politics

Guest appearance on the Streets.mn podcast

Oh look ... guess who's on the latest Streets.mn podcast? Yep, yours truly. We discuss the effects of last week's Minneapolis city election, politics and transportation. It's mostly with a local focus but most things also apply elsewhere. Go listen here. Remember you can also find my local transit writing on the same site. Hopefully the impending cold weather will mean more writing.

Episode 37: Community Transportation with CTAA, another BART strike, and the government shutdown.

Community_Transportation

Scott Bogren of the Community Transportation Association of America (CTAA) joins us to discuss their work supporting and advocating for the growing number of small urban, suburban and rural transportation services. He interviews transit operators on his own CT Podcast and spends a lot of time on Twitter.

The second transit strike in just a few months has halted Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway service in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, with no progress made since the last time. We hear what union members are asking for, and over the weekend a runaway BART maintenance train killed two employees.

Meanwhile the social service sector of the US government has reopened without an agreement (or apology from Republicans). As an added bonus we'll be right back in the same place in three months.

Share your comments, suggestions, ideas for show topics and/or guests by emailing feedback@criticaltransit.com or contact me this way.  Read my work on Streets.mn, follow the show on facebook and twitter, subscribe in iTunes (rss feed) and never miss a show. Tell your friends and colleagues, write reviews or make a donation of any amount to help support the show.  I have several interviews in the pipeline, an updated and redesigned web site, and lots of material from the places I visited on my big tour.

Episode 26: Streetsblog Chicago

My last show from Chicago features sustainable transportation advocates, and Streetsblog Chicago editors Steven Vance & John Greenfield.  Streetsblog is a daily news source covering public transit, bicycling, walking and the growing movement for safe, equitable, livable streets.  Their original site remains at Grid Chicago and their individual blogs are Steven Can Plan and Vote With Your Feet. Links to Chicago DOT, Active Transportation Alliance, the Ventra fare card (Chicago Transit Authority), Chicago Cargo (bike swap photos). I am now in Milwaukee, Wisconsin after completing a multimodal trip by train, bike and bus, which I discuss later in the show.  The coldest days seem to be behind us but it still won't feel like spring in this region for another two weeks.  From here I will spend a few days in Madison and continue northwest making my way up to Minneapolis & St. Paul, Minnesota.

If you find yourself along my route please contact me to share information, suggest places to go or people to talk to, and hopefully meet to discuss transit and bikes.  And if you appreciate the show please consider donating to help support my Sustainable Transport Tour and this reporting. You can also support this work by sharing it with your friends and colleagues, following me on Facebook and Twitter, and leaving a review on iTunes or another blog/podcast service.

P.S.  I have been working on the site to fix some issues and make it load faster.  Please contact me if you have suggestions for improvements, if you experience difficulty accessing the site, or if your comments don't appear after you post them (sometimes real comments get stuck in the spam folder).

Episode 24: bike emissions, road costs, segregation and stupid lawmakers

This might be called the idiot episode as take a few state legislators to task for being arrogant idiots: the Florida State Senator who wants buses out of his way at all costs, and the Washington State Representative who believes bicyclists' "increased respiration" causes emissions -- too bad they still have trees in Washington! (thanks Erik).  It should help if I debunk the myth that drivers pay for our roads. Contrary to popular belief, most street funding comes from general revenue sources that everyone pays into. Unfortunately the myth in convenient for drivers who continue to demand more space/resources and push others off the streets. We're always told we have no money for transit and livable streets but the reality is we spend too much money for a broken transportation system that is inefficient and unsafe. Plus, we spend much of our money in the wrong places, like highways, big banks, endless oil wars, propping up foreign dictators, ... We have to change our ways before we completely destroy the planet and everyone on it.  Rather than misguided, childish sequester (austerity) measures, we should be employing people in good jobs to rebuild the infrastructure that works and expand our transit, bike and pedestrian networks to serve everyone who needs to travel.

Minku from the Vegan Pedicab Podcast is back to add his thoughts and discuss an effort in Chicago to raise awareness about dooring. Local lawyer Jim Freeman calls auto safety standards to apply to people outside the vehicle, arguing that dooring could be eliminated by design.

The helmet of justice debuts to create a "black box" inside a bike/skate helmet. It's a shame we live in a society where we need video evidence because the police and courts automatically believe the car driver.

Israel steps back a few decades and introduces segregated buses in the West Bank. How will they enforce that? And haven't Palestinians been through enough hardship?

Atlanta legislators haven't learned the lessons of privatization (2, 3, 4, 5, 6) as they push to privatize parts of MARTA. Georgians for Better Transit organizes to fight back.

Nevada pretends to deal with unsafe streets by banning texting while walking ... or as it's better known, victim blaming.

Residential and commercial parking has many consequences -- listen to episode 14 for my interview with Rachel Weinberger -- including encouraging unnecessary car trips and leaving less space for useful activities such as housing. Parking makes cities more hostile to walking and biking and more difficult to serve with good transit. Cities should stop requiring developers to build car parking. We discuss one developer's legal battle to build 40 housing units without parking in a transit rich Boston neighborhood where half of households are car-free.

Let's stop pouring money into endless highway expansion, endless oil wars and ... the big banks!  Occupy activist Jesse Myerson was interviewed on the Radio Dispatch to explaining the real reason New York's MTA is raising fares more than 10% every two years.

Thanks to the Progressive Podcast Australia for mentioning my work in their latest podcast on sustainable transportation, in which they discuss the links between transport and other political and cultural issues.

Episode 14: parking, land use and transit with Rachel Weinberger

Parking is a very important factor in urban design and transport mode choice, yet is frequently overlooked as cities consider it part of zoning codes rather than transportation infrastructure. Sustainable transportation consultant Rachel Weinberger joins me to explain the connections between parking, transit and the urban environment. The costs of driving are not only heavily subsidized by all levels of government but also bundled into the costs of goods and services in the public and private sectors. As a result, the provision of free or cheap parking (and the perceived endless need for it) promotes driving and makes it more difficult to walk or use other transport modes. We also talk about her work on the original PlaNYC and other transportation politics and trends.

Find out more about Rachel Weinberger by reading her research papers and and in coverage on Streetsblog.

Please send questions, comments and suggestions for future topics or guests to feedback@criticaltransit.com.

Episode 13: News, politics, upgrading busy routes, transport costs and mode choice

A summary of news items turns into a discussion of how cities can use rail to increase capacity while reducing operating costs on overcrowded high-frequency bus routes. Too many people want rail for the wrong reasons, but the most convincing argument for rail is when you can't run enough buses to deal with demand. At the same time, rail is not inherently better than buses, but most people think that is the case because we usually provide high quality rail service and low quality bus service. Hurricane Damage Cost New York City MTA $5 Billion; Nova Scotia intercity bus regulation change increased operator flexibility; transit users save $9,798 annually but only if you don't already own a car; parking makes cities less walkable and transit friendly; cities make people more liberal and open-minded; Vancouver to upgrade 99 B-Line bus to subway (as it should); Minneapolis has also been upgrading busy bus lines to light rail (construction updates); Ottawa is upgrading their model BRT system to light rail. Pittsburgh has three excellent busways.  Read more about bus rapid transit in other places like Bogota and Curitiba. And you can follow Toronto's mayoral saga or the more interesting transit expansion news and the new US House T&I Committee chairman.

Follow the blog at CriticalTransit.com; also leave a message, and subscribe to the podcast feed. Send email to feedback@criticaltransit.com.

 

Americans for Transit

Join me for a great discussion on transit funding and politics with Andrew Austin from the national advocacy group, Americans for Transit. It's a difficult time to be a transit advocate fighting federal neglect of sustainable transportation. Yet despite all the problems, it's increasingly clear that Americans want more (and better) transit, and pressure is increasing at the local level. Amir from Israel shares a few of the unique public transit challenges there related to religious tension and military transport.  Minku from the Vegan Pedicab Podcast sent in an article on mobile transit apps, prompting some grand thoughts on how to make mobile transit apps useful.

Follow Americans for Transit on Twitter @A4Transit and Facebook. Check out their Organizing Guide and Directory and other great resources for advocacy and activism. You can also read the article written earlier this year on Streetsblog, and remember that transit agencies are not allowed to advocate for us so we must do it ourselves.