The new year is right around the corner and it's time to take stock of the year that's passed. In 2015, we saw some painful setbacks and some important strides in the national movement for better walking, biking, and transit.
You determine the winners and losers of 2015 with your votes. Yesterday we asked you to vote on the best urban street transformation of the year (the polls are still open). Here are five more categories for your consideration. Before you vote, check out our handy guides to the nominees below each poll.
The Koch brothers and their army of benignly named think tanks and political action groups did their best to sabotage city transit projects, including Nashville BRT and Albuquerque BRT. They also tried to convince Congress, unsuccessfully, to cut all funding for biking, walking, and transit.
The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD)established a task force to "investigate" groups that don't conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, one of the street engineering manuals that's infamously resistant to new ideas like protected bike lanes. Apparently, the old guard doesn't want cities innovating to make streets safer for cycling without their express permission.
Boston's snow tunnel. When the MBTA plowed a mountain of snow directly into a bike lane, some Boston advocates embarrassed them by constructing a giant tunnel right through it.
Boston's flower-protected bike lanes. There's something about Boston that inspires guerrilla action. After the thaw, an enterprising bike advocate made a point about the need for protection along a major bike lane with some potted mums and sunflowers, which finally jolted the city into installing some physical separation.
Akron's 500-person dinner in the middle of a highway. 'Nuf said.
Houston's Katy Freeway. Just a few years after a $2.8 billion widening, this highway is more congested than it was before. Very Texas.
The Braves Stadium relocation. The taxpayer subsidized decision to drop a huge sports stadium in the middle of one of the region's worst traffic snarls is already looking like a huge mistake.
Miami's subsidized megamall. The perfectly named "American Dream Miami," a 200-acre, $4 billion megamall, would be bigger than the Mall of America, and -- probably -- a bigger taxpayer shakedown than New Jersey's "American Dream Meadowlands." The same company is behind both projects. Despite the entirely predictable fiscal and environmental disaster, Miami leaders want to shower the developer with subsidies.
Protected intersections.Salt Lake City and Davis, California, have brought this Dutch-inspired design to America, and now other cities are racing to install them.
FHWA's proposed street design rule changes. FHWA appears to have had a come-to-Jesus moment, proposing throwing out 11 of the 13 highway-inspired standards it requires on streets that aren't highways. These standards forced cities to design streets for high speeds in urban areas where the exact opposite treatment is needed. Good riddance (assuming the change is finalized).
Paris's carfree day. Paris kicked cars off center-city streets for a day leading up to the COP21 climate talks, and by all accounts it was a huge relief, "like a headache lifting."
Portland's carfree Tilikum Crossing. With space for walking, biking, and transit, not for cars, this is an impressive bridge, even for Portland.
Houston's bus system redesign. Yes, you can make a better bus system without an infusion of cash. Houston Metro, working with consultant Jarrett Walker, overhauled its bus system to deliver frequent service where it's needed. The changes are beginning to inspire other cities, like Columbus, Ohio.
The status-quofive-year transportation bill, funded by accounting gimmicks. Thanks, Congress.
Temporary license plates exist so that people who buy cars can drive them before receiving metal plates. But drivers found another use for them during the pandemic: buy a temp tag on the black market and you can keep your car anonymous and off the books.
Instead of endless promises to fix America's "crumbling roads and bridges," filmmaker Andy Boenau argues we need to talk about our crumbling minds and bodies — and how our autocentric infrastructure approach contributes to them.