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News & Notes

Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lanes 462

Protected bike lane in Vancouver, Canada. Photo (cc) Paul Krueger

USA Today: More small towns thinking big

These small but growing towns are applying some of the most forward-thinking planning tenets to create true downtowns, arts districts and new traffic patterns that alleviate congestion and encourage walking. They’re changing zoning to build city-style condos and apartments above stores. And they’re getting away from big parking lots and strip malls by putting parking underground and behind stores. Often, the downtowns are created around a new city hall, transit stations, arts center — or all three.

“We’ve got to start designing our cities for people first and automobiles second,” says Carmel Mayor James Brainard, a lawyer who picked up some European design sensibilities while studying in England.


American Planning Association: Milwaukee’s transit debate: Streetcar desire vs. disaster

Mayor Tom Barrett is the prime mover behind Milwaukee’s plan to build a brand-new streetcar system. Bright, modern vehicles would traverse a two-mile route through the city’s East Side, downtown and historic Third Ward, a former warehouse area now popular for its shops and restaurants.

Barrett believes flashy streetcars can revitalize Milwaukee’s city front and points to the popularity of the 10-year-old system in Portland, Ore. Today’s streetcars, Barrett says, are more about attracting attention than providing transportation.

“I look at this as an economic development tool,” Barrett told the Tribune. “Look at Portland. That system has aided in spurring development and growth, which is what all communities are looking for now.”


Planetizen: Enough with Bikes vs Cars – It’s about Better Cities!

We need a more sophisticated discussion about how we get around in cities, and it starts with this — it’s not about loving your bike. It’s about loving what biking does for cities. If more cars make cities worse, the opposite is true for bikes. Expanding urban biking through separated bike-lanes is about making better, fiscally smarter, healthier, more flexible and resilient cities. Bikes are hardly a silver bullet, but they can be a big part of better city-making.

City-builders across the globe understand the relative cheapness of the bike mobility option, in both cost and space. Dollar for dollar, separated bike-lanes move people more cost-effectively from a return-on-investment perspective than any other way of getting around, especially once a tipping point of cyclists is reached – and that doesn’t even factor in the well-documented public health cost savings that come from wide-spread biking. Global studies have shown investing in cycling infrastructure actually saves society public money per kilometer cycled! The math is enough to make any real fiscal conservative hop on a two-wheeler.


USA Today: Recession-battered cities combine services

In a post-recession budgetary crimp, Chelsea, Mass., City Manager Jay Ash has seen the light. Chelsea is joining with big neighbor Boston to buy greener LED lights for the city’s 1,400 streetlights. Doing so may save $250,000 to buy them and $80,000 a year in electricity to power them.

Across the country, cities, counties and other local governments are combining services, from 911 call centers to basic purchasing, to capitalize on the economics of scale and offset declining revenue since the Great Recession. The recession technically ended in 2009, but pressure on cities has continued. A September National League of Cities (NLC) report predicted that this will be the sixth consecutive year of declining revenue for local governments.


Transportation Nation: NYC DOT Study: Street Redesign Good for the Economy

New York City’s Department of Transportation says redesigned streets have been very, very good to small businesses.

A new report says that retail sales are up along city streets that have bike paths, pedestrian plazas, slow zones, or select bus service.

In some cases, the increase is dramatic: on Brooklyn’s Pearl Street, where the DOT maintains retail sales have increased by 172 percent since a parking triangle was turned into a pedestrian plaza.


DC Streetsblog: Study: Protected Bike Lanes Reduce Injury Risk Up to 90 Percent

They found that wide streets with parked cars and no bike infrastructure were by far the most dangerous for cyclists. Compared to that type of road, streets with bike lanes had injury rates 50 percent lower, while the risk of injury on protected bike lanes was a whopping 90 percent lower. Interestingly, multi-use paths — or off-street trails where cyclists, pedestrians, skaters, and other non-motorized modes mix — were found to reduce injury by a comparatively modest 60 percent.


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4 Responses to News & Notes

  1. Andrew I October 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm #

    the risk of injury on protected bike lanes was a whopping 90 percent lower. Interestingly, <>

    This makes sense. Biking on the streets feels more stressful, but vehicular traffic is more predictable than the kiddies and dogs on the bike paths.

    The same calculus that always demands widening, curve straightening, guardrails and other projects to make highways more “forgiving” should indicate need for sidewalks along the popular bike paths, and a protected bike lane next to 45mph Allens Ave.

  2. Ryan October 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm #

    We need a more sophisticated discussion about how we get around in cities, and it starts with this — it’s not about loving your bike. It’s about loving what biking does for cities. If more cars make cities worse, the opposite is true for bikes. Expanding urban biking through separated bike-lanes is about making better, fiscally smarter, healthier, more flexible and resilient cities. Bikes are hardly a silver bullet, but they can be a big part of better city-making.

    No, I think it is about loving your bike. A “more sophisticated discussion about how we get around in cities” starts with how to make moving around the city a better experience for everyone – including pedestrians and transit riders, like me. It starts with advocacy for complete streets that everyone can enjoy, and better mass transit that everyone can use. Not everyone can ride a bicycle.

    A bicycle is a vehicle, and a bicycle rider is not a pedestrian. Indeed, it’s not a choice between bikes and cars – it’s a choice between cycling, driving, taking transit, and walking. To imply otherwise is disingenuous and counter-productive. If you believe that we all share a common enemy in ‘car culture,’ then it makes no sense to alienate pedestrians or transit riders – we should be focusing on making cities better places for everyone, not just for bicycles. That kind of thinking is what got us car culture to begin with – and just because the mode receiving preferential treatment is healthier doesn’t make that kind of thinking okay.

    Arguing for cycling infrastructure is all well and good, as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of pedestrian infrastructure, or transit infrastructure. A protected bike lane is worthless without a sidewalk next to it – and the sidewalk next to a bike line should be protected for pedestrians just the same. And a ‘rail trail,’ or any kind of path that was made from a converted transit ROW, will simply never move as many people as light or heavy rail in that ROW.

    I do want “better, fiscally smarter, healthier, more flexible and resilient” multi-modal cities, where there’s a safe and pleasant way to get around for everyone – not just cars, and not just bikes.

  3. RunawayJim October 28, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    I’m all for better bike lanes, but I agree with Ryan. I think transit improvements and improvements to sidewalks and, more importantly, crosswalks for pedestrian safety are more important. The sidewalks in Providence suck around most of the city. And the city allows bicycles to use them. While I understand that it’s dangerous to use a bike on many major streets (Dean Street, for example because it’s so damn narrow), it’s dangerous to have anything moving faster than a jog on a sidewalk.

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