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News & Notes

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A city bus in Downtown Chicago. Photo (cc) CameliaTWU

News & Notes Will Rahm Emanuel Show America What BRT Can Do? [Streetsblog]

With impressive urgency, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has spent his first months in office retooling and reconfiguring how the “City That Works” works. Emanuel’s energy is evident in changes from beat-cop deployment to the push for a longer school day, but perhaps the mayor’s most tangible efforts can be seen in his ambitious transportation agenda.

With Chicago DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein at his side, Emanuel has already implemented the city’s first protected bike lanes as part of a plan to add 100 miles of bike lanes within four years, announced a $1 billion upgrade to the Chicago Transit Authority’s Red Line, and passed a $2 “congestion fee” on downtown parking garages that will go towards the creation of a CTA Green Line stop that serves McCormick Place – the nation’s largest convention center – and a downtown circulator bus route being billed as bus rapid transit.


Top cities stories of 2011 [The Grist]

It’s that time of year again: When public schools everywhere cast about desperately for a holiday celebration that doesn’t involve Jesus or a dude in a red suit; when families gather from thither and yon to spend a few days remembering why they’ve scattered thither and yon in the first place; and yes, it’s time to take stock of the year past, and look ahead to the one coming up. As the guy charged with keeping an eye on all things urban around here, I curled up with my laptop on a winter’s night that was definitely not as cold as they used to be, dug through the archives, and now offer this, my most humble (and totally non-denominational) retrospective of 2011.


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News & Notes: Parking Edition

Parking

News & Notes

Chicago Proposes “Congestion Fee” On Parking to Fund Transit [Streetsblog]

In last winter’s Chicago mayoral election, all the leading candidates made ambitious promises to increase funding for the city’s struggling transit agency. Now, with a proposed $2 “congestion fee” – really a downtown surcharge on the city’s parking tax – Emanuel plans to make drivers pay their fair share and use the proceeds to build a new rail station and the city’s first bus rapid transit line.

Under Emanuel’s plan, anyone parking in a downtown lot or garage would be required to pay an additional $2 on top of the existing parking tax. Drivers parking on the street or in residential garages wouldn’t be taxed, though according to the Chicago Tribune, some transportation advocates want to see the fee extended to downtown meters. According to the Sun-Times, the fee would raise roughly $28 million.

We don’t even have a parking tax, check out Chicago’s current parking tax.


It’s the Parking, Stupid: One Transportation Consultant’s Tough Love Approach [The Atlantic Cities]

Transportation consultant Jeffrey Tumlin figures that you’ve got to be colorful when you’re talking about the intractable problems of urban parking infrastructure. As such, he describes what he does this way: “Our business operates like a methadone clinic to get cities off their parking addictions,” he says. “And each addict goes through a different route.”

Tumlin starts with another great metaphor: What would happen if we gave all children free ice cream? They would, undoubtedly, be thrilled. But in the process we’d also be creating obesity, driving up the price of milk, and probably causing a cheese shortage. “And just as it would be very bad economic and social policy to provide free ice cream for all children,” Tumlin says, “it is also bad to provide free parking for all motorists.”


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News & Notes

News & Notes [Chicago] Mayor Mandates Public Transit for City Employees [NBC Chicago]

Mayor Rahm Emanuel hasn’t been quiet about his use of public transit, and he wants city employees to get comfortable using it too.

Under new travel mileage and reimbursement policies outlined Saturday, those who work for city government are required to use Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains as their main mode of transportation once they’ve clocked in.


In Little Rock, a Crosswalk That Forbids Crossing [The Atlantic Cities]

But while the city’s heart is in the right place, its head is on wrong. Upon implementing the new no-crossing sign in 2005, the city’s traffic manager, Bill Henry, offered this take: “Too often the motorists will be watching oncoming traffic to make the turn, and will not be mindful of pedestrians in the crosswalk.” Instead of punishing the perpetrators, then, the city chose to punish the victims. In all likelihood the sign was the cheapest practical solution to a legitimate social problem, but this type of auto-focused mentality ultimately hamstrings urban movement, and pedestrian safety, more than it helps.


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News & Notes

Chicago’s New Protected Bike Lanes [The City Fix]

Along with a new mayor, Chicago got its first protected bike lanes this past month. Funded by a federal grant, the Chicago Department of Transportation is installing the half-mile bike lane as a pilot program. The protected bike lanes will have a three feet buffer to parked cars and will be separated by delineated posts.


Amid Budget Cuts, Nation’s Mayors Speak as One [Wall Street Journal]

LOS ANGELES-It may not seem like the Republican mayor of Mesa, Ariz., and the Democratic mayor of Hilo, Hawaii, would have much in common.

But these days, they have the same complaints.

Their cities’ once-vital construction industries have withered, and their unemployment rates are at 9%. Both have cut funding to schools and police, and both rely on federal dollars to help their struggling cities.

Mayors from 50 cities gathered here Thursday for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors to collectively vent about the impact that a sour economy and years of budget cuts—as well as possible cuts to federal funding if the debt ceiling isn’t raised—is having on their cities.


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News & Notes

Projo 7 to 7 News Blog: Chafee takes first step toward casino study

The study would look, in part, at the impact on Rhode Island’s gambling revenue that from the potential of three privately run casinos in Massachusetts, a possible Wampanoag Indian casino in Southeastern Massachusetts, and the introduction of slots at the Bay State’s tracks.

The consultant would be asked to consider the impact, if any, on Rhode Island on a Shinnecock Indian casino at the eastern end of Long Island.

The study would also look at the potential impact on state revenue of allowing table games at both Twin River and Newport Grand — with and without competition from Massachusetts — and what might happen to state revenue if the Narragansetts were somehow able to buy Twin River.


The New York Times: ‘I Was A Teenage Cyclist,’ or How Anti-Bike-Lane Arguments Echo the Tea Party

If you’re itching to write an anti-bike-lane argument (and, if so, line up, because it’s a burgeoning literary genre), you could do no better than to follow the template laid out yesterday by The New Yorker’s John Cassidy in his blog post, “Battle of the Bike Lanes.”

Cassidy’s post – which has already been called “a seminal document of New York City’s bike lane backlash era” – helpfully includes all the requisite rhetorical tactics, thus providing an excellent blueprint. (You might even say “boilerplate.”) These include:

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