street protest. Image: KSTP.com

The motorist who drove through a Minneapolis street protest last November, injuring a teenage girl, was charged with misdemeanor traffic offenses.

According to the Star Tribune, Hennepin County officials brought three charges against 40-year-old Jeffrey P. Rice, of St. Paul, four months after he drove his Subaru directly into protestors following the grand jury decision in the Darren Wilson-Michael Brown shooting case.

Rice was charged with:

  • Reckless or careless driving, based on “willful of wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property”
  • Careless driving, based on a “disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property of any person.”
  • Failure to avoid colliding with a pedestrian, based on the lack of “due care”

The Star Tribune reports that, according to the criminal complaint, “Rice admitted to police that he saw the people in the street before he went ahead and ‘drove through them.’” But the Hennepin County prosecutor declined to file felony charges in February, describing the crash as an “accident” and saying “the actions Mr. Rice took did not reflect intent or actions that constitute a crime that could be charged.”

If convicted, the Star Tribune says, Rice is unlikely to get a jail sentence:

Upon conviction, each charge calls for punishment of 0 to 90 days in jail and a fine ranging from $0 to $1,000. Misdemeanor offenses such as these rarely lead to incarceration.

Authorities initially referred to Rice as the “victim” in police reports.

Streetsblog.net
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When “Congestion Reduction” Policy Actually Doubles Down on Congestion

The powers that be in Northern Virginia are getting ready to divvy up $350 million between a list of transportation projects. But in this growing, congested region, highway projects always have an edge over transit in these types of budgeting sessions, thanks to some old-fashioned policies that come from the state DOT.

A map of the locations of 34 projects selected by the powerful Northern Virginia Transportation Authority for funding. Image: NVTA via GGWash

Northern Virginia is going to widen these roads in the name of congestion reduction, thanks to the state DOT’s flawed formulas. Map: NVTA via GGWash

Douglas Stewart at Greater Greater Washington explains:

VDOT’s rating system for [Northern Virginia Transportation Authority] projects rewards expansions of the busiest highways, on the assumption that more road capacity will reduce congestion. It’s a flawed 20th century metric that ignores decades of real world experience that bigger roads actually make congestion worse.

The VDOT system does not measure things like how a project might benefit safety, or increase accessibility, and doesn’t take into consideration how land use changes are driven by infrastructure.

The biggest problem is simply that VDOT’s model doesn’t know what to do with short distance trips, which are the exact type of trip that transit-oriented development produces more of. So when a transit or pedestrian project makes it possible for thousands of people to walk two blocks instead of drive five miles, the VDOT model doesn’t always show that as reducing congestion.

Thus, road expansion projects end up looking good, and other things have trouble competing. Transit does OK if it relieves traffic on a major road, but pedestrian or bike projects are almost impossible.

Many other regions are using broader metrics for measuring transportation performance and congestion mitigation, but Northern Virginia can’t because the General Assembly won’t let it.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Plan Philly imagines what an equitable street would look like. Streets.mn says banning banning funds for a passenger rail link between the Twin Cities and Rochester, Minnesota, is short-sighted and counterproductive. And 1000 Friends of Wisconsin says 42,000 miles of the state’s roads are in need of immediate repair.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Brookings Analysis Shows Where Job Access is Improving and Where It’s Eroding
  • Los Angeles’ New Tolled Freeway Lanes Aren’t Priced High Enough (LA Times)
  • First Person on MARTA’s New Service in Clayton County Headed to Job Interview (Clayton News Daily)
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Responds to Onion Spoof (The Hill)
  • Florida Official Says He Was Punished for Using “Climate Change” in a Report (WaPo)
  • IndieWire Reviews the New Documentary “Bikes vs. Cars”
  • Fort Lauderdale Taking a Look at Smart Growth (Sun Sentinel)