→ Transportation for America: Newly approved transportation bill is a clear step backwards
Unfortunately, this final bill moves closer to the House’s disastrous HR7, which was too contentious and unpopular to garner enough votes to pass. This final negotiated bill has been called a “compromise,” but it’s really a substantial capitulation in the face of threats by the House to include provisions with no relevance to the transportation bill — the Keystone XL pipeline, regulation of coal ash and others.
As a result of this “compromise,” the bill dedicates zero dollars to repairing our roads and bridges, cuts the amount of money that cities and local governments would have received, makes a drastic cut in the money available to prevent the deaths of people walking or biking, and ensures that you have less input and control over major projects that affect you and the quality of your community.
Despite record demand for public transportation service, this deal cut the emergency provisions to preserve existing transit service, does little to expand that service and actually removed the small provision equalizing the tax benefit for transit and parking.
→ Next American City: France Commits to Tramways, A Possible Model for the Future of Urban Rail
The appeal of tramways is easy to understand. The electric vehicles are silent, modern-looking and entirely flat-floor. Their tracks can be nestled in a lawn, creating a grass median through which trains run; if done right, they can be used as a tool to restore the beauty of an urban boulevard, rather than deface it, as do some light rail lines traveling on grade-separated track. In some cities, like Nice, Bordeaux and Orléans, vehicles have been designed with batteries that allow them to travel some distance (such as across a historic square) without the need for overhead messenger wire. In virtually every case, tramways in France have been specifically located on major bus corridors in order to replace overcrowded routes with higher capacity services.
→ polis: Questioning the Obsession with Cars
There’s a dirty little secret about driving: Nobody likes it. Most people are not able to admit it, for they are unaware that congestion, the constant and excessive costs of car ownership and road rage are avoidable. No survey can generate responses such as, “I only think I like driving because I see few alternatives, and all of those threaten my identity.”
The persistence and importance of the automobile, in spite of fumes breathed or injuries incurred, is illuminated by the words that a middle-aged driver in a grey luxury sedan yelled at me, as I pedaled with traffic across the highway to my bank: “I respect bikers, but stay out of traffic!”
Hold the phone. The Census Bureau has just released new numbers suggesting that America’s largest cities surged past the suburbs in 2011, growing at a faster rate than the ’burbs for the first time since Henry Ford started rolling out the cars that would fuel almost a century of sprawl.