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Talking Headways Podcast: Louisville’s Urbanism Derby

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This week’s guest is Branden Klayko, founder of Streetsblog Network member site Broken Sidewalk, which covers transportation and urbanist issues in Louisville, Kentucky. Louisville is one of the oldest American cities west of the Appalachians, and we discuss the history of the city and its urban heritage. (Is it southern? Is it in the Midwest?)  While many may know Louisville for bourbon, the Kentucky Derby, or college basketball rivalries, Branden gives us another view of the arts and culture that make the city great.

Streets-wise, there’s a lot happening in Louisville, with the coming of bike-share, the city’s focus on pedestrian and bicycle safety, and the legacy of freeway opposition in the city. Branden also reminds us of great local figures in urbanism such as Grady Clay, who was Jane Jacobs contemporary and featured in Death and Life of Great American Cities (check pages 161 and 195).

And if you’re ever in town, make sure to travel the Big Four Bridge, which proved to Louisville residents that you don’t need a car to cross the Ohio River.

Streetsblog USA
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3 White Elephants That Help Explain America’s Infrastructure Crisis

American spends billions of dollars widening roads that don't need widening, like Wisconsin State Route 23.

America spends billions of dollars widening roads that don’t need widening, like Wisconsin State Route 23. Image: Google Maps

A new report by the Center for American Progress zeros in on an under-appreciated culprit in America’s much ballyhooed infrastructure crisis: All the money we waste on useless roads.

CAP highlights three “white elephant projects” that illustrate how billions of dollars in federal infrastructure funds are squandered thanks to a lack of accountability in the transportation funding process.

“States receive federal highway funding based on formulas set in law, which reflect political negotiations as opposed to objective measures of need or return on investment,” writes CAP’s Kevin DeGood. “This means that states are not required to demonstrate the social, environmental, or economic value of their projects.”

These three projects represent about $1 billion in frivolous spending — and that’s only a small fraction of what’s squandered on dubious road projects each year.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Miraculous! Philly’s Open Streets Open Eyes During Papal Visit

The official name for it was the “traffic box” — the 4.7-square-mile chunk of center city Philadelphia where incoming motor vehicles weren’t allowed when Pope Francis was in town this weekend. But rather than the traffic nightmare some anticipated, something wonderful happened: #popenstreets.

Suddenly the streets felt public. Neighbors were hanging out together. Kids played. Holly Otterbein at Philadelphia Magazine called it “an urbanist utopia”:

Blissed-out pedestrians are walking down the middle of roads as big as Broad and Market, and hordes of people are crossing the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. Cyclists are giddy by the extra room. Some residents are even turning the streets into impromptu picnic spots and playgrounds.

The local media, and a lot of residents, were generally euphoric about the situation. In another article, Philly Mag listed “10 Reasons Why Philadelphia Is a Better Version of Itself Right Now.” One reason being: “There’s none of the undercurrent of anger and tension that you see when bikes and cars are on the road at the same time.”

“It’s like a block party,” one reveler told the City Paper, which was a common sentiment. The inquirer wrote that the closed Ben Franklin Bridge was “one big block party.” Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Scenes From the Big Car-Free Day in Paris

The air was noticeably clearer yesterday over the city of Paris, where people walking, biking, skating, and otherwise getting around without a motor took over streets generally packed with cars, including the Champs Elysées.

About a third of Paris was free of motorized vehicles from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for buses and taxis. Car speeds were capped at 20 kilometers per hour in the rest of the city.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo, at the urging of activists, initiated the massive car-free event as a lead-in to the city hosting COP21, the United Nations’ upcoming conference on climate change. Paris is plagued by diesel exhaust, and the skies over the city were noticeably bluer yesterday, according to the Guardian. The exhaust cleared. The rumble of traffic was gone. People seemed happier and less stressed.

One of the tens of thousands who took to the streets told the Guardian it was “like a headache lifting.”

Camille Carnoz of the bike activist group Vélorution said she hopes the car-free day leads to permanent changes:

Today is symbolic, it’s about giving people a dream, showing us what a city could look like without cars, a type of utopia. But we need to go further, with more and larger cycle routes, better parking spots for bicycles, slower speed limits. There’s a lot to be done.

Here are a few more views of the day without cars.

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Today’s Headlines for Monday, September 28

  • Metra Plans to Enter 21st Century by Piloting Wi-Fi on 10 Cars (Tribune)
  • Amtrak Piloting Late-Night Hiawatha Service to Milwaukee (Amtrak in the Heartland)
  • Prosecutors: Driver in Fatal Kennedy DUI Crash Had 0.24 BAC (DNA)
  • Authorities: Man Died of Natural Causes Before His Car Veered Into Oncoming Traffic (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Gets 180 Days Jail Time for Crash That Killed Hanover Park Teen (Herald)
  • Lawsuit Alleges CTA Bus Driver Drove Off While Teen Was Boarding, Injuring Her (Sun-Times)
  • Active Trans Hosted Complete Streets Conference for Suburban Cook County Leaders
  • Can South Loop Infrastructure Accommodate 3,800 New Homes? (DNA)
  • After Pressure From Neighbors, Hotel Project Is Adding 50% More Parking (DNA)
  • Biking From Downtown on Fulton Just Got Safer — New Stoplight Added at Halsted (DNA)
  • Dill Pickle Food Co-Op Is Moving to a Larger Space Just N. of Logan Station Entrance
  • Next Hearing in the Bobby Cann Case: Friday 10/2 at 10 a.m., 26th & California, Rm. 127

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA 

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North Carolina Lawmakers May Quickly Reverse Anti-Light Rail Measure

The last-minute legislative sneak attack on light rail plans for Durham and Orange counties in North Carolina was an example of politics at its worst. Thankfully, it may not have staying power.

Light rail between Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, is expected to draw 23,00 riders a day. Image: Triangle Transit

Light rail between Chapel Hill and Durham, North Carolina, is expected to draw 23,000 riders a day. Image: Triangle Transit

Lawmakers who still won’t identify themselves inserted language into a state budget bill sabotaging the light rail project. There was no public debate. There was no warning that transit funding was even under discussion.

The budget measure placed an arbitrary cap on state funding for a light rail project: $500,000. Doing so undermined the process established by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature for awarding transportation funds, which is supposed to be free from political interference. Through that process, project leaders had been counting on $138 million from the state to match federal funding and money from taxpayers in Orange and Durham counties, who voted to tax themselves to pay for the project.

But sanity may prevail after all. The News Observer reports that next Monday, Wake County Republican Paul Stam will insert language into a local spending bill aimed at reversing the light rail cap. Other lawmakers had attempted to add wording that would have threatened Wake County’s transit plans. But that was beaten back by Stam and a wider, bipartisan coalition.

Advocates are urging North Carolina residents to contact their representatives and tell them to support rolling back the spending cap.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Advocates Prevail Over Road Diet Ban in North Carolina

Advocates for safer streets in North Carolina have beaten back an attempt to outlaw street designs that put people first.

House Bill 44 would have made this very successful road diet on Raleigh's Hillsborough Street illegal. Thankfully, lawmakers came to their senses. Photo: NC DOT

House Bill 44 would have made this very successful road diet on Raleigh’s Hillsborough Street illegal. Thankfully, lawmakers came to their senses. Photo: NC DOT

A provision inserted by state senators Trudy Wade and Andrew Brock would have forbidden road diets in North Carolina cities under certain circumstances. The amendment threatened to outlaw what are some of the most successful examples of traffic-calming and pedestrian-oriented street design in the Tar Heel state.

In response, advocates like Lisa Riegel of Bike Walk NC built a broad coalition to help educate state lawmakers about why the bill was not only unnecessary but harmful. Riegel worked with the American Heart Association, the YMCA, and local bike advocacy groups for three months to get the anti-road diet provision stripped out.

“We had health advocates, we had cycling advocates, we had cities saying how this would negatively impact projects they have for economic development,” she said.

Read more…


Today’s Headlines for Tuesday, September 22

  • Alderment Tweak TOD Reform Ordinance to Give Themselves More Oversight (Tribune)
  • Burke Proposal for Downtown Congestion Tax Would Exclude Chicago Residents (CBJ)
  • Predictably, Suburbanites Are Outraged About the Idea (Herald)
  • Andy Shaw: Would It Make Sense to Combine Pace & Metra Into One Agency? (Sun-Times)
  • Driver Struck and Killed Cyclist in Woodstock, No Charges (Tribune)
  • AAIM Backs Law That Would Allow DUI Offenders to Drive After Using Breathalyzer (Sun-Times)
  • ABC: There Are 243 CTA Bus Crashes Per Year
  • Meanwhile, There Are 782 Motor Vehicle Crashes Per Day in Illinois (Tribune)
  • Cabbies Blast Emanuel’s Proposal to Allow Ride-Share Access to Airports (Sun-Times)
  • WBEZ Looks at Local Enforcement of Bike Laws
  • New Rental Building Near The 606 Asking for Nearly $5K Per Month (Curbed)
  • Chicago Bears Recorded Bus Announcements to Promote Riding Transit to Games (RedEye)

Get national headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Awesome 11-Year-Old Defends Road Diet, Calls Out LA’s “Bullying” Drivers

In case you need a reason to feel confident about the next generation of livable streets advocates, check out this viral video of 11-year old Matlock Grossman, standing up for a road diet in his Los Angeles neighborhood.

Grossman has been bike commuting since he was seven, and now commutes five miles each way to school. Unfortunately, like many bicycle commuters, he has already experienced his share of harassment from drivers.

Matlock Grossman (center in blue shirt) reads his comments at the Rowena Avenue forum. Photo: Joe Linton

Matlock Grossman (center in blue shirt) reads his comments at the Rowena Avenue forum. Photo: Joe Linton

At a public forum about a road diet and bike lanes implemented on Rowena Avenue, here’s what Grossman had to say to the project’s detractors:

Clearly there are motorists out there who not mature enough to share the road without having the rules painted on the road to show who goes where. The road diet by design is meant to slow down cars because – motorists are the problem.

Even if there are zero bicyclists taking advantage of the bike lanes, it doesn’t matter. The road diet effectively reduces collisions and the statistics prove this.

Stop bullying and victim-blaming the pedestrians and bicyclists as being the problem.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Park(ing) Day Scenes From Coast to Coast

Today is a very fun day in cities around the U.S., when advocates for better public spaces unleash their imaginations on the dreary places where we normally store cars. Park(ing) Day is “an annual worldwide event where artists, designers and citizens transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks,” according to its organizers.

Below we are showcasing some creative examples from across North America. Kudos to everyone involved!


Come relax in our urban forest at 16th & JFK! #ParkingDay #parkingdayphl

A photo posted by Philadelphia Parks & Rec (@philaparkandrec) on


installation from #parkingday #htx A photo posted by mai (@_i_am_mai_) on


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