Wednesday, September 22, 2010

End of the line

So I am way too swamped with school work, interning, Studio, and preparing to study at the Bauhaus next semester to make any attempt to update this blog anymore. I'm not adding any more posts this year unless a light rail bond issue miraculously appears on the ballot this November. Otherwise, I plan to get all this work done and then take lots of fun transit pics in Europe next year. See ya!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cincinatti, parking mandates and transit

The Transport Politic yesterday reported that the Cincinatti, OH planning commission has decided to reduce the number of required parking spaces at residential and commercial buildings within 600 feet of the new streetcar line downtown. It isn't a done deal because their city council needs to vote on it in order to change the zoning code. Nonetheless this shows a solid commitment to making streetcar transit work rather than just being "a trophy piece to parade around."

Minimum parking requirements are destructive to urban areas. They drive up the cost of construction because every new building requires a shadow building for car parking. Then they drive up the cost of living for people who have to pay for the shadow parking structures after construction. They reduce the city tax base because every parking garage replaces businesses or housing that isn't operating there and bringing tax revenue to city coffers. They stifle new business creation when locations that might otherwise work can't provide "X" number of spaces per 1,000 square feet. They destroy the very urban fabric that defines the city by creating vast dead spaces that are hostile to street life.

Parking minimums also have a deleterious effect on transit by incentivizing car driving. Each new 400 space parking garage that goes up downtown represents 400 drivers who have no reason to take transit to work. Every new city housing unit is required to provide one off-street parking space so potential transit riders now have parking on both ends of their commute. Even grocery stores in urban areas are required to provide vast parking lagoons for their customers. Why would people take transit anywhere with so much "free" parking to be had?

If we're going to revive our urban areas (and we will have to in coming decades) we have to make them dense again and that means utilizing all available space for humans- not cars and SUVs. The surface parking lots or "missing teeth" have to be filled in with human-scaled buildings. Maybe we will even be able to reconfigure some of our parking garages for living or work spaces. But we can't do this with our current regime of parking requirements. We also cannot support transit as long as we continue to subsidize car driving to the degree we have over the last 70-80 years. The Natti realizes this, I hope other American cities follow suit (ahem, Richmond.)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Die Partybahn!

I will be studying at the Bauhaus-University in Weimar, Germany next year so I am in the process of learning all I can about Germany. Weimar is in the state of Thuringia in central Germany, about 2.5 hours east of Frankfurt and 3 hours south of Berlin. Naturally the first thing I looked up about Weimar was if it has a tram- sadly it does not. But the next town east is called Jena, and it does have a tram. Not only a regular transit tram, but an older charter tram called Die Partybahn! I will be in Germany during the occurrence of my 32nd birthday, and I fully intend to spend it aboard Die Partybahn!

I ran some text from their website through Google Translate:

"The party can also train you for the pleasure of own party. Book Birthdays, stag parties, weddings, Semester parties, class reunions, school introductions, youth harriers and confirmations - the party has to train every occasion the very special atmosphere.

You ask by mail ( or by telephone at 03 641 41 41 29 to see if your preferred date is free and set start and destination stop and the duration of voyages.

The hourly rates for the rental of the party train are:
1 hours: 152,00 EUR
1.5 hours: 218,00 EUR
2 hours: 285,00 EUR.

Find out about the food and drinks."

And here is Die Partybahn! in action:

Can't wait to get on the party train!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Video of Washington, D.C.'s new streetcar

View more news videos at:

It's strange that the overhead contact wires are so controversial. Tram opponents argue that they will ruin the viewscape of the city, and indeed DC's original trolley system collected power with a scoop from a trench. But overhead wires aside, I think there's a legitimate argument that the streetcar will still have a decluttering effect on the streetscape by way of taking cars off the congested city streets. Like they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, April 9, 2010

47 Bleicherweg, Zurich

Take a look at this "complete street" in Zurich, Switzerland. Wide sidewalks are sheltered from the elements; a curbside bike lane set off with yellow paint; a single lane for vehicles; a sheltered platform island for tram passengers; a lane for the tram; another tram platform; then two tram lanes; then the opposite sidewalk. Can you think of an American street with three streetcar lanes, a bike lane, and only one lane for cars?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A couple bright spots in VA's new budget

It's not all bad news for the Commonwealth under the new biennial budget passed by the General Assembly this week. As reported by the Times-Dispatch, there are a couple bright spots for transportation.

-The budget allows the state transportation board to steer money from construction projects to mass transit funding.

-Authorizes new funding for new rail service between Richmond and Norfolk, as well as funding for service between Lynchburg and Washington, D.C.

At this time I can't find any more details about what the first item may mean for transit. I hope it means that money allocated for road construction could move to transit funding, because every transit system in the state is suffering. HRT needs more money for their light rail project, perhaps that is what negotiators had in mind. But that short bullet doesn't make clear if other transit funding is being reduced and this is supposed to cover the shortfall.

Follow the link to a brief discussion of the budget at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

About the budget

Thursday, March 4, 2010