Transportation

Infrastructure

New Jersey to throw more money at long-stalled megamall

Stately pleasure dome or boondoggle? Xanadu gets a new name, and a new chunk of state money.Photo: Pro PublicaNew Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been quite literally making a federal case out of his refusal to return funding for the ARC Tunnel. Slated to be one of the biggest public works projects in the country history, this rail tunnel between New York and New Jersey died with a whimper last year when Christie pulled his state’s support, citing concerns about potential cost overruns. Now he is saying that if the feds want back the $271 million they have sunk into …

Infrastructure

11 U.S. cities honored as ‘walk-friendly': Seattle ranks first

Seattle got the “platinum” ranking for its efforts to make the city more walkable.Photo: chrissudermanCross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. After evaluating applicant communities in several categories related to walking — including safety, mobility, access, and comfort — the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) last week announced the selection of 11 Walk Friendly Communities across the U.S. They are ranked in categories of achievement, as follows: Platinum Level Seattle, Wash. Gold Level Ann Arbor, Mich. Arlington, Va. Hoboken, N.J. Santa Barbara, Calif. Silver Level Charlottesville, Va. Decatur, Ga. Bronze Level Austin, Texas Charlotte, N.C. Flagstaff, Ariz. Wilsonville, Ore. …

Did we just hit peak cars?

Phil Goodwin, a transport economist at Oxford University, has a pile of statistics saying that car use is already on the decline — in the U.K. In its place, walking, bicycling, and trains are roaring back to life.  Transport economists never predicted the precipitous drop-off in use of rail or buses in the early part of the 20th century, so they're determined not to be caught flat-footed again in the transportation revolution that's only just beginning. Academics have determined that miles traveled by auto and the number of car trips have both been declining since the mid-90's, but meanwhile the …

The solution to the parking problem is charging through the nose for it

Normally, when a resource is scarce, we let the market set its price. So why not do the same with parking? That's what the city of San Francisco has decided to to, because it is populated with geniuses who own iPads and still manage to get a tan. By using “demand pricing” — in which the price of a parking spot reflects what time of day it is and how many people might want it — unnecessary or extended stays in parking spots are discouraged. The idea isn't merely that only rich people should be allowed to park on public …

Sprawl

Desperate sprawl developer gives away cars with houses

Desperate measures.My head nearly exploded at the breakfast table on Saturday morning. I was reading a piece in The New York Times about an Illinois developer who has finally found a way to unload the new houses he has built some 50 miles from downtown Chicago, in a place he has seen fit to dub a “Village of Yesteryear.” When drastic price cuts weren’t enough to entice buyers, he decided to throw in $17,000 cash toward the purchase of a car with every house. (That money can only be spent at the local General Motors dealer, of course — because, …

Biking

How the bicycle economy can help us beat the energy crisis

This is the fifth column in a series focusing on the economics of bicycling. Libya. Bahrain. Iraq. Afghanistan. Canada. Fukushima. North Dakota. The Gulf Coast. Pennsylvania. Each of these stories stands alone as an urgent parable about our increasingly fragile reliance on affordable, plentiful energy. Take them together, and the myth of abundant fuel that our economy relies on falls to pieces all at once. What if there were some source of energy that could replace a substantial part of our current consumption? One that didn’t rely on coal, or on corn, or on fast-track investment in renewables? One with negligible …

Cities

Take a ride on a Barcelona streetcar in 1908 [VIDEO]

Sometimes, on a Friday, all you want is to look at something that is just plain wonderful. To that end, I submit this film, shot from a Barcelona streetcar back in 1908. It’s a delightful artifact of a time when streets functioned very differently than they do today — with bicycles, pedestrians, horsedrawn carriages, trams, and the occasional car moving along together in a pattern that is far more organic than mechanized. People swoop and dash and dodge and meander through the frame, looking back at the camera operator with an amused expression or a friendly smile every now and …

150 MPH bus is basically a public transit Batmobile

Hey, life imitates Onion! A physicist in the Netherlands has designed the "Superbus," a sleek 23-seater that can go up to 150 miles per hour. And it's electric! You're not drunk, the video is in Dutch, but we assume he's saying "dude, this thing is fast as BALLS, and look at all the Delorean doors! Seriously, it's like Batman meets Speed meets Back to the Future." Okay, so there's the teeny problem where if you don't live in Europe, a vehicle on the highway going 150 miles per hour is kind of cause for alarm. The inventor is envisioning the …

Biking

Resilient Tokyo: commuters learn to love the bike

There’s more of this in Tokyo these days.Photo: Byron Kidd Shortly after last month’s disastrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan, we posted a dispatch from Tokyo by Bike blogger Byron Kidd (@tokyobybike) about how more people were biking to work in the quake’s aftermath. Today, The New York Times has a story about how the uptick in bicycle commuting seems to be persisting in the weeks following the tragedy: [Shigeki] Kobayashi, director of [a] bicycle advocacy group, regularly counts the number of bikers passing by a busy boulevard that leads to downtown Tokyo. On a day last November, he counted …