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Talking Headways Podcast: New Tactics for Transportation Ballot Measures

This week we’re chatting with Jason Jordan, director of the Center for Transportation Excellence (CFTE) and policy director at the American Planning Association. Jason tells us how CFTE got started and why ballot measures for transportation have been so successful compared to other types of spending. He also describes scenarios where transportation ballot measures tend to do well and those where they tend to fail.

Political action networks opposed to public investments like transit are getting more sophisticated in their opposition to these ballot measures. We discuss how to combat these new networks, often backed by dark money, and how local champions and coalitions can lead to victory.

You’ll also hear about the measures on the docket for 2016, which is shaping up to be one of the busiest cycles ever for transportation ballot measures.

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Talking Headways: Food Culture, Regional Urban Form, and Mall Memories

This week we’re joined by Kristen Jeffers, communications and membership manager for Bike Walk KC and author of The Black Urbanist blog. Kristen tells me how she got started blogging, what got her interested in urbanism, and how she hopes to inspire others.

We get into a discussion about the meaning of equity, and what it means to be a “national” or “global” urbanist. From there we delve into the differences between regions (including food culture), the retail and service needs of people in downtowns and urban places, and how people’s sentimental memories from the places they shop and visit stay with them and shape their connection to place.

Join us for a fun conversation about regional department stores, hair salons, and more!

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Talking Headways: The Year in Transit Expansion With Yonah Freemark

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This week Yonah Freemark is back on the podcast to talk about his annual transit project list. He and Steven Vance of Streetsblog Chicago made a new way to visualize the transit projects in various stages of planning and construction — an interactive, open source map called Transit Explorer, for which he kindly asks for your assistance.

Yonah and I discuss whether subway systems are possible in the future given political and fiscal realities. He points us to Toronto’s transit expansions and goes into how Los Angeles and Seattle are now the big planners and doers in the U.S. We also talk about current trends like the proliferation of streetcar projects and the public-private partnership model used to build several commuter rail lines opening in Denver this year.

In true transit nerd fashion, I ask Yonah to look into future and tell us whether LA and Seattle will vote for transit this year, how the H Street Streetcar will turn out, and whether Austin will finally get over the hump and build rail in the core. Listen in and add your own predictions for the year ahead in the comments.

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Talking Headways Podcast: A Car Free Travel Guide to Los Angeles

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This week we’re joined by Nathan Landau, a transit planner in the Bay Area and author of the travel guide Car Free Los Angeles and Southern California. It’s got great places to eat, theater, live music, and even local book stores. But why write a travel guide that focuses on getting around without a car? And why is a northern California planner writing about the southern part of the state? Listen and find out.

I put the question to Nathan: If he was Anthony Bourdain and had 24 hours in LA, where would he go? The answer might surprise you — it certainly made me want to go take a look at places I hadn’t been before. We also delve into books and movies about LA that folks should read before a trip, and why it is that disaster movies seem to destroy the city over and over again.

So join us for a fun conversation about Los Angeles and learn a few places to go and how to get there on the bus or train.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Carpool Reimagined

podcast icon logoRob Sadow, CEO and co-founder of carpooling app Scoop, joins us this week to talk about how the company got started and what they are trying to achieve.

Why do we need carpooling solutions in cities? Listen in and hear what Rob has to say about the stress and quality of life implications of driving alone, which he notes is one of the few frustrations that crosses over between personal and professional life. Rob gets into the benefits of carpooling for drivers and passengers, as well as how clustered employment improves the ability of people to ride together.

Looking forward, we discuss the shift away from single occupancy vehicles and how transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft will evolve differently than longer-distance carpools.

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Talking Headways Podcast: You Can’t Surf After the Storm

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This week we’re talking about water in cities. It’s a topic that doesn’t get much attention because the infrastructure is mostly underground, but after putting this together I believe thinking about water infrastructure and climate change is more important than ever.

Wastewater and storm water treatment is far behind where it should be in many American cities. In this episode I chat with NRDC water experts Alisa Valderrama and Rob Moore about the dangers of storm water runoff on streets and in flood-prone watersheds. Rob discusses flood data, the national flood insurance program’s propensity for allowing rebuilding in flood-prone areas, and what climate data actually tells us. Alisa talks about the different types of storm water systems in U.S. cities, the desire of economic development directors to make cities proud of their waterways, and green solutions that will save money while also cleaning polluted waterways.

So check it out, and until we get better about greening our water systems make sure you don’t go surfing in San Diego after a storm.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The End of “Planning By Pitchfork” in Houston

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On September 30, Houston passed a new comprehensive plan, more than 14 years in the making, and ceased to be the largest city in the United States without one. Jay Crossley of Houston Tomorrow and Streetsblog Texas joins us this week to discuss Plan Houston and how it allows the city to stop “planning by pitchfork.”

Houston is famously a city without much zoning. Hear Jay’s thoughts about how this works to the city’s advantage, whether locals oppose changes to neighborhoods as vociferously as people in other cities, and how different departments will now coordinate under Plan Houston.

We also discuss how the goals of Plan Houston were shaped, what got left out intentionally, what was jammed in at the last minute, and how it may change in the future.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Most Exhilarating Transit Ride in America

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This week’s guest is Matt Johnson, a bike planner for Montgomery County, Maryland, and a writer at Greater Greater Washington. Instead of visiting every baseball park or trying out each city’s regional cuisine, Matt rides their rail systems. In fact, he’s ridden every American urban rail system open today (101 total), as shown in this handy spreadsheet.

Matt tells us about his favorite systems and what got him started on his journey to ride them all. We also get into the allure of long-distance Amtrak travel and how the annual #NerdTrain — a gathering of GGW contributors and friends aboard Amtrak — got started. And we of course get Matt’s take on several DC transit topics including the streetcar, the walkability problem with Tyson’s Corner, and how transit planners choose alignments for new routes.

So tune in and find out which city is home to “The Most Exhilarating Transit Ride in America.”

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Talking Headways Podcast: Gabe Klein’s Start Up City

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Gabe Klein joins us this week to talk about how to get things done and make big changes to improve city streets and transportation. Gabe has served as the transportation chief of both Chicago and Washington, DC, and prior to his stint in government was an executive with Zipcar (he is also currently on the board of OpenPlans, the organization that publishes Streetsblog USA).

Gabe is out with a new book, Start Up City, about creating change through local government. He shares his insights about the interplay of the public and private sectors, how to push people to overcome a fear of failure, and cutting across the siloes of city departments. Gabe also talks about how he got into transportation, and why Vision Zero is a powerful idea for cities.

All of this and more (including our debate over whether a hot dog is a sandwich) on Talking Headways.

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Live From Dallas: Arts Districts, Carless Bridges, and Electric Light Parades

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This week we’re bringing you our recording from the last weekend in October at the Rail~Volution conference, where we interviewed Catherine Cuellar, director of Entrepreneurs for North Texas and former executive director of the Dallas Arts District, and Dave Unsworth, the director of capital projects at TriMet in Portland, Oregon.

Catherine talks about how Dallas’s strong arts district has evolved and I ask her what it means to be a cultural district. She also looks back to the Deep Ellum’s neighborhood musical heyday, during her time as a music reporter and consumer. I ask her how she got into walking and biking and why living in Los Angeles changed how she views her Dallas home. The “one woman electric light parade,” as she describes herself and her bike, answers questions from the audience on streetcars, bike lanes, and misconceptions of Dallas.

Following Catherine, around the 33:30 mark, is Dave Unsworth, who shares with us his favorite Portland transit project and discusses the new car-free bridge, Tilikum Crossing, a.k.a. The Bridge of the People. We discuss the Lake Oswego Streetcar as well as some of Portland’s innovative green infrastructure.

So join us to talk about Dallas and Portland at Rail~Volution, this week on Talking Headways.