Recent Posts

  • “Structure of voids” and chain restaurants in Ballston

    Last weekend, we visited a friend who recently bought a condo in Ballston. Zachary Schrag highlights the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor as the region’s biggest success from Metro’s original construction, creating a new transit-oriented Smart Growth development around the subway, and it’s true: there were people and shops and other signs of life everywhere,…  Keep reading…

  • LA: smart move on parking, dumb move on roads

    Today on Street Heat LA, the LA DOT took a knee-jerk position around moving cars smoothly at the expense of pedestrians when it insisted that the LA County Museum of Art remove a traffic light and crosswalk across Wilshire in front of its entrance and actually fill in the median to prevent people from crossing the street. On the other hand, the LA City Council is pushing for greater compliance…  Keep reading…

  • Three projects to watch

    All over the region, consulting organizations are going through the legal requirements for Environmental Impact Statements, necessary for any major project: convening public scoping meetings, collecting input, evaluating alternatives, and so on. They’re doing this in downtown Columbia, along Rockville Pike, and on both sides of the 14th Street Bridges, used by I-395,…  Keep reading…

  • Walkability’s comeback

    Planetizen links to an article in Governing Magazine that says what anyone in Adams Morgan or Park Slope or San Francisco knows: walkable neighborhoods are on the rise. But it’s not just old cities: Plano, Texas has a booming Smart Growth development. And “it’s not just the New Urbanists who are talking the language of walkability now,” writes the author,…  Keep reading…

  • Another argument against one-way streets

    An Op-Ed in the Louisville Courier-Journal argues against one-way streets downtown, making many points relevant to the 15th Street reconstruction in Logan/Dupont. Some I hadn’t heard before, like the fact that drug dealers and drive-by shooters prefer one-way streets. Via Richard Layman.  Keep reading…

  • Cannon almost stopped the Lincoln Memorial

    A fascinating story in the Washington Post Magazine explains how Illinois Congressman and Speaker of the House Joe Cannon (who has a House office building named in his honor) fought the establishment of the Lincoln Memorial on what was then a swamp along the banks of the Potomac, preferring a smaller memorial near Union Station; years later, he admitted he was glad he had lost that fight.  Keep reading…

  • The Yards waterfront park squeezes bikes to the edge

    NCPC has preliminary plans online for a new watefront park at The Yards, a new development next to the Navy Yard in Southeast. The park has many very nice features including a large terraced lawn, a landscaped garden, and a cool-looking pedestrian bridge (though one NCPC staff recommends be made to look more open, light and inviting). But the designers seem to have forgotten about bikers,…  Keep reading…

  • Conservative won’t vote for McCain partly because of rail

    Paul Weyrich, the leading conservative proponent of rail transportation, wouldn’t vote for John McCain in the general election in part because of McCain’s opposition to rail investment. McCain “would fight us on everything,” Weyrich said, including shutting down Amtrak and opposing projects like the Dulles extension, where he vehemently disagrees…  Keep reading…

  • Making streetcars work

    Second of a two-part series. Read the first part. If, years from now, DC successfully builds and funds a streetcar line, it needs to make sure the line really does encourage people to ride it, people who wouldn’t have ridden just another bus. If it generates additional traffic to the neighborhood, and induces more people to take transit than to drive, it will prove right those…  Keep reading…

  • Streetcars are coming back to DC

    DC’s attempts to bring back streetcars popped back into the news last week as DDOT broke ground on a streetscape reconstruction on H Street Northeast. While the street is already torn up, they will include build streetcar tracks for future service, though it will be years before a streetcar could run, and there are no cars or operational funding yet. But it’s a big step forward,…  Keep reading…

  • Congestion is other people

    The New York City commission formed to study congestion pricing has made its recommendation, to positive reviews. It’s mostly like Mayor Bloomberg’s original proposal, with a few changes: it moves the boundary from 86th Street to 60th Street, adds the FDR drive and West Side Highway/West Street to the toll zone, removes a parking tax exemption (parking is definitely…  Keep reading…

  • Traffic flows in waves

    Sometimes, traffic jams pop up for seemingly no reason. There’s no accident blocking a lane of traffic—but everyone comes to a halt at the same spot. Why does this happen?   Keep reading…

  • DC may decentralize auto inspections

    I’ve never lived in a state where the government conducted emission inspections; it was always private service stations. But according to this article in the Examiner, 13 states still centralize their operations. DC, though, may end the practice of forcing all drivers to go to the one facility at Half and M, Southwest.  Keep reading…

  • DC Council hearing on “Performance Parking” plan

    JDLand has a summary of the hearing around Tommy Wells’ plan to use market-pricing techniques to discourage parking around the new baseball stadium. From JD’s summary, the hearing didn’t turn out to be that interesting, with most speakers in favor of the plan and little new ground covered.  Keep reading…

  • Presidential candidates on transit, cycling and walking

    Streetsblog’s LA correspondent Damien Newton researched the Presidential candidates’ positions on transportation. For the Democrats, both Obama’s and Clinton’s platforms hold a great deal of promise. Obama is the most pro-cycling candidate, extols the virtues of walking, and supported Chicago’s transit system while in the Illinois legislature,…  Keep reading…

  • Sprawl to fight immigration

    Should the free market decide how many people live in one house? Or the government? The Post’s Marc Fisher reports on a flood of anti-immigrant bills introduced in Virginia’s General Assembly. One, from Republican Bob Marshall, would prohibit more than four unrelated people from living in one house (whether legal, illegal, native-born American, or even “the…  Keep reading…

  • Optimal bus waiting strategy

    Mathematically, it’s best to simply wait for a bus once you arrive at a bus stop, rather than giving up and walking if it’s taking too long, according to Harvard mathematician Scott Kominers. Freakonomics’ Stephen Dubner is disappointed the analysis didn’t consider walking backward to a previous stop. (Lots of interesting comments about more nuances…  Keep reading…

  • Dulles rail decision from a backroom deal?

    Is the DOT and FTA trying to force Virginia to sell the Dulles Toll Road? Did the FTA work out a deal with private investors ahead of time to reject public financing? BeyondDC picks up on an interesting angle from the Post’s report that private investors are floating an idea to finance the Dulles rail extension by privatizing the Dulles Toll Road (which will require raising tolls).  Keep reading…

  • From spaghetti maze to grande allĂ©e

    The area around the Kennedy Center is surely one of DC’s greatest failures of urban planning. Earlier this decade the Kennedy Center attempted to fix the situation with a new plaza, until its funding was blocked in 2005. But the idea is still a great one.  Today, DC Metrocentric found a concept study by architects Ehrenkrantz Eckstut and Kuhn, which takes the idea even…  Keep reading…

  • Monday morning links

    San Francisco is considering a bill to reform parking requirements, removing the requirements forcing developers to build parking in certain types of housing developments, “unbundling” parking so condo purchasers can choose whether to pay for a parking space or not, and allowing mechanical or valet parking to save space if the building wants it.  Keep reading…

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