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  • Smart transportation policy from Tommy Wells

    Councilmember Tommy Wells (Ward 6, which includes Capitol Hill, Penn Quarter, and Southwest Waterfront) has not only been reading his Donald Shoup but his Streetsblog as well. His Web site bears the slogan, “for a livable and walkable community.” And he’s been pushing policies that indeed enhance livable communities.  Keep reading…

  • “All I want for New Year’s is free parking”

    When asked what they wished for in the New Year, many neighborhood leaders replied world peace, better public schools, and free parking. Free parking? Yes, Cleveland Park ANC Commissioner Richard Rothblum listed those very items (fortunately, in that order). In the latest Dupont Current (which unfortunately has no online archives except June 2007), a variety of neighborhood…  Keep reading…

  • North Capitol: Competing visions for handling traffic

    Capitol Quarter isn’t the only bland urban renewal project being replaced with townhouses. Last week, Express reported  that developers have been chosen for Northwest One, which will replace the Sursum Corda and Temple Court projects near New York Avenue and North Capitol with mixed-use redevelopment that has the potential to become a walkable neighborhood. But…  Keep reading…

  • Replacing people with cars

    Via DC Metrocentric, this is the intersection of Virginia Avenue and 8th Street SE, in 1928 and in 2007. When mid-century planners tore apart cities to enable large volumes of cars from the suburbs, neighborhoods like this one disappeared forever. DC’s original plan for freeways would have destroyed more of what are now considered beautiful and historic; this one, though,…  Keep reading…

  • Radiohead understands “induced demand”

    Discussing the success of their recent online album, Thom Yorke analogized, “It’s like building roads and expecting there to be less traffic.” (NYT via Streetsblog) Maryland DOT, are you listening?  Keep reading…

  • Ramp spaghetti on the Potomac

    The National Mall in Washington DC is an American icon, visited by millions of tourists, but also somewhat threadbare-looking; since 2001, increasingly choked with security barriers; and gradually becoming overbuilt with memorials for every group with clout in Congress. The National Coalition to Save Our Mall is fighting these disappointing trends.  Keep reading…

  • Hope for DC’s waterfront

    DC’s Southwest Waterfront neighborhood is a classic example of failed urban renewal - old row houses and tenements (some nice, some less so) were razed, replaced with a freeway and 1960s/70s-era buildings where cars enjoy more square footage than people. The dinner cruise on the Potomac Stefanie and I took for our six-month anniversary departed from a pier in Southwest, and…  Keep reading…

  • Drive-through apartments

    In Robert Heinlein’s (fairly bad) book I Will Fear No Evil, cities have become so dangerous that residents drive their cars directly into their buildings, up car-sized elevators, and right to the doors of their apartments. Early in the book a significant figure is murdered because she tries to use the pedestrian entrance. Now, via Streetsblog, such a building is under construction…  Keep reading…

  • The federally tilted playing field on transportation

    The Washington Post recently ran an article exploring the impact of the Federal Transit Administration on transit projects. Fierce competition for the FTA’s limited transit funding and strict criteria mean that states are forced to make many changes, wise or unwise, to their projects to qualify. Virginia had to drop plans to put the Tyson’s Corner segment of the planned…  Keep reading…

  • Grander Army Plaza

    Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza could be a terrific public square.  Qt the northern end of Prospect Park, it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to be a gateway to Prospect Park, and features a beautiful arch modeled on Paris’s Arc de Triomphe.  Keep reading…

  • Conservatives for congestion pricing

    “I can’t believe I’m saying these words,” wrote Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, “but I applaud the Bush Administration for their forward thinking on the issue of congestion and thank them for their willingness to work with local governments to address their unique problems.”…  Keep reading…

  • Closing the bowtie

    Times Square is one of the most crowded pedestrian areas in the city.  As I covered over a year ago, the Times Square Alliance, the local business association, suggested closing the cutover between Seventh Avenue and Broadway - the “bowtie”, to create additional pedestrian space between the two avenues. …  Keep reading…

  • Good riddance ugly planters

    Times Square is crowded.  At almost all hours, the sidewalks are full of pedestrians.  But that didn’t stop a bunch of buildings from installing large planters or other barriers after 9/11.  They ostensibly kept potential terrorists from driving up to the buildings, but more often (i.e. almost constantly) kept potential pedestrians from having room to…  Keep reading…

  • Freeways that never were

    In the 1950s and 60s, urban planners were busy constructing freeways across America, through plains and mountains where they were needed, and into the centers of cities where they bulldozed vibrant communities and hastened sprawl and urban decay.  Keep reading…

  • Gowanus tunnel?

    In The Power Broker, Robert Caro describes the Gowanus Expressway as one of Robert Moses’ first of many terrible highway projects.  He ran the highway right down the center of Sunset Park, completely covering the then-vibrant Third Avenue despite the neighborhood’s pleas to run it closer to the waterfront.  The Gowanus needs to be replaced, and since the…  Keep reading…

  • Bravo Gale

    For many reasons, some known, some not known, the New York City Department of Transportation is still mostly stuck in the SimCity Classic phase of urban planning thinking, closer to Robert Moses than Jane Jacobs.  While they did recently suggest, to the surprise of many observers, converting a segment of Willoughby Street in Downtown Brooklyn to be pedestrian-only, DOT Commissioner…  Keep reading…

  • Good ideas almost everyone wants

    The New York Times came out in favor of congestion pricing.  Local business leaders want it, activist groups want it… but Bloomberg still doesn’t.    Keep reading…

  • Thin layer of ice found in hell

    Smart growth, transit-oriented development - there are many names for the idea of building mixed-use, walkable communities.  Whatever you call it, it’s starting to catch on in suburban communities from San Mateo to Silver Spring.  But most are areas with existing transit, near to already walkable cities.  What about America’s great bastions of…  Keep reading…

  • Congestion pricing, pro and incoherent

    Enjoying a new spate of publicity, the idea of congestion pricing rated a pair of columns, pro and con, in the Daily News.  The pro article, by Paul White of Transportation Alternatives, laid out some clear arguments backed up by facts: London’s pilot program reduced traffic 18% and sped up travel by 30%, in addition to generating revenue for mass transit projects.  Keep reading…

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