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Cleveland: Blue Line Could Be a Livable Corridor

Cleveland’s Blue Line Rapid is featured in a new report, “Livable Transit Corridors: Methods, Metrics, and Strategies” from the Federal Transit Administration and the National Academy of Sciences, a highly respected research facility.

Cleveland’s Blue Line is a national example of a suburban commuter corridor that offers high-speed transit between low-density residential and an employment center (downtown). The report offers a method to improve “livability”—defined as opening access to opportunity and improving quality of life.

Their analysis of the Blue Line shows that, for the most part, access is limited to those able to drive to it. Except for Shaker Square and downtown, the Blue Line is missing employment options.

“Employment opportunities are rare along this corridor between its terminus at Van Aken Center and Shaker Square, as is pedestrian- or transit-based access to cultural destinations, health care, and major retailers.”

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Streetsblog USA

Adieu, Cars: Paris Riverfront to Be Permanently Returned to the People

A rendering of the Right Bank of the Seine -- sans highway. Rendering: Luxigon

After years of experimentation, the Paris City Council this week committed to the permanent conversion of two miles of the Georges Pompidou expressway along the River Seine into a waterfront park.

The 1960s expressway carried two lanes of traffic and about 43,000 vehicles a day along the Right Bank of the river. But beginning in 2011, the highway had been converted for part of the summer each year to a beach and waterfront promenade. The “Paris-Plages,” as it was called, was popular with tourists and locals as well, seeing as many as four million visitors annually.

The Georges Pompidou expressway carried about 43,000 vehicles daily. Photo: Preservation Institute

During the past few months, Mayor Anne Hidalgo piloted a temporary closure to test conditions for permanently opening the space to pedestrians and cyclists.

Although there was some outcry from motorists, they were overshadowed by supporters of the conversion. According to the UK Independent, 55 percent of Parisians supported the conversion plan. Support for the project reflects Paris’ progress in shifting away from motor vehicles. According to Slate‘s Henry Grabar, 60 percent of Parisians do not own cars. That’s up from 40 percent just 15 years ago.

The conversion to a park will cost about $50 million, an investment that is expected to benefit the city’s tourism-based economy.

The park plan is part of a wider set of efforts by Mayor Hidalgo aimed at reducing air pollution and dependence on cars. She has also presided over the city’s first car-free days and intends to eventually limit the famous Champs-Élysées to electric vehicles only. Her predecessor, Bertrand Delanoë was the original proponent of converting the highway into a park, and was responsible for beginning the “Paris-Plages.”

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Today’s Headlines

  • Plain Dealer: It’s Worth Visiting Cincinnati to Check Out Its Best-in-Class Streetcar
  • Another Major New Development Gets Approval Along Cincy’s Streetcar Line (Business Courier)
  • COTA to Build New Transit Center at Northern Terminus of CMAX Route (Dispatch)
  • Here’s What You Need to Know About Cleveland’s New Bike-Share System (Cleveland Magazine)
  • Kroger Looking to Develop Urban Concept Store in Downtown Cincinnati (Enquirer)
  • Seattle Dropping Neighborhood Speed Limits to 20 MPH, and So Should Other Cities (Next City)
  • Badly Designed Cities Can Have Major Negative Impact on Health (Health)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Why Are American Traffic Fatalities Rising So Quickly?

What's causing the steep rise in traffic fatalities? Graph: State Smart Transportation Initiative

Summer is barely over but this much is already clear: Traffic safety on American streets is taking a big step backward in 2016.

During the first five months of the year, traffic deaths rose 9 percent over 2015 levels, reports Bill Holloway at the State Smart Transportation Campaign. It’s even worse if you compare to 2014 — traffic deaths have increased a staggering 17 percent since then.

One factor is that people are driving more as gas prices plunge and the economy grows. But the increase in mileage isn’t large enough to fully explain the mounting death toll. And in a disturbing related trend, pedestrian and cycling deaths are rising faster than overall traffic fatalities.

What is going on? Holloway searches for potential explanations:

Although there is no good data available on bicycle and pedestrian miles traveled, the number of bike and pedestrian commuters estimated in the American Community Survey shows the rough magnitude of changes in bike and pedestrian activity in recent years. Between 2010 and 2015 the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. increased by 30 percent, climbing from 685,000 to 890,000; while the number of people walking to and from work increased by 8 percent, from 3,834,000 in 2010 to 4,153,000 in 2015 — a roughly 11.5 percent gain in total non-motorized commuters. However, during this same period, while total annual VMT climbed by only 4.9 percent, the number of fatal crashes involving bikers and walkers climbed by 27 percent, according to SSTI’s analysis of FARS data.
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Today’s Headlines

  • Popularity of Cincinnati Streetcar Causing Unexpected Operational Problems (Enquirer)
  • ODOT’s Massive Highway Spending Priorities Yield Mediocre Results (Business Courier)
  • Northland Won’t See CMAX BRT Construction as Early as Thought (ThisWeek)
  • Brunswick and Medina to Merge Transit Agencies (Plain Dealer)
  • Beavercreek Officials Want to Speed Up Traffic at Expense of Community (Daily News)
  • More and More Researchers Believe We Are Nearing “Peak Car” (Washington Post)
  • Paratransit Is Often a Drain on Transit Agency Budgets, But Does It Have to Be? (Governing)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

White House: Make Cities Affordable By Building for Walkability, Not Parking

The Obama administration is taking on the crisis of rising rents in American cities, releasing a series of recommendations today to spur the construction of more affordable housing. Among the many ideas the White House endorses: allowing more multi-family housing near transit and getting rid of parking minimums.

Rising rents are putting pressure on American families. Graph: White House

Since 1960, the share of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing — the baseline for what is considered “affordable” — has risen from 24 percent to 49 percent, the White House reports in its new Housing Development Toolkit [PDF]. There are now 7.7 million severely rent-burdened households, defined as those paying more than 50 percent of their income for rent — an increase of about 2.5 million in just the past 10 years.

In the toolkit, the Obama administration acknowledges the links between housing and transportation, saying that “smart housing regulation optimizes transportation system use, reduces commute times, and increases use of public transit, biking and walking.”

The toolkit is full of policy recommendations to make it easier to build multi-family housing, incentivize the construction of subsidized housing, and shift away from the single-family/large lot development paradigm.

The document is merely advisory — federal officials don’t have the power to supersede most local zoning laws. But the White House does say that U.S. DOT will evaluate cities’ approaches to new housing development when it considers awarding major grants for new transit projects.

Here are a few of the highlights from the recommendations.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Business Coalition Growing for Daily CIN-CHI Rail Service (WCPO)
  • Dispatch: Vote Yes on Columbus Transit Tax Levy
  • Cleveland Talk Radio Guy Slammed for Saying He’d Like to Murder Cyclists (Plain Dealer)
  • ODOT Finally Nearing Completion on Inner-Belt Bridge (WKYC)
  • State’s ODPS Division Hoping New App Will Improve Safety Along Roadways (Independent)
  • Redesigning Crosswalks Could Make Cities Much Safer (Curbed)
  • More and More American Cities Are Moving Away From Ugly Parking Garages (American Dirt)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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CLE Leaders Call for More Sustainable Transportation at Summit

“Thank you for dreaming with us about the future of the city,” Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson told hundreds of people attending the 8th annual Sustainable Cleveland Summit last week.

Jackson’s remarks came after we talked at round tables under the gilded hall of Public Auditorium for the day about the city’s ability to shape (this year’s theme) Sustainable Transportation.

The Summits are “a community of people,” said Cleveland Sustainability Office Director, Matt Grey, who spoke of the force behind the progress.

Grey provided a State of Sustainability report, the milestones and projects some of which were hatched at previous Summits. Like CiCLEvia, an open streets event that was dreamed up last year and came to fruition this summer (with the last one coming up on October 8).

Cleveland has even inspired other cities, from Cincinnati to Denver, to assemble their own communities. In Denver, the Summit provides the setting for each city department to set a goal (i.e. reduce carbon emissions) and send their individual sustainability managers to put a plan in motion to reach it, according to one observer familiar with the situation there.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Cincinnati Streetcar Tops 100,000 Rides in First Two Weeks of Service (Business Courier)
  • Ideas on the Future of Transportation in Cleveland Vary Widely (Plain Dealer)
  • TARTA to Subsidize Bus Rides for Low-Income Mothers (Blade)
  • Indianola Avenue to Have Two On-Street Bike Lanes (The Lantern)
  • Some Fear Parking on Cincy Street Will Interfere With Oblivious Motoring (Enquirer)
  • It Is Possible to Build Dense Housing That Eases Traffic Congestion? (CityLab)
  • It Doesn’t Take Long to Learn How Parking Can and Does Kill Cities (TreeHugger)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

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Car Dominance Not a Uniquely Cleveland Challenge, Penalosa Assures

“Change is hard,” Gil Penalosa told several hundred Clevelanders, including its leader, Mayor Frank Jackson, at the Sustainable Cleveland Summit this week.

Penalosa worked with his brother, Enrique Penalosa, former Mayor of Bogota, Columbia to shift the focus from a single mode, driving, to more equitable transportation choices.

Like Cleveland, Bogota has a large, low-income population. Penalosa said the difference “is not money; it’s priorities.”

Bogota became world-famous for innovating transportation. It hosts “Ciclovias” every Sunday when cars are a prevented from driving on many streets and thousands of cyclists, strollers, skateboarders, and people of all ages come out to exercise and socialize.

“Are we going to build streets for cars or people?”

Cities across the globe are rediscovering how streets can be converted to social spaces. Penalosa mentioned New York City’s converting a big swath of pavement right in the middle of Times Square from road to public park.

Bogota also provided the template for cities like Cleveland when they built a whole network of bus-rapid transit lines.

The impact was immediate: “Bogota’s BRT system moves more people than 90% of the subways around the world.”

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