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Talking Headways Podcast: Green Trippin’

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This week Ann Cheng of the California advocacy group Transform joins me to talk about their GreenTRIP program. Ann is a planner and the former mayor of El Cerrito, as well as one of San Francisco Business Times “40 Under Forty” in 2014. On the podcast she discusses how housing developers can build less parking and more housing by giving residents better travel options through GreenTRIP Certification.

If you haven’t heard of GreenTRIP, it’s a certification process that helps developers eschew massively expensive parking spaces in exchange for car trip-reducing alternatives. It’s an awesome program and after hearing more you’ll want to bring it to your town! Especially since they’ve just released GreenTRIP Platinum Certification.

I was super excited to hear about the Garden Village project in Berkeley, which has zero auto parking, a bike fix-it station, free car-share membership, and two bike storage hooks for each of its 77 housing units.

Listen in and let us know what you think in the comments!

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Talking Headways: Mapping Out Local Transportation Advocacy and Reform

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Mariia Zimmerman of MZ Strategies joins me to chat about her new report on local advocacy for transportation reform called Transportation Transformation. Mariia, former deputy director for the Office of Sustainable Communities at HUD as well as former chief of staff to Congressman Earl Blumenauer, spent a year probing the local transportation advocacy landscape to see what issues people are working on and which regions are the most innovative. Her in-depth case studies look at the San Francisco Bay Area and the Washington DC region.

I asked Mariia about which important issues advocates are focused on, the role of peer exchanges in the advocacy landscape, and how local bloggers fit in. We also discussed what the term “capacity building” actually means.

So take a listen and learn what an inside/outside strategy for policy reform is, why advocates focus less at the state level, and advocacy in the SF Bay Area differs from the DC region.

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Talking Headways: Urbanism in the Style of Gangnam

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Guest host Randy Simes, owner of UrbanCincy.com and headlines writer for Streetsblog Ohio, joins me from South Korea to give his thoughts on his current home in the Gangnam district of Seoul and his previous one in Atlanta. We cover Keith Parker’s turnaround of Atlanta’s transit agency MARTA, the Belt Line and the people who won’t leave the cozy boundary it creates, and the best place to get southern hospitality in town.

From there we swerve from a discussion about Al Gore’s $90 trillion plan to remake cities without cars to a chat about America’s crumbling infrastructure. Or splintering. Depends on what material the pipes are made from.

And then we wrap with a celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the Fastracks vote in Denver. We debate regionalism and light rail on freight rights-of-way. The locals might know what Randy means when he mentions Biker Jim.

All that and more on this week’s Talking Headways Podcast.

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Talking Headways: Speeding By Design

podcast icon logoGuest host Tim Halbur, formerly of Planetizen and CNU fame, joins me this week to chat about the process engineers use to designate speed limits, as recently examined by Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. We’re 85 percent sure it’s not good.

We also get into a discussion about Jared Green’s article on whether delivery trucks should be kept in mind when designing complete streets, or if we should redesign trucks to be more human scale.

And finally, Tim gets lost in one of my rambles about how ride hailing isn’t leading to the “disruption” of transit, on the way to talking about the Airbnb-ification of private parking spaces.

As a bonus, you may or may not hear how my college teammates sold parking spaces to fund end-of-the-season parties or how the San Francisco Chinese New Year Treasure Hunt is the best thing ever.

Guess you’ll have to listen in to find out.

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Talking Headways: Tune In and Find Out How You Can Support This Podcast

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In this week’s Talking Headways, Tanya and I discuss Uber’s planned data release, wondering whether it’s a boon to cities or just a clever PR move on the part of a company trying to deal with poor public perception.

Also, why do people think it’s cute when a dog rides transit on its own, but when kids walk by themselves in their own neighborhood, it’s labeled neglect? We discuss parenting and the growth of confidence that comes from going out on your own for the first time.

Finally, we have some news about the future of Talking Headways — while Streetsblog can continue to distribute the podcast, the funding to produce it will have to come from other sources going forward. If you love the show and can’t wait to hear it each week AND are interested in sponsoring it, please get in touch.

You can find Jeff on twitter @theoverheadwire or you can email jswood at theoverheadwire dot com.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Year Ahead in Transit, With Yonah Freemark

Image: Yonah Freemark, ##http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2015/01/05/openings-and-construction-starts-planned-for-2015/##The Transport Politic##

Graphic: Yonah Freemark/The Transport Politic

Think you’re all caught up on the latest transit news? Listening to Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic and Jeff Wood of the Overhead Wire (my lovely co-host) geek out on the transit construction projects of 2014 and 2015 is a humbling, and surprisingly energizing, experience.

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You can prep for this episode by reading Yonah’s seventh annual compendium of “Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2015,” or you can just hit play right now.

You thought the Oakland airport connector was a good idea just because it’s transit? Get schooled. Didn’t know the country was getting its first car-free bridge just for buses/rail/bikes/peds? Learn about it here. Wondering how escalator length affects subway ridership? Yup, you’ll hear it here first, folks.

With that, I present: Yonah and Jeff on the transit starts of 2014 and 2015.

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Talking Headways Podcast: Here I Am, Stuck in Seattle With You

podcast icon logoStuck in Seattle or Stuck in Sherman Oaks. There are so many places to get stuck these days and so many clowns and jokers making it worse.

First, poor Bertha, stuck 100 feet under Seattle. All the tunnel boring machine wanted to do was drill a 1.7-mile tunnel for a highway that won’t even access downtown and is projected to cause more congestion at a higher price than a parallel surface/transit option — and it got stuck just 1,000 feet in. Last December. Now the rescue plan is making downtown sink. It’s not going well. And to be honest, it was always destined to not go well. It was a crappy plan to begin with. Luckily, there is a rescue plan for the rescue plan, if anyone cares to carry it out. It starts with some accountability and ends — spoiler alert! — with pulling the damn plug.

But if the new tunnel to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct is likely to cause traffic tie-ups, it’s nothing compared to the perennial jam on LA’s I-405. The popular navigation app Waze has started directing drivers off the freeway and into the residential neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, infuriating the people who live there. Their solution: Try to convince Waze there are traffic jams in Sherman Oaks too. Our solution: Build a better transportation system.

And that’s it! This is our last podcast until the New Year. You can catch up on anything you missed on iTunes or Stitcher, and if you follow our RSS feed (or our Twitter feeds) you’ll be the first to know when a new episode is out.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Trails!

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Talking Headways: Level of Disservice

podcast icon logoIn California, whether you’re building an office tower or a new transit line, you’re going to run up against the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law determines how much environmental analysis you need to do for new projects. But sadly, in practice it’s better at propagating car-oriented development than improving the quality of the environment.

That’s because instead of looking at a project’s effect on the environment, CEQA looks mostly at its effect on traffic. And the measures CEQA uses to determine traffic impacts focus on individual intersections, instead of the region as a whole. As a result, they end up penalizing urban infill development and transit projects while promoting sprawl and road expansion.

Here’s the good news: The core traffic metric embedded in CEQA, known as Level of Service (LOS), is set to be overhauled in California. Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed into law SB743. One thing that bill does is allow the Sacramento Kings to build a new stadium. But the other thing it does is allow for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to come up with a new metric to replace LOS — a very hot topic on Streetsblog.

This week’s Talking Headways is a special one-hour episode all about how LOS works against sustainable development patterns and what is being done to change it.

Jeff produced this podcast for the NRDC Urban Solutions Program. Guests include Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard, Amanda Eaken of NRDC, and Chris Ganson of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Hope you enjoy it.

Catch us on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed. And we’ll see you on Twitter.

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Talking Headways Podcast: I’m Not a Scientist

podcast icon logoDo you ever think about the ecology of the city you live in? Not just the parks and the smog. Scientists are starting to examine urban ecosystems more holistically: the trees and the concrete, natural gas lines and soil, water pipes and rivers. The natural and the synthetic feed off each other in surprising ways. We’re not scientists, but we found it interesting.

Then we move from the ecosystem to the highway system — specifically, the argument made by Evan Jenkins in The Week to abolish the National Highway System. Chuck Marohn at Strong Towns thinks it’s a good idea. Jeff and I aren’t so sure. Could rail really pick up the slack? Would states make better decisions? What funding source would replace the federal gas tax?

Enjoy this, our 42nd episode of Talking Headways. Find us on the Twitters already. And oh yeah, also on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.

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Talking Headways: You’ve Got to Fight for Your Right to Party Politics

podcast icon logoHas the stupor worn off yet? Election Day was last Tuesday, and we’ll be living with the results for years. But Beth Osborne, a former Hill staffer and U.S. DOT official now at Transportation for America, says the changes on the Hill are no big deal: Nothing was getting done anyway.

So Beth, Jeff, and I examine the prospects for a new transportation bill. The next bill is due in May, and a Republican House and a Republican Senate will draft it. Will lawmakers suggest that the Highway Trust Fund should just be used for highways? Of course they will! But the conversation won’t end there.

Does a long-term bill have a shot in this Congress? Even short-term extensions of the current transportation bill aren’t as easy as they used to be, but that could actually make the politics of a long-term bill a little easier to manage. And while some people blame the end of earmarks for the difficulty passing a bill (you can’t buy votes with pork anymore), Beth makes the point that you can’t very well turn a transportation bill into a Christmas tree for every member of Congress when there’s absolutely no money.

We don’t have a crystal ball, but here’s everything you need to know to make an educated guess about how the next six months will play out — this, and our coverage of the ballot initiatives, governors’ races, Senate leadership shakeup, and the new top transportation Democrat in the House.

Do you subscribe to this podcast yet? You’ve got three choices: iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.