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Today’s Headlines

  • No, Miami Herald, the South Beach Streetcar Would Not “Eliminate Traffic Lanes”
  • Charlotte Is Studying Protected Bike Lanes (Charlotte Observer)
  • Durham Considers Downtown Parking Rate Hike (News and Observer)
  • Charlotte Orthopedists Stencil Workout Routines on Sidewalks (WCNC)
  • Unlicensed Driver Hits Child in Lake Worth School Crosswalk — No Criminal Charges (Palm Beach Post)
  • Athens, GA Picks Which Sidewalks to Build First (Banner-Herald)
  • More on the Plan to “Stitch” Atlanta’s Freeway Scars (What Now Atlanta)
  • Charleston Can Make Parking Easy or Inexpensive, But Not Both (P&C)

More links at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog.net

Portland Will Connect Streets Over a Highway With a Car-Free Bridge

Portland's newest car-free bridge will complete a key bike route. Image via Bike Portland

Here’s one way to heal some of the damage created by urban interstates.

Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports that the city has won a $2.6 million state grant to help it complete a key bike route. To fill in the missing segment, Portland has to create a path across a big sunken highway. So the city will use the grant, combined with some local funds, to build a bike and pedestrian bridge over I-405.

Maus explains why this is such a smart investment:

Portland leaders have been working for over a decade to close this gap. Former mayor Sam Adams first proposed the idea of a new bridge over Flanders in 2006 when he was PBOT Commissioner. He continued to work on the project until his run for mayor in 2008 but was not able to make it happen.

According to the city’s grant application, the bridge would likely average about 3,000 crossings as soon as it opens as people shift their routes from the busy and high-stress crossings at Everett, Glisan and Couch. Once greenway elements like speed bumps, signage, and diverters are added to the street, it’s estimated that the new bridge would see 9,100 trips per day. That’s more than the amount of daily bike trips over the Hawthorne Bridge.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Charleston Council Rep Keith Waring Opposes Bike Lane, Says Cyclists Sometimes “Have to Die” (P&C)
  • Virginian-Pilot Endorses Expansion of Light Rail in Virginia Beach
  • Beat the Heat With Miami’s Air-Conditioned Bus Shelters (Miami Herald)
  • Plan for New Complete Street to Tennessee Riverwalk Draws Opposition (Chattanooga TFP)
  • Tennessee May Lose Federal Transpo Funds After Making It Easier to Drive Drunk (Tennessean)
  • I-285 Is the Deadliest Freeway in America (AJC)
  • Bike Path Along 400 in Atlanta Inches Forward (Buckhead View)
  • Milledgeville, GA Seeks Silver Bike-Friendly Status (Union Recorder)
  • Birmingham’s New 12th Court Bridge Will Better Accommodate Walking (AL.com)
  • Better Land Use Planning Could’ve Helped Prevent Baton Rouge Flooding (CityLab)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

Carless Renters Forced to Pay $440 Million a Year for Parking They Don’t Use

Many residents of American cities can’t escape the high cost of parking, even if they don’t own cars. Thanks to policies like mandatory parking requirements and the practice of “bundling” parking with housing, carless renters pay $440 million each year for parking they don’t use, according to a new study by C.J. Gabbe and Gregory Pierce in the journal Housing Policy Debate.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The financial burden works out to an average of $621 annually per household, or a 13 percent rent premium — and it is concentrated among households that can least afford it. “Minimum parking standards create a major equity problem for carless households,” said Gabbe. “71 percent of renters without a car live in housing with at least one parking space included in their rent.”

Parking is typically bundled with rent, making the price of residential parking opaque. So Gabbe and Pierce set out to estimate how much people are actually paying for the parking that comes with their apartments.

Crunching Census data from a representative sample of more than 38,000 rental units in American urban areas, they isolated the relationship between parking provision and housing prices. They determined that on average, a garaged parking space adds about $1,700 per year in rent — a 17 percent premium.

Looking only at carless households, the average cost is $621 per year and the premium is 13 percent. On average these households earn about $24,000 annually, compared to $44,000 for the whole sample, and they get no value whatsoever out of the parking spaces bundled with their rent.

Gabbe and Pierce estimate that nationwide there are 708,000 households without a car renting an apartment with a garaged parking space, for a total cost burden of about $440 million per year due to unused parking.

So how can parking policy create fairer housing prices?

Gabbe and Pierce say cities should eliminate minimum parking requirements to make housing more affordable. Cities can also help by allowing and encouraging landlords to “unbundle” the cost of parking from the cost of rent — so people who don’t have cars aren’t forced to pay for parking spaces they don’t use.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Should Greenville, NC, Commit to Zero Pedestrian Deaths? (Daily Reflector)
  • Cobb Businesses Drop Challenge to Braves Fans Walking to New Stadium (AJC)
  • Georgia State University, Atlanta Cut Deal to Develop Turner Field’s Parking Lots (Creative Loafing)
  • Connection to MARTA Is Key for Massive Doraville Project (Marietta Daily Journal)
  • ‘Cash Mob’ Draws Attention to Need for Bike Lanes (Access Atlanta)
  • Two-Way Conversions, Extended Grid Coming to Midtown Atlanta (Curbed)
  • Miami Startup Uses Lyft to Take People to the Doctor (Miami Herald)
  • Memphis Taxi Company Sues Uber and Lyft (Commercial Appeal)
  • Tour de Collierville Set for September 3 (Commercial Appeal)
  • Alabama DOT Eyes Diverging Diamond for Major I-65 Interchange (Birmingham Business Journal)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

State DOTs to Feds: We Don’t Want to Reveal Our Impact on Climate Change

State DOTs don’t want to report on how their spending decisions affect greenhouse gas emissions. Photo: Andrew Boone

State DOTs don’t want to report on how their spending decisions affect greenhouse gas emissions. Photo: Andrew Boone

Every year state DOTs receive tens of billions of dollars in transportation funds from the federal government. By and large, they can do whatever they want with the money, which in most states means wasting enormous sums on pork-laden highway projects. Now that U.S. DOT might impose some measure of accountability on how states use these funds, of course the states are fighting to keep their spending habits as opaque as possible.

At issue are proposed “performance measures” that U.S. DOT will establish to track whether states make progress on goals like reducing traffic injuries or cutting greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. For the first time, state DOTs will have to set targets and measure their progress toward achieving them. It is strictly a transparency initiative — there are no penalties for failure to meet the targets.

Nevertheless, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), doesn’t want to expose the effect of state transportation policies to public scrutiny. AASHTO has released a 110-page comment [PDF] on U.S. DOT’s proposed performance measures, rattling off a litany of objections.

Here are a few highlights:

AASHTO doesn’t want to measure greenhouse gas emissions

In a meeting with federal officials in May [PDF], AASHTO leaders opposed a rule that would require state DOTs to measure their greenhouse gas emissions. Environmentalists and even some state DOTs support this rule (there is some diversity of opinion within AASHTO). But the AASHTO leadership really dislikes it. In its comments, AASHTO said it doesn’t believe the feds have the “legislative authority” make state DOTs track carbon emissions.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Jealous Atlanta Suburbs Want to Link Into the BeltLine (Curbed)
  • MARTA Is Giving Riders Crayons and Glitter to Design New Signs (Curbed)
  • ‘Capping’ Atlanta’s Downtown Connector With Parks and High-Rises Gets Another Look (Atlanta Magazine)
  • Lawsuit Challenging Bonds for Florida’s Brightline Moves Forward (Palm Beach Post)
  • Are We Ready for Driverless Cars? (Florida Weekly)
  • Richmond Rail-Trail Takes Shape (PBS)
  • Things to Know About Nashville-to-Claresville Commuter Rail (Leaf-Chronicle)
  • Portion of Louisiana 561 Collapses Because of Flooding (Monroe News Star)
  • Mississippi DOT Launches Pedestrian Safety Campaign (WDAM)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Today’s Headlines

  • Light Rail Gets Short Shrift in Tampa Transpo Summit (Tampa Bay Times)
  • StyleBluePrint Profiles Atlanta’s Chief Bicycle Officer, Becky Katz
  • Memphis and Nashville Bus Riders Lobby for Better Transit (Public News Service)
  • Virginia Might Pay for Metro Riders to Take Uber to Stations (Daily Caller)
  • Caddo Parish, LA, Could Spend $4 Million on Bike Infrastructure (Shreveport Times)
  • Some Jerk in a BMW Hit Two People in Buckhead (AJC)
  • College Park, GA, Getting New Bike Racks (AJC)
  • Street Closed to Make Way for MiamiCentral Train Station (Miami Today)
  • Salisbury, NC Receives Funding for Carolina Thread Trail (Salisbury Post)
  • Arkansas Studies Toll Roads (KNWA)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via PlanCharlotte.org

Funds Can Help Save Farmland From Development

Almond Farm in Stanly County. Photo: Crystal Cockman

The Almond Farm in Stanly County has been protected using Natural Resources Conservation Service and N.C. Department of Agriculture funds. Photo: Crystal Cockman

Agriculture and agribusiness account for one-sixth of North Carolina’s economy and employees and more than 17 percent, or $84 billion, of the $482 billion Gross State Product. It’s no wonder farmland preservation is viewed as important to the future of our state. One way agricultural lands in our state are being protected is through Voluntary Agricultural Districts. The purpose of the Agricultural District Program is “to encourage the preservation and protection of farmland from nonfarm development.” Counties adopt Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinances and Enhanced Voluntary Agricultural District Ordinances, which provide for creation of an Agricultural Advisory Board to administer the programs. The boards determine where agricultural districts will be and review and approve applications for qualifying farmland. Of the state’s 100 counties, 87 have the agricultural district programs, and 27 have the enhanced program. And 54 counties have farmland protection plans approved by the N.C. Department of Agriculture. Benefits of being in a voluntary agricultural district include: Read more...
Streetsblog USA

John Oliver on the Cruel Poverty Trap That Is Subprime Auto Lending


Never forget this: Those who pay the highest price for the American system of transportation — one that makes owning a personal car practically a mandate — are the poor. We’ve reported before about how the largely unregulated subprime auto lending market has been expanding in recent years, leading some people to wonder if a breakdown in the auto loan industry could echo the housing bubble.

HBO funnyman John Oliver, along with guest stars Keegan-Michael Key and Bob Balaban, took on the topic in a recent segment we thought was worth sharing.

Here is a shortlist of some of the horrors Oliver describes:

  • Commutes that are virtually impossible by transit,
  • Cars sold for double the Kelly Blue Book value,
  • Interest rates as high as 29 percent,
  • A single Kia tracked by the Los Angeles Times that was sold, repossessed or returned eight times in three years,
  • In-car devices that beep in the event of a missed payment before disabling the vehicle entirely, and
  • Default and repossession rates of 31 percent.

It’s cruel that our society all but requires people purchase an expensive consumer product, trapping them in usurious financing schemes, just to participate in the workforce. But because of our auto-centric land use and transportation policies, that is precisely the quandary too many Americans face.