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How Much of Your City Is Really Urban?

Only a small portion of Seattle is considered "urban" in a new study by the Urban Land Institute. Image: ULI

Only a small portion of the Seattle region is considered “urban” in a new report by the Urban Land Institute. Image via RCLCo

Editor’s note: Read to the end of this post for an important update on the Streetsblog Network.

Many places that get categorized as “suburbs” are actually pretty urban. They may not be located in a central city, but they are compact, walkable places. But the inverse is also true: Large portions of nearly every American city are pretty spread out and suburban in character.

A new report from the Urban Land Institute [PDF] divides every metro area into a number of classifications based on density and other factors. You can click through ULI’s map and see whether they consider your neighborhood urban or suburban.

Frank Chiachiere at Seattle Transit Blog notes that ULI classifies almost all of Seattle as suburban, and he thinks that’s basically correct:

The report seeks to subdivide suburbia, using census tracts, into five categories — Established high-end, stable middle-income, economically challenged, greenfield lifestyle, and greenfield value — to reflect the diversity of communities that are often lumped together as “the suburbs.”  The modern suburb, they argue, is a hodgepodge of very different housing and land-use types, a continuum that stretches from stately, tree-lined streetcar suburbs close to the center to the sprawling planned communities on the exurban fringe.

What’s interesting its that the report finds that there’s not much different between North Ballard and Bellevue: both are classified as “established, high-end” suburban communities. Seattleites might chafe at the comparison, but there’s something to it.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Talking Headways Podcast: Colonias — Informal Housing in the U.S.

This week on Talking Headways our guest is Emily Perlmeter of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas. Emily discusses the half million people living in informal settlements known as Colonias, on the U.S. side of the Mexican border. Join us for a look at how these settlements are formed, who lives there, and their strengths and hardships.
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UPS Begins Delivering Packages via E-Trike in Portland

Deliveries by E-bike: Now happening in Portland. It's a beautiful thing. Photo: Bike Portland

Deliveries by e-trike: Now happening in Portland. Photo: Bike Portland

Delivery trucks are terrible for city streets, polluting the air, blocking bike lanes, endangering pedestrians and cyclists. But cities need the goods they carry.

One way around the problem of big trucks is to divide deliveries into smaller loads, carried with smaller vehicles. Jonathan Maus at Bike Portland reports on an encouraging development on that front: UPS is piloting the use of an electric-assist trike for deliveries. There were already independent companies using trikes for deliveries in Portland, and the UPS move suggests larger companies may want to get in on the action, Maus reports:

Using trikes and other small, pedal-powered vehicles to deliver cargo in dense urban areas is relatively common in Europe. The European Cyclists’ Federation (an EU-funded non-profit) says 25 percent of all goods could potentially be delivered bicycles. That number rises to 50 percent when just considering lightweight cargo…

UPS Senior VP of Global Engineering and Sustainability Mark Wallace, UPS senior VP of global engineering and sustainability said using pedal-power gets back to his company’s roots. They started 109 years ago as a bike messenger company. “While we have evolved and developed a vast network of ground and air vehicles,” Wallace said, “the bicycle may be making a comeback as we navigate through crowded urban areas and continue our focus on environmental sustainability.”

UPS’s new trike will share the bike lanes with existing local pedal-powered freight delivery companies like B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery and Portland Pedal Power — two businesses with successful track records…

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • What Will It Take For L.A. Fix “Difficult” Sidewalks? (L.A. Walks)
  • Metro Approved New Policy To Raise Revenue By Selling Naming Rights (Pasadena Star News)
  • Goodbye To Culver City Free Expo Parking As Ivy Station TOD Breaks Ground In February (Urbanize)
  • L.A. Times DTLA Headquarters Slated For Redevelopment (Urbanize)
  • Crenshaw/Expo Senior Housing TOD Groundbreaking Imminent (Urbanize)
  • New Traffic Signal On Riverside Drive Difficult To See Through Trees (CiclaValley)
  • Carnage: Motorcyclist Run Over By Dump Truck In Hollywood Hit-and-Run (NBC4)
  • Naked Man Climbs Onto Metro Bus In West Hollywood (LAT, ABC7)
  • Parquex Is Airbnb For Parking (Crains Chicago)

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Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA

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#DamienTalksSGV 23 – David Diaz and the Mulhall Bike Park in El Monte

Screen Shot 2016-12-08 at 10.01.35 AM

This week, #DamienTalks with David Diaz with Day One and BikeSGV about the Mulhall Bike Park that is under construction in El Monte. The Bike Park is literally designed to do exactly what it says: be a space for people to practice their bicycling skills in a closed, safe setting.

Damien Talks SGV logoThis project is truly community driven, being led by community organizations, being next to a community center, and being in a community park. In fact, it’s even being community built. The second of two Mulhall Bike Park Build Days is this Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.(Facebook Event)  If you don’t know where the park is, you can find it on most mapping program and apps at 10900 Mulhall Street in El Monte.

A quick programming note…we’ll be wrapping up our 2017 schedule with a pair of “look ahead, look back” podcasts over the next couple of weeks. Currently, all the Streetsblogs are doing their end of the year fundraising drives. If you want to continue to support this podcast, Streetsblog L.A. and the work we do, please click here and get started on your donation.

#DamienTalks is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of Downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

Via Streetsblog California
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Repeat Until Complete: Transportation, Housing Bills Reintroduced

bikeatCapitollabel2Wasting no time, lawmakers opened the first day of the California legislative session by introducing a slew of bills and resolutions to get things started.

The two biggest bills—S.B. 1 from Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose)  and A.B. 1 from Assembly member Jim Frazier (D-Oakley)—are pretty much identical, and pretty much the same bills that got nowhere in the Transportation Special Session that ended a few weeks ago. Both raise funds by increasing gas and diesel taxes, by increasing vehicle registration fees and imposing a higher fee on zero emission vehicles to make up for not contributing any gas taxes, and by finding and identifying “efficiencies” within Caltrans to save money and reallocate it to other priorities.

The crucial issue is, what are those investment priorities? And will they align with other state priorities like greenhouse gas reductions? So far, the answer is: not exactly.

Read more…

Streetsblog USA
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Booting Buses Off Public Square, Cleveland Deals Another Blow to Transit

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand buses be returned to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Protestors gathered in Public Square last weekend to demand the return of bus routes to Superior Avenue. Photo: Angie Schmitt

Transit riders in Cleveland can’t get a break.

Last year, Greater Cleveland RTA, facing a budget crisis, was forced to raise fares and cut service. Each trip now costs $2.50 — no transfer included — an 11 percent hike, and riders are getting worse service for their dollar. Thanks to a state decision exempting some healthcare spending from sales tax, the RTA is again facing a large shortfall this year.

Piling on to these problems is Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, who decided to reroute buses around the city’s Public Square last month, undoing an earlier deal intended to protect transit riders. The square is the hub of the region’s bus system.

Public Square was recently redesigned by starchitect James Corner (of High Line fame) at a cost of $50 million. The project was intended to bolster Cleveland’s image for out-of-town visitors ahead of the Republican National Convention. It called for closing two cross streets — Ontario and Superior — to car traffic in order to establish a contiguous four-block public space in the center of downtown. One of those streets, Superior, was supposed to remain open to buses.

Up until the redesign, bus passengers made 20,000 transfers inside Public Square each day. The routing offered convenient access to both the hub of the city’s rail system (across the street in Terminal Tower) and the Healthline BRT, just outside the square. Public Square primarily served working class people waiting for buses and making connections.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Regional Connector Tunnel Boring Machine Parts Lowered (The Source)
  • Next Steps For L.A. Sidewalk Repair (Investing in Place)
  • L.A. City Tightens Anti-Mansionization Rules Championed By Anti-Development Forces (LAT)
  • California Millennial, Latino Voters Surge (KPCC)
  • Carnage: Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Cyclist In South L.A. (Biking in L.A.)
    …USC Security Guard Pleads Guilty In Heartbreaking 2015 Car-Crash Manslaughter Case (LAT)
  • Transit-Oriented Development: Apartments To Open 2018 Near Crenshaw/Expo (Curbed)
    …Abode Housing Plans Development At Chavez Soto By Gold Line (Urbanize)
    …Low Income Housing Planned By Sylmar Metrolink Station (Urbanize)
  • Inside the P3 That’s Reinventing Long Beach (ARUP Doggerel)
  • Let’s Go L.A. Reflects On the Recent Election

Get National Headlines At Streetsblog USA
Get State Headlines At Streetsblog CA
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How to Spend a Fortune on Roads and Make Potholes Worse

The conventional wisdom about America’s infrastructure woes is that cash will solve everything. That’s the pitch Donald Trump is making with his vaguely-defined $1 trillion infrastructure package.

But simply spending a lot on infrastructure is no guarantee of better transportation conditions. It can easily make things worse. Wisconsin is a perfect example.

James Rowen at The Political Environment notes that under Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin has gone on an enormous road spending spree. The state has lavished more than $6 billion on huge highway interchanges in the greater Milwaukee area. But this orgy of road spending has coincided with the neglect of basic maintenance, which even the Walker administration has been forced to admit, the Journal-Sentinel reports:

The share of roads in poor condition will double, debt payments and the state’s stream of cash for road and highway projects will barely grow, a state official told lawmakers Tuesday.

By 2027, the share of state roads in poor condition would double to 42% while the money available to address those growing challenges would increase at only one-quarter the recent inflation rate, state Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb testified to lawmakers Tuesday.

The state now has more highways to maintain thanks to the billions Walker spent, which only makes the maintenance backlog worse. Rowen says this situation will cost Wisconsinites dearly:

Read more…

Via Streetsblog California
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ATP Funding Recommendations Get Reshuffled; More Projects Added

The CV Link multi-use path will not be recommended for ATP funding. Image: CV Link

The CV Link multi-use path will not be recommended for ATP funding. Image: CV Link

Just before the California Transportation Commission (CTC) was set to approve staff recommendations on Active Transportation Program funding, the largest project on the list was moved down and is no longer recommended for funding. CTC staff recommended that CV Link receive $24.3 million, or almost a fifth of the total funding available, for a fifty-mile multi-use path connecting cities in the Coachella Valley. However, a mistake was discovered in its application, which led to its score being revisited. The new score put it further down the list, so that it will not be recommended for funding at tomorrow’s CTC meeting in Riverside.

The immediate consequence is that funding is freed up for five other projects that hadn’t previously made the cut-off. Those include: a project to build bike and pedestrian connections in Sunnyvale (which had been recommended for only partial funding, but will now receive its full request of $4.8 million); the Central Avenue Complete Street Project in Alameda (for $7.3 million); the McGowan Parkway, a bike lane and pedestrian improvements in Yuba County (for $1.2 million); pedestrian improvements along First Street in Santa Ana (for $4.5 million); a regional Safe Bicycling and Wayfinding project connecting the cities of Compton and Carson (for $1.6 million); and Long Beach’s Citywide 8-80 Connections project (for $6.7 million).

CV Link is a planned multi-use path that would have allowed bicycles and pedestrians, as well as “low-speed (up to 25 mph) electric vehicles”—golf carts—to travel along its route. Eventually the path would connect Palm Springs to the Salton Sea, although not in the first phases of construction.

In their funding application, planners had to address the question of how the project would benefit disadvantaged communities, in keeping with equity requirements in state law. The project emerged with a high score in this section, showing that the areas it served had a low median household income.

Equity advocates reviewing the ATP applications noticed this—and that it didn’t seem to ring true. The communities that the CV Link would go through include areas of very high median income, and closer inspection revealed that those areas weren’t included in the calculations used for the application.

Read more…