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#StreetFail: The 46th Avenue “Bike Lane” Is Actually a Parking Lane


On the city’s bike map, 46th Avenue has bike lanes, but it in real life, it doesn’t. Photo: David Sachs

Drivers parking in bike lanes are a chronic problem in Denver. Even bike lanes that are supposed to be physically separated from traffic haven’t been designed well enough to keep parked cars out. But this “bike lane” takes the cake. It was literally designed for cars to park in.

This street design is on a mile-long stretch of 46th Avenue in Berkeley. It’s on Denver Public Works’ official map of bike lanes (and it’s part of the D2 regional bike route), but it shouldn’t qualify as a bike lane, because it’s a parking lane.

On the north side of the street drivers can park in the bike lane any time, except for once a month during the summer when street sweepers come through. On the south side of the street, people can park in the bike lane except on weekends and holidays.

Apparently, DPW expected people riding bikes to weave into the traffic lane as they encounter parked cars. Expecting bicyclists to swerve in and out of car traffic is not only dangerous, it’s hypocritical. DPW tells people to “ride in a straight line” and “always stay within a single lane” on its “Rules of the Road” website.

The two-way street is in a residential neighborhood with lots of driveways and has a posted speed limit of 30 mph (except for a portion in a 20 mph school zone). One section of the bike lane runs along Rocky Mountain Lake Park, which has three parking lots.

No modern street design manual recommends that bike lanes share space with parked cars. It’s not a thing, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials manual, to which Denver purportedly subscribes.

The design appears to be a relic from a much earlier, less enlightened era at DPW, but it was actually installed in 2012, according to the department. Almost any other treatment you could think of would be safer.

Got a picture of something that’s making Denver’s streets better? Worse? Share it on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #SweetStreet or #StreetFail, and we may share it on the blog. You can email me as well.

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Why a Struggling Industrial City Decided Bikes Are the Way Forward

Reading, Pennsylvania, isn’t your stereotypical biking mecca. It’s a low-income, largely Latino, post-industrial city of almost 90,000 people.

But without much of anything in the way of bike infrastructure, Reading has the third-highest rate of bike commuting in Pennsylvania and is among the top 15 cities on the East Coast.

Some civic leaders in Reading have seized on the idea of better serving people who bike as a way to improve safety and community, as well as to help reverse the legacy of sprawl and disinvestment.

We’re excited to be the first to post this video from the Portland-based publishing crew Elly Blue and Joe Biel.

The film is part of a short series (the next one will air here next week) the Elly and Joe produced to show a broader cross-section of regions and people working on bike issues. They made the films while traveling around America on their Dinner and Bikes Tour.
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Restrictive Housing Policies in a Few Cities Hurt the Whole U.S. Economy

The San Francisco Bay Area is not building nearly enough housing to keep pace with job growth. The result is an affordability crisis. Graphic: Plan Bay Area 2040 via Kim-Mai Cutler

The San Francisco Bay Area is not building nearly enough housing to keep pace with job growth. The result is an affordability crisis. Graphic: Plan Bay Area 2040 via Kim-Mai Cutler [PDF]

It’s no secret that major coastal cities are dealing with a housing shortage that’s causing runaway rents. What’s less well understood, however, is how low-density zoning not only limits the supply of housing but affects the U.S. economy more broadly.

Pete Rodrigue at Greater Greater Washington points to a study estimating the economic impact of policies like single-family zoning and height limits, which restrict access to places where economic opportunity is greatest. Even looking at just three regions, the effect is huge:

Economists Enrico Moretti and Chang-Tai Hsieh find that if we lowered restrictions that keep people from building new housing in just three cities (New York, San Jose, and San Francisco) to the level of the median American city, US GDP would have been 9.7% higher in 2009—about $1.4 trillion, or $6,300 for every American worker…

Just changing zoning practices in those three cities would lead to some massive shifts, according to the authors. One-third of workers would change cities (although they wouldn’t necessarily move to those three metros). Even under a less drastic scenario, in which 20% of US workers were able to move, GDP would be 6.5% higher. Fewer people would live in places like Detroit, Phoenix, or Atlanta, but those who remained would earn higher wages. And, of course, the likely reduction in sprawl would help address local air pollution, global warming, and habitat loss.

Rodrigue suggests how the implications of this work should be applied in the DC region:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Hit-and-Run Driver Who Killed Bicyclist Jason Holden Still Loose (Coloradoan)
  • Will Driverless Cars Ban Humans From Operating Weapons on Wheels? (DenPo)
  • Once Realized, Confluence Park Redesign Will Unify Area (Tribune)
  • The Public Can Influence the Highline Canal Trail’s Future (Profile)
  • Is Council President Brooks’ “Rambling” Ban a Tool to Quell Criticism of Hancock? (Independent)
  • Manitou Springs Doubles Parking Fees at Base of Popular Trails (CBS4)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Will US DOT’s Self-Driving Car Rules Make Streets Safe for Walking and Biking?

This week, U.S. DOT released guidelines for self-driving cars, a significant step as regulators prepare for companies to bring this new technology to market. Autonomous vehicles raise all sorts of questions about urban transportation systems. It’s up to advocates to ensure that the technology helps accomplish broader goals like safer streets and more efficient use of urban space, instead of letting private companies dictate the terms.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The rules that the feds put out will be revised over time, and the public can weigh in during that process. With that in mind, I’ve been reviewing the guidelines and talking to experts about their implications for city streets — and especially for pedestrian and cyclist safety. Here are a few key things to consider as regulations for self-driving cars get fleshed out.

Fully autonomous cars can’t break traffic laws.

The feds say self-driving cars should adhere to all traffic laws. In practice, this means they’ll have to do things like obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Following the rules may be a pretty low bar to clear, but it’s more than most human drivers can say for themselves.

Transit advocate Ben Ross points out, however, that this standard will only apply to “highly automated vehicles” (HAVs). Cars that are lower down on the autonomy spectrum — where a person is deemed the driver, not a machine — wouldn’t need to have features that override human error.

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WalkDenver: Hancock’s Budget “Reflects a Status Quo Mentality”


Mayor Hancock has set a goal to reduce car commuting and improve walking, biking, and transit, but he is not committing the resources necessary to make that happen. Image: WalkDenver

Last week Streetsblog looked at Mayor Michael Hancock’s proposed 2017 budget and was not impressed. Despite the mayor’s stated commitment to ending traffic deaths, he’s not committing much in the way of actual resources to safe walking and biking.

The pedestrian advocates at WalkDenver have been combing through the budget as well. In a newsletter published today, WalkDenver says that despite “a few wins for Denver residents yearning for more safe, healthy, and convenient transportation options, overall it falls short.”

While Hancock made good on some recommendations from the Vision Zero Coalition, his budget ignores Colfax Avenue, according to WalkDenver’s analysis, where five people were killed in traffic crashes last year.

Hancock’s budget “lacks vision and strategic thinking,” writes WalkDenver Program and Policy Director Jill Locantore, and will not help Denver reach goals like reducing solo car commuting to 60 percent of all commutes by 2020. Driving solo to work has only increased since 2005.

Head over to WalkDenver’s website for the entire analysis — it’s worth a read. Below are some highlights:

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The Threat of Racial Profiling in Traffic Enforcement

This map shows the streets where 50 percent of fatal traffic crashes occur in San Jose. But in yellow, we see there's a strong overlap with "disadvantaged" areas, where immigrants, low-income people and people of color are concentrated. Map via Cyclelicious

The blue lines are streets where fatal traffic crashes occur in San Jose. There’s a lot of overlap with the areas in yellow, areas with large numbers of immigrants, low-income residents, and people of color. Map via Cyclelicious

Can urban police forces with histories of racial profiling and brutality be entrusted to carry out traffic enforcement as part of Vision Zero initiatives? In a Twitter chat yesterday, the Safe Routes to School National Partnership asked how to ensure that “law enforcement doesn’t profile or discriminate” when asked to uphold traffic laws.

Responding on Cyclelicious, Richard Masoner offers some data that illustrates the tension in San Jose:

As part of their Vision Zero effort, the city of San Jose, CA Police Traffic Enforcement Unit has adopted a data driven approach to enforcing traffic infractions. 50% of traffic fatalities in San Jose occur on just 3% of city streets. These “Safety Priority Streets” are portions of Almaden Expressway, Alum Rock Avenue, Blossom Hill Road, Branham Lane, Capitol Expressway, Jackson Avenue, King Road, McKee Road, McLaughlin Avenue, Monterey Road, Senter Road, Story Road, Tully Road, and White Road. Both cyclist fatalities in 2014 occurred on one of these streets, and the majority of cycling deaths in San Jose continue to occur on those roads.

JPD love this data, and it was very easy to convince them to use their very limited resources to target enforcement where they can do the most good.

But see what happens when we overlay the map of what our regional planning agency identifies as “Communities of Concern,” which are neighborhoods with a high proportion of minorities, recent immigrants, and low-income households.

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Today’s Headlines

  • CDOT’s Bustang Now Offers Broncos Game Service From Fort Collins, CO Springs (9News)
  • Banning Troubled People From Cherry Creek Trail Just Pushes Them Into Neighborhoods (ABC7)
  • Hancock Administration Dismantles “Pipe Town,” a Homeless Encampment (Westword)
  • Zipcar Joins Car2go on Anschutz Medical Campus (Sentinel)
  • Six Area Developments Get Tax Credit for Affordable Housing (DBJ)
  • DenverUrbanism Schedules Next Meetup for Wednesday

More headlines at Streetsblog USA


Survey: Denverites Are Fed Up With Traffic and Want Better Transit

Screen Shot 2016-09-21 at 11.47.29 AM

Image: City and County of Denver

The top long-term priorities for Denver residents are reducing traffic congestion, creating more affordable housing, and improving transit options, according to a survey conducted for the Denveright planning initiative.

The city shared the survey results so far (you can still take it) last night at the first meeting of the “Community Think Tank,” a group of residents who will “provide input on key items” in the Denveright plan.

“When we begin to think about changes that we’d like to see occurring, we see the decrease in traffic, the increase in transit — the yin and the yang working together,” said Andy Mountain of GBSM, the firm that’s facilitating the public process.

Between July and mid-September, about 1,800 people filled out the survey — either online or in person at Denveright events. The 65 members of the Think Tank, whom the city selected after an application process, took the survey separately. While the survey was not conducted as a scientific random sample, it can illustrate how the priorities of the public at large compare to the Think Tank. City planners wanted the Think Tank to see both the disparities and the common themes that emerged.

Here are the results from two other questions:

Read more…

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Finally Some Relief for Memphis Bus Riders

The shameful state of Memphis’s bus system is one of the more outrageous stories in American transit.

Buses in Memphis are in such bad shape, there have been a number of fires. But help is on the way. Photo via Memphis Bus Riders Union

Buses in Memphis are in such bad shape, they’ve been known to catch fire. But help is on the way. Photo via Memphis Bus Riders Union

When we checked in with the advocates at the Memphis Bus Riders Union in March, they told us the local transit agency, MATA, was running buses so poorly maintained that they were known to catch fire. In the midst of this crisis, local business leaders had marshaled enough cash to restore the city’s historic trolley system, which mostly serves tourists. Meanwhile, MATA was struggling just to maintain bare-bones operations, with a 17 percent service cut looming.

The current condition of buses is so poor, riders can’t even be assured a bus will arrive no matter how long they wait, said Bennett Foster of the Bus Riders Union.

“Some routes are not being served throughout the day due to a lack of buses,” Foster told Streetsblog. “When a bus breaks down they don’t have another bus to send out. There are people in the city every day who experience just no buses running.”

But the advocacy of the Bus Riders Union is getting results. Mayor Jim Strickland has allocated an additional $7.5 million from the city budget toward the transit system this year. About $5 million of that will be reserved for replacing buses — an absolute necessity.

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