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News & Notes

→ The Future of the Strip: Downhill [CitiWire]

From 1960 to 2000 there was an almost 10-fold increase in U.S. retail space, from four to 38 square feet per person. For many years retail space was growing five to six times faster than retail sales. Most of this space came in the form of discount superstores on the suburban strip.

The recession proved that we have too much retail. Strip centers are now littered with vacant stores. By some estimates, there is currently over 1 billion square feet of vacant retail space, much of which has to be re-purposed or demolished.

→ V.P. Biden Announces $53 Billion Commitment to High-Speed Rail [America 2050]

Today, Vice President Joe Biden announced the Obama Administration’s plan to dedicate $53 billion over the next six years to help promote the construction of a national, high-speed, intercity passenger rail network. Biden, a long-time rail advocate and Amtrak rider, was joined by USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday morning at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station where he outlined the plan.

See also: → The White House Stakes Its Political Capital on a Massive Intercity Rail Plan [The TransportPolitic]

→ Town centers are the new death panels [Grist]

Oh, those Teabaggers — always smacking you in the face with something unpleasant. This time it’s self-righteous outrage at the socialist erosion of our Freedom Sprawl. Because in the real America, you get in the car just to go to your kitchen.

→ CA Rep. Hunter: Roads Constitutionally Mandated, Transit Must Pay For Itself [DC.Streetsblog]

Streetsblog: I was just in an EPW Committee hearing and there was some talk about the fact that some small amount of money in the reauthorization historically gets used for things like bike trails. Some people think that’s waste; some people think biking is a mode of transportation. What do you think?

Duncan Hunter: I don’t think biking should fall under the federal purview of what the Transportation Committee is there for. If a state wants to do it, or local municipality, they can do whatever they want to. But no, because then you have us mandating bike paths, which you don’t want either.

SB: But you’re OK with mandating highways?

DH: Absolutely, yeah. Because that’s in the constitution. I don’t see riding a bike the same as driving a car or flying an airplane.

The Congressman refers to Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution where it says that Congress shall have the power to “establish Post Offices and post Roads.” Further, he interprets the Interstate highway system as a form of military spending, which is also in the Constitution.

The Congressman presumably thinks that the mail cannot and is not transported by any manner other than road, and that the military cannot and will not use any mode of transportation other than the interstate highway system.

→ How Cars Won the Early Battle for the Streets Streetsblog

Judging by the recent media backlash against a few bike lanes in New York City, you would think that roads have been the exclusive domain of cars since time immemorial.

Not so, as Peter D. Norton recounts in his book, “Fighting Traffic — The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City.” When cars first entered cities in a big way in the early 20th Century, a lot of people were not happy about it — like angry-mob not happy.

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Some observations from Alexandria, Virginia

Last weekend I was in Alexandria, Virginia. My hotel which was mega-cheap and right next to a Metro station was out in the exurbia hell next to the Beltway surrounded by surface parking, but not too far away was Old Town. While walking around the King Street area I snapped a few photos.

CVS without a drive-thru!

CVS in Alexandria, VA

I was very confused by this CVS, it appears to not have a parking lot or a drive-thru. How do people shop there!?!

Adopt a Block

Adopt a Block in Alexandria, VA

Seems like a simple concept.

More Shops

Alexandria, VA

Wondering where the shops are?

Wayfinding

Alexandria, VA

Wondering where and how far away the waterfront is, the Metro Station..? This is not the prettiest sign, but it works.

Public hearing notice

Alexandria, VA

Wondering what is up with that building, wondering when the city is holding hearings about it?

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News & Notes

→ FTA authorizes $2 million for Pawtucket commuter rail [The Valley Breeze]

→ Cardi’s installs state’s first car-charging station [The Providence Journal]

→ Researchers Confirm Link Between Active Commuting and Better Health [DC.StreetsBlog]

→ 11th Annual RI Chinese Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival (Aug. 28) [Pawtucket Arts Festival]

→ Dispelling the Magic Bullet Myth “While increasing numbers of governments at all levels are embracing the use of new media tools for public participation, there’s less understanding about the fact that technology is just a means to an end. And all too often, the conventional government decision making process is not designed to embrace citizen input. Thus, simply creating an opportunity for input – even using the coolest new social media technology – likely won’t lead to a significant or sustainable increase in citizen engagement on its own.” [Next American City]

→ Richmond [Virginia] plans conversion of one-way streets downtown [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Providence is also working on converting a number of one-way streets into two-way streets including Empire and Weybosset; possibly Exchange Terrace, Sabin, and Dorrance; and likely several streets in relation to the rebuilt Route 195 streetgrid such as Richmond and Chestnut.

→ Wellbeing Lower Among Workers With Long Commutes Back pain, fatigue, worry all increase with time spent commuting [Gallup]

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