17 August 2008

More Urban Innovations ~ Traffic Solutions, Spot Markets, and Streetcars!

There's plenty of need for more urban innovations, as I've written before. Bryan Appleyard in the London Times reviews the new book Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt. Several interesting -- and counter-intuitive -- revelations therein, including the reduction in accidents when traffic signs, railings and "safety" features were removed! David Mehegan of the Globe invited Vanderbilt on a spin through Boston as shared in Going With The Flow: Bad drivers, poor signage, rotaries? No problem for 'Traffic' guru. Quothe he:
  • Congestion is as old as cities.
  • [...] one study analyzed crashes that happen between cars and trucks. In a majority of cases, the cars had more to do with it.
  • [In Beacon Hill's] sort of narrow street, with a lot of obstacles and parking on both sides, is called a self-explaining road -- you don't need a speed limit.
  • [Economist] Donald Shoup's argument is that if you raise the price of meters to the point where spaces are never more than 85 percent occupied, you'd eliminate a lot of bargain-hunting, meandering around, adding to the traffic with destinationless driving.
Hope Cohen, the deputy director of the Manhattan Institute’s Center for Rethinking Development, opines in the NYTimes No Parking, Ever encouraging the City to phase out curbside parking altogether and give it over to greenery, pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles which are actually moving. Very interesting since this would create market demand for parking structures and services, as well as transportation services, including properly priced and profitable mass transit. Who knows what other innovations might emerge once cities stop subsidizing personal vehicle parking. Perhaps parking "spot markets" or other uses? Here's one possibility ;-) Bob Driehaus from the NYTimes writes that Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future surveying trends in several dozen cities. Also online is a nice Desirable Streetcars slideshow, featuring examples like Portland... ...and New Orleans...

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