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Denver Post Got It Wrong: Parking Minimums Make Traffic Worse, Not Better

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The more off-street parking spaces in a neighborhood, the more likely people will drive. Photo: David Sachs

In an editorial published Monday, the Denver Post defended five City Council members who want to force home builders to provide storage for private automobiles, even though that makes housing less affordable. According to the geniuses on the Post editorial board, making Denver residents pay more for housing is worth it because the parking requirements will reduce traffic congestion.

They couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.

The editorial board cherry-picks a quote from Donald Shoup, the economist who literally wrote the book on how parking requirements damage cities — The High Cost of Free Parking.

The quote in question explains that drivers circling streets looking for curbside parking spots account for a significant amount of traffic. But apparently no one at the Post read beyond the first paragraph of Shoup’s piece.

If they had, they would have seen that drivers cruise for parking not because developers refuse to build off-street spaces. They cruise for parking because the spaces on the street are so cheap. Here’s the part that the Post left out:

When drivers compare the prices of parking at the curb or in a garage, they usually decide the price of garage parking is too high, but instead the reverse is true. The price of curb parking is too low. Underpriced curb spaces are like rent-controlled apartments: they are hard to find, and once you find a space you’d be crazy to give it up. This makes curb spaces even harder to find, and increases the time cost (and therefore the congestion and pollution costs) of searching for them.

The South Pearl Street district, which the City Council and the Post focus on because of a pending parking-light development there, has free street parking. If the Post really wants to reduce congestion, they should be calling for the city to put the right price on those parking spots.

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Streetsblog USA
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Report: Access to Car-Share and Bike-Share Is Worse in Communities of Color

Graph: Shared use Mobility Center

In many major American cities, communities of color have worse access to car-share and bike-share than majority white neighborhoods. Chart: Shared Use Mobility Center

Car-share and bike-share services are making it easier to go without owning a car in American cities, but access to “shared-use” systems remains limited in communities of color compared to majority-white neighborhoods, according to a new analysis from the Shared Use Mobility Center [PDF].

Urban areas with low car-ownership rates and strong transit are ideal for car and bike sharing. But a SUMC study found communities of color were being left out. Map: Shared Use Mobility Center

SUMC’s map of where car-share and bike-share would be most useful in Portland.

SUMC developed a method to analyze which places have the most potential for car-share and bike-share usage across 27 American metros. Areas with relatively high transit ridership, low car ownership, and small blocks (which enhance walkability) are where share-use systems can be most useful, according to SUMC.

SUMC then compared these areas of “opportunity” for car-share and bike-share to areas where the services are actually available. In many cities, SUMC observed that dense low-income neighborhoods lack access to shared-use systems even though they have the necessary characteristics for success:

While they have been often passed over by private operators, these neighborhoods have many of the key qualities — including high population density, transit access, and walkability — needed to support shared-use systems. Additionally, the opportunity to scale up shared modes in these neighborhoods is especially compelling since they stand to profit most from the benefits of shared mobility, including reduced household transportation costs and increased connectivity to jobs and opportunities outside the immediate community.

A clear racial disparity is apparent in many cities. In Chicago, for instance, 72 percent of low-income, majority-white neighborhoods have access to shared-use systems, according to SUMC’s analysis, but only 48 percent of low-income communities of color do. The disparity persists regardless of income levels. In well-off majority-white Chicago neighborhoods, 77 percent of households have access to car-share or bike-share, compared to just 49 percent in affluent majority-minority neighborhoods.

Not all cities have these disparities, but the pattern is alarmingly common.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Can a Major Minneapolis Transit Project Survive Regional Dysfunction?

The Twin Cities’ Orange Line bus rapid transit project ought to be a slam dunk. According to Sean Hayford O’Leary at streets.mn, it will provide frequent service and travel times similar to the region’s successful light rail lines, which carrying tens of thousands of passengers daily. At just $150 million to construct, the Orange Line will be a bargain.

The funding agreement for the Orange Line, which would connect communities south of downtown Minneapolis, is in jeopardy. Map via streets.mn

But dysfunctional regional politics may cut off $45 million in funding, O’Leary reports, threatening the project:

Residents of South Minneapolis, Richfield, and Bloomington got some very bad news last week. In response to a move by Dakota County to leave the Counties Transit Improvement Board, CTIB is considering withdrawing its funding for the Orange Line Bus Rapid Transit.

Although end-to-end, the line connects Dakota County to downtown Minneapolis, the vast majority of the capital investment, stops, and riders are within Hennepin County. Although I do not agree with Dakota County’s decision to leave CTIB, I am outraged that the CTIB board is playing political games with a much-needed, cost-effective transit line that will serve my community.

I spoke with Christina Morrison, the Metro Transit project manager for the Orange Line. According to Morrison, 92% of the 2040 Orange Line boardings are anticipated to be from Hennepin County. This is overwhelmingly a project that will serve Hennepin County residents and businesses.

What’s more, according to Morrison, CTIB’s $45 million contribution would come from the years 2016, 2017, and 2018 — and Dakota County’s payments to CTIB would not terminate until the end of 2018. Even with their withdrawal, Dakota County would still be paying their fair share toward this project.

Elsewhere on the Network today: The Urban Edge shares survey data showing that Houston Metro riders, not long after a major bus network redesign, are largely satisfied with service. And Transportation for America reports from North Nashville, where the neighborhood is trying to repair damage done by an urban highway with an assist from U.S. DOT’s Every Place Counts initiative.

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Today’s Headlines

  • ABC7 Picks Up the Story on Drivers Barricading the Wynkoop Bike Lane
  • Despite Supposedly Stiffer Law, Albert Torres Won’t Get Jail Time for Fifth DUI (DenPo)
  • How the “Prototyping Festival” Enlivened the 16th Street Mall (Confluence)
  • About 200 Homes Replacing Trailer Park in Westwood (BusinessDen)
  • Driver Who Killed 8-Year-Old Peyton Knowlton in Longmont Was Probably Drunk, High (CBS4)
  • Feds Will Help Colorado DOT Widen I-25 in Northern Colorado (CPR)
  • Driver Injures Five During Police Chase (Fox31)
  • Glenwood Springs Delays Bike Share Two Years (DenPo)
  • Why Drivers Who Live South of Denver Don’t Have to Pay Tolls (ABC7)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Takeaways From a Ride on RTD’s B-Line, Denver’s Newest Rail Route

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Photo: David Sachs

RTD is having a busy 2016, and it continued Monday with the opening of the B-Line between Westminster and Union Station.

The commuter rail line gets people between downtown and Westminster in 11 minutes. It arrives every 30 minutes during peak hours (5:50 – 8:30 a.m. and 3:20 – 7:30 p.m.) and every hour the rest of the day. The train, which costs $2.60 one-way, does not stop between downtown and its northern suburb.

I hopped on the B-Line at Union Station yesterday afternoon, took the quick trip to Westminster Station, and walked around for a bit. Here are some takeaways.

There are two stations along the B-Line that the train does not serve.

Flying by at 79 mph, the train passed two RTD stations. Those are the Pecos Junction and 41st and Fox stations — part of the G-Line, scheduled to open this fall. You’d think both the B and G Lines would utilize the stops. Doing so would mean trains come more frequently, and higher frequency grows ridership by providing shorter wait times and flexibility for riders.

Read more…

Streetsblog.net
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Tim Kaine Took a Stand Against Cul-de-Sacs

Even though the Democratic Party’s strongholds are in cities, we probably won’t hear much about urban transportation and development policy at the Democratic National Convention this week. City issues seldom get much play when political parties are focused on scooping up swing votes in the suburbs.

Tim Kaine. Photo via Tim Kaine

Tim Kaine

But Hillary Clinton’s VP choice, Tim Kaine, is the former mayor of Richmond, Virginia, and experience running a city is surprisingly rare for someone on a presidential ticket.

So Greater Greater Washington writers have weighed in on his urban policy track record. Here’s a look at the evidence.

Before he was mayor, Kaine made a name for himself as a lawyer fighting housing discrimination, writes Joanne Pierce:

Kaine was on the board of Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia from 1986-1994 and 2011-2013, starting before he got into local politics.

He helped represent HOME against Nationwide Insurance, which had labeled minority neighborhoods as undesirable and pulled its agents from those areas. He also helped represent HOME against General Services Corp, which made apartment brochures that featured more white people and lacked equal housing logos and language. Staff members testified that company management talked to them about how to deter black people from renting in their properties.

When he served as governor of Virginia, Kaine ensured the Silver Line would be built, writes Canaan Merchant:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • DenPo Cheers City Council’s Obsession With Off-Street Parking at the Expense of Housing
  • Scenes from Yesterday’s B-Line Opening (Denverite, 9News)
  • Westminster Councilman: RTD Should’ve Spent Money for B-Line on Denver (CBS4)
  • Council Puts Modern Homes on Chopping Block Because Some People Think They’re Ugly (DenPo)
  • Westword Columnist: Meet In the Street Events Made 16th Street Mall a Desirable Place to Be
  • RTD Wants Public Input on New Paving Material for Mall (Denverite)
  • Driver Crashes Into Moving Train in Castle Rock (9News)
  • Hundreds of Motorcyclists Block Traffic on I-25 (ABC7)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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The Broadway Redesign Is About More Than Bike Lanes

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Drivers on Broadway routinely travel at dangerous speeds for urban streets, even during rush hour. Image: DPW

When Denver Public Works implements a temporary redesign of a half-mile of Broadway next month, the most obvious change will be the addition of a two-way protected bike lane. But it would be a mistake to assume that the Broadway/Lincoln corridor project is only “for cyclists” — everyone who uses the street stands to benefit from the safer conditions.

Right now Broadway only works well for one purpose — letting people drive out of town as fast as they want. All that high-speed car traffic makes Broadway a terrible street for just about every other purpose, like walking or biking safely, or creating a pedestrian environment where retail businesses can thrive.

The protected bike lane will, of course, make bicycling much less stressful, and that’s a big reason why the redesign is so important. Less obvious — but just as important — are all the other ways the redesign will improve the street.

You can get a feel for these other aspects of the redesign by looking at the performance measures for the Broadway/Lincoln Corridor Study that Denver Public Works released last week [PDF].

The city will judge success by measuring things like crash rates, transit reliability, pedestrian volumes, and yes, bike counts. Planners have been collecting “before” data on these metrics for the past year.

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Streetsblog USA
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Atlanta Looks for Options Where Bidirectional Protected Bike Lanes Intersect

pfb logo 100x22Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities connect high-comfort biking networks.

Bidirectional protected bike lanes, which put both directions of bike traffic on the same side of a street, aren’t ideal. But they can be useful in a pinch.

Like all protected bike lanes, well-designed bidirectionals are more comfortable to more riders than having no bike lanes on busy streets.

This month in downtown Atlanta, something interesting is happening for the first time in the United States: two bidirectional protected bike lanes are crossing each other at a four-way intersection.

Fortunately, both of them are on the “left” side of signalized one-way streets. This is generally the best way to use a bidirectional protected bike lane, in part because it prevents total chaos in situations like this one.

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Streetsblog.net
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Will More Bike-Share Systems Opt for “Smart Bikes,” Not “Smart Docks”?

When Portland launched its bike-share system last week, it became the biggest American city to go live with a “smart bike” model. The system allows users to drop off bikes anywhere within the service area, as opposed to the more prevalent “smart dock” model, where users pick up and return bikes only at fixed stations.

Portland's new bike share system moves away from docks. Photo: Bike Portland

Portland’s new bike-share system has stations, but you can lock your bike up anywhere in the service area. Photo: Bike Portland

James Sinclair at Stop and Move considers some of the advantages and disadvantages of each system:

In a smart dock system, everything is handled by the dock and an attached kiosk. On a smart bike system, the bicycle itself carries all the technology. That means you can lock your bicycle to anything. You use a pin code to remove the built in lock and when you’re done, you reattach the lock to the bicycle (and another fixed object of course). Built in GPS ensures the company knows where the bike is.

So why pick one system over another? If most cities have used smart docks, why did Portland go with smart bikes?

The biggest factor involves cost and ease of deployment. A smart bike system actually requires zero infrastructure. You can release the bicycles and let users dock wherever they want — existing racks, fences etc. Docking areas can be created virtually, and displayed with signs or stickers…

One of the major problems with a smart dock system is arriving at a station where every dock is full. That scenario can simply never happen with a smart bike system, since you can lock up to a pole or fence.

But systems like Portland’s have drawbacks too, he says:

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