Monday, February 29, 2016

Portland Figured Out How to Get Kids Walking and Biking to School Again

In a relatively short amount of time — a generation or two — the number of American kids walking or biking to school has plummeted. This isn’t the result of some natural law — it’s the product of public policy decisions about how to design streets and build schools.
But here’s some great evidence that with intentional effort, cities can reverse the trend and make walking and biking to school popular again. Michael Andersen at Bike Portland lifted the above graph from a recent survey by the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It shows that after 15 years of Safe Routes to School investments, biking or walking (or scootering) to school continues to gain momentum.
Andersen writes:
Among Portlanders in kindergarten through fifth grade, walking, biking and otherwise rolling to school became more common than traveling in the family vehicle sometime around 2010 and has more or less kept climbing since.
If the trend continues, more than half the city’s primary schoolers will be walking, biking, skating or scootering to school by 2025 or so.
It’s worth noting that riding in a car isn’t the only thing becoming less common; riding a school bus has been, too…
Coincidentally, the news comes just as the For Every Kid Coalition delivers a big bundle of testimony to Metro in favor of creating a regional Safe Routes program. The coalition’s $15 million ask would include a bit for instructional classes (that the Bicycle Transportation Alliance might teach), but mostly for biking and walking-friendly infrastructure improvements to the streets immediately surrounding Portland-area schools.
Portland voters will also have an option to give their own booster shot to these efforts in May when they consider a 10-cent gas tax hike that would send a large share of its proceeds to biking and walking upgrades to streets near Portland schools.

Read the rest of the story here

Thursday, February 25, 2016

DC Will Swap Driving Lanes For Bike Lanes In Four Key Places

Around the District, four new sections of bike lanes and protected bikeways will replace existing driving lanes. These are part of four miles of planned new segments that will close gaps in the city's bike infrastructure.

Photo by Dylan Passmore on Flickr.
They'll focus on four major areas: the Metropolitan Branch Trail, the Klingle Trail, downtown, and Piney Branch Road, near Catholic University.
The projects are part of an amendment the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) is submitting to the Transportation Planning Board's long-term plan. DDOT is proposing to complete all of them this year, an undertaking that would cost $1.35 million.

Here's a big-picture look at all of them:
Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Fort Collins Aims to Build More Protected Bike Lanes

In a cycling-friendly town like Fort Collins, one would think we'd be leaders in bike lane design, right? Well, that hasn't always been the way.
But in wake of Portland, Oregon, recently becoming the first city to implement a new policy that mandates city planners, designers and engineers include only protected bike lanes in their designs, the city of Fort Collins is taking steps to follow suit, said FC Bikes program manager Tessa Greegor. Although the city has plenty of buffered bike lanes — with a median space of 3 feet between the bike and travel lanes — protected bike lanes usually have a "vertical element" to it and are not just separated by the street, she said.
The only protected bike lanes in the city are on Laurel Street, from Howes to Remington streets. They were completed in June and were mostly funded from a $10,677 grant.
The city is currently pushing for protected lanes, where necessary, in three upcoming projects: the Pitkin corridor, Lincoln Avenue and West Elizabeth corridor. These are just a few of the plans to move toward "innovative bicycle infrastructure designs, like protected bike lanes," as the default, Greegor said.
Chris Johnson, executive director of Bike Fort Collins, said he doesn't think protected bike lanes alone add to the safety of cyclists. Rather, they provide "a perception of safety," which he said is important to get more cyclists on the road.
"They certainly make people more comfortable," Johnson said.
Research seems to back up Johnson's claims. According to a Portland State University study, bike ridership increased between 21 and 171 percent in five U.S. cities that recently implemented protected bike lanes, and 10 percent of those users were drawn from other modes of transportation.
Boulder cycling advocates recently received a setback when overwhelming negative backlash forced the city to scale back its protected bike lanes on the busy Folsom Street in October. The city had initially removed vehicle lanes to widen the bicycle lanes, but then the public criticized the city for not taking the delays and economic impacts into account prior to rolling out the project. Out of the four blocks on Folsom that featured protected lanes, two remain. This cost Boulder close to $170,000.
Read the rest of the story here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Houston Unveils a Bold New Citywide Plan for Bicycling

The same team that helped overhaul Houston’s bus network is turning its attention to the city’s bike network. 

 This week, recently-elected Mayor Sylvester Turner unveiled the city’s first bike plan since 1993. The plan envisions a network of low-stress bikeways — a welcome improvement over Houston’s previous bike plan, from 1993, which mostly consisted of “share the road” signs and sharrows on wide, high-speed roads, according to Raj Mankad of OffCite, a blog of Rice University’s Design Alliance. 

 In 2012, Houston voters backed the creation of the Bayou Greenways network, 150 miles of linear trails along the city’s low-lying bayous. But without on-street connections, the greenways would be fragmented and people would have to bike on dangerous streets, writes Mankad. 

 The new plan calls for about 800 miles of on-street bike lanes — up from just 8 miles today — and about 400 additional miles of off-street paths. Though the plan doesn’t give a concrete timeline for completing the network, the goal is to achieve “gold-level” status from the League of American Bicyclists by 2026.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

10 Books Showing How to Fight for and Build People-First Cities

These inspiring leaders have authored 10 great and recent books on how to design and build walk-bike-transit-people-friendly cities and show us the strategies and tactics for making the places we call home more prosperous, green, healthy and happy as a result. Read them and join the revolution.
People and businesses want to be in vibrant, mixed-use, walkable, bike-friendly, transit-accessible, people oriented places. It is well documented that across North America Millennials and Boomers are moving to these kinds of places in droves. Business journals document companies abandoning car-centric office parks, that just 25 years ago were the wave of the future, to move back to these centers too. But not everyone can get in. Real estate experts and economists tell us the prices in these walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods are sky-high and pricing people out because there aren’t enough of them.
That’s because the traffic engineers and DOTs that control our streets (from 25 to 50% of a city’s land area) still use out-dated manuals to design streets for car convenience and speed. Planners are using land-use and zoning codes from an era that forces segregation of uses, abhors density and requires too much car parking. The result? Car-dependent, dispersed and disconnected places. These places, the ones we’ve been building for the last 75 years, make us less healthy, both physically and mentally. They degrade our environment. They cost more to maintain and put a strain on our resources. And they make us less happy too.
See the full list here.

Friday, February 19, 2016

The 6 Biggest Roadblocks To Building Complete Streets In Our Communities

Earlier this month, the Commercial Drive BIA starting distributing a bizarre and biased survey to the 750 shops, cafes, and restaurants along The Drive, under the guise that they were gauging their members’ support for a proposed protected bike lane on the historic high street. It contained a number of misleading and inaccurate statements – phrased as questions – which sparked an important and productive discussion in the community in the following days about building safer streets.
While we like to think common sense will prevail, and the merchants and residents will reach a consensus on a Commercial Drive for everyone, during that process, we watched the same fallacies come up again and again. So based on our observations of that (sometimes heated) debate, here are six paradigm shifts needed to build more livable and equitable streets in Vancouver, and in cities around the world.
Read the full list here.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Case Against Drive-Throughs

Minneapolis-area lovers of quick and easy coffee, prescriptions, check-cashing, dry cleaning, and Big Macs are up in arms this week, after two city council members floated a proposal to tighten restrictions on urban drive-throughs. Drive-throughs are already banned from a number of the city’s downtown areas, as well as regions included in its “Pedestrian Oriented Overlay Districts.” By expanding those districts, the proposed ordinance would nix the construction of additional vehicle-friendly pathways in an expanded portion of the city, a “concession” to pedestrians and cyclists in an increasingly pedestrian- and cyclist-loving metropolis.

“The streets where a lot of people are walking, on our transit corridors, maybe we don’t want to have drive-throughs at all,” the council member Lisa Bender explained to the Minneapolis Star Tribune Saturday. “If we do, we may want to strengthen our controls of them and minimize their impact on people walking.”

The steel-tongued retribution was quick and fierce. The Star Tribune’s own editorial board aimed its pen Monday squarely at the offending council members, writing that drive-throughs are “an extra measure of comfort for customers”—parents with sick children, the tired and hungry who want food without leaving their cars, etc.
”A danger to pedestrians?” the editorial board wrote. “No more than any other obstacle pedestrians face in a busy city. ...If you want to walk dreamlike, headphones in, Zen in place, find a park path.”

Read the rest of the story here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Commute Of The Future? Ford Is Working On It

On a brisk October day in Chicago, a few employees from the design firm Ideo left their office and headed to Knife & Tine, a restaurant about four miles away. The goal, besides lunch, was to complete the journey within 45 minutes, on a budget of just $10 for the whole group, all while carrying bulky shopping bags. 

 This was not a party game, but the kind of immersive research that defines the work of Ideo, a global design firm whose clients have included Samsung, 3M, Anheuser-Busch and, on this day, Ford. 

 Ideo has worked for Ford since 2005, developing software for its hybrid vehicles and designing the console of the Ford Fusion. Now, anticipating a future when Ford will have to do much more to survive than sell cars, the company asked Ideo to develop products focused on “multimodal transportation” — jargon for everything that isn’t driving, as in buses, subways, bike shares, water taxis, ride hailing apps and walking. By getting themselves to lunch without a car, the Ideo designers were hoping to gain firsthand insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s transportation options.

Read the rest of the story at the New York Times.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Governor Announces Compromise On I-66 Inside The Beltway

Governor Terry McAuliffe and members from both parties and both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly announced today a bipartisan agreement to move forward on a plan to reduce congestion on I-66 inside the beltway by widening a four mile stretch from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, improving transit, and adding new options for single drivers. 
The agreement will be reflected in the House amendments to Governor McAuliffe’s budget proposal after extensive negotiations between the Governor’s office, Delegate Jim LeMunyon and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Chris Jones. Republicans in the House of Delegates have also agreed to table legislation that would have precluded an optional toll for single drivers on I-66 inside the beltway, a key revenue source for planned transit improvements.
“This agreement is a big win for Virginia’s economy and for the commuters who spend too much time on the most congested road in the most congested region in the country,” said Governor McAuliffe. “After a spirited political debate last fall, and a series of productive discussions after the General Assembly convened, we are proud to announce a compromise that will move our plan to transform I-66 inside and outside the beltway forward. This multi-pronged strategy will increase options and reduce commute times through improved transit, smarter management of the lanes we already have and a new agreement for a wider roadway both inside and outside the beltway. I want to thank the bipartisan group of leaders who worked together to advance this important project so that we can unlock I-66, grow our economy and improve the quality of life of the commuters who use this road every day.”  
“This agreement is another example of how the General Assembly and the Governor are working together to provide real solutions to the transportation challenges Virginians face every day,” said Chairman Jones (R-Suffolk). “After major investments in 2013  and innovative reforms in 2014 and 2015, we worked closely with Secretary Layne and his staff to find a practical solution to not only move the Transform 66 project forward, but to make it better for citizens throughout the congested I-66 corridor. The House budget will contain language and funding to immediately begin work on adding new lane capacity inside the beltway, a key concern from members of both parties. We appreciate the Governor’s willingness to discuss this important issue, and are grateful for the time and efforts of Secretary Layne and his staff.”
Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne added, “This plan will significantly improve the I-66 corridor by moving more people with fewer vehicles, giving solo drivers the option to stay on the road and pay a toll during the peak travel times and increasing carpools, buses and transit in the corridor.  We will also begin the process to widen the road at a key bottleneck inside the beltway that will add further capacity without requiring the loss of any existing homes or businesses. This is a comprehensive plan that will ease congestion, support smart growth and advance the Governor’s goal of building a new Virginia economy.
“This bipartisan agreement will ease congestion and stimulate economic growth that will benefit the entire Commonwealth,” said Senator Hanger (R-Augusta). “I am proud of the way in which leaders of both parties and both branches of government were able to sit down and find a way forward on this important project.”
“My colleagues and I made the case for widening I-66 inside the beltway," said Delegate LeMunyon (R-Fairfax). "I'm glad there is now consensus on the need to do this as soon as possible. This is a step forward in our efforts to address the gridlock on I-66 within the limits of current budget resources. I look forward to taking additional steps to reduce congestion in this key corridor."
Senator Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) added, “I appreciate the bipartisan commitment to find a compromise that preserves the I-66 transformation, including the multimodal improvements​ such as commuter bus services and facilitating carpooling options​ that are so critical to reducing commuting times for the people of this region.”
The work to start widening of eastbound I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston will commence this year with an environmental assessment.  Construction work will start in 2017 and the new lane will be open to traffic in 2019. This construction will take place within the existing right-of-way, will not take any homes and will be designed in a context sensitive manner. 
Project description:
  • Converts I-66 inside the beltway to Express Lanes during rush hours in the peak directions, widens I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road and improves transit service throughout the corridor.
  • If you carpool today (two or more people in a vehicle), you will continue to ride the lanes for free when dynamic tolling is scheduled to begin in 2017 during morning and evening rush-hours (5:30 am to 9:30 am eastbound and 3 pm to 7 pm westbound).  Solo drivers can ride the lanes in exchange for paying a variable toll based on the distance they travel. Average toll is expected to be $6 a trip.   
  • In 2020, lanes will be free to vehicles with three or more people during rush-hours (carpoolers, vanpools and buses) and motorcycles per adopted regional policy.  All others will pay a variable toll.
  • The lanes will remain free to all traffic during off-peak periods.  There will be no tolling in the reverse commute.
  • All of the revenues raised from the tolls will be used by the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission for improvements in the corridor such as new transit service and carpooling incentives.  Estimated toll revenue in 2018 is $18 million.
  • Toll revenues will finance the environmental work and construction to widen I-66 eastbound from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston – eliminating the current bottleneck inside the beltway.
  • Estimated cost of construction is up to $140 million and will be funded with increased revenues from the recently passed FAST Act and improved state revenues. No revenues will be taken from the HB2 recommended projects released in January.
The expected benefits of the project include the following:
  • Reduce more than 26,000 person hours of delay a day in the future.
  • Move more than 40,000 additional people through the I-66 corridor a day in the future.
  • Provide reliable travel speeds of at least 45 mph during rush hours in the peak direction.
  • Provide increased travel choices for single-occupant drivers and better transit service.
Extensive studies performed over the past several administrations in Virginia show a combination of dynamic tolling and multi-modal improvements will provide a faster and more reliable trip on I-66 inside the beltway during peak travel times, providing a minimum reliable speed of at least 45 miles per hour.
Project information

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Cities Must Understand Bikeshare Is Transit

Bikeshare systems either have to make it on their own or be subsidized like the rest of the transporation system.

This difference of opinion within the bikeshare industry was recently brought to light by an article at entitled San Antonio Bikeshare Threatens to Close Without Major Sponsor. But it isn’t such a black or white issue.

Bikeshare exits in cities across North America along a continuum from totally private funding (Citi Bike in New York City) to mostly public funding (Capital Bikeshare in the Washington D.C. region).

But if bikeshare is going to take its rightful place as a bonafide transportation option in more and more of our cities, advocates have got to stop selling the notion that you can build and operate a robust bikeshare system at no cost. It just isn’t so, and selling it as such sets everyone up for failure. Witness what’s going on in San Antonio.

See more at Mobility Lab.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

CTB Awards 7 Major Contracts Worth $194 Million

RICHMOND, Va. – The Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) today awarded seven contracts worth approximately $194 million for major infrastructure improvements.
The projects – in the Hampton Roads, Richmond and Staunton districts of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) – will improve mobility, enhance safety and extend the life of the state’s transportation network.
The contracts are for projects that will:
  • Widen and reconstruct Interstate 64 in Newport News and York and James City counties
The CTB awarded a design-build contract worth nearly $139 million to Allan Myers VA Inc. of Glen Allen, Va., to widen and reconstruct seven miles of I-64 in Hampton Roads from two to three lanes in each direction.
This second phase of the project to improve I-64 will run between 1.05 miles west of Route 199 (Humelsine Parkway/Marquis Center Parkway), near exit 242, to 0.54 miles east of Route 238 (Yorktown Road), near exit 247, at the western end of the first phase of the widening project.
The improvements include adding a 12-foot travel lane and 12-foot shoulder in each direction and repairing and widening nine bridges and six box culverts. Widening the existing roadway and bridges will occur within the interstate median. The existing travel lanes will be rehabilitated.
This project is expected to be completed in July 2019. For more information about the second phase of the I-64 widening, visit
  • Replace the U.S. 340 bridge over the South River in Waynesboro
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $7 million to Fairfield-Echols LLC of Fishersville to replace the Main Street bridge and improve its approaches in Waynesboro.
The Staunton District project will add bicycle lanes on both sides of the travel lanes and will improve pedestrian access by constructing continuous sidewalks over the bridge.
The intersection of Main Street and McElroy Street will be relocated about 200 feet to the west. McElroy Street will be renamed Race Avenue and will have 700 feet of new pavement in two 12-foot lanes. The existing McElroy Street pavement will be removed and reclaimed as green space, which will help improve the city’s Constitution Park.

Two U.S. 58 bridge projects in Hampton Roads District

  • Reconstruct the U.S. 58 interchange at Route 742 in Southampton County
The CTB awarded a contract worth nearly $15 million to Curtis Contracting Inc. of West Point, Va., to construct a grade-separated interchange at U.S. 58 and Route 742, south of the town of Courtland.
The project will eliminate the traffic signal at U.S. 58 and Jerusalem Road and replace it with a bridge over the U.S. 58 bypass. Loops, a ramp and a spur will be added to create an interchange. The project also will add a right turn along the eastbound lane of the U.S. 58 bypass and will relocate Route 742. These changes will improve safety and traffic flow by reducing conflict points.
The project is expected to be completed in December 2018. More information is at
  • Replace the U.S. 58 bridge over Route 632 in Isle of Wight County
The CTB awarded a contract worth approximately $6.7 million to Bryant Construction Inc. of Toano, Va., to replace the bridge U.S. 58 bridge over Route 632 and the rail tracks in Carrsville.
The bridge will be raised to provide the required 23-foot minimum clearance over the rail tracks. The new bridge will have two 12-foot travel lanes and 8-foot shoulders. The approaches will include two 12-foot lanes, a 4-foot median and 10-foot shoulders.
The project is scheduled for completion in October 2017. More information is at

Three pavement projects in Richmond District

The CTB also awarded the following major contracts for pavement rehabilitation projects to:
  • Curtis Contracting Inc. of West Point for approximately $11.3 million to restore the pavement on Route 288 in both directions, from just north of Route 10 (Iron Bridge Road) to Interstate 95, in Chesterfield County. Completion expected in September 2017.
  • Slurry Pavers Inc. of Richmond, for approximately $9.3 million for pavement maintenance in Mecklenburg County.
  • Slurry Pavers Inc. of Richmond, for approximately $5.9 million, for pavement maintenance in Chesterfield County.

2015 major contracts

  • The CTB awarded 47 major contracts (those costing more than $5 million) worth approximately $827.3 million during calendar year 2015.
  • VDOT advertised $2.1 billion worth of contracts in 2015.

Contracts approved by commissioner

In advance of each CTB meeting, VDOT Commissioner Charlie Kilpatrick also approves contracts worth up to $5 million in value. From the Dec. 16, 2015, bid letting, the commissioner approved 33 contracts worth an approximate total of $52.6 million for construction and maintenance projects on Virginia’s interstates and primary and secondary roads.
Appointed by the governor, the 17-member CTB establishes the administrative policies for Virginia'stransportation system. The CTB allocates highway funding to specific projects, locates routes and provides funding for airports, seaports and public transportation. The board normally meets on the third Wednesday of the month in months when action meetings are scheduled,

For more information:

  • Final bid results and projects:

Monday, February 1, 2016

Prioritization Process Scores Nearly 300 Projects

RICHMOND - Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that Virginia’s new data-driven prioritization process scored nearly 300 transportation projects proposed by localities and regional planning bodies across the state. The scoring is a key part of a new law, known as House Bill 2, developed on a bipartisan basis with House Speaker William Howell and Delegate Chris Stolle to invest limited tax dollars in the right transportation projects.   Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne also released a list of recommended projects to be funded based on the results of the scores, which will be reviewed and considered by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) over the next five months.  
“This new law is revolutionizing the way transportation projects are selected,” said Governor McAuliffe.  “Political wish lists of the past are replaced with a data-driven process that is objective and transparent, making the best use of renewed state funding received in 2013 and the recently approved federal transportation funding.  Each project is scored based on its merits and value, making Virginia the first state in the nation to use such an outcome-based prioritization process.”
More than 130 localities and metropolitan planning organizations submitted proposed projects totaling nearly $7 billion in funding, to be scored under House Bill 2.  About $1.7 billion is available.  
“This process was developed with extensive opportunity for public review,” said Transportation Secretary Layne. “Meetings to review the process were held in several locations throughout the state, plus the projects were made available online.  The prioritization process improves the transparency and accountability of Virginia’s transportation program.  Public engagement will continue through the spring prior to the CTB adopting the final six-year program in June.”
The law requires projects to be scored based on how they ease congestion, improve economic development, provide accessibility to jobs, improve safety and environmental quality, and support transportation-efficient land use.  Projects in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads score higher if they reduce congestion.  Projects in other parts of the state score higher if they support economic development.  The Commonwealth held numerous sessions with localities to incorporate their input in developing the scoring system.
The CTB will seek input on recommended scenarios of funded projects during hearings in the spring.  Following public input, the Board will determine which projects to fund and include in the six-year program.
Projects meet scoring requirements if they are eligible for funding under the High Priority Projects Program and the District Grant Program.  In addition, projects must demonstrate that they meet a need identified in the Commonwealth’s long-range plan, VTrans2040, which examines Corridors of Statewide Significance, regional networks and improvements to promote urban development areas.  The CTB must consider highway, transit, rail, road operational improvements and transportation demand projects, including vanpooling and ridesharing.

Projects funded with federal safety dollars, and projects that rehabilitate aging pavements and bridges are exempted from scoring.
Online resources:
House Bill 2 website: