Cities

How things changed

The transportation story at the heart of a history-making crisis

There’s a remarkable graph that has starred in blog posts and news stories with some regularity over the past year. It shows vehicle miles traveled in America over the last quarter century or so. For most of the period, the line rockets upward, straight and true, preparing to blast off the page. But then the strangest thing happens. In 2004, it starts to level off. And in 2008, it begins to decline. The tale behind that line grows in significance by the day. That rocket-ride upward corresponds fairly directly to the economic story that has culminated in the current crisis. …

Come on ride the train ... hey ride it

Transit ridership up; everyone agrees it should be funded

This week the Washington Post reported that mass transit ridership is rocketing upward — "the largest quarterly increase in public transportation ridership in 25 years" — even in the face of falling gas prices. This correction that now sits atop the story is amusing: This article about an increase in mass-transit ridership incorrectly said transit officials estimate that 40,000 jobs would be created by 736 transit projects nationwide if federal money were made available. The correct number is 340,000 jobs. Yes, Virginia, public investment does create jobs. Despite growing demand, the budget crunch has many transit agencies cutting service. The …

Stimulating thoughts

Green stimulus: Where can the money go, and how fast?

In his radio address on Sunday, Obama sketched a progressive stimulus spending package that’s kicked up quite a bit of chatter. Some transit advocates were ticked off that roads and bridges got a shout-out but there was no mention of transit. Michael O’Hare goes so far as to say that "Obama has, on the whole, dropped the ball on climate change; he’s not anti-science or anti-environment, but he’s failing a big test here." Ryan Avent says to chill: the road stuff is likely about repairing existing road infrastructure, not laying new roads. I’d add that transit’s been mentioned by Obama’s …

Never doubt that a single crank can change the world

SanFran anti-transit activist puts $1 million between the city and bike infrastructure

Streetsblog brings word of a bafflesome episode in the life of San Francisco: Two-and-a-half years after a judge issued an injunction preventing the city from adding any new bicycle infrastructure to its streets, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and the San Francisco Planning Department have released a 1353-page Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) on the San Francisco Bicycle Plan. At a cost of more than $1 million, the city has attempted to demonstrate in excruciating detail what would seem to be obvious: better bicycle amenities contribute to increased cycling and an improved environment. Apparently SanFran undertook this research …

Connect the dots

For stronger cities, build better connections

Infrastructure is a dull business. The guy talking about pipes and wires is not generally the life of the party (to my chagrin). But infrastructure is all the rage these days, with economists calling for broad stimulus, and Barack Obama’s transition team planning big investments in the American economy. The excitement seems to be catching. Even staid legislators are feeling energized by the new push to rebuild America. Last week, Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) introduced the High-Speed Rail for America Act, a bill that would authorize $23 billion in bond sales to fund rail infrastructure generally, …

Giving thanks ... for links

Some leftovers to browse before T-Giving

I’ve got about 40 tabs open in my browser, and that’s no way to go into a holiday weekend. Time for an old-fashioned link-fest! —– I never managed to say anything about it, but novelist Ian McEwan had a delightfully literary and readable essay on Obama and climate change in The Guardian. Definitely worth reading. The Wall Street Journal has a special package on Obama’s green challenge, with a focus on reducing demand in light of falling oil prices. With video! I know Gristians got no love for biofuels, even the cellulosic variety, but this story describes some very cool …