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Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Ever wonder how really affordable your house or apartment is? So have I and the Housing and Transit Affordability Index will show you the numbers. Based solely on rent cost, my apartment is fairly affordable, at 17% of my income. However, if you add in transportation costs, it more than doubles, to 40% of my income.

H+T Affordability Index: Seattle–Bellevue–Everett, WA: Comparing Housing Costs, % Income for Renters to Housing + Transportation Costs, % Income for Renters

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.
© Copyright 2003-10 Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 · Tel: (773) 278-4800 · Fax: (773) 278-3840

If I compare the annual cost of driving to work versus the annual cost of transit, I find that I’m saving a ton by working from home and taking the bus whenever I can. The difference is amazing: $51 for transit a year, versus $2,048 for a car per year. The cost of transit is spread out across all riders, while the cost of operating your car is solely in your hands and your pocketbook. It costs more to own a car than to take the bus.

H+T Affordability Index: Seattle–Bellevue–Everett, WA: Comparing Annual VMT Cost ($) to Annual Transit Cost ($)

The Housing + Transportation Affordability Index is an innovative tool that measures the true affordability of housing based on its location.
© Copyright 2003-10 Center for Neighborhood Technology
2125 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 · Tel: (773) 278-4800 · Fax: (773) 278-3840
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The Cul-de-Sac Syndrome:
Turning Around the Unsustainable American Dream

John F. Wasik
Bloomberg, 2009

207 pages
US$24.95
ISBN 978-1576603208

John Wasik, a columnist for Bloomberg News and the Huffington Post, has written a book that examines the recent period in our history when homeownership actually made many people poorer. They have been forced to tap their home equity, go into debt to finance their unsustainable lifestyle, and contributed little to retirement investing because of the misguided assumption that home appreciation would fund their future years. Basically the period of time when homes stopped being a place to live and raise family, and became a temporary abode for a migrant family that changed residences every 5 to 7 years.

As John Wasik himself has said on his Cul-De-Sac Syndrome website:

After a lifetime of research and observation, an agonizing decline of the housing market, publication delays and collapse of the stock market, my Cul-de-Sac Syndrome has braved all odds to be published.

Why should you care about this book? It’s about our homes and communities and how we need to re-invent, re-envision and re-build the American Dream if we want to survive in this contentious century. Economics meets ecology in this radical new look at what we’ve taken for granted as a birthright.

The plight of the housing market writ large. The unsustainable “spurbs”, Wasik’s name for car-dependent sprawling urban areas, dot the land. I lived for a time in Colorado Springs and had friends who lived in one these spurbs. They had a twenty minute drive to get to the nearest grocery store, and the neighborhood was more a fenced-in plots of anonymous neighbors, than a community.

The City of Kenmore has a chance to make itself a more livable city, a more walkable city. It also needs to make itself more attractive to more manufacturing and office jobs, since retail and other service oriented businesses just isn’t enough.

Decide for yourself, you can pick up a copy of his book from my Sustainable Living Store.

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So, what would happen if the City of Seattle where to tear down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and not replace it with anything?

According to most pundits: Gridlock!

But according to the Braess Paradox: Better traffic flow and less traffic.

This is the conundrum presented in the Infrastructurist post “Huh?! 4 Cases Of How Tearing Down A Highway Can Relieve Traffic Jams (And Save Your City)”, where four case studies are examined and show that removing roads can actually reduce traffic in a city.

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In the online Atlantic Magazine’s The Daily Dish article Taking Up Space, writer Richard Florida posted the following photographs which illustrate the amount of space taken up by different kinds of transit – bicycle, bus and car:

Image via SUNY Stonybrook Department of Geosciences (h/t: Ian Swain, Martin Prosperity Institute).

 According to the article each transportation footprint is:

  • Bicycle – 90 sq. m for 71 people to park their bikes.
  • Car – 1000 sq. m for 72 people to park their care (avg. occupancy of 1.2 people per car).
  • Bus – 30 sq m for the bus.

Some food for thought…

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The folks at Arnold Imaging, together with Kansas City Public Television, produced this 11 minute movie on the benefits of light rail on land development. This video shows how it helps encourage walkable development wherever there is a light rail station. It helps reinforce how light rail is a positive change in a community.

Imagine KC

In a way, this meshes with a previous post in the Living Sustainability Blog: Smart Transit Oriented Development.    

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The City of Kenmore’s Downtown Task Force is having a meeting about Transit-Oriented Development in Kenmore.

Date: April 22nd
Time: 7 PM
Where:  Northshore Utility District
6830 NE 185th Street
Kenmore, WA 98028

Transit systems including bus service can provide a convenient transportation option and may help reduce traffic congestion. Successful transit systems require development patterns and community design, i.e. “transit-oriented development”

Photo by Mike Lydon

Photo by Mike Lydon

 (TOD) that support transit use. Interested in finding out more about TOD, asking questions and providing your vision of what this might mean for development along the SR522 corridor in Kenmore?

The City Council and City’s Downtown Task Force want your input on TOD. Please come and listen to a presentation and participate in a discussion led by Dr. Mark Hallenbeck on Wednesday April 22nd, 2009 at 7 p.m. at the Northshore Utility District. 6830 NE 185th Street, Kenmore, WA 98028. 

For more information about the Downtown Task Force discussion of TOD please visit the City’s website www.cityofkenmore.com or contact Debbie Bent, Community Development Director at 425 398-8900 or dbent@ci.kenmore.wa.us 

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In the latest issue of the World Carfree News E-Bulletin, comes word of the New York City based Transportation Alternatives, a group whose mission is to reclaim New York City’s streets from the automobile, and to be an advocate for the concept that bicycling, walking and public transit are the best transportation alternatives. They produced the documentary Contested Streets: Breaking NYC Gridlock, a film that explores the rich diversity of New York City street life before the introduction of automobiles — and then goes on to show how New York can follow the example of other modern cities that have reclaimed their streets as vibrant public spaces. The following trailer gives you a taste of the full documentary that’s available for ordering from Transportation Alternatives.

As we can see, cities for most of their existence were for people and performing their business and day-to-day activities. Then at the turn of the 20th century accommodations for the mass-produced automobile had to be made. Prior to the introduction of the automobile, streets were laid out for pedestrian and horse drawn vehicles, including the first omnibuses.

Before the advent of the mass produced automobile, large cities like New York, London, Paris, and others, created working and viable public and private transit systems. After the introduction of the mass-produced automobile, the allure of the trolley and the train faded. Some accuse General Motors of conspiring to kill off the public transit systems in many cities, but in the end their most effective method of killing off public transit systems was simply to sell America on the myth of freedom through automobile ownership.

So what do we do? Obviously this is something we can’t do overnight. We can’t force people to leave the suburbs and move back into cities or a denser urban region around cities. But we have to do something. It will take some thought and planning to rebuild our shattered communities. It took a century to break them, it well may take a century to fix our communities. We shall see.

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