January 2, 2012

Freeway travel time sign
Freeway sign in Los Angeles showing driving and train travel times
(Photo courtesy of The Source)


  • Good new for commuters: BU Bridge nearly done (Boston Globe)
    By Eric Moskowitz -- Boston and Cambridge drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists got a holiday gift from the state last week, when major work finished on the Boston University Bridge after 2 1/2 years and $19 million in construction costs. I stopped by the span formerly known as the Cottage Farm Bridge (pre-1949) on Thursday, when the LivableStreets Alliance was out celebrating the completion by handing out baked goods and asking passersby to sign postcards. The advocacy group wanted to thank the state Department of Transportation for considering the needs of walkers, bicyclists, and people with disabilities as well as drivers in reconstructing the bridge, which dates to 1928.
    Related: Major Bridge Victory in Boston [BU Bridge] (Alliance for Biking & Walking)
  • Pics of Mass Ave [Back Bay] bike lanes (Boston Biker)
    StreetHeadlines Editor's Note: The City of Boston has striped bike lanes and sharrows on Mass Ave through Back Bay in Boston, as had been previously announced and discussed. Earlier reports led advocates to believe that the striping might be delayed until Spring 2012, but much to their surprise the lanes (with a short temporary gap near the Berklee construction) have been recently marked!
  • Valet parking violations punished lightly, if at all (Boston Globe)
    This story was written by Globe correspondents Colin A. Young, Gail Waterhouse, Sarah Moomaw, and Walter V. Robinson. In 2008, Petit Robert was in the cross hairs of Patricia A. Malone, the director of the city’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing. The South End bistro had three recent citations for violating Boston’s exacting valet parking rules, the most recent for double-parking cars and tying up traffic along Columbus Avenue. [...] A “serious sanction’’ was being imposed: Petit Robert, where patrons go for fine dining, was barred from providing entertainment for two nights, which meant that the 30-inch television over its tiny bar and the background music were turned off. When the City of Boston acts on valet parking violations, though it seldom does, the official flogging is most often done with feathers: That blank television screen is among the most serious penalties the city has imposed.
  • In the future, urban bikers go faster than cars (Salon)
    Cities around the world are considering radical new speed limits on cars -- slowing down in the name of progress
    By Will Doig -- In Hollywood movies, the cities of the future have speeding monorails and flying cars, everyone careening toward their destination at a zillion miles per hour. (The future always looks surprisingly like “The Jetsons,” which turns 50 next year.) It makes for great CGI. But does it make for a great city? For generations, velocity has defined the urban experience: screeching subways, maniacal taxis, hustling crowds. Life in the fast lane. A New York minute is no minute at all. Even as our roads become clogged with traffic, we think of cities as most city-like when they move at a blur. But look around (if you have a second) and you might notice that a lot of the new ideas seeping into cities are aimed not at making them faster, but slowing them down.
  • Between the Lines (Los Angeles Magazine)
    That prized garage space or curbside spot you’ve been yearning for may be costing you—and the city—in ways you never realized. A journey into the world of parking, where meter maids are under siege, everybody’s on the take, and the tickets keep on coming
    By David Gardetta -- Anyone scanning Disney Hall’s debut calendar in the fall of 2003 would have noticed the size of that first season’s schedule, 128 shows in all. That’s a weighty number for a new hall—one might have assumed it was chosen by venue management wanting the gravitas of a world-class chamber’s arrival or perhaps seeking a broad spectrum of music that could reflect the diverse city. Those guesses would have been wrong. [...] The debt on Disney Hall’s [2,188 car parking] garage would have to be paid off for decades to come, and as it turned out, a minimum schedule of 128 annual shows would be enough to cover the bill.  [...] In 2003, Esa-Pekka Salonen opened Frank Gehry’s masterpiece to a packed house with Mahler’s Resurrection, and in the years since, concertgoers—who lay out $9 to enter the garage—have steadily funded performances that exist to cover the true price of their parking.
  • In Madrid's Heart, Park Blooms Where a Freeway Once Blighted (New York Times)
    By Michael Kimmelman -- Even on a chilly Thursday afternoon in December, the old men, engulfed in cigar smoke and reading newspapers, were sitting around chess tables under tall pines. Nearby, a young woman had strung her line between the trunks of two mulberry trees to practice tightrope walking. Behind her, hypnotized toddlers stared into a small oval fountain full of swirling water, and cyclists pedaled across new bridges with cement roofs that are shaped like upside-down canoes and also across a new steel forked bridge, an elegant nod to industrial-age steelwork, with a great view of the royal palace on its hill. The park here, called Madrid Río, has largely been finished. More than six miles long, it transforms a formerly neglected area in the middle of Spain’s capital. Its creation, in four years, atop a complex network of tunnels dug to bury an intrusive highway, also rejuvenates a long-lost stretch of the Manzanares River, and in so doing knits together neighborhoods that the highway had cut off from the city center.
    Related: Kimmelman Cautious on Libertarian Parks (New York Observer)


  • Starts & Stops: Good new for commuters: BU Bridge nearly done; Boston Meter Cards work well -- just not for Massport's spaces; State's rules about when it's OK to make U-turns murky at best (Boston Globe)
  • Mass. commuters spend more time on the road than most in U.S. (Patriot Ledger)
  • Flurry of development, improvement activity for Melnea Cass Blvd. (South End News, Bay State Banner)
  • Traffic woes signal need for tweaks (Boston Globe)
  • Somerville, NStar in talks over unfinished paving work (Boston Globe)





  • MBTA confirms Charlie Cards will get ads, thanks to startup Trans Metro Media (Boston Business Journal)
  • Commercial Alert Urges MBTA Not To Sell Naming Rights to Boston Subway T Stations (Commercial Alert)
  • Commuter Rail to New Hampshire (Boston to a T)
  • Holiday prank cheers riders, sours T bosses (Boston Globe)
    • If T can manage a prank, why not train times, too? (Boston Globe)
  • Possible fare increase for the PVTA (WWLP)
  • Lovejoy Wharf Water Transportation Options Discussed at Boston Conservation Commission (NorthEndWaterfront.com)
  • OUR OPINION: Time to get serious about funding public transit (Patriot Ledger)


  • Valet parking violations punished lightly, if at all (Boston Globe)
  • Choking on diesel fumes, Boston should cut construction emissions (Boston Globe)

Transportation financing/Government

  • Bill H.3852: An Act providing the City of Cambridge with the authority to impose and increase certain motor vehicle fines in the City of Cambridge in order to improve driving (MA Legislature)
  • BRA Wins American Planning Association Awards (BRA)


  • Community Path walking tour (STEP)
  • Nancy Brennan's work on Greenway really started paying off (Boston Globe)

Development projects

Land Use/Planning

  • East Boston residents enthusiastic, wary about Menino's waterfront proposals (Boston Globe)


National trends

  • Feds fund billions in road projects but don't track states' use of funds (USA TODAY)
  • Highway to hell: More roads = more traffic (Grist)
  • Study: Health benefits outweigh costs of ciclovia events (BikePortland)
  • Mass transit commuters' tax breaks falling (Chicago Tribune)
  • Streetsies 2011: Who's Naughty, Who's Nice? (Streetsblog)
  • Local Funding for Public Transportation Operations: Producing Inequitable Results? (Transport Politic)
  • The bold urban future starts now (Salon)

International news