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  1.  

    Wanderer

    In San Francisco and the Bay Area a lot of older buildings have what I call “commercial extensions.” They were built as residential, but as the street became commercial, property owners wanted to take advantage of that and built forward to the sidewalk line. They’re usually not aesthetically beautiful, but they do help create continuous retail frontage along the sidewalk. The Calgary Starbucks is very much in that tradition, though it’s extending a much bigger building.

  2.  

    Bob Gunderson

    But not in bazarro SF world where we actually have a ballot initiative to enshrine car lanes and parking here until eternity!

  3.  

    Clayton Mitchell

    Crashes do not cause 25% of congestion – you have been seriously guilty throughout social media of providing inappropriate data….every source you have used is very flawed in methodology and even applicability to Vancouver’s situation. You use that data because you are the head of a lobby group and it helps to support your cause.

    For instance, you also advocate that drivers are subsidized, but no peer-reviewed literature has ever included the opportunity costs of not having efficiently moving roads for cars and public transit (in other words, the cost of limiting road use for cars and public transit). You’re natural predisposition is likely to include data that shows how cycling benefits businesses now, but most of the data that shows that is limited to a couple of types of businesses, such as restaurants and coffee shops (an interaction effect). Our economy is mostly supported by B2B businesses, not B2C organizations.

    And if you’re so concerned about pedestrian safety, why are you constantly acting as an apologist for cyclist on sidewalks in Vancouver, which is completely illegal and there are numerous anecdotes of people getting hurt by cyclists riding on sidewalks? Those “safe” bike lanes, since being installed have increased congestion (isn’t Vancouver the second most congested city in North America according to GPS data?) and increased risk for pedestrians because they have helped perpetuate a sense of entitlement to cyclists (you haven’t helped).

    Also note that the latest accidents challenged by cyclists in court have resulted in a loss to a cyclist because they were acting illegally (this is in B.C.). It is unfortunate that they have to spend a lot of time recovering, but they were acting irresponsibly. Even Geoff Meggs, a person I’m sure you would support, ran a stop sign and hit a car (and suffered damage to his leg I believe). Gregor Robertson the mayor of our city, another person I’m sure you would support, was almost hit by a bus running a red light on his bike.

    So, the next time you read about a poor elderly woman that has been sent to the hospital after being hit by a cyclist on the sidewalk (which has happened at least a few times on Denman), know that you’re a factor in the cause.

  4.  

    Stan Ford

    I disagree. Left turn lanes are a last resort. Building left turn lanes requires a wide road right-of-way and high left turn demand. The cost of constructing a left turn lane at an intersection is about $3.0 million for one direction. A left turn lane increase the number travel lanes and results in negative consequences such as longer traffic lights cycles and longer and more dangerous distance for pedestrians to cross.
    I suggest that you attend any road related open houses sponsored by the City and present your questions to the traffic engineers to learn more about the complications in designing our road right-a-way.

  5.  

    Richard Campbell

    Crashes cause around 25% of congestion and it is the worst kind; unpredictable long delays. A few seconds every day to improve safety saves everyone from long delays due to crashes.

    Then there is the huge amount of time spent by those in crashes recovering from and dealing with the consequences of the crash. I expect anyone who has been in one would say a few second or even minutes per day would be a small price to pay to avoid being involved in a crash.

    The protected signal phases also improve pedestrian safety further decreasing crashes.

  6.  

    Richard Campbell

    Induction loops typically don’t work very well. Timed signals are best but the buttons work well too.

    A study from Portland found that a good number of people even regular cyclists don’t know how the loops work.

  7.  

    Richard Campbell

    On the separated bike lanes, most of the bike signals are timed, no button press required. Also, some other crossings are being upgraded to timed signals. Still, in the urban core, there is typically enough bike/ped traffic to justify upgrading all of them.

  8.  

    Coolebra

    I guess this is where you grab your matchbox cars and storm out of the room, feet stamping along the way, oooBooo.

    I already answered your question, incidentally.

  9.  

    Clayton Mitchell

    I actually like the seawall bike lanes – they’re more useful for what I need. Unfortunately though, my job doesn’t permit me to be riding that much for commuting (most people don’t like stinky sweaty people showing up for work and meetings). Also note that the number of bike users is not increasing – bike trips have only increased within a four month period and on some lanes (huge bell curve for ridership). The only data they have on the number of bike users is through surveys and some data suggests that it’s remained flat for the last two years (already past the inflection point?).

    They could be done a lot more effectively to account for everyone – cars, transit, and pedestrians as well.

  10.  

    Stan Ford

    I use the bike lanes everyday and I do not find them terrible. The daily number of bike users is increasing as the bike lanes are connected. Vehicle traffic in an urban setting will always be congested. The only way to have more people safely move about a city is to reduce motor vehicle lanes and give the space to pedestrians, cyclists and transit users.
    I suggest that you try cycling in the bike lanes and experience the joy of commuting rain or shine.

  11.  

    Clayton Mitchell

    Sure – the safety argument is always one facet. The congestion argument is one that cyclists constantly espouse and apparently in New York it’s been done fairly well. Obviously increasing congestion hurts the environment and cyclists also advocate that they’re helping reduce emissions by riding bikes. So all these things should be considered when implementing bike lanes – not just safety. And don’t be fooled by the photos either – Vision Vancouver is amazing at releasing data and photos that supports their point of view – if you get a chance read about all the community groups complaining and law suits that have been launched against them for secrecy and withholding information. Again, no one should look to that guy for best practices. At least if you believe in democracy.

  12.  

    Samuel Harper

    Hey Bob, I don’t see any signage or maps that indicate this is only a one way path.

    While it would predominately be used by southbound bicyclists bound for the Burrard Bridge there doesn’t seem to be any reason or indication it couldn’t be used northbound as well.

  13.  

    R.A. Stewart

    And thanks for the reminder that, contrary to how it often seems to some of us, it’s not always the bad ideas that take hold.

  14.  

    bob

    Hi Samuel – the google map image you linked to shows the one-way bike lane on burrard. The answer was about specifically about 2-way bike lanes, as indicated in your quote.

  15.  

    Alex Brideau III

    I think the main purpose of bike lanes and cycletracks in any city is to increase safety and comfort levels for vulnerable road users, not to help with car congestion. Besides, based on the photo it would appear that at least Dunsmuir St is not congested all the time.

  16.  

    Clayton Mitchell

    Yeah – just so the readers don’t get their hopes up of using Vancouver as a model, the bike lanes are terrible….they’re used by a very small portion of the population and they’ve created terrible congestion (which of course is bad for the environment). Don’t be fooled – this guy is hardly someone you want to interview for best practices.

  17.  

    Douglas Karr

    Not surprised. It’s horrifying that this writer (I hesitate to call her a journalist) missed that fact but didn’t even use common sense. Even traveling from the East to West coasts in the United States, you can see the impact of advancements in central planning, highways, and urban development.

  18.  

    Wewilliewinkleman

    Thanks. That clears that up. I read the linked article. Regarding the mall, I think Mary Tyler Moore threw her hat there. In the 70s Minneapolis was very proud of its tunnels and bridges connecting its downtown buildings. My comments stand. What is great one decade isn’t always what works 20 years or more on. Some of the so called urbanist ideas may be stale or failures years hence. There is no way we can predict the future. Many folks say ban autos from Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Turn it into a mall with transit. It could work. But after a few years it could be a misrable failure like State Street was.

  19.  

    Joe

    Photo is Paseo de Colorado in Pasadena, CA. Macy’s closed about a year ago.

  20.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    Which is apparently new enough that google street view doesn’t depict it. But it’s been there since 2010 at least.

  21.  

    Jeffrey Baker

    One of the neatest places in Zurich is the Viadukt where lots of shops and bars and restaurants are built into the archways under the railroad.

  22.  

    lop

    Do people carry enough metal for those to work?

  23.  

    Adrian

    You can just build induction sensors into the pavement. Done. No more beg buttons.

    That said, I have no idea how much that, or programming the signal cycle will cost.

  24.  

    Eric McClure

    Interesting. However, my block in Park Slope has scores that range from 2.1 to 9.9. That’s an awfully broad range.

  25.  

    Alon Levy

    Too bad crossing most major streets requires pushing beg buttons.

  26.  

    philbest

    I think I can find common ground with you – you are very sensible about streets being a necessity (and should not be counted as part of the “subsidy to automobility”).

    The question of “room” is the same, both where there is “no room” for pedestrians and cyclists, and where there is “no room” for expansion of road capacity. It is generally too late to do anything when land space is built-out and the land is high-value. But it is cities with low-value land and plenty to spare that represent the opportunity for retrofitting with improvements. This is why Alex Anas (one of the brightest minds in the world in urban economics) says that smart growth is being “wrongly promoted”. the priority SHOULD be, that smart growth development should end up as an inherently affordable housing option. Townhouses for $1 million absolutely cannot possibly bring savings for anyone, relative to living in Houston. And there is no guarantee that anyone in the city with $1 million townhouses, will be able to choose a nice walkable lifestyle any more than anyone in Houston can.

    Those who do order their lives around a job and a home within walking distance of it, in Houston, will achieve a living cost an order of magnitude below anyone achieving the same thing in a long-time smart-growth-planned city like those of the UK represent.

    I say the solution is to NOT prohibit anything, ESPECIALLY the conversion of rural land to urban use, because this is the guarantee of land in the entire city being low-cost. And so what if there are neighbourhoods where people democratically agree to preserve its character with large lot mandates? The important thing is to get the prices right (of infrastructure use) and to ensure that there ARE choices for those who want to live another way.

    This is where there IS a role for government-led planning. No particular group of people with a particular desire should expect other groups to be deprived of their differing desire, so the only solution is intelligent demarcation of boundaries between the differing types of living. And to maximise the availability of the non-car-dependent lifestyle, these should be expedited on a multi-nodal basis, not limited to more central locations.

    What should be prohibited is not “low density suburbs”, but mandates against housing and accommodation MIXED IN where there are other urban land uses, and mandates against height and density in those mixed-use locations. Among the mistakes of the past, are the decades of prohibition EVERYWHERE against mixtures of accommodation and other land uses, the decades of prohibition on “intelligent use” infill of fragmented land interpersed between splattered suburban developments, and the decades of spending “road” budgets on elevated highways instead of the kind of surface (and trenched, grade-separated) “grid” envisaged by Frank Lloyd Wright.

    The use of green space and landscaping is essential to provide buffers between NIMBYists and development types they regard as undesirable; but any city with fringe growth containment ends up with unacceptably high opportunity cost of space, to allow for this. Ironically, the same high cost of land means that developers desperately try and avoid sacrificing any more space than they can possibly get away with, for footpaths and green space and even intersections, let alone cycle paths. The cul-de-sac is simply a way to cram in saleable lots to recoup excessively high raw land costs.

  27.  

    philbest

    I appreciate your informative comment for a relative newcomer, about what a broad church Streetsblog is. I can definitely find common ground with some of them. What I try and bring to the argument, is an understanding of the relationship between transport systems and “land rent”, and the dialectics of productivity and social justice that are inherent in them.

    It is a huge mistake to overlook the role in economic and socio-economic development, of people having the freedom to travel from and to any points in the urban economy by a means far faster than their own motive power. I am absolutely not defending over-kill in the form of thirsty SUV’s and 4-acre exclusionary lots; but I do say that ignoring the massive “whole system” advantage that Model T Fords, or modern small super-economical cars, or electric tricycles, or motor scooters, have over fixed-route mass transit, is a huge mistake.

    I also say people today who can get their head around “the whole system” like Henry Ford certainly did in his day, will understand that the solutions that fit with economic inevitability, have to involve a step forward in flexibility, not a step back. For example, I applaud this very new thinking:

    http://techcrunch.com/2014/09/04/bridj/

    “Dynamically generated” PT routes…….

    Bear in mind that the automobile is the last disruptive
    technology, and some people have still not “got it” about the changes to the “whole system” that occurred because of it. “Automobility” can already be more
    efficient than public transport, period, simply by pursuing a path of adaptation of the “automobile” fleet. The very point that PT vehicles have to set out empty, and reposition near-empty at rush hour, and have a high dead weight per rider, and require a lot of energy to constantly re-accelerate after every frequent stop, and these disadvantages are multiplied by gradients; means that the nice mental pictures some people have of the efficiency of a full PT vehicle at cruising speed, are a total disconnect from the “whole system” reality. It
    is people who can grasp the “whole system”, who come up with things like containerisation in shipping. People who can grasp the “whole system” can see that individual powered surface travel can be more efficient
    than mass powered surface travel.

    There are some very interesting energy efficiency in real life, analyses here:

    Lowson: Energy Use and Sustainability of Transport Systems

    http://www.cybercars.org/docs/Energy%20report1.pdf

    Particularly from page 11 onward

    Sorenson: Assessing Current Vehicle Performance…..

    http://energy.ruc.dk/ZaragozaVehicle.pdf

    Note the graph at the top of page 9, and note that the scale is logarithmic……! The low end of the existing efficiency for commuter rail in Europe, is above the low end for currently in-production automobiles.

    Volkswagen Lupo 1.2 diesels (and the Audi equivalent) are the most efficient, even ahead of the “Smart For Two” car. Note that a fairly common Toyota Yaris is one of the most efficient means of humanity getting around. And we are not even talking yet, about proxies for automobility, like electric trikes, or even motor scooters.

    http://nextcity.org/daily/entry/this-country-is-planning-its-entire-transportation-system-around-electric-t

    Car ride-sharing systems like Carma, Lyft, and Uber that result in cars with multiple riders, are inherently an order of magnitude more efficient than any mass transit system. I see the time having come, where government involvement in a lot of this is superfluous; they could actually abandon transit altogether, but “public transport” would still exist. Tax breaks and perhaps subsidies that follow riders would still make sense. But the status quo model of mass transit organisation is an obstruction to progress. A consistent approach to solving problems of energy consumption, emissions, and social justice, would actually be clamouring for reform of the current model, not for throwing more money down its profligate maw.

    I would love to hear your argument about how heavy commuter rail can be competitive even without high urban densities.

    Of course driverless cars, if they work out, will cause a massively disruptive break in the entire urban system.

    Thank you for linking to that Streestblog item on “expensive and stifling” car ownership; I have placed my own comment there now:

    http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/08/27/are-there-any-affordable-cities-left-in-america/#comment-1577134473

  28.  

    philbest

    There are several inherent problems with all studies that allege that there are savings in “housing plus transport” costs, to be had from “smart growth” type policies, and that unaffordable housing in many urbanists favourite cities is counterbalanced by “lower transport costs”.

    It is basic land economics, that transport cost savings capitalise into site values anyway. If there are savings to be made by living at location A instead of location B, then location A will be priced higher than location B to an extent that reflects the savings. In fact the premium is always HIGHER than the transport costs saved, probably reflecting perceived value of time savings.

    Some studies allege to prove something different to this, and one of the most common flaws, is that they use the “average cost of housing” of actual households in place today; which includes households who bought their first home decades ago and have only a small mortgage remaining, and some paid off altogether. In an unaffordable-housing city, recent buyers with large mortgages will all be found at the locations where houses are NOT so unaffordable, weighting those locations with very high H+T costs. What is actually needed, are studies that analyse the options of people deciding on their location now, not people who have been on the urban housing ladder for a long time already.

    Another approach which is not quite so bad, is the use of “rents” rather than mortgage costs; however this is still flawed because a feature of unaffordability and bubble markets, is that rents and actual house prices are misaligned. Rents remain less inflated than prices. So we need to be clear in such cases, that we are foregoing the benefits of ownership versus renting. Also, rents are skewed downwards relative to the housing market per se, by the fact that rental accommodation is generally much smaller than owned accommodation; and this is much more so the more centrally located the housing is.

    Another common flaw in these H+T studies, is the use of costs of automobility that are estimates, or derived from averages, that include the significant discretionary purchases of new cars that depreciate rapidly, and of expensive and thirsty vehicles, by better-off people who can afford them. Generally people who are constrained by their ability to pay for location, will also choose their vehicles carefully. Anthony Downs points out in “Still Stuck in Traffic” (2004) that the “lowest cost” option for automobility in real terms has steadily fallen for decades; the cheapest option in, say, 1975 might have been a 1960 Ford “subcompact”; the real cost now of buying and running a 1999 Asian made 1300cc hatchback will be VERY much lower.

    People who regard these rigged H+T cost analyses as credible, are simply out of touch with real-life young couples making their decisions of location, house type, and so on. It was my acquaintance with these realities, years ago, that motivated me into a long crusade ever since, against utopian Marie Antoinette type elitists peddling lies as part of a systemic swindle of younger people and the poor.

    There is also other databases of living costs that do not at all reflect the alleged advantage of more compact but expensive-housing cities: eg

    “The C2ER Cost of Living Index for 307 Metropolitan Areas”.

    http://www.comparebloomington.us/include/reportsmedia_157_2541343573.pdf

  29.  

    Bolwerk

    You’re imagining what many people here think. Actually, you’re imagining uniformity of opinion where this none. Many people here are rather ambivalent about Manhattan-style densities. A more typical view on Streetsblog is probably in favor small-scale mixed use urban density (think attached, probably a few stories, probably some storefronts) of the sort you would see in Brooklyn or Portland, generally sans skyscrapers.

    This doesn’t describe everyone, or any stated position of the blog that I am aware of, but many people on Streetsblog NYC and other Streetsblogs, I shit you not, appear to be hostile to subways and rail in general and think new transportation investment should be in pedestrian infrastructure, bikes, and perhaps buses.

    Of course, where both you and the anti-rail people in Streetsblog go wrong, is neither understands that cost-effective heavy rail implementations do not require particularly high densities. Meanwhile, car ownership is itself an expensive and stifling proposition for people of even middle income means.

  30.  

    Bolwerk

    Uh, nobody is talking about “omitting roads.” Of course, the roads in this scenario are streets, and streets are essential to cities. Also, nobody is talking about outlawing car trips. All the same, there must be some way to manage the fact that the opportunity cost of over-accommodating cars in a dense space is less room to walk, bike, and use transit. “Freedom” for a few thousand people per lane takes away the freedom for lots of other people to use the space, often people who live closer to the space and have more stake in it.

  31.  

    Roger87

    Yep. My pet theory is that people actually perceive the some of the densest US metros as the “sprawliest,” since dense suburban development (especially in the arid areas where it is most often found — Phoenix, LA, Las Vegas) makes for a dramatic aerial image of roofs packed together, and therefore is usually used to accompany photos of “sprawl” (a Google search will show as much). Atlanta and Charlotte on the other hand are so low-density, and have much more natural foliage besides, that the images are much less compelling.

    An alternative meaning of “sprawling” is simply “very large” — you can find almost every big city on earth described as “sprawling,” including Barcelona. Both are reasons why I think the word is unhelpful and probably confuses more than it enlightens.

  32.  

    jarendt

    Down where I live, post-secondary schools are public spaces for anyone who can blend in. People who look like they don’t belong there get stopped by campus police. A nine-year-old girl by herself would be someone who doesn’t look like she belongs there,

  33.  

    Justin

    After reading this article and how transportation planners in Vancouver B.C Canada approach and solve these problems as well as the strategy they formed to do it, this is what in most cases exactly what SFMTA and the city and county of San Francisco should be doing, in busy areas i.e downtown SF where there’s a lot of traffic, enough space and many cyclists, the preferred option is to build a PROTECTED bike lane, and other places in residential areas i.e most of the western neighborhoods of SF as long as the traffic is calmed, low and at a safe speed, a conventional bike lane, sharrows or none at all is adequate and good enough to travel by bike. In other cases, in this case when the article was talking about when you can’t do both because there isn’t enough room and it’s busy, or here in SF it’s that, but add the steep hills and a lot of traffic, find ways to divert the bicyclists through a more pleasant and calmer and flat path/street and then give the option to transition back or of course stay on as usual, this is how SFMTA should be approaching, doing so that is efficient, safe and all inclusive. By taking that strategy there will be some common sense and sanity in getting it right hopefully

  34.  

    Bob Loblaw

    The engineers of Vancouver still haven’t figured out that left turns should only happen where left turn bays exist. Vancouver is a gong show of horrible, inefficient planning.

  35.  

    Bolwerk

    So, people traveling terminal to terminal suffer a 3m penalty? :-p

    I see my comparison before was bad because of a terminal shift, but the time difference in the segment you selected seems to be due to the trolley looping. Midpoint trips, which are much more important, seem mostly to be the same or slightly in favor of the tram.

    Either way, almost all the differences are very negligible. But I don’t see a single negative change as far as service is concerned. Whether they need to or not, they’re roughly adhering to the old bus schedule.

  36.  

    Chris

    Make sure they have the proper licenses and insurance for their drivers and (almost) no German will complain.

    I’d also like to note that in Germany we already have real car sharing for a quite a while: – people offering free seats on their car ride that they were going to do anyway for a small fee. That’s the actual sharing economy, while uber isn’t anything but a fancy new form of the private car for hire that’s been around in many countries around the world for a long time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carpooling.com

  37.  

    philbest

    Yes, I commented that New York urban area without Wall Street, would be more like a huge Indianapolis.

    But its urban form would be closer to a huge Indianapolis too, or a bigger Philadelphia. Perhaps another Chicago.

    The big irony in the kind of discussion these forums have, is that it often seems to be assumed that you can plan subways, remove height limits, and voila…! Skyscrapers full of something valuable in the way of economic activity, will spring up. Not if you don’t have a local economy based on something like Wall Street, you won’t.

    Expecting all and every kind of urban activity to exist in skyscrapers is only slightly less ridiculous than expecting the rural sector to do so. Trying to perpetuate high-density pre-automobile urban form where it does exist, without having “global city” status, is merely a route to loss of competitiveness against other parts of the global economy.

    The building of skyscrapers in Houston is probably in a good balance according to the functional needs of a city with a diverse economy. There is a “Skyscraper Index” that demonstrates a correlation with speculative bubbles and crashes; it is better if a city is based on real productive wealth creation, and can avoid building for speculative and rent-seeking purposes.

    A great short education in urban economies, is William Fruth: “The Flow of Money: How Local Economies Expand”:

    http://www.policom.com/PDFs/FLOW%20OF%20MONEY%202014.pdf

    A city’s source of primary income, that is, income from outside of it, is absolutely crucial to all the options then available to that city. Some local administrations understand this, and try to attract “weightless” industries because they require little in the way of infrastructure spending and bring high income into the city. Trouble is, this can turn into a race to the bottom to grant concessions to such industries – other cities that are more pragmatic and accept that uns*xy industry is better than nothing, can end up doing better.

    But it is being suggested by some researchers that high urban land costs cause deadweight losses in the flow of money within a local economy – even if you have high-income securities traders and software engineers living locally, “trickle-down” is not noticeably beneficial. This is because the high housing costs represent a kind of tax paid to private-sector operators, sucked out of the local flow of money, that is not necessarily recycled back into local discretionary spending at all. But if a low-housing-cost city manages to attract some high income earners, the trickle-down boost is quantifiably several times more significant.

  38.  

    Samuel Harper

    Cool article. One point I noticed that isn’t quite right.

    “Do you not have any place in the city where vehicles can go right but you don’t have a special right-turn lane?”

    “Not on the two way separated bike paths.”

    Right turns here without a lane across a separated path.
    https://www.google.ca/maps/@49.2777723,-123.1311845,3a,75y,262.47h,72.04t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sdhFd9_5eMWrwTvxBncHkhw!2e0

    Also at Cornwall and Cyprus since the south end reconfiguration of the Burrard Street Bridge and the York bike path.

  39.  

    what_eva

    The Chicago one isn’t “where a garage used to sit”. The entire building is a parking garage across the street from the Sears Tower. It is very common in Chicago to have first floor retail (sometimes 2 or 3 floors), then floors of parking, then something else above. This building (and another 2 blocks south) are just parking above the retail. These are not recent retrofits, I’m not 100% sure, but it’s likely they were deliberately built this way.

  40.  

    lop

    Morning runs from Front and girard to 63rd and girard take the trolley ~43 minutes. For example, leave at 7:35 arrive at 8:18. The bus scheduled to leave at 7:38 arrived at 8:18, ~40 minutes

  41.  

    Nathanael

    You can argue that Lower Manhattan (Wall Street) is parasitic, and that the City of London & Belgravia are parasitic, but both cities DO have a lot of other things in them, not just finance. In London, Camden (for example) is a real, thriving community; other parts of New York have actual industries, less parasitic than finance.

  42.  

    Nathanael

    Those failed “exurbs” are what become ghost towns. There are a lot of ghost towns in the Western US…

  43.  

    Nathanael

    “The bottom line is that Americans generally like the low-density suburban model”

    No, we don’t. The zoning codes are operating on autopilot from the 1950s, when people did. Even though most people don’t support these zoning codes any more, they’re very slow to change — institutional inertia is powerful. And the relicts from the 1950s are politically more powerful than the younger people, too.

  44.  

    Ray

    I really don’t see what the problem is. There are other schools in the area that are much closer. It would have been a personal choice to send their kid to that school. Can imagine them doing this walk in the winter either. The route itself touch isn’t bad and probably the best that you can ask for in an inner city neighborhood. Otherwise move to the suburbs.

    I don’t understand the picture of the bus stop either. That wouldn’t be the stop the his daughter would use. One block south of the first picture at the gas station is a bus stop that would take her directly to the school. 10 minute ride according to Google.

    Also to get to the bus stop she will have to cross the street at the pedestrian crossing at 3rd Ave and 10th street. If you ever drive down this road you with always have have to stop here as there is almost always using this crossing

    http://goo.gl/ExFD8a

  45.  

    Nathanael

    Houston looks terrible, but it turns out it’s a story of neighborhoods — Houston has these acres of wasteland parking/freeways, but in between, there’s some rather dense stuff which extends for miles.

  46.  

    Bolwerk

    Thanks, but what’s the problem? It looks like anywhere from 4 to 10 minutes has been cut off the trip and frequency is up.

  47.  

    Wewilliewinkleman

    I just want to know how those very large palm trees survive the harsh Minnesota winters? Are you sure this is the former Daytons, now Macys in Minneapolis? Any hey I love the Starsky and Hutch vehicles in the Toronto photo. Classic 80s.

  48.  

    Gezellig

    It’s not necessarily either/or.

    Besides, what good is a capacious public space that’s so uninviting no one uses it? All the open public space of Brasilia comes to mind:

    http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/63083000/jpg/_63083743_brasilia_road.jpg

    Or Schouwburgplein in Rotterdam, another public-space fail:

    http://motelmozaique.nl/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/schouwbergplein_rotterdam_01_xlarge.jpg

    Btw, loss of sidewalk space in some of the examples cited can be compensated for by later road diets or even closing roads to cars. The full car width of a lot of roads is not set in stone.

  49.  

    Jacob Lynn

    An honest question: would you prefer to be in any of the places in the “before” pictures vs the “after” pictures?

  50.  

    Wewilliewinkleman

    If I lived or worked there… what would I rather have? Not my place to judge. I can’t say one is better that the other. I do know that what you consider an improvement may for this time seem wonderful, just like what was orginally built was good for its time. But things change.

    I dont believe the building owners are greedy. What they are doing makes perfect economic sense. But I also don’t believe the fantasy that these building owners are doing what they are doing because they are trailblazing with the “urbanists” to creat street walls and vibrancy. Its dollars and cents. The boring facade of a Chevy Chase bank lobby hardly creates an exciting urban environment for me.

    Most of the junk being plastered in front of these buildings may seem great to you, but to me they are a homginized blend of blah. Putting junky facades on buildings may breathe new life into some areas. But 30 years down the line people may again wonder why we didnt keep some public space open when we had the chance.