Paris Speeds Up its Pursuit of a Slower Beltway

Author    Feargus O’Sullivan

Like so many cities, Paris is girdled by beltways — several of them, in fact. The innermost and most notorious one is known as the Boulevard Périphérique,  a 22-mile-long ring road completed in 1973 and built in part upon the footprint of the city’s historic walls. The traffic-clogged urban highway plays a major role in Parisian mobility, but it’s also a prime contributor of pollution, both atmospheric and aural, as well as an all-but-impassable barrier severing the historic city from its inner suburbs. Last year, Paris deputies proposed downsizing the Périphérique, removing vehicle lanes and dropping speed limits to transform the road from a smog-spewing limited-access highway into a tree-lined “metropolitan avenue.”

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Transit of the future needs smarter routes, not more gadgets

Author Matthew Yglesias

Technology is changing the commuting experience across the board, and politicians looking to present a forward-thinking image are trying to embrace it. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York City Transit Authority, for example, are eagerly touting a soon-to-arrive new bus fleet that will feature “enhanced amenities like USB charging ports and Wi-Fi.”

But a recent nationally representative survey of transit riders from TransitCenter, a New York–based foundation focused on improving urban mobility, indicates that high-tech gimmicks are a very low priority for the people who actually use mass transit.

The future of successful, high-ridership systems may or may not involve USB ports but will definitely include reworked routes that provide reasonably fast and frequent service close to where many people live.

What riders want: fast, frequent service

The key data comes in a chart, which compares how people who recommend their local transit service feel about various transit attributes versus how transit detractors feel about them.

On some measures — like fare payment options — both promoters and detractors feel pretty good, indicating both that agencies are probably doing something right and that merely getting it right isn’t good enough to convert detractors into promoters.

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New Bay Trail segment lauded

Ben Kaufman photo

A new segment of the Bay Trail, the Albany Beach Bay Trail behind Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley/Albany, opened in May and has garnered praise in an article in the San Francisco Chronicle(link is external).

“With the completion of this segment of Bay Trail connecting over 50 existing trail miles, one can begin to understand and experience the benefits of the Bay Trail vision – a long-distance trail that crosses city and county boundaries, linking communities to each other and to the bay,” said Laura Thompson, Bay Trail Project Manager.

The Bay Trail plan was adopted by the Association of Bay Area Governments in June 1989. Envisioned as a 500-mile “ring around the Bay,” today some 355 miles of trail are built along the perimeter of San Francisco Bay.

Other new segments have opened recently, including a bicycle-pedestrian along the upper deck of the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

Stay tuned to the Bay Trail website for announcements of future events.

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Improved BART Embarcadero bike station opens Monday

This improvement should make visiting San Francisco by bicycle from the north bay easier.

BART’s upgraded bicycle parking at the Embarcadero Station opens Monday(link is external).

The improvements make the facility more secure, with better lighting and visibility.

Racks for oversized and electric bikes have also been added. The bike station requires a BikeLink card for access. You can sign up for a card at is external).

MTC has long supported bicycle use in the Bay Area.

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