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July 29, 2015

Posts in "Walkability"

February 26, 2015

More Than 2,000 Pedestrians Killed In First Half of 2014

Police investigate a truck crash in New York City's financial district on Aug. 23, 2012 in which a pedestrian was killed. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Police investigate a truck crash in New York City’s financial district on Aug. 23, 2012 in which a pedestrian was killed. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

There were 2,082 pedestrians killed by cars and trucks in the United States in the first half of last year, the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reported Thursday , which was a 2.8 percent decrease from the same period in 2013 and part of a long-term trend in road safety.

Since 2000, the number of U.S. pedestrians killed by vehicles each year has ranged from about 4,100 to about 4,900.

The GHSA report said Delaware and Florida had the highest rates of pedestrian deaths per 100,000 people in the first half of 2014.

Full story

February 13, 2015

‘Snow Farms’ Are A Real Estate Growth Sector In Boston

 An MBTA bus travels through Boston this week amid snow banks (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

An MBTA bus travels through Boston this week amid snow banks (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

You’ve heard of funny farms, fish farms, and fat farms. How about a “snow farm”?

So much snow has fallen in Massachusetts in the past several weeks that, according to the Boston Globe, Mayor Martin Walsh “had opened 10 new snow farms” to pile up snow that has been plowed and removed from the city’s streets.

Bostonians are girding for yet another snow storm this weekend.

Walsh is recommending that the city’s mass transit system, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), close on Saturday and Sunday because the National Weather Service is forecasting blizzard conditions, with up to 14 more inches of snow.

This week the head of the MTBA, Beverly Scott, resigned after heavy criticism of her agency over train service being suspended for more than 24 hours twice in the last two weeks.

A day before announcing her departure, Scott said, “We are running an extremely aged system that is getting a pounding every single day. What happened here, it would have taken anybody down.”

Pennsylvania is poised to help Massachusetts in the form of 18 plow and mechanic trucks, three backhoes, more than 20 plow operators and other personnel.

February 11, 2015

What Rules To Govern Uber-Type Services?

Uber, Sidecar and other app-enabled car services have dealt a blow to regulated taxi cab monopolies because they’re nimble and operate outside some of the established rules.

A Cato Institute panel on Tuesday debated what, if any, regulations cities should impose on Uber and similar car services.

Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said that the newer car services have forced taxis to become more efficient.

But he still sees a need for regulation of Uber and its peers.

Full story

January 14, 2015

Planners Seek To ‘Get Prices Right’ On Parking

San Francisco parking meter. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

San Francisco parking meter. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Transportation analysts spend a lot of time talking about what they call “getting prices right.”

They see some transportation assets (un-tolled highways, for example) as underpriced and over-used.

They see other assets people consider “free” (the space in airplanes’ overhead luggage bins, for instance) which should be priced in order to produce revenue and reveal their true cost.

Underpriced assets lead to what economists call “negative externalities” – overuse, congestion, pollution, and other costs which users impose on society without being made to fully pay for those costs.

(The head of the International Energy Agency sounded a similar note last July by suggesting to Americans that their gasoline prices were too low and “may be encouraging wasteful consumption.”)

So too with urban parking, a topic transportation analysts took on at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting Tuesday.

Full story

Would You Sell Your ‘Tradable Driving Rights’?

Drivers and pedestrians in Manhattan last fall.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Drivers and pedestrians in Manhattan last fall. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Imagine you live in Manhattan 30 years from now, and as a resident of that island, you own something very valuable which you could sell to your hard-pressed fellow residents: the right to drive.

In this scenario, you and your fellow Manhattanites live under a government-imposed limit on how many miles you can drive.

(Don’t confuse this with the plot of the 1981 Isaac Hayes cult classic Escape from New York, in which Manhattan has become the only maximum security prison for the entire country.)

If you don’t choose to drive, you could sell your driving rights to another Manhattanite who wants to drive. Both of you end up better off and the total number of miles driven remains under the limit.

Full story

January 13, 2015

Cell Phone Signals Offer Massive Trove of Travel Data

Travelers on the New York City subway, many of whom are transmitting data about their travel patterns. (Photo credit should read Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Travelers on the New York City subway, many of whom are transmitting data about their travel patterns. (Photo credit should read Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Every hour of every day cell phones are generating data which transportation planners, real estate developers, and investors use to help them to understand traffic flows, shopping patterns, and population shifts.

An Atlanta-based company, AirSage, collects real-time data (15 billion data points every day) from cell phone tower interactions – whenever a person sends a text, makes a phone call, or when a phone is searching for the next cell phone tower.

AirSage was one of the exhibitors at the annual Transportation Research Board meeting in Washington this week.

The company draws the data, which come from more than 100 million mobile devices, from two of the top three cell phone providers. The data cover more than a third of the U.S. population.

Full story

January 12, 2015

The Week Ahead: Annual Gathering Of The Policy Wonks

A worker makes repairs to a pedestrian walkway and bike path near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. One topic at TRB anual meeting: how states can pay for transportation projects. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A worker makes repairs to a pedestrian walkway and bike path near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. One topic at TRB anual meeting: how states can pay for transportation projects. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The week’s marquee event in Washington is the 94th annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board, a five-day extravaganza of panel discussions, research presentations, and speeches by government officials, corporate leaders, and academic and think tank experts.

On the are nearly 750 workshops and sessions, on topics ranging from “Self-heating Electrically Conducting Concrete for Pavement De-Icing” to “Understanding the Gender Gap in Urban Biking.”

Monday

At the TRB meeting, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will forecast the year ahead for transportation and also discuss opportunities and challenges facing America’s transportation network over the next thirty years.

Also on Monday’s TRB agenda is a presentation from Timothy Butters, acting head the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Scott Darling, acting head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and other transportation officials who will explain how they go about the federal rule-making process for various modes of transportation.

Tuesday

At the TRB annual meeting, National Transportation Safety Board Acting Chairman Christopher Hart and his colleagues unveil the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of transportation safety improvements for 2015.

Last year’s NTSB list included banning the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices by anyone while driving a car or a truck, or while piloting a plane, a ship, or a train.

Tuesday’s TRB meeting features a session with state transportation department chiefs on steps they are taking to fund major capital projects in light of the continued uncertainty of federal funding. Featured speakers include Anthony Tata of North Carolina, Charles Zelle of Minnesota, and Joan McDonald of New York.

Thursday and Friday

As the TRB meeting continues, the World Bank is staging its own transportation event, Transforming Transportation: Smart Cities for Shared Prosperity. It features policy makers and experts from several countries including a panel discussion on The Role of Technology in Fostering Sustainable Mobility and Inclusive Growth, with Robin Chase, Founder of Zipcar, and others.

December 22, 2014

Most Encouraging News of 2014, Part Three

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt event on Sept. 8, 2014 in San Francisco.  (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick on stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt event on Sept. 8, 2014 in San Francisco. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Here’s the third in our series in which we ask transportation advocates, analysts, and interest group representatives to identify the most encouraging or discouraging transportation developments of the past year….

“One of the most encouraging developments of 2014 was President Obama’s proposal to lift the ban on tolling existing Interstate highways for purposes of reconstruction. While we don’t wish to see the Federal-aid highway program fail, it appears that the strangling of the system is causing people to think outside the box.”

Patrick D. Jones, executive director and CEO, International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association

 

“The most discouraging transportation development for me is Bertha [the world’s largest tunneling machine] getting stuck in Seattle. In my opinion that [State Route 99 tunnel] project should have never started. New freeway capacity in cities is disappointing. We know so much about how cities create value, and it’s not with more space for cars.

“The most encouraging is the citizen-led push in Dallas to tear down a freeway and to connect neighborhoods that were split by it.”

Jeff Wood, urban planner in the San Francisco Bay area and head of transportation consulting firm The Overhead Wire

 

“The most encouraging transportation development in 2014 was NHTSA’s decision to move forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology in new light vehicles.  V2V technology has the potential to dramatically reduce highway fatalities and its safety benefits will be extended beyond auto passengers to include pedestrians and other road users.”

Alice Tornquist, vice president of government affairs, Qualcomm

 

“The continued booming expansion of transportation network companies (Uber, Lyft, etc…), as well as bike-share and car-share companies, that are transforming metropolitan transportation by providing more viable transportation options and vastly greater mobility. This development is incredibly encouraging because it shows how the disruptive power of technology continues to create competition, innovation, and economic and social benefits in transportation.”

Joshua Schank, president and CEO, Eno Center for Transportation

November 10, 2014

New York Tries ‘Culture Change’ To Cut Traffic Deaths

A 25 miles-per-hour speed limit went into effect in New York City on Friday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

A 25 mile-per-hour speed limit went into effect in New York City on Friday. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

New York City’s frenzied pace of life will continue as it always has, but state lawmakers have reduced the city’s speed limit to 25 miles per hour, from 30 mph, to try to reduce traffic accidents and fatalities.

Last year, more than 11,000 pedestrians were injured by cars in the city and 291 people in the city were killed in traffic accidents. There are now about the same number of traffic fatalities in New York City as there are homicides every year.

Full story

October 21, 2014

Debate Just Starting on Mandate for ‘Talking Vehicles’

The aftermath of a highway accident last year in Brentwood, Calif.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The aftermath of a highway accident last year in Brentwood, Calif. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Should the federal government require your new car to be equipped to communicate with other cars on the highway, in order to prevent accidents?

The comment period closed Monday for initial public and interest group response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposal to create a standard requiring vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication capability for cars and light trucks.

Full story

October 1, 2014

The Container Interviews Foxx on Paying for Transportation, Part One

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx   (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has been traveling across the country to announce grants for state and local projects and to make the case for the Obama administration’s transportation bill, the Grow America Act.

We had an exclusive interview with Foxx on Tuesday. He spoke with us from Los Angeles where he was taking part in the groundbreaking of the Los Angeles Regional Connector, a light rail transit project connecting three existing lines.

Full story

September 15, 2014

A Cautionary Tale About The Difficulty of Bringing Anti-Texting Technology To Market

In case you missed it, the New York Times on Sunday had a detailed account by Matt Richtel (Twitter: @mrichtel) of an entrepreneur and engineer named Scott Tibbitts who has spent five years devising a technology called Groove to prevent texting while driving — and thus save the lives of pedestrians and others killed by texting drivers.

Tibbitts and his company, Katasi, worked with Sprint and with American Family Insurance to make his technology available.

The story is a cautionary tale about the difficulty of bringing new technology to market. One impediment that has kept Katasi’s potentially life-saving device off the market: the companies’ potential legal liability if the technology weren’t 100 percent effective in blocking every single text.

September 12, 2014

Sidewalks, Rail & Highway Projects On the Winners List As Foxx Awards $600M

The 2006 Tour de Georgia bicycle race as it passed through Dahlonega, Ga.

The 2006 Tour de Georgia bicycle race as it passed through Dahlonega, Ga.

It was Christmas in September on Friday for state and local transportation officials in 46 states as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced $600 million in grants for projects ranging from a new streetcar in Providence, R.I., to building on-ramps and off-ramps at a key freight chokepoint in City of Industry, Calif.

Full story

September 11, 2014

Transportation Policy Guru Poole Voices Skepticism About Vehicle-To-Vehicle Technology

Robert Poole, co-founder of the Reason Foundation, has worked on transportation policy for more than three decades and is an influential voice on tolling, congestion pricing and infrastructure finance.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology may some day allow cars to communicate with each other and with traffic infrastructure to avoid collisions.

Poole’s skepticism about this technology, which he explains in his monthly newsletter published this week, is worth reading.

Full story

July 30, 2014

In Fight for Urban Street and Curbside Space, Can Pricing Create Peace?

US-LIFESTYLE-FOOD-TRUCKS

People order food from the BBQ Bus food truck during lunch at Farragut Square in Washington, D.C., in August 2013. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

A thriving city with new restaurants and other businesses has a healthy surge of revenue, but there’s one constraint the transportation manager or mayor can do little about: space on the roads and at curbsides.

“Our biggest challenge would certainly be use of right of way or space,” said Larry Marcus, the Transportation and Engineering Bureau Chief for Arlington County, Va., at a transportation data panel this week sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Full story

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