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Transportation Nation

Bike Lane Meeting Gets Hot

Friday, March 11, 2011

(Brooklyn, New York -- Kaomi Goetz, WNYC) It got heated at last night’s Community Board Six hearing on proposed changes to a bike lane along Prospect Park – literally.

But it was due to an overheated auditorium – not vitriolic words – that had nearly all of the about 400 attendees mopping their brows, including board chair Daniel Kummer.

The board was collecting comments about proposed changes to the contested two-way bike lanes on Prospect Park West and on bike lanes in general.

The audience was made up of mostly supporters, including seven-year old Ava Sonyos.  "For kids to have a really safe opportunity to ride in a bike lane without riders who are speeding that a kid could hit, so a bike lane is a very good safe opportunity for a kid to ride."

Supporters outnumbered opponents on a  pre-hearing sign-up sheet by about six to one.

But opponents -- many of them senior citizens -- weren't deterred. Lois Carswell was there representing Seniors for Safety.  "Prospect Park West would revert to three lanes of traffic with speeds controlled like every other street in New York City, with signalization."  Carswell was booed, but retorted "Please, I didn't boo you."

The board will make its own recommendation on the changes to the city DOT next week.

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Transportation Nation

Sadik-Khan Offers Full-Throated Endorsement of Large-Scale Urban Bike Networks

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan with Congressman Earl Blumenauer (photo by Chris Eichler/League of American Bicyclists)

(Washington, DC -- Jim O'Grady, WNYC) New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan sounded like anything but an official on the defensive in a speech this morning at The League of American Bicyclists’ National Bike Summit here.

“It is wonderful to be here with so many friends,” she began, addressing a ballroom full of cycling advocates at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. “The movement is there,” she said of pro-bike and pedestrian advocates and policy-makers. “The people are there, the projects are there—and none of this really was there just five years ago.”

Sadik-Khan has been sharply attacked of late. Some residents of Park Slope, Brooklyn, sued this week to have a bike lane along Prospect Park removed, a much-discussed profile in The New York Times called her “brusque” and worse; and a New Yorker writer described her as the head of “a small faddist minority intent on foisting its bipedalist views on a disinterested or actively reluctant populace.”

But Sadik-Khan is continuing to make the case that the economic and cultural future belongs to cities that wring transportation efficiencies out of moving more people above-ground by bus, bike and foot.

Further, she said opponents of the kind of streetscape re-engineering that shifted space from cars to bikes and pedestrians were up against a movement with momentum. “We’re starting to see real cycling systems in American cities,” she claimed. “In New York, we have added 250 miles of on-street bike lanes since 2006.”

She then launched into a list of famous streets around the U.S. that now have bike lanes and more space for pedestrians, from Market Street in Portland to Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. She praised Barcelona for throwing “infrastructure parties”—transit projects and urban upgrades completed in preparation for large events like the Olympics. And to the approval of the room, she talked up the pedestrian plaza her department created in Times Square.

“You can see this on Broadway, in my town, which is now the Great Green Way,” she said. “And more is coming. I don’t know if you heard that just last week Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles talked about plans for a 1,700-mile bike network in Los Angeles. I think that’s really extraordinary.”

All of this is proof, she said, of a global competition by cities to innovate with their transportation systems. “City leaders—mayors, certainly— understand this is an economic development strategy,” she said. “If we are going to attract the best and the brightest to our cities, we have to make these cities work.” She said that means urban planners are looking at the competition and asking: “Who can be the greenest, who’s got the next bike share program, who’s got the coolest new bus rapid transit line?”

But she said urban development is not solely competitive.  Together with  transportation officials around the U.S., she launched an online Urban Bikeway Design Guide that cities can use as an engineering template to construct even more bike lanes. “For too long, these basic tools have been out of the tools of local officials,” she said. The group will be lobbying the Federal Highway Administration to recognize the guidelines as national standards, she added, making it easier to install bike lanes around the country.

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Transportation Nation

U.S. Sect'y LaHood Says Cars Should Play Smaller Role In Next Gen of Transportation

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ray LaHood at the 2011 Natonal Bike Summit (photo by Chris Eichler/League of American Bicyclists)

(Washington, DC - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a conference of bicycle advocates in Washington, DC, that President Obama’s national transportation plan will continue to de-emphasize private vehicles. LaHood has faced opposition from some governors over spending on high speed rail and support for biking and walking paths. But he said those priorities come from “his boss," the president, and the transportation budget that the president has put before Congress.

Ray LaHood's blog post on the speech is here.

“It’s about the next generation of transportation," he said of Obama's agenda. "It’s about high speed rail. It’s about streetcars. It’s about transit. It’s about livable and sustainable communities where you can live in a community and you don’t have to own a car.”

LaHood didn't jump up on a table, as he did in a fit of enthusiasm at last year's League of American Bicyclists' National Bike Summit, but he scaled some rhetorical heights in showering praise around the room.

He began by calling New York Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik Kahn "a quite extraordinary lady" for re-engineering part of the city's streetscape to allow more room for buses, bikes and pedestrians. "She has really put New York on the map when it comes to making New York a liveable, sustainable community," he said. "And you can live in New York and not own a motor vehicle. So Janette, thank you for your leadership."

His remarks come as Sadik-Khan has faced noisy protests from some quarters for making life less convenient for some motorists.

LaHood also defended President Obama's high speed rail initiative, even though Florida Governor Rick Scott last week became the latest governor to turn down federal transportation funds for a high speed rail project--in his case, $2.4 billion.

"There's a lot more governors that have accepted money," LaHood said to reporters in a hallway of the Grand Hyatt Hotel after speaking to a ballroom full of bicycling enthusiasts. "Only three governors have turned back money. I've got people lined up out my door ready to take the more than $2 billion that's coming back from Florida."

He said the Obama administration has already spent $11 billion on high speed rail and is proposing in the current budget to spend $50 billion more. "There's a lot of enthusiasm for high speed rail in America," he concluded.

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Transportation Nation

More Tussles To Come Over 34th Street Redesign in Manhattan

Thursday, March 03, 2011

34th Street in Manhattan. (Flckr creative commons / Photo by: 商店也很多的34街,和第五大道交叉的地方就是帝國大廈。)

(New York, NY - Jim O'Grady, WNYC) Critics of the New York City Department of Transportation's plan to redesign 34th Street won a round yesterday when the city nixed a plan to replace car traffic in the corridor with bus lanes and a pedestrian island.

The plan had called for higher curbs, special bus lanes and bus ticket kiosks on the block between 5th and 6th Avenues. Some business owners said the redesign would've tied up traffic, and made it harder for drivers to shop and for businesses to receive deliveries.

Macy's was among the concerned. Senior vice president Ed Goldberg said he worried the changes to the streetscape would have made it harder to steer giant cartoon balloons up Broadway on Thanksgiving.

"Obviously anything that we do that is an obstruction, be it sidewalk or street, is of concern to us," he said." It's about our one big magic day of the year during the parade."

But others had looked forward to the city's plan to make one block of 34th Street free of cars. Several small store owners said they favored the move because a pedestrian island would've brought more shoppers on foot and made it easier to cross the street in the middle of the block.

Clothing store manager Rossana Rosado said pedestrians needed more space to move around. "There's always a traffic jam out there," she said. "It's impossible for people to get across the street, even, because there isn't a place for pedestrians to cross."

The city's Department of Transportation will present a revised plan for the 34th Street corridor at a public meeting on March 14.

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Transportation Nation

Small Victory for Houston Cyclists, Pedestrians

Friday, February 25, 2011

(Houston -- Wendy Siegle, KUHF) Cyclists in the Houston area won a small victory Friday. At its monthly meeting the Transportation Policy Council, decided to postpone a vote on a proposal to stall several bike and pedestrian projects.

[Listen to the KUHF audio version of this story]

The decision comes after more than thirty people showed up at the meeting to voice their concern.  Barbara Jusiak was one of them. “I ride my bicycle to and from the Texas Medical Center every day. And I believe that the ability to cycle safely and to get around on foot is very important to quality of life in a city.”

The Transportation Policy Council allocates money for transportation projects throughout the greater Houston region. The proposal in question has to do with how the TPC will divvy up $345 million dollars that’s coming from two parts of a federally funded program.

Alan Clark is the director of transportation and planning at the Houston-Galveston Area Council. He calls this particular funding the flexible part of the program. “Because although they are highway dollars, they can be used in some cases to support funding for transit, pedestrian, bicycle-type facilities,” he says.

Clark says what’s also unique is that the TPC has control over how the money is used, as opposed to that decision being made in Austin or Washington. If the proposal is approved, $12.8 million dollars that’s planned for transit, bikeway, and walkability projects would possibly be stalled one or more years. That would mean 78 percent of the pot would go to roads and freight rail while just over 11 percent would be spent on building bikeways, sidewalks, and other initiatives that would take people out of their cars. Matthew Reisdorf is a father of two.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NYC Council Votes To Improve Bike, Pedestrian Crash Data, Toronto Wants Private $ For Subway, and What's HSR's Future Looking Like?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Now that Florida's governor has 'pulled a Christie,' what does that mean for the future of the country's high speed rail program? (The Takeaway)

Good time for an ominous Ray LaHood tweet: "We have choices to make—not between left and right, but between forward and backward."

New York's City Council unanimously passed a suite of bills that will require police to provide monthly reports of traffic accidents and summonses -- as well as require the city's Department of Transportation begin annual reporting on the number of bike and pedestrian crashes broken down by police precincts. (WNYC)

Toronto's mayor is seeking private money to extend that city's subway. (Toronto Star)

The head of the influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce threw his support Wednesday behind Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's proposal to speed the building of local transportation projects. (Los Angeles Times)

The Bay Area's transportation funding agency doesn't discriminate against minorities by steering state and federal dollars to trains instead of buses, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday in dismissing a suit by AC Transit riders. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Should we focus on mass transit ...or mass transit AND road improvements? Maryland's Montgomery County Council can't decide. (The Gazette)

A NYC bus driver quizzes his passengers -- then leads the bus in song. The M86 has never been this much fun. (via NYC The Blog)

NY's MTA Board's committees will meet throughout the day today, starting at 8:30 a.m. Watch the meetings live: http://bit.ly/mtawebcast

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: High speed rail will not come to Disneyworld.  Or will it? And: New Jersey lawmakers present a united front in opposition to repaying feds for cancelled ARC tunnel, while Houston METRO gets a refund from a Spanish rail car supplier.

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Transportation Nation

French City Considers 18 mph Speed Limit

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Strasbourg Downtown Square (Flickr user ChristinaT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The city of Strasbourg in northeastern France has announced a plan to reduce vehicle speed limits throughout the city to 30 km per hour, or just 18 m.p.h.

Treehugger reports the city, the capital of Alsace, is already one of the most bike-friendly cities in France, and much of the city already operates on an 18 mp.h. limit. One goal of the measure is to reduce crashes, particularly those involving pedestrians and bikes, but the stated reasoning according to the mayor is a city of shared streets.

Mayor Roland Ries said in a statement translated on Treehugger, "The public roads no longer belong to automobiles alone. They must be re-imagined to be redistributed in a fairer manner between all forms of transportation. The protection of the most vulnerable is thus reinforced in zones in which all users have access but in which the pedestrian is king."

The historic city center is a "pedestrian priority" zone using the "filtered permeability" planning philosophy, which promotes travel by foot or pedal power by reducing the number of through streets for cars while increasing them for pedestrians and bikes. There's also a pretty futuristic looking tram criss-crossing the downtown. For a sense of just how transit-oriented the town is, here's a diagram of the public transport in the city center.

The general public will vote on the speed limit reduction in May.

Full story at Treehugger.

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Transportation Nation

San Francisco Bike Accidents Rise Faster than the Rate of Cycling; Bay Citizen Maps Crash Data

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation; San Francisco–Casey Miner, KALW News) Bicycling in San Francisco can be glorious - paths by the beach, hills with sweeping views of the bay, the ability to cycle in the middle of January without having to come up with creative ways to keep your hands warm.

But it's also rife with "anger, misunderstanding, and mistrust between motorists and cyclists," according to a report issued last year by a San Francisco Civil Grand Jury, which investigated the implementation of the city's bike plan. (Report here; pdf.) This sentiment is a huge issue and perhaps contributes to this jarring statistic: in San Francisco, bike crashes have grown 8% in the past two years--outpacing the growth in ridership, which was 3%. (By comparison, New York City, which has also seen a growth in cyclists -- saw bike crashes decline by 46% from 1996 to 2003.)

That San Francisco data is courtesy of a new comprehensive interactive map by the nonprofit news organization the Bay Citizen, which just released a data app called the "Bicycle Accident Tracker."  We asked Bay Citizen staff writer Zusha Elinson and web producer Tasneem Raja how they got the data - and what they've learned from crunching hundreds of accident reports. (They also began encouraging people to report accidents directly to the Bay Citizen.)

"The bikers, for the most part, think the cars are crazy. And the cars all think the bikers are crazy," said Elinson. They set about mapping every bike accident the San Francisco Police Department wrote a report for in the last two years.  But what constitutes a report-worthy bike accident throws a bit of a monkey wrench into the data crunching.

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Transportation Nation

Traffic Deaths Up Slightly in NYC, But Still Lowest In Nation

Monday, February 07, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Traffic deaths are up slightly, but New York is still the safest big city in the country when it comes to traffic fatalities, according to 2010 data released Monday by the New York City Department of Transportation.

According to the DOT, 269 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2010 compared to a record low 258 in 2009. On a per-capita basis that still makes New york the safest big city in the country, according to a statement from the DOT, with a fatality rate about half the national average.

The increase over 2009 was due mostly to a jump in motorcycle accidents, increasing by 10 to a total of 39 fatalities. Motorcycles are involved in 14 percent of traffic fatalities even though they represent just two percent of all vehicle registrations in New York City.

Also contributing to the slight jump in deaths, was bicycles, inching up slightly, but still considerably lower than historic averages. Pedestrian deaths continued to decline though.

The city DOT says many traffic deaths are caused by speeding cars. A car going 40 mph that hits a pedestrian, for instance, will cause death in four out of five cases.  But a car going 30 m.p.h -- the legal limit in the five boroughs -- is lethal less than a third of the time. So the DOT has embarked on a public awareness campaign to encourage slower driving. The agency is also trying to target specific trouble spots with catered changes like more lighting and removing parking spaces to increase visibility at intersections with high rates of left turn crashes.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Madison To Get Bike Share Program, Distracted Walking Under Fire, and NYC To Renovate Dozens of Subway Stations

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Perfect transit moment in DC, not too far from the Transportation Research Bureau conference: Metro, bikes, buses, pedestrians, cars (Kate Hinds)

Lawmakers in New York and Arkansas are considering restrictions on using cell phones and music players such as iPods by people running and walking on the street or sidewalk. (AP via Syracuse.com)

Mazda gets in the electric vehicles game; the "Demio" to be produced in Japan next year. (Business Green)

The NYC MTA is renovating dozens of subway stations in the outer boroughs. (NY1)

Five leading Democrats in the Virginia state Senate have crossed party lines and agreed to co-sponsor a $3.3 billion transportation package advanced by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, significantly boosting the chances that one of the Republican governor's top legislative priorities for the year will pass the General Assembly. (Washington Post)

Madison's finance committee approved funding for a bike-share program that could begin in May. (Wisconsin State Journal)

The Transport Politic tries to explain the Republican party's reluctance to invest in transit infrastructure. In a nutshell: "The Democratic Party holds most of its power in the nation’s cities, whereas the GOP retains greater strength in the exurbs and rural areas."

Which means: the president will be taking some political risks when he makes a pitch for funding infrastructure in tonight's State of the Union speech. (New York Times)

Stories we're following:  Republican and Democratic officials spar on merits of infrastructure spending, can rail and roads stabilize Afganistan, and Ghanzhou's BRT, with 800,000 riders, wins sustainable transport award.

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Transportation Nation

What Can the US Learn from European Parking Policies?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bicycle parking, Amsterdam (photo by Alex RK/Flickr)

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Making parking more expensive and less convenient, encouraging residents to trade in parking permits for transit passes, and dedicating parking revenue for things like bike sharing programs...according to a new report, these are just a few of the strategies that cities like Amsterdam, Zurich, and Barcelona employ to make their streets more bike-and pedestrian-friendly--while reducing pollution.

A new report by the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (a group that plans transit systems for cities worldwide) called "Europe’s Parking U-Turn: From Accommodation to Regulation," (you can find a PDF of it here) details an approach to parking that would make most American politicians and retailers blanch.

"European cities are deliberately making driving less convenient, but while they're doing that, they're boosting bike infrastructure and transit availability,"  said ITDP's Michael Kodransky.

He also said that the European experience shows that restricting parking makes financial sense.

"The trend here is to feed demand by creating more parking." Kodransky said. "European cities realize that if they make other modes more convenient, and create restrictive parking policies, people will drive less -- and shop more."

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Transportation Nation

Houston Trains to Houston Drivers: We Are Bigger and Heavier Than You

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Houston train a gets new paint job (photo by Wendy Siegle)

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) If you've ever forgotten (and I really hope you haven't)  to obey the traffic signal when approaching rail crossings, METRO's new safety campaign should help remind you.

The agency rolled out  a new light rail car wrapped in a bright red safety advertisement warning people to "Stop" and "Think" when traveling near rail tracks.

METRO chairman Gilbert Garcia says the purpose of the new paint job is to remind people to be more alert when approaching rail crossings. “METRO has a very important mission, which is to get people from A to B," Garcia said. "But the key is we have to do that safely." He pointed out that Texas ranks highest in the nation in highway-rail grade collisions. The Lone Star State had 177 incidents in 2009. California, which is number two on the list, had 114.

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Transportation Nation

Study: Biking Infrastructure Creates More Jobs Than Auto-Based Road Projects

Friday, January 14, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  This study comes to us via Ray LaHood, the U.S. Transportation Secretary.  It's brief -- but by giving it the imprimatur of his blog, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is forcing us to pay attention.

Workers install bike lane. Photo: Marianne McCune, WNYC

The Political Economy Research Institute, a University of Massachusetts, Amherst-linked public policy group, looked at 2008 data from Baltimore, and found that while road projects created about 7 jobs per million dollars spent, bike projects created 11-14 jobs per million, and pedestrian projects, 11.

The report says  this is because bicycling and pedestrian projects have a high ratio of engineers to construction workers, and that engineering jobs are both more labor intensive and have a great "multiplier" effect -- meaning each engineering job creates more demand for labor in supporting positions, like clerical jobs.

We are fascinated that LaHood is calling this to our attention, particularly at a time when road builders are giving a bit of a sneer to the Obama livability agenda.

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TN Moving Stories: Florida Gov Lifts Freeze on Transpo Contracts; DC Metro Considering Selling Station Names, and LaHood Tells Bike/Ped Advocates That Now Is Th

Friday, January 14, 2011

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: NYC MTA raids show evidence of ongoing faked subway signal inspections.  DC's Metro is eliminating phone booths, and New Jersey Transit's website was briefly derailed when they failed to renew their domain name. And in other news:

DC Metro's budget has a $72 million gap (Washington Post). Metro now considering selling naming rates to stations (WAMU).

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has approved 71 transportation contracts worth nearly $90 million--a day after the state Senate's Democratic leader complained that the new Republican governor's 90-day freeze on state contracts is delaying job-creation. (AP via Bloomberg)

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood blogs about a new report that says "on-street bike lanes and pedestrian measures created more direct jobs, more indirect jobs, and more induced jobs per dollar than either road upgrades or road resurfacing." LaHood writes: "Now is the time for advocates of cycling and walking to get into gear once again."

Drivers entering San Francisco during the morning rush hour have shaved four minutes off their commute, says a new report about the Bay Bridge's congestion toll pricing. (San Jose Mercury News)

Southeast Queensland (Australia) public transportation will be free for a week in the wake of flooding. “Making the network free for a week will keep unnecessary cars off the road, help people do some shopping and get around to help others if needed," says the region's premier. (Brisbane Times)

Orange County transportation officials are seeking to change their funding guidelines to resolve whether a mega transit center planned for Anaheim can receive almost $100 million in sales tax revenue that has been earmarked for the project. (Los Angeles Times)

Calgary Transit is looking for passenger love stories.

Hmmm...How to put a positive spin on this? Let's see: the New York Daily News reports that one subway passenger was awakened by the furry caress of a rat crawling on his face. (Warning: if you find rats upsetting, avoid the video):
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Mixed Signals for NYC Pedestrians

Monday, December 20, 2010

(New York-- John Keefe, Jim O'Grady, and Brian Zumhagen, WNYC; Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation)

New Yorkers are famous for crossing streets whenever they feel like it, taking a blasé attitude toward crosswalk signals. But the signs tend to capture the attention of pedestrians when the "walk" and "don't walk" icons are lit up at the same time, which is the case at intersections all over the city.

At the corner of Spring and Greene Streets in SoHo, the orange "don't walk" hand is illuminated. But so is the "walking man" icon. Latonya Turner and her husband Otis are visiting from Arkansas. What would they have done if they'd been left to their own devices?

"We probably would have stood here and thought, 'Okay, what do we do?'" "I guess you have a choice then, you can either walk or not walk," Otis said.

"I guess you can just take your chances," Latonya added, laughing.

Listen to WNYC's story on the pedestrian crossing signals:

See WNYC's mixed signals map here.

And upload your photo to the map here!

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WNYC News

Mixed Signals for City Pedestrians

Monday, December 20, 2010

New Yorkers are famous for crossing streets whenever they feel like it, taking a blasé attitude toward crosswalk signals. But the signs tend to capture the attention of pedestrians when the "walk" and "don't walk" icons are lit up at the same time, which is the case at intersections all over the city.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: New Yorkers Face Long Commutes, More DC Residents Are Taking Public Transit, And How To Modernize Air Traffic Control

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Census data, commuter edition: More DC residents are using abandoning their cars and taking public transit to work. "Only New Yorkers take the subway to work more than Washingtonians do." (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, four of New York City's five boroughs logged the nation's longest average commute times to work (New York Post).  The country's worst commute continues to belong to Staten Island, where residents spend 42.5 minutes each way traveling to work (Staten Island Live).  But remember, New Yorkers --commutes cost less in NYC.

The blog Ride The City published data about more than 600,000 NYC bike rides planned on their site since April 2009. Median ride length: a little over 4 miles. And: 85% of all rides started or ended in just 7% of census blocks.

In other news:  The tax cut -- with its attendant transit benefit -- passes the Senate. Next stop: the House. (New York Times)

New York City has launched a new pilot program that will allow some disabled Access-A-Ride customers to take taxis instead. (WNYC)

Amtrak passengers can now bring unloaded guns on some trains. All aboard! (NPR)

A federal task force has some ideas about how to modernize air traffic control -- and ensure transparency in pricing. (Wall Street Journal)

Richard Florida digs into neighborhood walkability--which he writes is "a magnet for attracting and retaining the highly innovative businesses and highly skilled people that drive economic growth, raising housing values and generating higher incomes."  (The Atlantic)

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TN Moving Stories: Mica Officially Becomes Infrastructure Chair, Civil Rights Groups Want Feds to Look at Cali's High Speed Rail, And Ikea's Two-Wheeled Holiday

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Florida Congressman John Mica was elected chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure by a vote of the Republican Conference on Wednesday. (Daytona Beach News-Journal)

New Jersey Transit's board of directors will consider today whether to hire a Washington, D.C., law firm to challenge the FTA's demands that the state return the $271  million allocated for the ARC Tunnel (AP via Wall Street Journal). We'll have more on this later today--stay tuned!

Also today: the New York City Council's Transportation Committee is having an oversight meeting on bicycling in New York. More on that later on today as well.

Civil rights groups are demanding a federal investigation into how California is awarding high-speed rail contracts. "Minority-owned business and small business have been almost totally left out of the planning, engineering and construction of this project," says one businessman. (Los Angeles Times)

The National Transportation Safety Board holds a forum on car seat safety in DC today. And some of the recommendations could mean wholesale changes to how Americans transport their kids--like keeping them in rear-facing car seats longer, and requiring that babies be buckled into car seats on airplanes instead of being held on their parents' laps. (NPR)

Mercedes Benz is testing a system uses night vision to detect pedestrians--then shine an extra beam of light upon them. (Automobile Magazine)

A free agent football player chooses being a train conductor over playing for the Jets.  "Fitzhugh said he has been blessed to work with his two childhood passions: football and trains." (WPIX)

Members of Edmonton's Chinese community are concerned that a proposed light rail line going through their neighborhood might destroy the city's energy flow. "It creates a sense of barrier, stopping energy from going to Chinatown," says one Feng Shui master. (Calgary Herald)

Ikea gives out bikes to 12,400 U.S. employees as a way of saying 'thanks for a great year.' (Consumerist)

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BREAKING: D.C. Transportation Director Resigns

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

(Washington, D.C. - David Schultz, WAMU) Just a few moments ago, Gabe Klein, the director of Washington D.C.'s Transportation Department and a strong advocate of transit and pedestrian-oriented policies, announced his resignation.

Klein was appointed to the post two years ago by Mayor Adrian Fenty, who, earlier this year, was resoundingly defeated in his reelection bid by City Council Chairman Vincent Gray. Klein and Gray had clashed earlier this year over funding for the city's urban streetcar program, so Klein's departure just a few months before the new mayor takes office is not a huge surprise.

Still, Klein enjoyed a fair amount of support for his agenda, which, along with the streetcar project, included the installation of more bike lanes on roads, beefing up the city's local short-trip bus service and, perhaps most successfully, launching a city-wide bike sharing service.

Vehicle sharing seems to be Klein's M.O. Before joining the local government in D.C., Klein was a regional vice president of Zipcar, the pioneering car-sharing company that has taken off in many urban areas.

For more on Klein's resignation, check back in with WAMU throughout the day.

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TN Moving Stories: Christie Likes #7 Extension Idea, and London's Double Decker Bus Gets Revamped

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

NJ Governor Christie says extending the #7 subway across the Hudson is “a much better idea” than the ARC tunnel, but he hasn't yet spoken to Mayor Bloomberg about it. (AP via New York Times)

Traffic fatalities in NYC are at an all-time low, but pedestrians make up the majority of those killed. (NY1)

NYC transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan is one of Esquire Magazine's "15 Genuises Who Give Us Hope."

Talk about paving roads with good intentions: as BART extends to San Jose, "construction crews plan to use at least 250,000 old tires, ground up into 3-inch chunks and laid under large sections of the tracks, to act as shock absorbers, reducing vibration and noise along the route." (San Jose Mercury News)

London's iconic bus--the Routemaster--is getting updated. "The new bus has three doors: joining the single rear entrance are a front and a side door. There are also two staircases, solving a major congestion problem, and a source of missed stops on full buses." (Wired - Autopia)

Do electric cars spell cash or calamity for utility companies? "Plugged into a socket, the Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts can draw as much energy from the grid as a small house." (The Takeaway)

NYC deputy mayor Steven Goldsmith is on today's Brian Lehrer Show.

With all the news about new TSA screening procedures, the Washington Post has assembled a good, sober guide of what to actually expect at the airport.  This Saturday Night Live video takes a more...whimsical approach:

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