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Talking Headways Podcast: Moneyball for Transit

Laurel Paget-Seekins joins the podcast this week to talk about her days as a transit activist in Atlanta, what Santiago, Chile, taught her about transit networks, and her current work on data collection and dissemination as the director of strategic initiatives at the MBTA in Boston.

We discuss the MBTA’s data blog and dashboard, how the agency collects information, and the way it makes data available for people outside the agency to use it. Laurel is also the co-editor, along with Juan Carlos Munoz, of the recently published Restructuring Public Transport through Bus Rapid Transit. She shares her thoughts on BRT and its role in urban transportation networks.

It’s a can’t-miss episode for all you transit lovers out there.

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Talking Headways Episode 100: Moving Sidewalks With Tanya Snyder

Tanya Snyder returns to the podcast this week for a milestone: the 100th episode of Talking Headways. In addition to some reminiscing, we gaze into the future to assess Isaac Asimov’s dream of moving sidewalks. We also discuss the DC Metro and the maintenance problems that have led to talk of a looming shutdown. And in the third and final act we consider how moving to a new location can shape your transportation decisions.

So listen in as we pass the century mark this week on Talking Headways.

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Talking Headways Podcast: It Costs More to Drive Til You Qualify

The topic this week is housing affordability and transit, with guests Shima Hamidi, Reid Ewing, and John Renne. They discuss their recent paper in the journal Housing Policy Debate, “How Affordable is HUD Affordable Housing?” As it turns out, a lot of HUD rental assistance is spent in areas with high transportation costs. We talk about the impetus for the study and how they designed it.

So where should people live to keep their household transportation costs affordable? We explore that question and more, previewing upcoming research on transit-oriented parking standards, commercial rents near transit during the last recession, and tech innovation’s relationship to urban form.

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Talking Headways Podcast: A Shared Space Revolution

On the podcast this week is Robert Ping, executive director of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, who tells us about Pittsburgh’s plans for the largest shared space in an American city.

Robert also discusses why it’s so important to get public officials from different agencies in the same room together to talk about improving conditions for walking and biking. And we wonder why parents are being threatened with arrest just for walking their kids to school, and how getting driven around affects kids’ perceptions of where they live compared to walking.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The City Is a Painting You Walk Into

This week I’m joined by James Rojas of Place It! to talk about art in planning and Latino urbanism. James is an award-winning planner and a native Angeleno, and he tells us about how growing up in East LA and visiting his grandmother’s house shaped the way he thinks about urban spaces and design.

Tune in and hear James discuss the importance of plazas to Latino culture and the history behind them, how people understand place, and why the public planning process works better when you start by tapping into people’s childhoods rather than treating it purely as a problem solving exercise. Enjoy!

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Essential Link Between Transit and Land Use

Think land use is none of a transit agency’s business? Think again. Transit routes serving sprawled-out areas draw fewer riders and cost more to operate than routes serving compact, walkable development.

This week, Brian McMahon and GB Arrington join me to talk about our excellent new report, Linking Transit Agencies and Land Use Decision Making. This is a research report the three of us and a cadre of other researchers recently completed for the Transit Cooperative Research Program (part of the Transportation Research Board).

Even though transit agencies don’t usually control growth and development, land use matters to them, Brian says, and this report can help transit agencies make meaningful contributions to land use decisions. The report includes a tool that transit agencies can use to determine how they can step into the land use planning process and shape it to work well for transit, GB explains.

We talk about success stories from New Jersey Transit, Pace Bus, Cleveland (along the Euclid Avenue BRT), and Portland (the Pearl District), and how developers can be encouraged to build transit-supportive places instead of auto-oriented sprawl. Transit agencies can do this by setting expectations early on, before the planning process gets into the stage of developing individual sites, by which point mistakes are usually too late to change.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Biking and Walking Trends, Benchmarked

Christy Kwan, interim director of the Alliance for Biking and Walking, joins us this week to talk about the alliance’s bi-annual national Benchmarking Report. It’s full of great information and Christy shares how local activists might put it to good use in their communities (and why they might not want their cities to score too well in the rankings).

Among the trends we discuss: the decline in public health according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control, and rising cycling fatalities among senior citizens. We also get into the data collection methods available now and in the future to measure walking and biking.

Christy wraps up with a look at the prospects for walking and biking in some cities, like Atlanta, that might surprise you with their awesome programs. So download the report and see where your city ranks as you listen along.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Measuring Walkability on the Wasatch Front

Muriel Xochimitl, Jon Larsen, and Callie New of the Wasatch Front Regional Council in Utah join the podcast this week to talk about their new interactive story map tool measuring urban street design.

The Wasatch Front Regional Council is the planning agency for the Salt Lake City region. The data-rich map incorporates the walkability research of Reid Ewing and Otto Clement at the University of Utah. My three guests hope the map tool will become a standard way to assess the region’s streets.

Listen in and hear how they developed the walkability tool, why they chose the streets they did, all the intern hours that went into collecting data, and their aspirations for how people will use it.

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Talking Headways Podcast: 100 Years of Cincinnati’s Incomplete Subway

Jake Mecklenborg, a contributor to Streetsblog Network member Urban Cincy and author of Cincinnati’s Incomplete Subway: The Complete History, joins us this week to talk about Cincinnati’s geography, how a subway would be useful, and why there were numerous attempts to build one.

Tune in and learn about the world events that kept pushing back the construction timeline of the subway, and the politics of stopping it. Some parts of the line still exist today, and Jake tells us what’s in store for it in the future.

Join us for a tour through history on the hundredth anniversary of the unfinished Cincinnati subway.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Indian Transportation Context

This week I’m chatting with Akshay Mani, a sustainable transportation planner who has worked for Cambridge Systematics in the United States and the World Resources Institute’s EMBARQ program in India. Akshay joined us from Chennai to talk about transportation and the growth of Indian cities.

We discuss India’s rapid urbanization and the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, a $20 billion government program for city infrastructure and needed reforms, which ended in 2014. Some of the money went toward roadway flyovers and other car infrastructure, going against India’s National Urban Transport Policy that is supposed to prioritize the movement of people above the movement of vehicles.

India is seeing the effects of sprawl and increased automobile usage, and in the last segment Akshay shares three reforms that would be game changers for the nation as a whole. You won’t want to miss them.