After half a century, my memory may be fallible, but my recollection is that I walked to school, without parental accompaniment, for much of my first grade year. My parents didn’t trust me to walk completely alone, so hooked me up with a third-grade girl who lived nearby. Not only did I walk to school without a parent watching over me, but I did it with a cute third grader, an older woman. It was a good school year.
Nor was the walk particularly short. Both the house and the school still survive, although neither has aged well. According to Google Maps, it’s 0.6 miles between the two. And the route crosses an arterial that was busy even in 1959. (A crossing guard may have been involved.)
I mention this because the world has changed a lot since my first grade year. Continue reading
Streetcar in Padua, Italy
Convincing people to make lifestyle-changing commitments to transit is a multi-faceted challenge. There are some bright folks who are offering creative solutions. But there may also be transit agencies which are failing to address the problem.
One can make two types of decision regarding transit use. Let’s call them “daily use” and “everyday use”. Both are based on rational assessments of the cost and convenience of transit versus car. Both are good for traffic congestion, air quality, etc. But the everyday use decision is far more important to urbanism and to the world. Continue reading
Speck drinking from fountain
It’s the day after Thanksgiving. Between turkey sandwiches and shopping (downtown please, not the mall), no one is eager for a sermon on tempering the passion of youth or putting superannuated planners out to pasture. So I’ll offer a lighter fare, although still with an urbanist bent.
At the recent Petaluma Urban Chat/City Repair Petaluma meeting, I spoke about the need to increase pedestrians in single-family neighborhoods. A district may meet all the physical parameters for walkability, but if the default transportation choice is the private car, even for trips to a grocery store only a few blocks away, then the community loses. The personal connections and sense of place that can be made from sidewalk meetings are lost.
Thus, it’s important not only to provide good sidewalks but also to create the social conditions which cause the sidewalks to be used. A City Repair project can meet that need. But there are other approaches that also work. My neighborhood recently experienced one.
Bringing a little finesse to San Mateo’s parking meters. Image by LornaWatt, on Flickr.
Wednesday’s post on parking policy missed a happy story from San Mateo. It seems as though that city’s council is moving in the direction of variable pricing tied to transportation demand management, a plan similar to that coming from Walnut Creek.
Adina Levin of Peninsula Transportation Alternatives reports that the study session strongly recommended using pricing based on demand. Though downtown streets fill up, off-street parking remains less used. Along with branding and mobile data, San Mateo staff are hopeful this will even things out.
While the Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce complained that city’s new parking policy didn’t do anything concrete for employee parking, San Mateo has an active Transportation Management Association for the downtown area, but will need another $30,000 before it will be able to offer programs.
The proliferation of parking reform strategies is encouraging. Performance parking seems to be working its way toward the mainstream.
Read Adina’s full report on Peninsula Transportation Alternatives.
Image from POP1963 on Flickr
A major success story in Marin has been the Muir Woods Shuttle, also known as Route 66. Ridership is up dramatically from last year, and its newly-released winter schedule means it will continue to be a better way to see the woods. Even better? The 66F variant will connect you to the Sausalito Ferry, making it a very tourist-friendly (and transit-friendly) hop, skip, and jump from the City to the Woods.
The first day of the 66F is today, but the ferry isn’t running. You can still take Route 10 up to Sausalito to catch it, but you might do better to connect at Marin City where the basic Route 66 will run every 20 minutes. Keep in mind that neither the 66 nor 66F take Clipper, so you’ll need to bring cash. The only way to buy a fare is round-trip, which will cost everyone 16 and older $5. Kids 15 and younger ride free. The full Route 66 brochure is here.
The real gold is tomorrow, when the ferry will operate. San Franciscans will be able to show off transit, the City, and the wilderness to their out-of-town relatives. I combined the Blue & Gold, Golden Gate, and Muir Woods shuttle schedules into a single printable schedule, but take a look at the Golden Gate and Blue & Gold ferry schedules, as well as the 66 schedule, for more information.
Vallejoans can make a day of it, too. Baylink will operate on a special schedule (PDF) Friday and Saturday, so it’ll be relatively easy (if a bit long of a trip) to sojourn out to Muir Woods almost entirely by ferry.
If you really want to drive, the 66 also drops off at the Pohono Park & Ride. Driving to Muir Woods can be parking nightmare, so I’d heartily recommend against it, even if your family is particularly transit-averse. You’ll probably need to park next to a ditch and walk in the mud or the road to get to the national park’s gates.
And if you need to travel by transit today or tomorrow, 511.org has the details on reduced service and closures.
Urban park in London, England
Earlier this year, I mentored a class of high school students on the intricacies of urban planning. (I’ve previously written about the UrbanPlan curriculum.) Several mentors were involved, each working with a small group of students. The mentoring organizer was a public planner, recently retired after a long career which he concluded as a planning director.
As we assembled for the first of two mentoring sessions, I chatted with the organizer. This was during the weeks immediately preceding the Petaluma Urban Chat when StrongTowns founder Chuck Marohn spoke with us by video link. I mentioned this to this organizer, who expressed some interest. That evening, I send him links to several posts about StrongTowns and the upcoming video chat.
As we assembled for the next mentoring session, the organizer sidled over and thanked me for the links. Although I didn’t sense much enthusiasm, my proselytizing juices were flowing. I suggested he come to Petaluma for the video chat. You would have thought that I had suggested satanic worship. He quickly backed away, assuring me, and himself, that he would never do anything like that. Continue reading
Circling for parking in downtown Palo Alto. Image by guilherme-pg on Flickr
Parking is one of the lynchpin issues of urban design, and probably the one that gets peoples’ blood pumping fastest. So it’s no surprise that any parking news hits headlines, as it has in a scattering of cities around the region. And, with the traditional (and misguided) free downtown Christmastime parking starting up, it’s time for a round-up of parking news from around the Bay.
The latest parking adjustment came to the pilot zones of SFPark, and it seems prices have begun to stabilize. Prices only changed 4 percent, and 72 percent of blocks didn’t change at all. During the last adjustment, in August, prices changed 6 percent, and only 60 percent of blocks had no change.
Though the changes have led to opposition and misunderstanding, SFPark has been a great success in its pilot areas. Drivers get fewer parking tickets and pay less to park, and that’s definitely a win.
Multi-family housing near a subway stop in Southwark, England
This week, as most readers are preparing for Thanksgiving Day, will conclude year two of my blog, Where Do We Go from Here?. On Friday, I’ll publish my 309th post. A short-lived partner wrote another six, so there will be a total of 315 posts on-line, or three posts per week for 105 weeks.
I never would have guessed that I had 309 posts in me. But once I began, the ideas just kept coming. Some I executed better than others, but I don’t have a single one that I would retract. I sometimes reread older posts. I may find ideas that I could have conveyed more effectively or phrases that lack gracefulness, I haven’t yet found a single idea that I’d disown. And that pleases me.
Nor do I have any plans to stop. I may do something a little different in December to give myself a short respite, but I already have a publication schedule into January and beyond.
To mark the end of year two, I’ll offer some bigger thoughts. I won’t go so far as to say profound. That judgment must come from others. But thoughts that deal with the bigger picture of moving urbanism forward rather than the details of a particular project or issue. Continue reading
Apartment building in Greenwich Village
In my last post, I wrote of the continuing momentum toward micro-apartments, small, usually urban apartments of less than 400 square-feet and usually targeted for singles.
Not surprisingly given the market interest in the concept, developers and interior designers are finding more and more clever ways to make micro-apartment living seem surprisingly comfortable.
Sarah Goodyear of Atlantic Cities writes about a 325-square-foot micro-apartment in an exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York. She’s particularly impressed by the number of storage nooks that are provided and compares the layout favorably to a larger apartment she once rented. But she also notes that many cities don’t allow apartments to be less than 400 square-feet.
by Steve Rhodes, on Flickr
You’d think two strikes was enough, but in true American form, three strikes seems likely.
The saga over BART’s union contracts has entered a rather unexpected chapter. Agency staff are now saying there’s an error in the contract granting six weeks paid family leave. With that in hand, the Board has rejected the contract, and that means another round of negotiations and possibly even another strike.
The blame for this snafu (and I do mean “snafu” in the original sense), according to East Bay Express editor Robert Gammon, lies square on the shoulders of BART General Manager Grace Crunican. It was her idea, he says, to hire Thomas Hock as negotiator, who unions elsewhere have blamed for intransigence and may have made a strike inevitable. And, as it was her idea to train managers to drive trains, he argues, she is also to blame for the fatal crash that killed two BART employees.
And she was well aware of the six week paid leave.
However, after Hock signed the tentative deal, Crunican’s staff said they discovered that he had made a “mistake” by agreeing to the family medical leave provision and that the BART board had never intended to agree to it. This assertion appears to be highly dubious. The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that Hock actually signed off on the provision three months earlier, in July, and so Crunican, who makes $322,000 a year plus benefits, must have been aware of it. If not, then, at minimum, she’s guilty of incompetence or gross negligence.
Although BART has since terminated Hock’s contract, the unions say they have no intention of renegotiating the deal. They contend that the agreement on the family leave benefit was no mistake and that Hock was well aware of what he was doing. However, if the BART board continues to refuse to agree to the tentative deal, then the transit agency will face yet another stalemate — and a possible third strike.
With accusations like this, it’s no wonder Gammon is calling for Crunican to resign or be fired.
Read the whole piece on East Bay Express.