Sustainability Update - North American Cities

New Jersey Transit Ridership Data Reveals Factors Influencing Transit Ridership High gas prices affect transit ridership more than low fares, but gas prices are only one factor that can influence transit ridership. Fares and service upgrades also play a big part, and if you want to inform a policy discussion on how to attract commuters to transit, it's valuable to compare the relative effects of all three forces. In a paper that will appear in the July issue of Urban Studies, Chen and her coauthors observed how New Jersey Transit ridership data changed during the period of 1996 to 2009 as a result of fluctuations in gas prices, transit fares, and services upgrades. The study's most intriguing discovery may be that people respond more strongly to price increases than they do to decreases - a behavioral "asymmetry." Read more 


Another Factor Influencing Ridership: Social Influence  The Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis (ITS-Davis) found that consumers heavily base their decisions on social influence, especially in regards to transportation. Read more 


Report Ranks Metropolitan Areas by % of Seniors with No Access to Transit By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or non-existent. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation "ages in place" in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive. The analysis by the Center for Neighborhood Technology evaluates metro areas within each of five size categories. For example, it shows that in just four years, 90 percent of seniors in metro Atlanta will live in neighborhoods with poor access to options other than driving. Read more


Saving Electricity on a Philadelphia Subway Line When subway trains pull into a station, many of them can generate electricity from their momentum. They turn their motors into generators to slow the train, producing current. But in many systems, some of that energy goes to waste because of a bottleneck: the third rail, which carries current to the train, cannot handle as much energy as the train is generating during deceleration. But in Philadelphia, on the Market-Frankford line of the Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority, a new company called Viridity Energy will install batteries to capture a lot of that electricity and hold it while the train is in the station. Then it can deliver the power when the train starts up again or store it for a time of day when it is needed more. Read more 


Chicago Transport Commissioner Wants Info Screens in Bus Shelters Arguing that Chicago's 2,200 lighted bus shelters are "under-utilized," newly-appointed Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein wants to put them to work - by installing video screens that provide an array of commuter information. The TV-like screens that Klein hopes to install would include everything from Bus Tracker information now available on the internet and cell phones to the current inventory for car- and bike-sharing and how long it would take to walk to popular destinations. "Transportation is as much about information and technology as it is about infrastructure," Klein said. Read more 


L.A. Council OKs bus-only lanes along Wilshire Boulevard The 7.7-mile stretch between MacArthur Park and Centinela Avenue is expected to cut 11 minutes from the trip. Officials hope to begin construction of the lanes in the summer of 2012 and open them in mid-2013. The original proposal called for 8.7 miles of the special lanes, but a one-mile section west of Beverly Hills known as Condo Canyon was excluded after residents and some officials said the lanes would create difficulties for motorists entering their driveways and were not necessary in that section. Read more


Transit Oriented Development 


Vancouver to Fill Transit Corridor with Mid-rise Housing Vancouver, British Columbia, is known for glassy residential towers that rise from podiums containing housing, stores, restaurants, and other pedestrian-scale uses. Now Vancouver is eyeing a different form of development - one that achieves substantial density, but in buildings of four stories and higher. Vancouver Planning Director Brent Toderian sees the combination of "mid-rise urbanism," rail transit, and district energy systems as "a new North American 'best practice.' " To take advantage of the investment in transit, the corridor plan authorizes a major increase in density - this in a part of the city where most people have been accustomed to bungalows, ranch houses, and other single-family dwellings. Read more 


Biking and Walking


Protected Bike Lanes First in NYC, now Chicago, soon Milwaukee There is a new boss in the Windy City, and he intends to make Chicago the best big city for cycling in the US.  These days, that means taking a bike or two out of the Big Apple.  Rahm's primary strategy in the battle of the bicycling big cities is to install 25 miles of protected bike lanes in his first year and 100 miles by the end of his term.  Wasting no time, CDOT already has just such a protected bike lane nearly done on heavily pedaled Kinzie Street from Milwaukee to Desplaines and Wells, about half a mile. Protected bike lanes have a protective barrier between cars and bikes. Similar protected bike lanes are recommended in Milwaukee's new bike plan. Read more 


Green Spaces


Phase 2 of NYC's High Line Park Opens Phase 1 of the High Line, a public park built out of an out-of-commission elevated train line in Manhattan, opened in June of 2009. Phase 2 opened to much fanfare on June 12 of this year. Beyond providing a walkable and beautiful respite for the residents of this area, the High Line has generated more than $2 billion in private investment in the neighborhood, reports The New York Times. The return on investment for the city is impressive given NYC government has only invested around $115 million in the park so far. In addition, some 8,000 construction jobs and 12,00 additional jobs in the neighborhood have been created. Read more 


Complete Streets 


Dallas Holds Complete Streets Demonstration Event The Dallas Complete Street's Kickoff is on Sunday, June 26th and will feature a "Complete Street" demonstration which will incorporate bike lanes, traffic calming measures, cafe seating, shade, improved landscaping, and change a portion of Ross from a thoroughfare, to a destination. The effort is being spearheaded by the City of Dallas, Team Better Block, Kimley-Horn, Toole Design, and MIG and will bring together elements of the newly adopted Dallas Bike Plan, recommendations from the Dallas 360 Plan, and Forward Dallas. Read more


Energy Efficiency


Seattle 2030 District To Ease Stress on Commercial Real Estate Market The Seattle 2030 District will help owners and developers find innovative financing, share critical tools and best practices and create joint educational opportunities to decrease their buildings' energy consumption and operating costs. Cumulatively, these actions are expected to increase cash flow and property values, reduce the risk of default, increase commercial real estate desirability, create new jobs, and help keep Seattle's edge as a desirable city in which to work and live in the 21st century. City Officials said the creation of the district also was motivated by passage of the Energy Disclosure Ordinance in January 2010. The project is being funded with the help of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Showcase Communities grant. Read More

1 Comment

Hi John,

Just FYI, I read your blog somewhat irregularly (it's one of many on my Google Reader, and I occasionally re-stumble upon it), and I really love the fascinating links posted.

I'm not even based in Fayetteville or Arkansas (though originally from AR), but I'm deeply interested/involved in sustainability issues, and this blog manages to consistently be worthy of my oh-so-esteemed google reader list.

Keep it up in Fayetteville!

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Covering the game changing discussions that are taking place in the realm of sustainability. From the impact of the City of Fayetteville's decision to switch its fleet to biodiesel to Paul Stamet's research in the Pacific Northwest on how mycelia...

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