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    Jake Wegmann

    Maybe it won’t happen, particularly since it was sold as a pro-business, get-the-government-off-my-back deregulation strategy. (As, quite frankly, it should be.)



    People colloquially use “city” and “town” to mean “big place” and “small place,” respectively.

    Port Jervis, New York, population 8,828, is a city. The Town of Huntington, on Long Island, has a population of 203,264. Would it be “condescending” if Streetsblog wrote about Port Jervis and referred to it as a town?

    What makes something “actually [a] city”?


    Alexander Vucelic

    The San Diego $200 Billion Plan is a good read for any advocate. The compromises and struggles are evident. Mass Motoring has been lavishly subsidized for too long to change overnight. The change in at least in the right direction.

    estimated per capita driving of 23 daily miles in 2050 !

    Never happen.

    US Boomers will be mostly gone. Millennials will be in charge. They don’t drive nearly as much. Even Millennials who are forced to own cars drive less than 20 daily miles today.



    Some larger denser cities have parking meters in their core. When you look at most parking in the city, 99.9999% is still free. We’re talking malls, residential streets, etc. Most new developments are still in these area’s and subject to parking minimums. And this is exactly where you find this situation. This is my point, all parking should have a cost. If that cost can’t be high enough through market rates to pay for construction of the parking, it shouldn’t be built.



    Be nice to see San Francisco do more of these pop-up demonstrations like these other cities have


    Joe R.

    The battery argument will only be true so long as we use lithium-based batteries. There is R&D and planned production for cells based on more common materials like carbon ( ). If this research pans out, the price of batteries should fall dramatically.



    It’s possible to overcome NIMBYism if your municipality is geographically large enough. Can’t do a damn thing with Beverly Hills, an enclave of NIMBYS where nobody who wants more housing will ever be able to live there — but in a city with reasonable borders, a bunch of the people who want more housing will actually be living in the city and able to vote.



    Well, most people would say that the primary reason EVs have a higher initial cost is the cost of the batteries. But it is true that that is high *partly* because they’re made in smaller numbers.

    Even with the Gigafactory, though, I still expect that there will be a “battery price premium” embedded in electric cars.

    If made in the same numbers as gas cars, I’m not sure electric cars would cost less upfront (because of the battery), but I’m sure they’d have lower Total Cost of Ownership over 5 years.



    FWIW, electric cars are MUCH more reliable than gasoline cars. And of course they’re much cheaper to operate, even at current gas prices.

    The main obstacle to electric cars is the high upfront price. Almost all of that is due to the cost of the battery. (This is one reason why hybrid designs are taking over so quickly, with electric motors powered by a gasoline generator — without the battery costs they can stay fairly cheap, while having most of the benefits of electric driving.)

    Because of the high upfront price, the people who see the most benefit from conversion are those who drive large numbers of miles (but can afford the extra time to charge). City bus purchases have been very conservative, but I expect city buses to go electric very, very fast once the “oh, it’s new” factor wears off.



    That’s… quite complicated to research. It’s probably most of the roads. In my area, there’s a list of federal-aid highways (which includes most of the numbered state highways and some random roads as well), and an even *longer* list of state-aid highways which includes nearly everything except some of the side streets.

    The state of NY, however, has basically copied the FHWA regulations, so in effect they apply to the state-aid highways as well as to the federal-aid highways. Once FHWA relaxes their rules, the state will probably relax their rules.



    You did NOT read the new regulations carefully. Please do so!

    — First of all, the “85%” rule is a California-specific problem, and you need to fix it in the California legislature.. In the rest of the country, we are allowed to design city streets to be slower.
    — Second, the lack of clearance from obstructions *slows drivers down*. This is documented by many, many, many studies. If drivers feel “closed in”, they slow down — if it looks wide open, they speed.

    The FHWA regulations have been requiring super-wide “wide open” roads which has been encouraging speeding. This has happened on three separate projects in four municipalities in my area; one project was cancelled entirely due to failure to deal with the FHWA regulations and NY State’s copying those regulations, one was funded locally with the road delisted from state and national aid lists to avoid the FHWA and state regulations, and one ended up being overly wide and dangerous. THIS HAS TO STOP, it’s killing people, and the new regulations will help stop it.

    — Third, the bridge width regulation was removed, but the shoulder and lane width regulations remained in place (for fast roads), which determines the width of the bridge anyway; this was a matter of redundancy. For slow streets, what you are looking for is not a shoulder, but a Complete Streets sidewalk requirement.

    — Finally, you’re actually wrong about the ADA rules on sidewalks; it only allows them to share the grade of the adjacent road if it isn’t practical to make them meet the standards. So failing to meet the grade standard for ADA sidewalks would require justification.



    This is HUGE. After reading the proposed changes, I sent in my comments strongly in favor.



    When a legislative provision is inserted in a large omnibus bill by unknown members of the legislature at a very late stage and never openly debated, YES IT IS A SNEAK ATTACK. It is NOT “considered action” in any way shape or form.

    So shut up with your lies. It would be quite different if the legislative record had been different. It’s quite clear that the majority of the assembly never even realized that this provision was in the bill.

    If this had been openly presented, discussed, and debated, and then passed, I would have been disappointed, but it would have been the will of the people. As it is, it’s smoke-filled-backroom shenanigans.



    I’ve found that on the whole, Republicans at the state and federal level are *all about* running roughshod over local governments and denying people the right to make local decisions. Given their rhetoric, it’s colored my view that they’re a bunch of hypocrites.



    Those studies are such garbage. The square feet of commercial space is not, in any way, proportional to the number of cars parked at a store, because it’s not proportional to the number of customers or how long they stay. I’ve seen holes in the wall that needed a lot of parking and huge warehouses which needed next to none.



    Most older cities HAVE parking meters. Honestly, this should be expected. If street parking isn’t metered, you have a big problem. The only places it’s not worth metering are places where there’s a gross excess of it in the first place.



    There should probably be a campaign to get rid of the commercial parking minimums, of the “why should our businesses subsidize residents of housing complexes parking in their lots” variety.

    The introduction of residential parking minimums is always, always, always, always due to existing residents parking on the street and acting as if they own the street parking. Until something is done about that one way or the other (either putting expensive meters on the street parking or *actually* giving the residents property rights to the street parking, complete with the associated increase in assessed value and property tax) you’ll continue to get demands for destructively high residential parking minimums.

    In parts of Chicago with metered street parking where you can sell or rent an off-street parking space *separately* from the housing which it’s attached to, the housing has gravitated towards much lower numbers of parking spaces, but they still build a fair amount of parking ’cause it’s profitable. This seems like a reasonable balance.



    It’s absolutely true that commercial business will, on its own, build the amount of parking they think they need. The same is not always true of residential developers (there’s a landlord/tenant conflict here), which is why the residential situation is thornier.


    David Marcus

    If there’s anything more depressing than the ubiquity of parking minimums, it’s seeing them reintroduced. It shows that it’s not just planners that are the issue.


    Ryan Brady

    Leasing a Honda Fit for about $150 a month (solely to transport my dog since he’s not allowed on transit). It seemed like a pretty reasonable expense.


    Bjorn Swenson

    That’s new!

    There was a student housing complex in the “TOD” district that took advantage of the no-minimums rule to build roughly 800 beds with 200 parking spaces; the adjacent single-family neighborhood residents loudly complained, leading to the creation of residential parking minimums. I was unaware until now that commercial parking minimums were implemented.

    The Web Archive shows that parking minimums did not exist until this year.


    Andy Wulf

    Exhibit A re: condescension.


    David Marcus

    Are you sure? This is a page which outlines parking minimums in Fort Collins, including for commercial properties:


    Tricia Kovacs

    Wait a minute. Do you seriously think this is a good thing for cyclists, pedestrians and people with disabilities? No shoulders on bridges required, no limit to grade (don’t tell me you’ve never been passed on a hill when you can’t see oncoming traffic and the ADA allows sidewalks to have the same grade as adjacent roads), and no clearance from obstructiions (signposts, trees and all the other street furniture you find on urban streets). This is not a good thing! Drop the warrants for traffic signals or speed limits, now that would make streets safer! We’ve got block after block of arterials with no signal and can’t lower speed limits until over 85% of drivers go the lower speed limit!



    Bike lanes are a big part of this ‘improvement’.


    Joe R.

    73,580 barely qualifies as a neighborhood in the eyes of most NYers.


    Bjorn Swenson

    Fayetteville isn’t the first city to eliminate commercial parking minimums. Fort Collins, Colorado, eliminated commercial parking minimums citywide in the 80s. The effect has been lots sized for peak daily demand, not peak yearly demand.


    David Marcus

    The revolution begins!


    David Marcus

    Population is 73,580. For us coastals, that probably doesn’t qualify as a city. But I get that, as the third-biggest city in Arkansas, it’s probably much more of a regional hub than a similar-sized place would be in the New York area.



    There is a problem with this, and its twofold. First, drivers have the impression/belief whatever that they’re entitled to free parking. As a result, we get the second part of the problem, developers can now build insufficient parking and rely on people parking (often illegally) on free city property, side streets, etc. for parking. The real solution is to price parking, *all parking* in the city, so that people pay what the parking is worth on the market, and parking is build sustainable. If the price of parking goes high, people will choose other means of getting to their destinations. Just eliminating parking minimums, I believe is only part of the story.



    Great news, but your headline really irritates me. Fayetteville is a city, not a town. It might be nice if Streetsblog would realize that there are places away from the coasts that are actually cities. Sometimes, Streetsblog’s writers come across as really condescending.



    And speaking of the devil…more updates as of today on the continuing demise of LOS in California!



    What say the developers lenders, and commercial tenants? They’re both up to their eyeballs in ITE parking engineering studies calling for X spots for every Y square foot of commercial space.



    This and California’s recent overhaul of LOS requirements under CEQA would likely make the redo of Van Ness a faster process were it to start today.

    As for hope for Van Ness, the planning and approvals are all said and done. Construction is set to begin next year. Overview here:



    How long before the state legislature steps in and passes a statewide minimum parking requirement? I joke, but that seems to be the go-to strategy whenever a Southern city does something even vaguely pro-urban or progressive these days.



    I’m skeptical that we’ll see any type of densification of most urban environments. NIMBYism will head most of this off. Fuel prices may provide a “floor” to how un-dense future development becomes, but NIMBYism will certainly provide a “ceiling” as to how dense it becomes. Case in point, Boulder, CO.


    R.A. Stewart

    Herbert S. White, dean emeritus of Indiana University’s library school, used to have a column in American Libraries in which he remarked more than once that organizations always find money to do what they really want to do. (The context was the long tradition in most universities and local governments to cry poor when it came to funding their libraries. Anyone surprised?) I often have occasion to think of that observation, especially when we talk about governments being broke in what is arguably still, in the aggregate, the richest nation on Earth.

    Now when you bring up the true cost of far-edge building and living, you’re preaching to the choir as far as I’m concerned, or at least to the oldest member of the bass section. Suburban sprawl, especially the exurban explosion of the last twenty or thirty years, has been a disastrous waste of resources and is unsustainable by any rational standard. But then, so is maintaining a military budget larger than the next seven countries combined (down from the next ten, though, according to!), perpetuating a large and permanent underclass in a wealthy country, or having one of the highest rates of gun violence in the world for decades without even attempting to find solutions. But we do all those things, and will continue doing them, because at some level they are things we, as a country, want to do. (Presumably not most of us here, but then we’re such a tiny minority that we’d hardly be calling the shots even if our country were still a democracy.)

    Similarly, I don’t think the U.S. has really changed its attitudes about sprawl; not fundamentally, not deeply. Certainly, super-wealthy individuals like the Kochs, most corporations, and most of the politicians who take their orders, are fine with the status quo; but I don’t think that it occurs yet even to most regular Americans that a good life could be possible without a McMansion on a giant isolated lot and a minimum of two gigantic vehicles to get wherever one wants or needs to go. I don’t know if that thought will ever percolate far in our society. Basically, I think that as a country, overall, we still love sprawl and will do whatever it takes to keep it going.

    I don’t look forward to self-driving vehicles with much enthusiasm. I do see how they could be very useful in some applications: they could do a lot to enhance mobility and reduce isolation for rural residents who aren’t comfortable driving and for people with disabilities that affect their ability to drive; and as several have commented in this discussion, they could be an invaluable “last-mile” adjunct in communities not dense enough to be fully served by conventional transit. They may end up serving such functions in countries where a modicum of reason and a basic awareness of the concept of the common good still influence public policy. Here in the U.S., to the extent they are developed and adopted, they will usher in the end of public transportation; the end, to a large extent, of our nascent experiments in returning to human-scaled, walkable, and bike-friendly communities; and a new Age of Sprawl that will make the last sixty years look like a timid opening act.

    As usual when I think about the likely future, I fervently hope I’m wrong. It’s not the future I want for my children and grandchildren, or for myself for that matter. But I don’t see realistic prospects of a less dystopian alternative.



    Here’s a link to the place to submit comments:!submitComment;D=FHWA-2015-0020-0003

    (took a little digging to find)


    erik ferguson

    Thanks angie for the clarification. I read the rule too quickly.


    Angie Schmitt

    They are eliminating 11 for streets under 50 mph and two for streets above that. The link to the press release explains.



    Some years ago, I wrote an essay on “why the automobile took over local and intermediate distance travel”, inspired in part by my fascination with electric railways. And, I supposed one of the reasons for your dismay at seeing these “practical” cars (presumably when you’re rolling along on your bike) is the idea that most Americans have sold their souls to “motordom”. And I’m reminded of (I think) the Mayor of Bogota, Colombia, who said something about how the sign of a great city is not that the poor people have cars, but that the rich people ride the transit system. Regarding the use of trucks that rarely haul anything heavier than the groceries or a case of beer, and SUVs that rarely get off pavement, I remember a Consumer Reports item about a minivan that said something like, “Sorry, image conscious parents, this minivan makes a lot more sense for filling family transport needs than any SUV.”

    Full disclosure: from 1973 to 1984 my regular “ride” was a 1960 Ford pickup. The interior was mostly sheet metal andit had no radio or air conditioning; compared to todays “tinsel trucks” it was not that far removed from my dad’s 1929 Chevy rig. But it hauled many tons of railroad iron and streetcar parts for the railway museum I belong to, and my daughters learned how to drive a “stick shift” in it.


    erik ferguson

    The article states that the feds may “drop 11 of the 13 rules”. I think the article is wrong. I read the Federal Register Rule linked in the article and it states that only the following 3 criteria are proposed to be eliminated:

    Bridge Width.
    Vertical Alignment
    Lateral Offset to Obstruction
    Lane width is not on the list to be eliminated, but the rule states the following:
    “Lane width is an important design criterion with respect to crash frequency and traffic operations on high-speed and rural highways. The design standards provide the flexibility to choose lane widths as narrow as 10 feet on some facilities.”

    The lateral offset to obstruction is a very positive change.


    Fakey McFakename

    A positive change to be sure, but FHWA needs to go further. There should be (1) requirements that engineers consider pedestrian and cyclist safety; and (2) requirements that engineers consider what enforcement mechanisms are necessary to ensure that drivers do not exceed the design speed (e.g., speed cameras)



    Yes. Their homogeneity is not lost on me. It is still amazing how it is manifesting itself in its urban form though.



    Anybody know how to figure out which roads fall under these rules in my city?


    Angie Schmitt

    Something about those practical toyota and honda cars depresses me. And I think that’s it. They are fairly expensive cars, in my opinion, for someone who feels like they need something “reliable.” It’s an expense they feel like they can’t avoid. of course, when I look out at parking lots and see that two-thirds are trucks or suv I feel depressed for a different reason.


    Khal Spencer

    About time.



    So is there hope yet for Van Ness?


    Joe R.

    Remember the primary reason EVs have a higher initial cost is simply because they’re made in much smaller numbers. If you think about it, gas engines require a lot a machining to very fine tolerances, very complex multispeed transmissions, very complex fuel delivery systems, etc. Electric cars require an electric motor, a battery, and some sort of electronic control system to interface between the two. They’re inherently less complex. If made in the same numbers as gas cars, they would cost less.

    We can still put disincentives to driving into effect with EVs. That might be congestion charges for going into populated areas, maybe some sort of per mile charge since the users would pay no gas tax, etc. In the final analysis an EV is still a motor vehicle with all the downsides that implies, but at least you avoid the pollution issues in populated areas. That’s a huge advantage.



    People will convert to electric cars or plug-in hybrids rather than diesel because of limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

    Unfortunately, this will make it cheaper to drive, so it will likely make people drive more. EVs have a higher initial cost but a lower operating cost. They are currently more expensive overall than gas cars. But once you have bought an EV, you make the decision about whether to drive based on the cost of fuel, which is much less for an EV. Fixed costs are higher for EVs than for current cars, but variable costs are lower – and after they have paid the fixed cost, people make the decision about whether to drive based on the variable costs.