Urban Issues

New York City Firefighters Union Calls Out Vision Zero, Bike Lanes, and Road Diets

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(QUEENS, NYC) An FDNY truck trapped on the Skillman Avenue road diet in Queens. Photograph courtesy of Dorothy Morehead.

New York City firefighters union calls out Vision Zero, bike lanes, and road diets: “You’re basically eliminating the ability for emergency service vehicles to get around”

Will firefighters unions in other cities follow suit?

After four years of lane reductions, arterial bike lanes, road diets, and other so-called “traffic calming” measures on the streets of New York, the country’s largest firefighters union is saying enough.  read more »

Moving Into Your Socialist Home

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“Housing is a human right,” asserts Oregon’s U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer in a paper titled Locked Out: Reversing Federal Housing Failures and Unlocking Opportunity.” That’s debatable, but if Blumenauer really believes it, then why does he support Oregon’s land-use laws that heavily restrict suburban development? After all, that’s the only kind of housing development that is truly affordable.  read more »

Average Chinese Car Travels as Much as American Car

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China is now the largest automobile market in the world. In 2018, 23.7 million new light vehicles were sold in China, compared to the 17.3 million sold in the United States. During the Great Recession, China displaced the US, which had been the world’s leading car market since the invention of the automobile.  read more »

Property and Democracy in America

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To understand how American democracy has worked, and why its future may be limited, it’s critical to look at the issue of property. From early on, the country’s republican institutions have rested on the notion of dispersed ownership of land — a striking departure from the realities of feudal Europe, east Asia or the Middle East.  read more »

Transit Planners Want to Make Your Life Worse

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In our system of government, the public sector is, well, supposed to serve the public. But increasingly the bureaucracies at the state and local level increasingly seek to tell the public how to live, even if the result is to make life worse.

This became glaringly obvious recently, when the CEO of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Phil Washington, reeling from data showing a steady drop of transit riders, decided that the only solution was to make driving worse.  read more »

If You Improve It, They Will Come

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My latest piece is now online at City Journal. It’s a recap of the Indianapolis BRT and Columbus free downtown transit success, as well as a look at Kansas City’s contemplation of free transit citywide. Thanks to a commenter here who originally alerted me to KC’s plans. Here’s an excerpt:  read more »

Screwy Transit Logic

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Bus ridership in Los Angeles is plummeting, says the Wall Street Journal, but LA Metro CEO Phil Washington thinks he has the solution.

“It’s too easy to drive in this city,” says Washington. To get people back on the buses, the city needs to “actually making driving harder.”  read more »

Cars, Not Trains or Planes Dominate Northeast Corridor Travel

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Northbound on the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and Newark

For years, Amtrak has been publicizing its large market share compared with planes in the Northeast Corridor, which covers the major metropolitan air markets of Washington to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Providence and Boston. Amtrak’s Acela fast train provides quick service on the route, and its somewhat slower Northeast Regional trains make stops at locations less convenient to airline travel. Yet its overall share is much lower once all the transportation forms are included.  read more »

The Community and Economic Development Hierarchy

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Construction underway for a new 130,000 square foot shopping center located in Hollister, CA, May 17, 2019. Sadly, more communities want to see this than are actually able to have it. Source: sanbenito.com

I've spent many, many years of my career working to improve the economic development prospects of communities. Wanting to make a meaningful, positive contribution to the revitalization of cities is what pushed me into this career path. More to the point, I've spent a good deal of that time working in places that were facing stiff economic headwinds working against them.  read more »

Around San Francisco’s New South of Market Transit Center

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In the 1980s, the city of San Francisco experienced a strong reaction against continued development of its dense financial center skyscraper district north of Market Street. that the term Manhattanization was popularized by the alternative biweekly, San Francisco Bay Guardian, which channeled the interest of many residents to preserve both their neighborhood and the iconic, historic buildings in downtown San Francisco before they were replaced by new, taller structures.  read more »