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First bike lane inaugural parade

Streetfilms points out one of the many first that was overlooked during yesterday’s inaugural:

The networks were busy tripping over themselves trying to point out all the numerous “firsts” during today’s Presidential Inauguration. But when President Obama and his wife Michelle stepped out of the presidential motorcade to greet well wishers on Pennsylvania Avenue they missed a huge one in the livable streets community: he’s the first U.S. president to walk down a bike lane during his Inauguration.

The unique center-median, two-way bicycle lane down Pennsylvania was instituted by DDOT back in Summer 2010, so this is the first Inauguration in which the Avenue featured the new look. Check out this clip from ABC News that shows when the President steps out of his limousine, he commences his walk almost right on top of a bike stencil!

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News & Notes

The Atlantic Cities: What Real Respect for Bicyclists Looks Like

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians all compete for space and safety on the streets and roads of the world’s cities and suburbs. It’s a contentious and sometimes ugly coexistence, which is why so many government agencies and advocacy groups periodically mount public-awareness campaigns with messages like “share the road” or “don’t be a jerk” or “respect other road users.”

In the end, those are just words. The ultimate form of respect for any road user is properly designed infrastructure that allows that a person to travel with comfort and safety using their preferred mode. In the United States, it’s clear who gets real respect (and infrastructure spending) on a regular basis. That would be the people driving cars.


The Hill: GOP platform: Cut Amtrak, privatize airport security and focus highway money on roads

The platform approved by Republicans on Tuesday calls for the elimination of funding for Amtrak passenger rail service, private airport security screening and stopping the use of money earmarked for highway construction for other purposes.

The more than 30,000-word document was approved on the first full day of the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa, Fla. It includes many provisions that were pushed by Republicans in the House during recent negotiations over the new $105 billion transportation bill that was approved by lawmakers in June.

Among them are reducing environmental regulations to expedite construction projects and using more money that is earmarked for transportation for road and highway projects, rather than other forms of transportation such as public transit or bicycling and pedestrian programs.


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News & Notes

The Transport Politic: Time to Fight – With a House like this, what advances can American transportation policy make?

Actions by members of the U.S. House over the past week suggest that Republican opposition to the funding of alternative transportation has developed into an all-out ideological battle. Though their efforts are unlikely to advance much past the doors of their chamber, the policy recklessness they have displayed speaks truly poorly of the future of the nation’s mobility systems.


The New York Times: How About Gardening or Golfing at the Mall?

Malls, over the last 50 years, have gone from the community center in some cities to a relic of the way people once wanted to shop. While malls have faced problems in the past, the Internet is now pulling even more sales away from them. And as retailers crawl out of the worst recession since the advent of malls, many are realizing they are overbuilt and are closing locations at a fast clip


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News & Notes

Union Plaza tunnel from Waterplace

Waterplace Park, photo (cc) pvdEric from Flickr

Planetizen: The Top 100 Public Spaces in the U.S. and Canada

The results of our crowdsourcing project, in collaboration with the Project for Public Spaces, reveal not an objective Top 100 but instead a handful of communities passionate about their own local public spaces.

Number 66 on the list is Providence’s Waterplace Park, described by Project for Public Spaces.

Waterplace Park and the Riverwalk linked to it have a welcoming, well-thought-out design, which has become a focal point of the overall revitalization of Providence’s downtown area. But what really makes these great places is the wealth of activities they host. Between the annual Convergence art festival, the WaterFire installation which runs on selected nights most of the year, the Summer Concert Series, and long-term installations of public art, there’s always something going on – and all of these events are FREE.

Here’s what we said about Waterplace back in 2008 when the APA named it a Top 10 Public Place.


Streetsblog: The Power of Blogs and Social Media in Transportation Policy

Speaking to Streetsblog in July, attorney David Savoy gave bloggers credit for the granting of a retrial to his client, Raquel Nelson, who was charged with vehicular homicide after her four-year-old son was hit by a car as they attempted to cross a dangerous arterial road on foot. “I’ve never understood the power of the blogosphere,” Savoy said, “and now I’m humbled.”

Blogs? Hey, that’s us!

See also: Greater Greater Washington.


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News & Notes

VIDEOS: Atop Washington Monument, Visitors Scrambled During Quake [NPR]

Shaking starts around 1:45

Video from the National Park Service

When a 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered in Virginia shook states from the mid-Atlantic into New England on Aug. 23, one of the places not to be was near the top of the Washington Monument.

Visit the NPR website for more information and another video.


Manhattan’s Stalled Construction Sites Could Become Urban Oases [Gothamist]

There are currently more than 600 stalled construction sites around NYC according to the Department of Buildings, and given the moribund economy, it doesn’t look like they’ll unstall anytime soon. So in the meantime, why don’t we do turn lemons into lemonade, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer wants to know!

I like that the article is illustrated with a concept from Boston.


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News & Notes


Budapest

Károly körút in Budapest, photo from Origo fotó

Fixing a Boulevard [Railzone]

The street is called Károly körút, which is a ring road around the historic centre of Pest, exactly where a former city wall used to stand. It is a major artery for road traffic, including still too many through trips (i.e. trips neither originating nor ending in the city centre itself). It is also a tram route, which was almost discarded following a new subway line construction, but now, partly due to the reconstruction project itself, the future of the line seems certain and an extension to North is planned.

Be sure to click through from the link to the before & after photos.


House Approves Extensions for the Federal Surface Transportation and Aviation Programs [America 2050]

Transportation advocates were gearing up for a big push to ensure that the federal surface transportation program did not expire at the end of the month, but in a remarkable show of common cause and swift action on Tuesday, the House unanimously approved a six-month extension of SAFETEA-LU, as well as a four-month extension of the authorizing legislation for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Senate still has to pass this bill before it’s final, but Harry Reid has promised to move it through quickly, leaving transportation advocates breathing a little easier.


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News & Notes

Spokane: A very clear network map [Human Transit]

Human Transit looks at Spokane, Washington’s new system maps. The combined lines to create frequent service sectors would be apropo for RIPTA for places such as Elmwood Avenue and Charles Street.


In bicycle friendly D.C., going car-free is increasingly common [The Washington Post]

In urban areas nationwide, drivers younger than 24 drove six fewer miles a day in 2009 than in 1990. Drivers 25 to 34 drove almost 2.5 fewer miles a day.

“You don’t have to keep a car,” said Carroll, who takes Metro to work most days but walks the 2.4 miles occasionally on a nice day. “I love that the city is becoming more pedestrian-friendly and more bicycle-friendly. I can rent a bike and ride downhill all the way from work. I haven’t yet, but I’m going to.”

And Zipcar? She’s a longtime member who has never used a Zipcar.

“I have kept up my membership because you never know,” she said. “I might have a visitor who wants to take a trip to Middleburg or someplace. I think it’s a very valuable option.”

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Like: Greater Greater Washington Metro Map Contest

If you’re like me, you love maps (and ice cream, and gin & tonic, and Law & Order UK). And if you love maps, you’re gonna love the DC Metro Map redesign contest being hosted at Greater Greater Washington.

Metro is working now on new Silver Line service which will eventually reach Dulles Airport in Virginia also, new rush hour services are being introduced. These changes prompted the redesign contest.

You can see all the entries on their Contest Page (voting is closed), and see the first two posts on winners in different categories here and here.

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Amtrak’s Next-Gen High Speed Rail vision by-passes Providence

Update 07/11/2012: Amtrak has released an updated vision for the Northeast Corridor which happily does not by-pass Providence. Read the report. (.pdf)

Amtrak released A Vision for High-Speed Rail in the Northeast Corridor [.pdf] today. The Vision is as of yet unfunded, would not be complete until 2040, and the alignment analyzed for this report would by-pass Providence (there’d be a station in Woonsocket though).

A number of possible alignments were initially analyzed for their potential to meet these goals.

New York City to Boston

In the New York City-to-Boston segment, the study team examined a variety of potential alignments, including a “Shore Alignment” paralleling the existing NEC; a “Long Island Alignment” heading east of out New York and traversing Long Island Sound; and “Highway” alignments paralleling all or portions of major interstate highways, including I-84, I-90 and I-91, through Connecticut and Massachusetts. It is important to note that virtually all of the alignments considered pose a variety of construction and environmental challenges. It was beyond the scope of this study to analyze all potential alignments in significant detail. However, a representative alignment was chosen for analytical and costing purposes. This “Analyzed Alignment,” as shown in the figure, parallels the existing NEC from New York to just north of New Rochelle, then follows a combination of highway, rail and overland routes through Connecticut and Massachusetts, before rejoining the existing NEC south of Rt. 128 in Massachusetts and paralleling it into Boston. A route substantially paralleling the existing NEC between Boston and New York was not chosen for initial analytical purposes because of a combination of capacity constraints on MetroNorth’s New Haven Line between New Haven and New Rochelle. Curvature restrictions and design requirements to meet environmental concerns on the Amtrak-owned “Shore Line” from the Massachusetts state line to New Haven would make it extremely difficult to meet the travel time targets of approximately one hour and 30 minute service.

Now, this is a preliminary report, and nothing has been engineered or officially picked yet, so it is not exactly time to panic about being bypassed. Also, this is a plan for a 240mph corridor between Boston, (Woonsocket??), New York, and Washington, plus other cities; highspeed rail of somesort, just not as fast, would still run between Boston, Providence, New Haven, and New York City.


Pink and green lines, new Next-Gen Highspeed rail, service Bos-DC in under 4 hours. Blue line, existing regional and Acela routing. Yellow line, Next-Gen route, Acela-like speeds Boston to NYC (stopping in Providence) and Next-Gen speed south of NYC.

However, it is never too soon for our Governor, Mayor, Congressional Delegation, and everyone else to start working to ensure that we’re on that line.

If the highspeed line were routed south to Providence then west to Hartford it would finally establish the mythical Providence-Hartford connection that was canceled out of the Interstate Highway plan.

Thinking about how a line to Hartford would branch off our current section of the Northeast Corridor (presuming that the existing Providence Station would be our highspeed rail station), a branch along Route 6 out of Olneyville makes sense as the starting point for the Providence-Hartford line. This Next-Gen Highspeed route is still 30 years from reality, but we should not do anything now to preclude it. As we look toward re-engineering the 6/10 interchange for example.

Nothing against Woonsocket, but if we’re going to lay new track (which is what this plan calls for) between Boston and Hartford, it would be ridiculous for it to serve Woonsocket, but not Providence.

View the entire report here. [.pdf]

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News & Notes

Georgetown’s ‘Social Safeway’ is a monument to changing supermarket architecture [The Washington Post]
New grocery store is built on the second floor, with street level retail screening a parking garage.

Foreclosures point to waning of the suburban era, study says [New Urban News]
Development is shifting to cities more strongly than most Americans realize, a new book asserts.

Ellen Dunham-Jones: Retrofitting suburbia [TED Talk]

DOT, HUD team up on joint funding for coordinated housing and transportation planning [FastLane USDOT Blog]

PennDesign Studio’s $100,000,000,000 NEC High Speed Rail Plan [PennDesign]

(Connecticut) State shifting focus to mass transit [The Connecticut Mirror]

Think gas is too pricey? Think again. [The Washington Post]

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News & Notes

Washington, DC expands bike sharing program [Good]

U.S. Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood turned transportation policy on its head with a declaration that pedestrians and cyclists should be treated as equals with drivers. That means federal dollars for more projects geared toward walking and cycling. [NPR]

Emergency transit funding bill introduced by Senator Jack Reed and others [Transportation For America]

R.I. Senate takes a new look at miles-driven tax [ProJo]

How Portland Sold Its Banks on Walkable Development [StreetsBlog]

One in five licensed drivers — some 38 million Americans — lack the knowledge necessary to pass a written driving test, and even more are distracted while driving, according to a survey released Thursday. [CNNMoney]

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