Expect fewer delays

DC Washington construction ROW credit WABAAn open bicycle lane and clearly marked pedestrian walkway, such as this one in in D.C., are the exception, not the norm during construction projects. Keeping bicycle lanes free during short-term construction projects also help maintain the safety and efficiency of bicycle networks. Photo: Washington Area Bicycle Association

This post is the third in a series of case studies about Complete Streets people, places, and projects. Follow the full series over the next several weeks.

People on foot and bike are often pushed to the wayside during construction projects. New policies in Washington D.C. and Chicago could change that.

Complete Streets

Partnership in the News: Bike advocates win big in Bay Area

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In 2010 the East Bay Regional Park District received a $10.2 million TIGER II grant to fill the gaps in bike and pedestrian trails in Northern California and connect more than 200 miles of existing trial.

Greater San Francisco has some of the most congested roads and highways in the country and the population is expected to grow significantly over the next few decades – only adding to the problem. Providing residents  safe, alternative modes of transportation will be critical to reduce future traffic congestion.

Existing trails in the district often parallel major roads and are used extensively by commuters seeking alternatives to congested freeways. One section of the new trails will run adjacent to the region’s metro system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and will connect some economically distressed neighborhoods. Often times these neighborhoods lack access to safe and affordable transportation. Protected bike lanes and sidewalks will provide residents in these areas with safe routes to get around town.

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Stop the House assault on walkable neighborhoods

Safe sidewalks and bikeable streets are both key parts of creating a great, walkable neighborhood, and towns across the country have used these tools to create places people want to live and visit.

Over the past month, members of Congress have been negotiating details of the federal transportation bill. Now, members of the House of Representatives have proposed allowing states to opt out of a program that would let communities make it safer to walk to public transportation, revitalize a Main Street or create bike trails for families.

Stand up for walkable streets: click here to send a letter to your members of Congress.

The House proposal would eliminate the small amount of money going directly to metropolitan areas, and would let state-level leaders decide whether communities ever see a dime of this funding. The move is slap in the face of city councils, mayors, and county leaders from across the country on both sides of the aisle who are creating the great neighborhoods so many Americans already know and love.

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Smart growth news – May 18, 2012

Top Stories

Erie and Chautauqua counties to get state land bank
Buffalo News (NY) – May 17, 2012
The Empire State Development Corp. on Thursday approved a joint application from Erie County and the cities of Buffalo, Lackawanna and Tonawanda, as well as one from Chautauqua County, giving the area the ability to start two of the state’s first land banks.

<a href="http://www.buffalonews.com/city/article860604.ecehttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dr-gridlock/post/monitoring-the-friday-am-commute-its-bike-to-work-day/2012/05/18/gIQASud2XU_blog.html”>It’s Bike To Work Day! Use caution and share your experiences
Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock blog – May 18, 2012
Today is Bike to Work Day, and thousands of commuters are expected to ride bicycles to work.

City hopes to become more sustainable, vibrant with bicycling
Dayton Daily News (OH) – May 17, 2012
Dayton is planning on spending $12.1 million through 2018 — most from federal and state money — on street repair, and road reconstruction and repaving that includes adding bike lanes or making improvements to bike and pedestrian paths.

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Smart growth news – April 18, 2012

Senate committee approves transportation and HUD budget
The Hill – April 17, 2012
A $53.4 billion budget for the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments was approved on Tuesday by a Senate subcommittee. The measure was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. It is less than the $74 billion President Obama requested for transportation in his 2013 budget proposal, and $44.8 billion less than he called for housing and urban development.

Highway Bill Faces Veto over Pipeline Provision
Reuters – April 18, 2012
he White House on Tuesday renewed its threat to veto legislation to fund U.S. transportation projects responsible for millions of jobs if it includes the politically charged Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Austin, Atlanta Give ‘Middleweight’ U.S. Cities Global Punch
Businessweek – April 17, 2012
Mid-size U.S. cities such as Austin, Texas, and Atlanta will join New York and Los Angeles to drive more than 10 percent of the world’s growth from now to 2025, McKinsey Global Institute said in a report.

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Smart growth news – October 5

EPA Programs Offer Communities Smart-Growth Solutions
Builder Magazine, October 4, 2011
The agency has put together a toolkit of proven techniques to help communities find smart-growth answers for challenges they face.

Area lawmakers want changes to state’s Smart Growth law
The Lakeland Times (Wis.), October 4, 2011
The state’s comprehensive planning law, also known as Smart Growth, has long been a thorn in the side of property rights advocates, even if stormier protests have subsided in recent years, but now several northern Wisconsin lawmakers are making another attempt to modify the statute.

Urban analysis
Boston Globe, October 3, 2011
What makes a location a good place to set up shop? Is it a nearby T station, or visibility on a busy corner? Is it better to be in the midst of a strip with lots of other stores, or within a 10-minute walk of many offices?

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Smart growth news – September 12

Earlier Stimulus Offers Lessons For A Second Round
NPR, September 9, 2011
Geoff Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Smart Growth America, a nonprofit, says some projects create more jobs for the money. Work on public transit and repairs to existing roads, for example, generated 50 to 70 percent more jobs than did work on new roads.

Focus on infrastructure earns associations’ approval of Obama’s Jobs Act
American City & County, September 9, 2011
SGA, which advocates for increases in transportation spending, contends that AJA should focus on streets and roads projects. “Investments in smart growth infrastructure like public transportation and repairing deteriorating infrastructure in existing communities will best achieve the goals outlined in [AJA],” SGA President and CEO Geoff Anderson said in a statement. “Rather than spending millions on land and equipment and obligating taxpayers to additional maintenance, these investments will reduce future costs and put a larger proportion of funds directly into the pockets of American families.”

‘I-69 equals jobs’ a persistent myth
Bloomington Alternative (Ind.), September 9, 2011
According to the article’s author, Keith Barry, figures from Smart Growth America show public transportation produces more jobs because it requires less acquisition of land; buses, trains and subways “need people to operate them and maintain the infrastructure”; and the workforce for public transit has more-diverse skills than does the workforce needed for highway construction.

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Video: the phenomenal success of Capital Bikeshare

Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare has soared in popularity since it started in 2008. The easy-to-use service has gathered 14,000 annual users and over 40,000 day users during that time. The video above from Streetfilms and the National Association of City Transportation Officials discusses how DC-area residents and visitors alike have taken to the service.

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Invest in smarter communities

How are we going to deal with gas prices? Pennsylvanians are paying about $3.70 per gallon and a recent Rasmussen Poll found that 72 percent of Americans think gas might cost $5 per gallon before long.

High gas prices depress other sectors of the economy, push up the cost of food and shake consumer confidence. This isn’t a new problem; it is one we faced as recently as 2008 and at various times since the 1970s. Will we finally demand real solutions?

It is time to get off the gas-price roller coaster. Calls for domestic drilling and other quick fixes to increase supply have dominated the conversation, but we know that ever-increasing global consumption of oil will quickly outstrip our capacity and continue to drive up prices. Alternative fuels have a long way to go. Real, long-term solutions must address our individual and national dependence on finite fossil fuels, which means we need to invest in infrastructure that gives communities better transportation choices.

AAA estimates the cost of owning and operating a car this year at $8,776. The average American household is now spending approximately 20 percent of its after-tax income on transportation. It would be a logical time for budget-conscious households to turn to public transportation, but here in Allegheny County, the Port Authority just cut service hours by 15 percent and many routes are overcrowded.

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Smart growth news – July 6, 2011

Grant promotes Somerville smart growth
Boston Globe, July 5, 2011
Community Corridor Planning, a coalition of Somerville community organizations, has received approximately $220,000 over two years from the Massachusetts Smart Growth Alliance to promote strong neighborhoods around mass transit expansion. The alliance announced the award at a June 23 conference.

House GOP expected to ax transportation funds
The Washington Post, July 5, 2011
The next flash point in the debate over the nation’s will to live within its means may emerge this week as House Republicans present a long-term transportation bill expected to cut funding for highways and mass transit by almost one third.

Tide will guide Norfolk’s growth
The Virginian-Pilot (Va.), July 6, 2011
The trains have begun rolling through downtown Norfolk. The Tide, finally, is coming in. If all goes according to plan, light rail will begin transporting people next month on a route from Newtown Road to Norfolk’s medical complex.

Newburgh organizing land bank to take over empty buildings
Times Herald-Record (N.Y.), July 5, 2011
Newburgh is far from the only city trying to reclaim neighborhoods of empty buildings. Upstate legislators have pushed a bill to create land banks modeled after the planning tool used in famously empty cities, such as Flint, Mich. The bill cites the vacant neighborhoods of Buffalo as its justification but could just as easily list former industrial cities throughout the state. Newburgh has already begun to organize its own version of a land bank.

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