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What They’re Doing for Bike Safety in Wyoming: Mandatory Orange Vests

It could become illegal to bike in Wyoming without this accessory. Photo: Team Estrogen

It could become illegal to bike in Wyoming without this accessory. Photo: Team Estrogen

A bill introduced in the Wyoming statehouse would require cyclists to wear “two hundred square-inches of reflective neon” and carry a government-issued ID. The legislation would also require cyclists to have a rear light, even though another law already requires that, according to Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Brian Schilling, coordinator of Jackson Hole Community Pathways, told the paper he thought the measure was “a little onerous.” He said his 5-year-old daughter could technically comply with the ID requirement because she has a passport. But, he added, “I don’t think her entire surface area is 200 inches.”

The law would require at least 200 square inches of “of high-visibility fluorescent orange, green or pink color clothing visible from the front and rear of the bicycle,” whether the cyclist is riding during the day or night. According to the News and Guide, it has six sponsors: House Reps. David Northrup, Donald Burkhart, Hans Hunt, Allen Jaggi, Jerry Paxton, and Cheri Steinmetz, although none would comment for the newspaper.

Walkable City author Jeff Speck called it the “We are America’s biggest dorks and will never get it” cycling bill.

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Washington Republicans: Put Seattle’s Highway-Borer Out of Its Misery

If nothing else, the politics of Seattle’s deep-bore highway tunnel fiasco keep getting more interesting. With Bertha the tunnel-boring machine stuck underground and “rescue” efforts literally destabilizing city neighborhoods, a pair of Republicans in the Washington State Senate introduced a bill to scrap the project before any more money is wasted.

After Seattle has spent billions and more than a year and all it has to show for it is a hole in the ground. Photo: Washington Department of Transportation

Washington Democrats won’t back off their support for a risky deep-bore highway tunnel in Seattle. Photo: Washington Department of Transportation

While putting a halt to the underground highway would limit Seattle’s exposure to enormous cost overruns and open the door to more city-friendly transportation options, this effort to bury Bertha comes from outside the city. The Democratic establishment in the Seattle region isn’t rallying around the idea.

Republicans Doug Ericksen of Ferndale and Michael Baumgartner of Spokane co-sponsored legislation to cease spending on the stalled tunnel project and use the remaining money to study alternatives. The text of their bill [PDF] is probably the most sensible thing any politician has said about this project in quite some time:

The legislature finds that the state route number 99 Alaskan Way viaduct replacement project has failed. The legislature also finds that the project as it is currently designed cannot be justified financially and is not in the best interest of the public.

The knock against the bill is that it’s pure theater — a political maneuver to place the blame for Bertha squarely at the feet of Democrats.

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People Are Fundamentally Social, Except When We’re Inside a Car

What makes for a good environment inside a car and outside a car couldn't be more different, says Bill Lindeke at Twin City Sidewalks.

When you’re walking, it’s great to be around other people on their feet, but when you’re driving, it’s awful to be around other people in cars, says Bill Lindeke at Twin City Sidewalks.

Bill Lindeke at Twin City Sidewalks was on a high from this weekend, when he attended a pretty spectacular outdoor festival in his hometown of St. Paul. The streets were filled with people and activity. It got him thinking, as fun as it was, it would have been a miserable place to be if you were in a car trying to get somewhere.

He says the things that make pedestrians happy and drivers happy couldn’t be more fundamentally opposite:

The experience led me to dwell on the fundamental difference between walkable cities and a car-based society. Try as we might to reconcile the various “modes” of urban movement, the difference between driving a car and doing just about anything else all comes down to density. Put simply, in a car, more is bad; outside of a car, more is good.

It’s relatively simple to understand. Just look at any car commercial, showing people driving their shining new SUV through a city street. The one common denominator is that in almost every case, the streets are practically empty. The ideal state for driving a car is to be completely alone, to have the city all to yourself.

Now think about any commercial that shows people walking around a city. Typically, you’ll see streets full of other people, maybe dogs, shops, street vendors. The ideal city on foot is full of other people.

You just can’t get around that fundamental opposition. Cars transform us all into misanthropes.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Systemic Failure reports that city leaders in Hamilton, Ontario, voted to remove a dedicated bus lane. Strong Towns shares a case that illustrates how setting limits on infrastructure spending can be a good thing. And Mobilizing the Region says a new report rightly zeros in on New Jersey’s road funding troubles, but identifies the wrong solution.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Why the Prospects for Remedying Detroit’s Desperate Transit Situation Don’t Look Good (USNews)
  • The Commuting Boom Is Over (AASHTO)
  • Wealthy Opponents of Purple Line in Suburban Maryland Held a Fundraiser for New Gov Hogan (WaPo)
  • Florida Cyclist Wins Fight to Legally Take the Lane (News Press)
  • Will Low Gas Prices Hurt Transit Agencies? (Wall Street Journal)
  • Canadian Broadcasting Company: Do Our Cities Still Work?
  • Rand Paul and Barbara Boxer Promote Corporate Tax Repatriation to Patch Highway Trust Fund (The Hill)
  • Vox Shares Images Showing the Striking Contrast Between City Streets Pre- and Post-Cars
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Koch-Funded Groups: Cut All Federal Funding for Walking, Biking, Transit

The Highway Trust Fund is going broke, but a group of conservatives is pretending that the problem is "squirrel sanctuaries." Image: Brookings

As inflation eats away at the gas tax, the Highway Trust Fund is going broke. But a group of conservatives is pretending that the problem is transit and “squirrel sanctuaries.” Image: Brookings

You know it’s time to fight over the federal transportation bill when the fossil fuel-soaked elements of the conservative movement start agitating to stop funding everything except car infrastructure.

Yesterday, a coalition of 50 groups, several funded by the Koch brothers, sent a letter to Congress arguing that the way to fix federal transportation funding is to cut the small portion that goes to walking, biking, and transit [PDF]. The signatories do not want Congress to even think about raising the gas tax, which has been steadily eaten away by inflation since 1993.

The coalition membership includes many stalwarts of the Koch network, including Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners, and the Club for Growth. The Koch brothers recently went public with plans to spend nearly $900 million on the 2016 elections.

The billionaire-friendly coalition is trying to play the populist card. Raising the gas tax to pay for roads, they say, is “regressive” because poor people will pay more than rich people if the gas tax is increased. But eliminating all funding for transit, biking, and walking, which people who can’t afford a car rely on? Not a problem to these guys.

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Are You an Incrementalist or a Completionist?

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Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets.

A lot of arguments in the world of progressive street design these days aren’t between good and bad. They’re between better and much better.

For example, better:

Kinzie Street, Chicago.

And much better:

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A New Type of Streetsblog in St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, and the Southeast? Yep.

A little more than six years ago, we launched the Streetsblog Network as a way for people across the country writing about livable streets, sustainable transportation, and smart growth to band together and share ideas. There are many wonderful things about the Streetsblog Network, but I would put this is at the top of my list: It is both profoundly local, full of people working on the nitty-gritty of street design, transit service, and planning issues in their hometowns, and broadly distributed, with hundreds of members operating in cities all over the nation.

For a long time we’ve been thinking about how to build on these strengths. And today we’re going live with a new way to channel the energy of the Streetsblog Network and broadcast it to the world.

We are launching affiliate sites that combine the work of Streetsblog Network members in four regions: St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, and the Southeast. These sites run on a different model than our other city-based Streetsblogs with full-time staff. Each Streetsblog affiliate syndicates material from several blogs in its region and runs a daily dose of headlines to satisfy the universal craving for morning news. Have a look. (Doesn’t it blow your mind to see the words “Streetsblog Texas” in a site banner?)

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Our partners in this endeavor are volunteers writing in their spare time, independent media entrepreneurs, and people working at non-profit advocacy organizations and academic institutions. By running their work in this format, on the Streetsblog platform, we aim to help build their audience both nationally and in their home regions. The geographic scope of most of these sites is bigger than the usual Streetsblog city-based beat, but the writers are addressing overlapping issues — a Paleolithic state DOT, for instance, or city leadership that struggles to get Complete Streets right. We believe there will be strength in numbers like there’s been with the national Streetsblog Network.

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What’s Holding Back Austin Transit Ridership? Look at Where the Jobs Are

Why isn't Austin's transit ridership keeping pace? Graph: Keep Austin Wonky

Why isn’t Austin’s transit ridership keeping pace? Graph: Keep Austin Wonky

A recent post at Keep Austin Wonky asks why transit ridership in Austin seems to be stagnating even as the region grows at a healthy clip. Julio Gonzalez Altamirano says it doesn’t seem to be gas prices or transit funding, but something about the way the city is physically developing that’s hindering ridership growth.

Jeff Wood at the Overhead Wire says perhaps the culprit is job sprawl and the relative lack of growth in downtown employment:

Julio says that for the last 15 years, population has increased 34% in the region. Because data from LED is only available from 2002 on, that leaves us with a 13 year period.  But the growth in jobs in that 13 years has been 26% or ~675K to ~852K according to LED data.

But for downtown, which I looked at as West of I-35, North of Barton Springs Road, East of Lamar, and South of MLK employment growth is much smaller. Only an 18% change, from ~112K in 2002 to ~132K in 2011.  The share of employment that resides in this downtown sector has gone down too.  In 2002 it was 16.5% of total jobs in the region, while in 2011 it was 15.5% of total jobs.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Anthony Foxx Says Lack of Long-Term Funding Threatens Big Transpo Projects (The Hill)
  • Washington Senate Republicans: Abandon Seattle’s Disastrous Deep-Bore Tunnel (The Stranger)
  • Albuquerque Is Getting Complete Streets (Business Journals)
  • A Virginia Law Penalizes Cities That Perform Road Diets (Times-Dispatch)
  • Baton Rouge Considers Bike-share (Nola.com)
  • Massachusetts Woman Sentenced for Driving Into a Crowd of Bicyclists, Killing Two (Seacoast Online)
  • Philly Increased Tickets to Pedestrians 37 Percent Last Year (Philly.com)
  • Why Free Parking Is Like a Tax on People Who Don’t Drive (A Whole Minute)
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Boris Johnson Commits to a Protected “Cycle Superhighway” Crossing London

London's "crossrail for bikes" will be the longest protected bike lane in Europe. Image: London Evening Standard

London’s “crossrail for bikes” will be the longest urban protected bike lane in Europe, according to the London papers. Image: London Evening Standard

London Mayor Boris Johnson is showing cities what it looks like to commit real resources to repurposing car lanes for high-quality bike infrastructure.

Yesterday, Johnson announced the city will begin building a wide, continuous protected bike lane linking east and west London when the weather warms this spring. When complete, it will be the longest protected “urban cycle lane” in Europe, according to Metro UK, carrying riders through the heart of the city and some of its most famous landmarks. The bike lane will be separated from vehicle traffic by a curb, London-based design blog Dezeen reports.

While bike infrastructure is cheap, London is devoting serious resources to ensuring that this bike lane is as safe, spacious, and comfortable as it can be. The central portion of the bike route, about 5.5 miles, will cost £41 to construct ($62 million).

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