Category Archives: cities

Does This Place Come With Parking? Increasingly, The Answer Is “No”

A proposed apartment without parking in Portland, Oregon. Via Oregon Live; Courtesy of the Boise Neighborhood Association

 

Mass transit and millennials are feeding one of the biggest trends in real estate development: apartments without a parking space included in the purchase price or rent.

Of course, city buildings constructed through World War II rarely had much parking. But starting in 1950, the number of parking spots built by home builders rose steadily for more than six decades, according to a study by real estate analysis firm Redfin.

Since 2012, however, the number of parking spots built per bedroom has declined. That’s causing some discussion over whether a lack of parking is good for the environment or bad for the neighborhood.

The issue is front and center in a number of American cities. Here’s a round-up of what’s going on where.

Last week, transportation officials in Portland, Oregon announced that they are looking into the possibility of building a subway system, according to Next City. That could increase demand for buildings without parking spaces.

In 2013, Portland officials decided that buildings with 30 units or more should have a minimum number of spaces, responding to neighbors’ complaints about crowded nearby streets. But in 2016, officials decided not to impose the minimums in a Northwest Portland neighborhood, reopening the debate.

In Denver, plans for an apartment building without onsite parking were approved in Denver last year, but were met with resistance from neighbors shortly afterwards, according to 9 News. The city has since stopped issuing similar permits for space-less buildings.

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Analysis: “We’ll Never Have Paris,” Trump Declares. What That Means For Transportation

Boston City Hall was lit green on Thursday night.

President Trump’s decision last week to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was not a surprise. He talked about it many times during the 2016 election campaign.

But the outraged reaction to it from every corner of the world showed that the move was a shock.

Rather than join the global effort to address climate change, the U.S. now will be on the outside looking in. Before the U.S. withdrew, 196 countries agreed to abide by a deal in the making since 2009.

The implications couldn’t be greater for the future of transportation. Here’s why.

Unpredictability. Under the Paris Agreement, car makers, transit providers and commuters all knew what to expect: efforts to reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees centigrade. One of the simplest ways to do that is  to raise fuel economy standards. By using less fuel, cars emit less carbon dioxide pollution.

However, any companies that think Trump’s decision lets them off the hook would be misinformed. On Thursday, 187 mayors from around the U.S. pledged to “adopt, honor and uphold” the Paris Agreement, and it’s likely that more will be joining the group in coming days

These mayors represent 32 million people in the country’s biggest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, Austin, Des Moines, and many more. Marty Walsh, the mayor of Boston, responded by lighting Boston City Hall in Green (see the photo above).

“We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy,” the mayors declared.

Presumably, this puts companies in an unpredictable position. Cars whose emissions comply with federal standards might not meet those embraced by the Climate Mayors. Some mayors may adopt stricter rules than others. An exception to the group: Detroit.

No one knows for sure what those mayors could enact, and uncertainty upsets shareholders, employees and consumers. Car companies and others could find themselves darting from one end of the country to the other in order to negotiate standards. Continue reading

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Curbing Cars Test Drives Detroit’s New Light Rail System

In its first week of operation, the QLine carried nearly 50,000 riders, averaging 7,140 riders daily, well surpassing the operators’ goal of 5,000 riders a day according to M-1 Rail, which operates the system.

The streetcar system was funded by public and private monies with hopes of expansion in the future (there are no concrete plans that detail where the streetcar system may go in the future). There are six streetcars ready for operation–each can seat 34 people and hold 125 people–all of which can be used at times of high-ridership.

The QLine planned to offer free rides for its first week of operation. But late last week, it announced that rides will be free until July 1. The operators will use that time to work out the bugs, and capitalize on the public’s interest in the new light rail system.

Join our Colin Beresford for a test drive of the QLine.

Have you ridden the QLine? Please let us know about your experience at curbingcars@gmail.com

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The Two Faces Of Uber: Getting Banned And Becoming Public Transportation

Even as it is under fire, Uber’s role is expanding. Photo via Uber

Over the past seven years, Uber and ride-sharing have taken the transportation world by storm, changing consumers’ transportation habits, and forcing cities around the country to rethink their own transportation systems.

Uber’s troubles still get most of the attention.

Last week, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit by Google’s self-driving car division, Waymo, will go to trial. Waymo has accused one of its former engineers of stealing thousands of pages of trade secrets when he left, and taking them over to Uber. The judge rejected Uber’s claim that the dispute was an employment matter that should have been settled through arbitration.

In the meantime, Uber is moving beyond its original approach of growing its customer base through individual customers. Some states and cities are ncreasing the role of Uber within their jurisdictions.

Five Florida cities are subsidizing Uber rides, and providing further support by paying for rides to public transportation stations. A New York City proposal, if passed, would force Uber to add a tipping option for riders within the city. And Edmonton, Alberta has begun exploring a partnership with Uber and other ride-sharing companies, in an effort to replace bus routes.

Making deals with cities

Last June, the Florida cities of Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford and Maitland, began their pilot programs with Uber. The five are located just north of Orlando, and aim to save money, reduce traffic congestion and increase ridership of their SunRail train system.

The program subsidizes 20 percent of every Uber ride beginning and ending within the city. Trips that end or begin at a SunRail station are subsidized 25 percent, according to the Orlando Sentinel. These ideas are often referred to as “last-mile programs,” meant to bring riders to public transportation stations.

Uber kept the amount of money it received from each city a secret until January, when a Longwood city clerk, Michelle Longo, released the invoices from Uber to the Sentinel.

Longo told the newspaper, “While Uber claims this invoice is a confidential trade secret and exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act, it is the City’s position that this invoice is not confidential and exempt and that the public should have access to this invoice reflecting the amount that Uber is seeking payment from the City under the Pilot Project Agreement.” Continue reading

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Public Transportation Is A Mess. How Can It Be Fixed?

New York. Toronto. San Francisco. Chicago. Great cities, with one thing in common. Their public transportation systems are a mess.

You probably know Richard Florida’s name. And if you don’t, you certain know the phrase he popularized: the Creative Class. In his 2002 book, The Rise of the Creative Class, Florida said that cities’ fortunes could be revived by appealing to smart, talented people — entrepreneurs, technology experts, artists, and creators of all kinds. These innovators could lead the way in putting cities back on their feet.

His idea worked. The only problem was, it left a lot of people behind. Now, Florida is back with his latest book, The New Urban Crisis.

In it, he says that by ignoring the working class, service class and essentially the middle class in general, America’s cities are in big, big trouble. Some of them could be headed for confrontation well beyond what the Occupy movement generated.

Florida appeared before Ann Arbor SPARK, an conomic development group in Ann Arbor, Mich., last week, where I got a chance to catch up with him.

He says one of the biggest problems that cities face is the deterioration of the ways people get around. “Once a metropolitan area gets above 5 million people, the old way of growing, with single family homes and cars, seizes up. That platform of economic innovation will no longer work,” Florida says.

He went on, “We need to invest in transit. Lord God, come visit me in Toronto and try to get anywhere. It is gridlock. I go to Atlanta, it’s gridlock, Miami, it’s gridlock, Washington, it’s gridlock, Boston, it’s gridlock. New York, the whole thing is falling apart. Every day, the transit system is a nightmare.” Continue reading

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The Best American Cities For Bicycle Commutes

Best Bicycling Cities

I’ll bet you’ve notice more people commuting to work by bicycle over the past few years.

I just moved away from one of America’s best cities for bicycle commutes — Ann Arbor, Mich. — but I now live next to another one of the best, Tempe, Ariz. They’ve both college towns and that seems to be an attribute of many of the nation’s leading bicycling cities.

Take a look at this wonderful Bloomberg graphic on the top places where people get to work on two wheels. Is your town on it? What will it take to land your town on it?

 

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Your Guide To Sounding Like A Native, Anywhere

It always seems like everyone else has an accent, but no matter where you’re from, culture has a way of influencing its development. One of the clearest ways to tell that someone is a transplant from somewhere else is by the way they speak.

These recent graphs below not only show where particular dialects are geographically located, but also help teach us a little about ourselves and why we say the things we say. They could also provide a nice reference for native terminology and accents in various parts of the U.S.

I  personally found out exactly why I had never heard of the term “bubbler,” which is the inspiration behind Milwaukee’s new bike share program called the Bublr, as Micki and I discussed on the first edition of the Curbing Cars Podcast.

If you’d like to explore your own accent further, take this NY Times quiz. Continue reading

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Presenting: The Curbing Cars Podcast

From Tucson to Kansas City, Denver to Detroit, it’s been a busy summer for transportation news.

Here, in our inaugural Curbing Cars podcast, Mark Remillard and I look at some of the stories he’s covered. They include:

Tucson’s new light-rail system, the Sun Link.

The Denver-based study showing that more bikes can actually be good for city safety.

The challenge posed to cities by parking craters.

Take a listen, and share it with  your friends.

Would you like to hear more episodes of the Curbing Cars Podcast? Take our survey.

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing, cars, cities, Curbing Cars, public transportation, Rail, urban planning

A Guide To The World’s Top 10 Public Transportation Cities

singapore

Courtesy of Jalopnik

Of all the cities across the U.S., only one has landed in the top 10 of the world’s best transportation cities, according to Jalopnik. New York grabbed the final spot on the list for its historic subway system that, despite its age, has been able to stand up to quite a lot. An example: it quickly returning to service after being flooded during Hurricane Sandy.

Germany has a strong grasp on quality transportation systems. Jalopnik put three of the country’s cities on the list: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt. Berlin claimed ninth because it’s punctual and has quiet rail lines, and because the city is seemingly saturated with transportation.

Frankfurt took seventh for its interesting system where riders pay for a ticket to their final destination, allowing riders to “take all day to get to that destination if you choose by getting on and off the transit as often as you like. You’ve paid for the whole day until you’ve reached the final destination.”

Finally, Munich reached number three in part for its incredibly fast service, which, according to Jalopnik, has the city providing trains every two minutes during peak hours in its central corridor.A few other European hubs made the list including Paris and London. Continue reading

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Tucson’s ‘Sun Link’ Light Rail System Is Open For Business

Tucson, Arizona is the latest city in the country, and second in Arizona, to open a light rail transit system. sunlink_2

The 18 stop, four-mile surface rail line has been in the works for 10 years, according to Sun Link Project Manager Shellie Genn. As the downtown core of Tucson has continued to grow, she said the need for light rail and an effective transit system has become increasingly important to keep the city connected.

“This has allowed us to connect areas that were previously divided by physical barriers,” Genn said. Some include the I-10 freeway and Santa Cruz River, which run through Tucson’s downtown.

Largely funded through a $63 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration, Genn said Sun Link has already created more than $800 million in economic development around the line.

“There’s a real interest in developing along this line, opening up business, housing (and) grocery stores,” she said. “It’s really turning into a place where you want to be versus what it used to be like five to 10 years ago.”

The light rail line is the latest in what Genn called a national demand for more convenient public transportation as more people are migrating to downtowns and embracing urban living. Continue reading

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