Tag: Congestion

Ask USDOT to #MakeMeCount this Bike to Work Day

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Don and his co-pilot asked USDOT to #MakeMeCount last week. Photo by @KostelecPlan.

This Friday, thousands of people across the country will put on their helmets and take to the streets for National Bike to Work Day, an annual event promoting active commuting options and safer streets.

Will you be joining the event? If so, make your ride even more impactful by telling USDOT to #MakeMeCount when it comes to measuring how well a street works.

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Feds get out of the way of communities that want to design safer, more complete streets

The Federal Highway Administration made two big moves this last week to clear the way for states, metro areas, and local communities to use federal dollars to design safer, more complete streets.

Both of these updates are great news for anyone advocating for streets that better meet the needs of everyone that uses them, as well as better serving the goals of the surrounding community. FHWA deserves a big round of applause for making these changes.

If you are working on a local transportation project and your DOT or some other agency cites vague federal rules when refusing to build a safe and complete street, show them the FHWA memo below. Their guidance makes it extremely clear: there’s wide latitude to design streets to best suit local needs, and old regulations that treat all roads like highways have been rolled back.

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Tell USDOT that #WeAllCount

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If someone takes the bus to work, and no one is around to count them, do they still matter?

We say yes, but the U.S. Department of Transportation seems to disagree.

Last week, USDOT issued a draft rule that will govern how states and metro areas will have to measure and address congestion, along with freight movement and emissions. These new requirements will help measure what America’s transportation dollars are actually buying us—which is great. 

However, the rule as it is currently written would measure success in outdated ways. Using old measures will lead to the continued use of outdated strategies, such as prioritizing fast driving speeds above all other modes of transportation and their associated benefits.

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Listen to market demand, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent

To create jobs, drive innovation, attract talent and keep housing costs affordable, American cities would be right to address the growing demand for smart growth development, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent in a recent interview with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

“Well, my tendency as an economist, working for The Economist, my inclination is to say build with what the market will demand,” Avent says. “And so that’s why I think we have a great opportunity here, because what the market is increasingly demanding are homes that are within walking distance of job centers.”

Avent, a resident of Arlington, VA, and the author of The Gated City, emphasized that in building with market demand in mind, it’s also crucial to change common misperceptions about density. In his book, Avent uses the phrase “hogs stacked on hogs” to describe what makes people afraid of added housing units. The realities of increased density, however, are radically different and the addition of in-demand housing options contributes to robust regional economic growth.

“If you think about the sort of density that might work, if it builds around transit and a walkable environment, you don’t add a lot of the downsides that are typically associated with density, like congestion,” Avent says. “When you build in a sprawling pattern and force people into cars, that’s what actually causes congestion.”

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Smart growth news – December 6

The future of cities? An unusual way of untangling gridlock
MSNBC, December 2, 2011
Janette Sadik-Khan is on a mission to tame New York’s mean streets. As transportation commissioner for New York City, she’s closed off half of Times Square to traffic and converted 260 miles of city streets into bike lanes. Her goal is to reduce the city’s carbon footprint and manage New York’s notorious traffic, while possibly creating a blueprint for other cities around the world.

Mayor’s goal: Bring 10,000 new families to city in a decade
Baltimore Sun, December 5, 2011
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake hopes to attract 10,000 families to Baltimore in the next decade — which would reverse more than a half-century of population decline — and would like to serve at least one more term beyond the one she begins Tuesday…”If Baltimore is to have a future, the leadership in the city has to focus on making the city a vibrant, growing city,” Rawlings-Blake said in an interview Monday. “If you’re not focused on growing it, you’re resigned to a slow death.”

Riverfront trail is a window to KC’s past
Kansas City Star, December 5, 2011
Kansas City’s Riverfront Heritage Trail has given residents their best chance to practically touch the Missouri River’s edge, at Berkley Park and other downtown destinations. Now, in its latest phases in the West Bottoms, the trail is providing residents with other powerful connections to the city’s history and heritage.

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Smart growth news – July 18, 2011

Carmageddon: Public transit ridership up, officials say
Los Angeles Times, July 16, 2011
Ridership on at least a few Metrolink lines has increased today compared to a normal summer Saturday afternoon, spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said. Coffelt said that last Saturday there were 127 riders on the first train from Oceanside to Union Station and that today there were 257 riders. In the opposite direction, there were 102 riders from Union Station to Oceanside last week and there were 154 today.

Planner: Foot traffic key to smarter, healthier towns
Burlington Free Press (Vt.), July 17, 2011
What’s been the most significant development in transportation for the 21st century? The Segway? How about electric-assisted bicycles? Levitating trains? Renowned British Columbian author and planner Todd Litman nixed those candidates before a stymied audience last week at Main Street Landing in Burlington.

The State of Metropolitan America: Suburbs and the 2010 Census
Brookings Institution, July 14, 2011
The research that my colleagues at the Brookings Metro Program have conducted with respect to the 2010 census results thus far has focused on three of these subject areas: population, race and ethnicity, and age. In each of these areas, amid dynamic national demographic shifts, we see continued or increasing similarities between cities and suburbs.

More Roads May Pave The Way To More Traffic
National Public Radio, July 9, 2011
For decades, urban areas across the country have been adding lanes and building roads to fight congestion, but a recent study by University of Toronto researchers finds that widening and building more roads actually creates more traffic.

Lower Manhattan poised to be vibrant community
Crain’s New York Business, July 17, 2011
Missing the city’s energy and the creative types who made up their social circle, the family is moving back to the neighborhood. Now a lively stretch filled with eclectic restaurants, Stone Street is transformed but no less appealing.

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Coordinated transportation investments for a stronger economy in Louisiana

Did you know that in one year congestion in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans regions cost residents $898 million in wasted fuel, time and productivity? Or that in 2009 congestion cost the freight trucking industry $350 million in lost productivity and fuel costs in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas?

Smart Growth America’s coalition member the Center for Planning Excellence, has released a new policy brief about better transportation options for southern Louisiana. Connected and Ready to Compete, draws on data, maps, testimonials and case studies to continue making the case for enhanced transportation options between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. This brief, the second in a series of three, follows the first report by specifically addressing why coordinated transportation investments and planning are economically and financially beneficial for the super region. Analyzing job centers, gas prices, national trends and regional opportunities, this report shows businesses, industries and local governments how better transportation coordination can benefit them.

Click here for more information from the Center for Planning Excellence >>

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A low-cost method for better transportation: lessons from Latin America’s Bus Rapid Transit boom

The Brookings Institution hosted a panel discussion yesterday on the prospect of bus rapid transit (BRT) in the United States and what lessons can be learned from BRT systems currently in place in Latin America.

Unlike a typical bus route, BRT systems generally have exclusive lanes for buses, make limited stops and sell tickets at kiosks rather than on the bus. These strategies keep BRT buses efficient and fast, even in congested traffic. BRT systems provide travelers with the choice of a lower cost, reliable and fast bus service as an alternate to driving by car.

Darío Hidalgo, Director of Research and Practice at EMBARQ, spoke about the organization’s new report on BRT systems in Latin America and Asia. He highlighted the many benefits of BRT, noting that the systems are cost-effective, fast and efficient, move people quickly and more safely and can also alleviate traffic congestion. The concept is also well-suited for big cities and smaller towns alike. In Colombia, capital city Bogotá has an extensive BRT system called the TransMilenio, but the smaller city Pereira, with a population of about 700,000, also makes use of the concept. BRT’s success is so widespread that many cities in Latin America either have BRT systems already or are planning them in the near future.

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National traffic congestion report gets daily driving backwards

A new report out today from CEOs for Cities criticizes the Travel Time Index, an annual scoring of metropolitan areas and their congestion. The Index for each urban area in the US is released annually as part of the Texas …

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Rethinking traffic congestion

This video comes to us from Sightline up in the Pacific Northwest. I’d summarize it myself, but Sightline’s Eric de Place does it better himself: It’s difficult to illustrate the opportunities that are available now on our roads. We don’t …

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