Welcome to the War on Cars Watch, a weekly blog to bring together all the stories that affect motorists with regards to street planning such as road diets, and traffic calming as well as programs such as Vision Zero and Complete Streets.
This blog will give you highlights of the week’s stories and commentary from our oos Base Executive Director James C. Walker (is below) and California oos Member Michael Jabbra (in italics spread throughout and marked MJ). Please read this blog and let us know what you think by commenting below!
**Editor’s Note—this post is longer than usual because we are covering the past two weeks due to the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Governing.com dedicated part of the December magazine to parking minimums in America:
MJ: In other words, cities don’t care about residents or visitors trying to find parking because developers bought off public officials with large campaign contributions. You can be sure that the developers don’t live in those areas!
It is now chic in urban planning to think that everyone is single, lives in a shoebox in the inner city, and commutes via ridesharing or mass transit. Not every city is like Washington D.C., and not everyone wants to live that way, although some do. News flash: Diversity isn’t just skin color or sexual preference. It’s much more. Some of us like living in suburbs and like driving. Get used to it.
New study out: (guess who funded this one?)
Another study we probably did not need:
Opinion piece that has us shrugging our shoulders:
The —close the street to cars in front of the school before and after school. This is the ultimate traffic calming and quite frankly just pushes the drop off to someplace even less safe.
One of the biggest stories in the past two weeks: Camp Fire in Butte County
First an opinion piece was posted in a small newspaper in the Camp Fire area that had the title:
- Then, the Los Angeles Times did its own story:
MJ: Narrowing roads for “traffic calming” might impede evacuations or emergency responses? Who knew?
Here are some other stories from California:
- Los Angeles County: (what about bicycles?)
- San Diego:
- San Fernando Valley: (Traffic Calming)
District of Columbia
One of the worst cities to drive in anywhere——Yikes!
MJ: I was an intern for a few months in Washington D.C. over ten years ago. D.C. is choked in traffic, but at least the subway system is very well developed; it covers more than the L.A. system. Of course, Washington D.C. is more compact than Los Angeles.
Two contrasting stories about St. Petersburg bike lanes:
Some good news— apparently are having second thoughts about bike lanes in their area
with the new traffic calming pedestrian islands in Ravenswood Manor—caused a number of accidents and was particularly difficult during the recent snow storm. For some reason, the city did not put up any signs to indicate they had changed the character of the street. Oops!
Two articles from Oak Park, a Chicago suburb:
- Editorial: (then why do it?)
- The city is testing before they put the more permanent concrete ones in for traffic calming.
Boston is now considering dropping the city’s default speed limit . Another article questioned what the city could do to .
Here is a well-written opinion piece from Worcester: The city is also thinking about lowering speed limits to a default 25.
Bethesda Magazine posted an editorial about Montgomery County: .
As an out shoot of its Complete Streets Program, to allow the city to gain control over its busy streets.
The city of Lincoln has released its and would like residents to comment.
Under the Vision Zero Banner, the city of and making easier for residents to request (and receive) neighborhood speed bumps.
City of Portland Officials have announced how they .
Harrisburg plans to . Officials claim this is one of the most dangerous streets in America—narrowing streets and restricting the flow of car traffic could make matters worse.
Arlington County wants to (bikes would ride against the flow of traffic in an unprotected lane at the side). Officials think this will save lives and travel time but it is still illegal in the state.
Struggles to Meet ‘Target Zero” Goals.
Mobility as a Service (bike and scooter shares)
Medium.com posted this story:
New York: . City council members are introducing bills to put these Mobility as a Service machines on the streets.
Uber launched 300 bikes in at a bike share scheme.
Commentary from oos Base Executive Director James C. Walker
Many car-hater groups think car ownership and use can be accomplished by making it more and more inconvenient to own, park, and use cars in metro areas. They ignore the fact that a downtown apartment or condo dweller has critical needs to use the car to go AWAY from the downtown areas where they live, work and shop most of the time.
DUH on the Walmart “study” – where more people walk there will be more pedestrian incidents. Can I have the fee the researchers got?
Several cities are discovering that ride-sharing programs INCREASE congestion, so there might be less car ownership but MORE car usage.
Fifty years ago, most kids walked or biked to school. Today it is a minority, 15% by one study. And we ask why we have a child obesity problem with this effect and their staring at tiny screens for a large portion of the day.
Many places like British Colombia want to have all cars be electric. It is a total pipe dream until the range and charging time issues are solved so the cars are as usable as ones with gas or diesel.
Paradise should NEVER have reduced lanes on a critical evacuation route – it killed people.
Traffic calming by choking down major collector and arterial routes like CA Hwy 101 or Martin Luther King in St. Pete Florida is almost never justified. The negatives outweigh the positives, including diversion of frustrated drivers onto smaller streets never designed to carry high traffic loads.
I have driven several reversible-lane arterials in the DC area and they work pretty well because most of the rush hour traffic are regular users. Adding bike lanes to those arterials would be a BAD idea.
The IIHS (Insurance Institute for Higher Surcharges) proved our point with their study in Boston after speed limits were dropped from 30 to 25 mph with a MASSIVE decrease in actual speeds of 0.0 mph. Now they want to go to 20? Perhaps they want to have 90% in non-compliance instead of about 50%. Can you say the term “speed trap”? At least Worcester is questioning the non-functional idea of just painting lower numbers on the signs for no real change in travel speeds.
Many “Zero Vision” cities seek changes that are either useless to safety or even negative. $ome of the change$ like lower $peed limit$ have obviou$ rea$on$ for the citie$ and tho$e rea$on$ do NOT include safety.
The Harrisburg plan to choke down State Street is getting push back from PennDOT because it would almost certainly cause massive congestion and diversion during rush hours.
Seattle is a huge, sprawling metro area. The thought that many people would work, shop, and find leisure activities ONLY in their very local area is idiotic. I have visited relatives there and we needed to travel well beyond easy walking, biking or transit routes for things we wanted to do.
The profusion of motorized scooters in many cities have caused dilemmas for officials. How should they be controlled, where should they be kept, who is responsible for safety, are they motor vehicles, are they equivalent to bikes, do riders need a license, etc., etc. Nobody has good solutions yet.