April 18, 2012

Seattle streetcar and cycle track
Streetscape design for Seattle First Hill Streetcar project
(Photo courtesy of BikePortland)


  • History of the Inner Belt, a highway that would have split Cambridge (Cambridge Chronicle)
    By Andy Metzger -- Those who doubt the power and reach of local activism or the fallibility of officialdom, might want to try visiting the heart of Central Square, looking up and imagining the underbelly of an eight-lane highway in place of the sky. Alternatively, a visit could be made to the Brickbottom neighborhood in Somerville where all that remains of the bustling immigrant community is its name and cobbled streets. The forces that coalesced to block Interstate-695 eventually won in time to save Central from the bulldozers but too late for Brickbottom. The debate over the highway plan first proposed in 1948 lasted about half as long as the Cold War, before its eventual defeat in the early 1970s.
  • Groups promote walking to school (CommonWealth Magazine)
    By Wilder Fleming -- Over the past 30 years, the number of overweight children in the United States has soared while the number of kids walking to school has plummeted. The two trends, and the potential link between them, have prompted a national effort to get children walking to school again. In Massachusetts, the Safe Routes to School initiative was first piloted in Arlington in 2001 and has since spread to more than 460 elementary and middle schools in 138 communities. But until recently, there was no systematic effort to identify which communities would benefit the most from a walk-to-school program.
  • Somerville Police Department to increase bicycle traffic regulations (Somerville Journal, Somerville ResiStat, Somerville Patch, Boston Globe)
    Chief Thomas Pasquarello has announced that beginning April 11, the Somerville Police Department will increase enforcement of bicycle traffic regulations under Massachusetts General Law Chapter 85 which was recently revised and updated. “With more bicycles on the road, with a growing number of dedicated bike lanes and sharrows across Somerville, and more bicycle related accidents, we want to take action to protect bicyclists, pedestrians, and motorists by using all of the enforcement powers we’ve been given under state law,” Pasquarello said in a press release.
  • The stimulus: Where did it go? What did we get? (CommonWealth Magazine)
    By Jack Sullivan -- state officials promised to build a pedestrian bridge linking Charlestown and East Cam­bridge as part of environmental mitigation for the Big Dig, but what came back from the architect was more than a bridge. It was an architectural marvel, a series of steel rails that undulate along the sides of a 700-foot walkway, gently curving up and down and giving the impression of a roller coaster. The bridge design and some ground and electrical work on the surrounding greenspace also came with a $29.6 million price tag, the equivalent of roughly $43,000 a foot. That was nearly a third of what it cost to build the much larger Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge, the world’s largest cable-stayed bridge and the Big Dig’s crown jewel.
  • Report Disputes Christie's Basis for Halting Tunnel (New York Times)
    By Kate Zernike -- Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey exaggerated when he declared that unforeseen costs to the state were forcing him to cancel the new train tunnel planned to relieve congested routes across the Hudson River, according to a long-awaited report by independent Congressional investigators.
    The report by the Government Accountability Office, to be released this week, found that while Mr. Christie said that state transportation officials had revised cost estimates for the tunnel to at least $11 billion and potentially more than $14 billion, the range of estimates had in fact remained unchanged in the two years before he announced in 2010 that he was shutting down the project. And state transportation officials, the report says, had said the cost would be no more than $10 billion.
  • Want more bikers? Build more bike lanes. (Washington Post)
    By Brad Plumer -- Is there anything cities can do to encourage cycling? Portland, for instance, has twice as many bike commuters per 1,000 people as Washington. But maybe that’s just because Portland has nicer weather or more young people. It’s not clear that there’s an actual policy issue here. Yet in a new study (pdf) in the journal Transport Policy, Ralph Buehler and John Pucher suggest that cities might actually be able to influence how many cyclists are on the road. Perhaps all they have to do is — and this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise — build more bike lanes and bike paths.






Transportation financing/Government


Development projects

Land Use/Planning

  • A 'beautiful, transit-oriented village' in Forest Hills? (Universal Hub)
  • Kendall consultant keeps hope pinned on park replacing Volpe (Cambridge Day)
  • All new board at authority to oversee Kendall Square redevelopment (Cambridge Chronicle)


  • New York City --
    • Park Slope Cop Brings About Sidewalk Cycling, Then Tickets It (Streetsblog)
    • New York's Subways Booming as Bus Ridership Continues Decline (Transportation Nation)
    • New A&E Series Mines Reckless NYC Driving for Ratings (Streetsblog)
    • Ride to Ballgame on Vintage Train Transports Fans to Another Era (New York Times)
    • Countdown to a New Times Square (New York Magazine)
    • DOT to Install Pedestrian Islands on Prospect Park West Bike Lane (Park Slope Patch)
  • Pedaling might not be such a time drain after all (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
  • Detroit's Bicycling Booming To Meet Transportation, Recreation Needs (Huffington Post)
  • The Oregonian: Adams is looking to bury I-5 through the central eastside (BikePortland)
  • Did bad neighborhood design doom Trayvon Martin? (Boston Globe)
  • Architecture's Ugly Ducklings May Not Get Time to Be Swans (New York Times)
  • Now that it has built the bike lanes, the city is waiting for the riders to come (Indianapolis Star)
  • Editorial: City should maintain parking requirement (Seattle Times)
    • The Seattle Times: For Free Markets, Unless They Mean Less Parking (Streetsblog)
    • Abolishing Parking Minimums Is Not Anti-Children (The Atlantic Cities)
  • Editorial: California Declares War on Suburbia (Wall Street Journal)
  • Streetcars may make comeback in Los Angeles (Boston Globe)
  • Video: In Car-Bike Hit-and-Run, "Heroic" Bus Driver Saves the Day (Streetsblog DC)
  • Report Disputes Christie's Basis for Halting Tunnel (New York Times)
  • Seeking Pedestrian Advocates in L.A., Where People Actually Do Walk (The Atlantic Cities)
  • Student's push to make Raleigh more walkable relies on homemade signs and QR codes (Engadget)
  • Study: In Baltimore, One in Six Drivers Pass Cyclists Illegally (Streetsblog)
  • Streetcar/bikeway integration porn from Seattle (BikePortland)
  • Surprise! City Announces Massive Bike Share Program Coming in December (Streetsblog LA)
  • Mending St. Louis: City issues RFP for Interstate 70 removal study (Architects Newspaper)
  • LaHood A Bus Rapid Transit Acolyte as Austin Gets BRT (Transportation Nation)
  • Free Muni for S.F. kids could hit a few bumps (San Francisco Chronicle)
  • Study: Silver Line worth $386m in taxes for Loudoun (Washington Examiner)
  • In an Atlanta Desperate for More Transit Options, New Rail Plans for Eastern Suburbs (Transport Politic)

National trends

  • America's Pedestrian Problem --
    • The Crisis in American Walking: How we got off the pedestrian path (Slate)
    • Sidewalk Science: The peculiar habit of the pedestrian, explained. (Slate)
    • What's Your Walk Score: The company that puts a number on walkability. (Slate)
    • Learning To Walk: How America can start walking again. (Slate)
    • Americans Do Not Walk The Walk, And That's A Growing Problem (NPR)
  • TIGER 2012 applications far exceed available funds; overwhelming demands demonstrates investment need (USDOT Blog)
  • Why Does U.S. Build Roads If It Can't Pay to Fix Them? (Bloomberg)
  • STUDY: Americans Driving Less, Especially the Young (Next American City, AP)
  • High gas prices put brake on expansion of US exurbs (Boston Globe)
  • Freeway Removal Creates Opportunity for Improved Health, Quality of Life (The City Fix)
  • The High Cost of Losing Urban Trees (The Atlantic Cities)
  • Build Stuff Near Train Stations (Slate)
  • AARP Launches its Network of Age-Friendly Communities (ABW)
  • Proceed Without Caution: Cities Add Parkland by Closing Streets and Roads to Cars (City Parks Blog)
  • Scientifically Proven: Taxes Can Kill You Dead (The Truth About Cars)
  • Editorial: Why Your Highway Has Potholes (Wall Street Journal)
  • Want more bikers? Build more bike lanes. (Washington Post)
  • Public Transit Systems Facing Repair Backlogs As Ridership Rises (Huffington Post)
  • Patent Troll Sues Transit Agencies For Releasing Real-Time Transit Info (Streetsblog DC)
  • 11 Transportation Officials Who Are Changing the Game (Streetsblog DC)
  • A Biking Crash-Test Dummy Could Make Us Smarter About Cycling (The Atlantic Cities)
  • Why Don't Conservative Cities Walk? (Slate)

International news