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Seattleites Own More Cars Than Atlantans, and Other Surprising Comparisons

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 12.02.45 PMHere’s an interesting glimpse at car ownership in a cross-section of American and Canadian cities, courtesy of a recent report from the Shared Use Mobility Center.

This table comes from SUMC’s analysis of car-share and bike-share [PDF]. We trimmed it to highlight the cars per household across the 27 cities — 25 in America and two in Canada — in SUMC’s report. The sample is meant to include different types and sizes of cities — it’s not a list of the biggest cities. And the data comes from core cities, not entire regions with the suburban belt included.

Among these 27 cities, household car ownership is lowest in New York, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Buffalo, San Francisco, and Toronto. Not many surprises there.

But the car ownership numbers do make for some unexpected city-to-city comparisons:

  • The average household in Seattle, for instance, owns more cars than the average household in notoriously sprawling Atlanta.
  • Car ownership is higher in bike-friendly Boulder than in unwalkable Las Vegas.
  • In Portland, households typically own more cars than in Miami, and the rate isn’t much lower than in Houston.

You can’t read too much into this one table, but it does suggest that some cities haven’t overcome car dependence as much as their reputations may suggest.

SUMC notes in its report that car ownership rates are basically a function of the strength of the transit system — the better the transit, the fewer cars people own.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Capital Metro Doesn’t Really Want Key Transit Design Element of Bond Proposal (Austin Monitor)
  • “Multimodal” CTRMA Spending $130 Million on Flyovers at One Toll Road Intersection (Statesman)
  • The OK-TX HSR Proposal Could Continue to Monterrey, Mexico (BizJournals)
  • UT-Arlington Students Counting Every Tree in Downtown Dallas for Walkability Study (Morning News)
  • San Antonio Council to Vote on Sustainability, Transportation, and Comprehensive Plan Tomorrow (Rivard)
  • Corridor Part of Austin Bonds Includes 18.4 Miles of Sidewalk, 38.4 Miles of Bike Lanes (Community Impact)
  • Unified Transportation Plan Confirms Prop 1 and 7 Are Nightmares of Road Spending (Houston Chron)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog.net

67 Congress Members Tell Feds: Measure the Movement of People, Not Cars

A proposed rule from U.S. DOT could undermine transit. Image: Transportation for America

If U.S. DOT doesn’t change its proposed congestion metric, 50 people riding in a bus will count as much as one person in an SUV. Image: Transportation for America

The federal government hands states about $40 billion a year for transportation, money they can basically spend however they want. The result in many places is a lot of expensive, traffic-inducing highways that get clogged with cars soon after they’re finished. Can measuring the effect of all this spending lead to better decisions?

U.S. DOT is developing a metric to assess how well states address congestion. This is a minefield — if the new congestion rule only measures the movement of cars, it’s going to entrench 60 years of failed transportation policy. Unfortunately, the first draft of the DOT rule left a lot to be desired.

Reformers have been pushing the agency to revise the rule so it takes a broader, multi-modal view of congestion. Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America reports 19 senators and 48 U.S. representatives have written a letter to U.S. DOT [PDF] demanding a healthier approach.

The Congress members write:

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • More Frequent Service Is the Top Priority for Austinites’ in CapMetro Survey (Capital MetroBlog)
  • Another Intercity Bus Service, Shofer, to Provide Houston <-> Dallas Service (BizJournals)
  • Houston Police Officer Drives Through Red Light, Hits Bicyclist (About News)
  • Grand Opening at Renovated Shopping Center on Bayou Greenway for Houston’s First Bike Through Restaurant
  • What a Smart City Means to the Central Texas Mobility Authority
  • Planning Commission Sends All Three Plans of SATomorrow to San Antonio City Council (Express News)
  • Traffic Deaths at Red Lights Have Gone Up in Cities That Have Turned Off Cameras (AP)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

Report: Access to Car-Share and Bike-Share Is Worse in Communities of Color

Graph: Shared use Mobility Center

In many major American cities, communities of color have worse access to car-share and bike-share than majority white neighborhoods. Chart: Shared Use Mobility Center

Car-share and bike-share services are making it easier to go without owning a car in American cities, but access to “shared-use” systems remains limited in communities of color compared to majority-white neighborhoods, according to a new analysis from the Shared Use Mobility Center [PDF]. SUMC developed a method to analyze which places have the most potential for car-share and bike-share usage across 27 American metros. Areas with relatively high transit ridership, low car ownership, and small blocks (which enhance walkability) are where share-use systems can be most useful, according to SUMC.
Urban areas with low car-ownership rates and strong transit are ideal for car and bike sharing. But a SUMC study found communities of color were being left out. Map: Shared Use Mobility Center

SUMC’s map of where car-share and bike-share would be most useful in Portland.

SUMC then compared these areas of “opportunity” for car-share and bike-share to areas where the services are actually available. In many cities, SUMC observed that dense low-income neighborhoods lack access to shared-use systems even though they have the necessary characteristics for success:
While they have been often passed over by private operators, these neighborhoods have many of the key qualities — including high population density, transit access, and walkability — needed to support shared-use systems. Additionally, the opportunity to scale up shared modes in these neighborhoods is especially compelling since they stand to profit most from the benefits of shared mobility, including reduced household transportation costs and increased connectivity to jobs and opportunities outside the immediate community.
A clear racial disparity is apparent in many cities. In Chicago, for instance, 72 percent of low-income, majority-white neighborhoods have access to shared-use systems, according to SUMC’s analysis, but only 48 percent of low-income communities of color do. The disparity persists regardless of income levels. In well-off majority-white Chicago neighborhoods, 77 percent of households have access to car-share or bike-share, compared to just 49 percent in affluent majority-minority neighborhoods. Not all cities have these disparities, but the pattern is alarmingly common. Read more...
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Today’s Headlines

  • Erratic Hit-and-Run Driver Killed 20 Year Old Man Last Night in Manor (KXAN)
  • Kyle Workman, Leader of Texas Anti-HSR, Pretending Texas Is Not an Urban State (Bloomberg)
  • Anti-HSR Groups Will Make Blocking Texas Central an Issue for Third Consecutive Session (Tribune)
  • Pedestrian Connection at Mockingbird Station Prioritized Thanks to NCTCOG Ped Counts (Morning News)
  • San Antonio’s $850M Bond Will Be Based On Extensive Public Process, Unlike Austin (Express News)
  • Indicted Judge Doyal Appealing Suspension While Still Listed as Member of H-GAC TPC (Houston Chron)
  • Capital Metro to Increase Frequency, Add Stations and More Buses to MetroRapid (Community Impact)
  • DFW Now Having Meaningful Debate About Prioritization of Urban or Sub-urban Transit (Morning News)
  • Gondola Proposal Requires Staffing Each Station – at Least 23 Staff (>$1M/Year) for 1 Route (CTRMA)
  • Capital Metro App Upgrades Actually Look Pretty Good

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via The Urban Edge

Surveys Indicate Most Houston METRO Riders Happy With Service

Image via flickr/Sean Davis.

The recently released study by advocacy organization TransitCenter, which details attitudes about public transit nationwide, generally offers good news for METRO Houston.

The Urban Edge requested Houston-specific data from the TransitCenter’s national survey of transit passengers. Roughly 76 percent of Houston respondents were somewhat or very satisfied with the frequency of METRO’s service, including bus and rail. About 71 percent said they were somewhat or very satisfied with the facilities as bus and rail stops. Riders were also generally pleased with transit travel times.

The positive responses come after a period during which METRO has enjoyed several big wins. Last year, the agency opened its Green and Purple light-rail lines. It also completed an ambitious overhaul of its bus network that included more efficient routes and more high-frequency routes.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Mueller Has Plans Showing 600 Sq Ft Lots – 32 of Them in the Middle of a Block (MATX)
  • TXDOT and City of El Paso Lower Speed Limit on Section of I-10 in Response to Crashes (El Paso Inc.)
  • Jarrett Walker Told Capital Metro That Ride-Hailing Doesn’t Matter Much for Transit Agencies (Monitor)
  • Walkable, Bikeable Town Center Development Finally Moving Forward at La Canterra (MySA)
  • Survey Shows Houston Metro Riders Are Satisfied With Service (Urban Edge)
  • Austin: You Can Attend and Make Sure Central Health Strategic Plan Includes Safe Streets, Built Form
  • Rawlings Pays Resident of Nearby Car Dependent City to Ride DART, Share Experience (Morning News)
  • DART Holding Public Meetings on Proposed Street Car Extension to Bishop Arts District (DART)
  • Bicycle Storage Room is Now a Cool Amenity for Downtown San Antonio Redevelopments (Express News)
  • Corpus Christi Funding Initial Bike-Share Program Partially From Parking Meters (Caller Times)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via The Urban Edge

How Questions About Density Complicate the Sun Belt Growth Narrative

Downtown Phoenix, seen from 10,000 feet. Image via flickr/Ted Eytan.

The typical story of Sun Belt cities is that they’ve been America’s growth machines for decades as Rust Belt cities declined and coastal cities grew prohibitively expensive.

And it’s largely true. Metropolitan areas like Houston and Phoenix have steadily grown while cities like Detroit and Chicago have shrunk or flatlined. But it’s an incomplete story.

Much of the urban growth in the Sun Belt and across the country is, in fact, suburban growth. Transportation and planning expert Yonah Freemark has a new analysis that complicates the narrative around regional population growth.

The expanding populations of Houston and Phoenix, for instance, have come entirely through annexation: cities increasing their footprint, making room for people by growing out.

In the existing urban core, meanwhile, there’s been almost no growth at all. In many cases, existing urban neighborhoods have fewer people living there now than forty years ago.

“What’s surprising is that these are cities often acclaimed for their dramatic growth over the past few decades,” Freemark writes. “Yet their growth has been premised largely on annexation–suburbanization–even as their already-built up cores have declined.”

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Today’s Headlines

  • New TTI Brochure Claims Added Road Capacity Can Reduce Congestion, Ignores Induced Congestion
  • Hit-and-Run Truck Driver Killed Pedestrian in El Paso Saturday Night (El Paso Proud)
  • Traffic Fatalities in El Paso 41% Higher Than This Time Last Year (El Paso Times)
  • Austin Transportation Officials Blame Distracted Drivers for Failing to Trigger Traffic Signals (KUT)
  • Mayor Adler Explains How His Corridor Plan Is Not Anti-Bike, Anti-Bus, Anti-Ped (Medium)
  • Tweet Alamo Area MPO Pictures of #Walkability in Your San Antonio Neighborhood (AAMPO)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA