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    Ott Toomet

    Probably stating the obvious… but the “safe routes for biking and walking” must be a) reasonably direct; and b) connect the places where people want to get.



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    Sine Metu

    Amen. I’m not quite boomer (mid 40s) but I’m the only one among my friends that doesn’t drive. I have had no luck converting any of them but I have had luck with two millenials at work, one of which is selling her car at the end of June.

    Boomers and even Gen Xers are too saddled with fear, apathy and sloth to be converted but there is definitely hope and a paradigm shift is happening, in spite of hostile, privileged and entitled resistance from our depressingly fearful generations.



    It’s baffling.

    One of my SoCal boomer school buddies just empty nested from a 2,100 sqft house 1/2 mile from the beach in a 80% walkable 1940s beach town to a 3,500 sqft house in a 1990s ‘community’ where the nearest store is a Five Mile Drive away.

    five miles to get milk



    removing all subsidies for mass motoring would reduce VMT by 1/2.



    I mean, you can buy a motorcycle, can-am, or cargo bike right now (just gas powered), for pretty cheap. And yet, people buy far more expensive cars, for reasons ranging from safety, to comfort, to weather protection.

    Would having electric versions of these vehicles change that calculus? I doubt it. People will still mostly want the safety and convenience of a car (electric or otherwise).



    Bear in mind this kind of scaremongering works.


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    Bernard Finucane

    Legalizing corner stores in suburbs would actually be a huge step in making this happening. It’s bizarre that commerce is banned is such huge areas in America.



    Like a few miles of downtown streetcar line are going to devastate the motor vehicle industry? What was this writer smoking? As I see it, when Henry Ford’s factories started cranking out Model Ts by the trainload in 1915, the electric streetcar business was doomed. It took a number of decades, but giving every Tom, Dick and Harriet their own wheels meant that by 1965, only in special situations, such as tracks in tunnels, would streetcars survive.


    Elias Zamaria

    What does this have to do with the things mentioned in the article? The only thing that even vaguely resembles being “jammed into high rises” is the walkable development, and that can probably be done with gardens and privacy if so much space is not used for car infrastructure. And no one will be forced into it. Anyone who doesn’t like it can find plenty of relatively cheap suburban houses to live in.

    Is this really going to make life “no longer worth living”, any more than the alternative of driving and producing lots of greenhouse gases?



    Yesterday, the State of California held its Cap & Trade Carbon auction. Jerry Brown had expected to sell $500 million worth of carbon credits, with lots of the proceeds to be spent on HSR and transit projects. They only sold $10 mil, or about 2% of what was expected. Cap & trade is seen as stumbling, and there is the chance it will not be renewed in 2020.


    Kevin Love

    Remind me just how GM and Chrysler actually went bankrupt… and were bailed out by the hard-working taxpayers. For Chrysler, this was the second time.

    And now it is a streetcar line that is going to cause these companies to go bankrupt?

    Earth to conspiracy theorists: These companies have a proven capability of going bankrupt all on their own.


    Kevin Love

    New York, Chicago, etc. are not in America? Then what country are they in?


    Kevin Love

    President Bill Clinton ran a budget surplus. That is what REAL fiscal conservatives do.


    Karen Lynn Allen

    To the above, I would just add that electric scooters, electric adult trikes and electric cargo bikes can replace current cars in many cases better than electric cars can. As it is, many, many people want to live car-free or car-light in a walkable neighborhood connected to downtown by transit but can’t because not nearly enough housing in this type of area exists. The density required for a walkable neighborhood is not that of Hong Kong or Manhattan, more like a typical neighborhood in San Francisco with a mix of single family, duplexes, and four-story apartment buildings. (I can assure you such density is very pleasant to live in.)

    Obviously, San Francisco and New York cannot begin to accommodate tens of millions of additional people. Other cities, big and small, need to step up to the plate and create walkable neighborhoods, either by repairing their urban fabric or by creating walkable nodes even in the midst of sprawl. Much can be accomplished simply by replacing space-hogging auto infrastructure (surface parking lots, auto repair shops, auto dealerships, car washes, gas stations) with housing over ground floor retail with no parking minimums (except bike parking and maybe a carshare space or two.)

    We need to make it as easy as possible for people who want to live a healthy, active, non-planetary-destructive way of life to do so while ceasing to subsidize those wedded to sedentary, polluting, car-based lifestyles. Best to focus on the young. Boomers who won’t give up their car keys until they’re wrenched from their cold dead hands aren’t worth worry about or trying to convert. They’ll be dying off pretty quickly over the next decade anyway. (Note: I am a tail-end Boomer.)


    Shane Phillips




    Robocars will solve all our problems.



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    Nope, you’re completely wrong. It’s off to the Soylent Green plant, not the crematorium. Can’t waste those bodies when there’s money to be made from them!



    Can you imagine being jammed into high rises in a congested city no gardens no privacy it will not work in America. Electric cars still need to plug them in the grid would not be able to handle the increase in electricity. When life is no longer worth living why bother.



    That dudebro at Forbes couldn’t actually find a subject matter expert to support his preconceptions? Even an anti-rail ideologue, with at least some credible urban planning bona fides, like Enrique Penalosa? Even the not-so-dogmatic Jarrett Walker is critical of surface rail, if not adamantly opposed to it. Nope, gotta parrot the most unassailably bogus voices in the business. Again:

    But it doesn’t seem to do any of this, a conclusion drawn by numerous analysts, most notably Randal O’Toole. For decades, he has written in books, blogs, and as a Cato Institute analyst about the fool’s errands of cities trying to reorient themselves around rail. They spend billions on building and maintaining systems, only to find that their cities largely function as they had before, via car use and fragmented development patterns.

    But hey, let’s just go on completely ignoring most of those light rail networks are moving people more cheaply than the buses they supposedly replace (supplement/augment, really, if we can get past the silly Randroidish notion that everything is a competition).



    Well, 20k riders doesn’t seem so bad on ~8 miles of track.



    No need for death panels. The cut off is 70, full stop. Then it’s off to the crematorium. This plan is going to save so much money!



    What about those over 70 who CAN’T drive anymore? Do these people want them to be housebound? This is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever heard — and I am someone who loves to drive and HATES public transportation (easy to do in Cleveland, Ohio) and bicycles. Walking is great though.



    LMAO That would have been great. Still, the low-attendance disappointment on Pollack’s face was enough. The Barr Foundation really knows how to pick “winners”, the already dead BRT Boston junk, the Wormser junk, and now the Pollack junk. If I was on their board, I would fire the entire transport team



    Waitaminute! There’s lot of us past our mid-70’s who still ride a bike! It’s easier than driving and finding parking, or walking.


    Frank Kotter

    They forgot to somehow include ‘death panel’.



    Yes, Portland’s LRT is MAX, but Portland Streetcar has two lines: the 3.9-mile (6.3 km) NS Line that opened in 2001 and the 3.3 -Loop Service, which opened in September 2012. The two-route system serves some 20,000 daily riders.


    Andrew Barash

    Good video. What seems to have been lost over time is the fact that people wanted highways before they were built, and demanded the government find a way to fund them. The initial US highway system was dangerous, and people spent hours commuting, and there so many traffic fatalities that the public demanded change. What grew into the interstate system was a response to those conditions. To simplify it as some totally external cadre of auto manufactures and highway contractors conveniently removes the strong public and political support at the time to build the system.
    The timing also seems to get blurred. The notion that the highways were built, and then the suburbs popped up is incorrect. The surburbs really began after WW II, when returning soldiers started young families. Once that happened, the old US system strained to accommodate the new demand, which fueled momentum for new highways.
    Those new highways would correct the problems of the US system, in removing access (driveways, intersections), and improving geometry). When the Interstate system finally came on line in the 1960’s, it was estimated that it saved 5000 lives in its first year due to these safety improvements.
    The challenge (and what this video focuses on) was how the interstate system would work once it arrived at a major city.
    Some felt that the interstate system should focus on regional/national City to City transport, but studies clearly showed that the majority of traffic was actually happening from the Cities outer ring to its inner core. Because of this, and the cost of the proposed interstate system, states and the Federal government felt that to make the huge cost worthwhile, the system needed to accommodate the most traffic.
    The cost was a huge factor. It was the biggest infrastructure project the world has ever seen. When it came time to design for the City alignments, cost had a huge role in determining where the route would go. Engineers were told to find the cheapest routes, and unfortunately in built-up cities, that meant disadvantaged areas or wetlands (referred to back then as “slums”, or “swamps”). Coupled back then with an insensitivity by local leaders to those areas, and a want for “urban renewal” meant that the freeways were routed through those areas.
    And in Cities, the freeways made true to their promise of moving traffic. Huge numbers of vehicles pass through the core of all the US major cities.
    But, all that mobility and safety provided by the interstate system has had a staggering cost and impact on the adjacent and surrounding urban areas. The freeways have created huge divides or “scars” in our urban areas. The have cut off and divided communities, and don’t support (or are hostile to) pedestrian and bike modes.
    Cities are still working today to reconcile what the interstate systems have done. Some cities are tearing down redundant, or damaged connections, and rebuilding those areas. Others have built lids over the freeways to reconnect neighborhoods.



    Yet, go to Italy (You could say Japan too!) and the elderly are out and about, buying groceries at the market, strolling to the neighborhood cafe, and other “active” things.

    Car reliance is deeply rooted in American society, I’m sad to say.


    John Riecke



    Laurence Aurbach

    Please see the plan document I linked in my previous post. It recommends freight distribution centers be set up on the traffic streets. Freight would be unloaded and transferred to small electric delivery vehicles, especially electric cargo bikes. The current freight system may work fine today, but in the future the traffic streets may experience increased heavy truck traffic and truck loading operations.

    The U.S. model of traffic arterials is a poor one for Barcelona to emulate. They are the most dangerous roadways ( ) and the most unpleasant for pedestrians and residents, with excessive noise and pollution. The traffic death rate in New York City (one of the safest cities in the US) is about 39 per million people; in Barcelona it is about 19 per million.



    I’m still stunned that I see that logic used over and over and over….without a hint of irony.


    David Johnson

    They’re even crazier in person.



    A good but somewhat overgeneralized video, that could have asked why there was not a greater use of lightly developed railroad-industrial corridors, rather than the cutting of all new swaths.

    Also, it erroneously stated, while showing a graphic of the Lower Manhattan Expressway, that a highway was to go through Greenwich Village, when in fact the LME was further south, through SoHo, in a new swath along the north side of Broome Street..



    “One thing I saw missing was the crematorium where they will send those of us over 70 who can no longer get to the streetcar or walk or bike everywhere.”

    No, you’re right. People over 70 who can’t walk, bike, or get to the streetcar safely should DEFINITELY drive 4,000lb cars. SMH.



    Would be great if the Mass State Troopers crashed Northeastern’s Curry Center and arrested Pollack on the spot.



    This would make for a wonderful PPT or Keynote counter against Stephanie. On that note, Pollack is Screamin’ again tonight at Northeastern at yet another forced symposium. Get ready for these gems: Its not about planning transportation, its about framing transportation; It’s not about moving people, its about moving ideas. Its not about the transit system, its about the people. Ugh, so much filler BS, so little time. Apologies to anyone being forced to attend tonight



    Great Lakes and industrial northeast needs to rediscover urbanism. Upstate New York Suburban Sprawl Lobby rather stick to an antiquated formula for development that harken from the late 20th century of endless urban sprawl while downtowns became grossly underused thanks to the endless needs to park those personal automobiles that eliminated buildings and structures that made for a coherent city. Those coastal cities couldn’t fully abandoned urbanism versus the Rust Belt region is still trying to emulate the growth of a Sun-Belt City despite two different regions with different histories in development. Rust Belt cities can’t do both, invest in transit and freeways thus cities have to choose to build and environment for the pedestrian or just another shrine to the automobile.

    Rediscover urbanism.



    regarding Security theater on Antrack. it’s just a scam to increase their budget. taking the train from Baltimore BWI to NYC is already an ordeal because of the dipshit security theater. Now these incompetant clowns want to make it even worse ?

    In Europe, one can pay cash to buy a one way train ticket that crosses a half dozen borders with no security louts treating you like a wanton criminal.




    Sebastian Baptiste Huydts

    In pedestrian areas of Barcelona, trucks are allowed with the right permits and at certain hours for loading/off-loading. This works just fine. Also, don’t forget that transport to and from these places will still be possible, just not with a private automobile operating at 20% capacity.


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    Interesting that there is no mention in here that many of these streetcar lines were sold by Charlie Hales, outgoing mayor of Portland. He made a ten or 15 year career out of this, but it’s not clear how much of the original Portland line was his idea, more like Shiels and Obletz, the private planning firm that then got hired to build and run it.



    I would love it if the Superblock concept was adopted for the project towers of NYC. Those buildings are bad to look at and an ineffective use of space.



    “Even better would be if Rust Belt cities were to regain their economic
    dynamism and quality of life, providing a viable option for people
    priced out of places like Brooklyn or San Francisco…that which
    appears “impossible” at a given moment really does happen.”

    Please. I grew up in Buffalo, NY and watched the city and area die a slow death from the late 60s until 1994 when I escaped. Its economic dynamism was centered on steel production and manufacturing. Once production was sent overseas plants closed and workers lost their jobs. Meanwhile, downtown Buffalo dried up as people fled the city to Amherst, Clarence and the Southtowns. Light rail opened in 1984, but the damage had been done. Retailers closed and people stayed away.

    However, there are glimmers of hope on the horizon. Biotech is becoming big, but the area still has problems attracting young professionals as the median age inches up every year. Buffalo, like many of its rust belt counterparts, are hardly viable options for people priced out of Brooklyn, SF, Boston, etc. because there just aren’t enough high-paying, white collar jobs to attract them. Sure, the cost of living is cheaper, but few people can transfer their Silicon Valley salaries to Detroit. It’s cheaper for a reason.



    It’s not just energy. Many of the rust belt cities derive much of their drinking water from surface sources that are regularly replenished by rain or snow, not from groundwater sources that once depleted, will not refill for generations.



    It’s very unfair to say that ASCE is focused solely on highway growth. Specifically, Angie missed the remainder of the quoted statement – “a failure to significantly invest in capacity growth” – with the remainder of the sentence, “across all modes of transportation”. Most of the infrastructure report is devoted to water, electricity, and ports (sea and air) with surface transportation just one of the components.

    ASCE has for the past few years been clear in its support of Complete Streets –—complete-streets/ – public transportation –—public-transportation/ – and bicycle facilities –—incorporating-bicycle-facilities-into-transporation-planning-and-design/ . While this may have not been the case years ago, civil engineers are recognizing the impact that unsustainable infrastructure has on the economy and environment, and through initiatives like the ASCE Grand Challenge ( are innovating for solutions that will be fiscally and environmentally sustainable for decades to come.



    I second the unqualified Stephanie Pollack note. There will always be rich kid appointments in every political office, but Pollack takes the cake. She’s a 50-year old rich kid appointment, hence the Toodler-esque screaming and tantrums.