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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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Talking Headways Podcast: They Took Our Jobs… Downtown!

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This week on the Talking Headways Podcast I’m joined by Joe Cortright of City Observatory to nerd out on employment data and discuss their most recent report, Surging City Center Job Growth. We learn how employment cores for many cities are growing and why this looks like a long-term shift.

Joe also talks about how they measured urban cores, the use of my favorite data tool — On the Map, which includes LEHD job data from the census — and findings from before and after the Great Recession.

Finally, I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about the transportation impacts of this growth in central city employment. We find out how radial roads affect sprawl and growth, and we look back at some of Joe’s reports that skewer the annual Texas Transportation Institute congestion reports. For the finale, we share opinions about self-driving cars and buses.

Take a listen during your short or long commute.

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Talking Headways Podcast: The Peking Order

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This week on the podcast I’m joined by Dr. Mariela Alfonzo to discuss her recent paper, “Walkability, Obesity and Urban Design in Chinese Neighborhoods,” in the journal Preventive Medicine. The findings on both cycling and obesity might surprise you.

We also discuss how policy change works in Chinese cities and how much power mayors have to make those changes, as well as what motivates them. Perhaps my favorite topic was the Peking Order, or the level of importance assigned to each mode of transportation. Surprisingly, buses are first, but not for the reasons you would think. Join us as we travel east on this week’s Talking Headways.

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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!