Why the Bus Got So Bad, and How to Save It

Out of Darkness, Light Rail

Author Laura Bliss January 17, 2020

In an era of austere federal funding for urban public transportation, light rail seemed to make sense. Did the little trains of the 1980s pull their own weight?

When San Diego opened its light rail system in 1981, Mayor Pete Wilson declared it “a good idea whose time has come again.’” The bright red train cars, known as “the Trolley,” harked back to the urban railway that spanned 165 miles across metropolitan San Diego until 1949. As in so many North American cities, that streetcar system was ripped out as the automobile era dawned.

But the San Diego Trolley was built with a different spirit and purpose than its predecessor. It was light rail. And from San Diego, the new mode would spread across North America. Far cheaper to build than a subway, faster than a streetcar, and perhaps more alluring than a bus, light rail was seen as the answer to congested highways, growing populations, and civic fantasies of a dozen U.S. cities in the 1980s and early ‘90s.

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This Decade’s Mobility Winner? The Bicycle

Transport Stock

Author Enrique Dans

Bike-sharing has revolutionized urban transport over the last decade, and some studies are predicting that electric bicycles, which are easy to use in hilly cities, will become the go-to mobility solution, with forecasts of more than 130 million units set to be sold globally between 2020 and 2023.

The number of bike-sharing options in cities around the world has doubled since 2014, and the number of bicycles in operation has increased twenty-fold. Cities like Seville and Paris have deployed ambitious bicycle-based mobility programs, while in others, like New York, it has become the best and fastest option for getting around.

Obviously, bicycles aren’t for everyone, but it can, with the right planning and means, be a very good way to decongest cities, both in terms of traffic density and air quality. Tech platforms such as Google Maps or Citymapper already show the location of bicycles and availability at parking stations in cities around the world, which is an important step, as is the fact that companies such as Uber are moving their priority from cars to bicycles and scooters for short journeys: both Uber and Lime are pondering flat-rate systems to make the use of their fleets more attractive.

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What Does This Street In Zürich Mean?

Author Norman Garrick

Above is a picture of a pretty typical city street in Zürich, Switzerland.What do you see?In some ways, this scene represents a kind of Rorschach Test for transportation and urban planning. If you are a passenger on a tram riding on one of the two sets of rails that take up most of the street, this scene represents freedom of movement and a sense that transit is privileged in Zürich. If you’re a pedestrian, this is a relatively comfortable street to be on, with useful services, restaurants, and a few interesting stores (check out the model train store at the corner with Haldenbachstrasse). If you’re on a bike, this, like most other streets in Zürich, is OK, but not great.

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https://www.citylab.com/perspective/2019/09/urban-planning-zurich-public-transit-street-design-traffic/599011/?utm_source=newsletter&silverid=%%RECIPIENT_ID%%&utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email

 

 

Seattle Joins the Rush to Slow Down Traffic on City Streets

Author 

Seattle is sprouting. Census Bureau figures released earlier this year show that the city added 15,000 people between summer 2017 and summer 2018, a 2.1 percent jump from the prior year, marking the Emerald City as the nation’s second-fastest-growing large city. Construction of multifamily units is down slightly over last year, but the cranes are still swinging and the jackhammers still jacking: By July of this year, the city had issued permits for 15,000 apartment units.

Jim Curtain puts it more succinctly. “The building out here is going gangbusters,” he says.

So it’s curious, perhaps, that Curtain, the director of the project development division at Seattle’s Department of Transportation, is helping to slow the city down. Way down. This week, the DOT, along with Mayor Jenny Durkan, said it plans to lower the speed limit on all major roads to 25 mph, down from 40 mph in some places. Many residential streets in the city already top out at 20 mph.

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https://www.wired.com/story/seattle-joins-rush-slow-traffic-city-streets/?utm_campaign=citylab-daily-newsletter&utm_medium=email&silverid=%%RECIPIENT_ID%%&utm_source=newsletter