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Car Crashes Aren't Always Unavoidable - The Atlantic
"The automobile took over because the legal system helped squeeze out the alternatives."

...

"Further entrenching automobile supremacy are laws that require landowners who build housing and office space to build housing for cars as well. In large part because of parking quotas, parking lots now cover more than a third of the land area of some U.S. cities; Houston is estimated to have 30 parking spaces for every resident. As the UCLA urban-planning professor Donald Shoup has written, this mismatch flows from legal mandates rather than market demand. Every employee who brings a car to the office essentially doubles the amount of space he takes up at work, and in urban areas his employer may be required by law to build him a $50,000 garage parking space.

For those who didn’t get the message from the sprawling landscape that zoning has created, the tax code sharpened it by lavishing rewards on those who drive and punishing those who don’t. On its own terms, the mortgage-interest tax deduction is neutral as to the type of home financed, but—given the twin constraints of zoning and mortgage lending—the deduction primarily subsidizes large houses in car-centric areas. Those who walk or bike to work receive no commuter tax benefit, while those who drive receive tax-deductible parking. Another provision of the tax code gives car buyers a tax rebate of up to $7,500 when their new vehicles are electric or hybrid; buyers of brand-new Audis, BMWs, and Jaguars can claim the full $7,500 from the American taxpayer. Environmentally, these vehicles offer an improvement over gas-powered cars (but not public or active transit). Even so, 85 to 90 percent of toxic vehicle emissions in traffic come from tire wear and other non-tailpipe sources, which electric and hybrid cars still produce. They also still contribute to traffic, and can still kill or maim the people they hit. Why are we taxing bus riders to pay rich people to buy McMansions and luxury electric SUVs?"

...

"
Tort law is supposed to allow victims to recover for harms caused by others. Yet the standard of liability that applies to car crashes—ordinary negligence—establishes low expectations of how safe a driver must be. Courts have held that a higher standard—strict liability, which forces more careful risk taking—does not apply to driving. Strict liability is reserved for activities that are both “ultrahazardous” and “uncommon”; driving, while ultrahazardous, is among the most common activities in American life. In other words, the very fact that car crashes cause so much social damage makes it hard for those who are injured or killed by reckless drivers to receive justice.

In a similar spirit, criminal law has carved out a lesser category uniquely for vehicular manslaughter. Deep down, all of us who drive are afraid of accidentally killing someone and going to jail; this lesser charge was originally envisioned to persuade juries to convict reckless drivers. Yet this accommodation reflects a pattern. Even when a motorist kills someone and is found to have been violating the law while doing so (for example, by running a red light), criminal charges are rarely brought and judges go light. So often do police officers in New York fail to enforce road-safety rules—and illegally park their own vehicles on sidewalks and bike facilities—that specific Twitter accounts are dedicated to each type of misbehavior. Given New York’s lax enforcement record, the Freakonomics podcast described running over pedestrians there as “the perfect crime.”"

...

"All of these laws can be reversed directly by the legislative bodies responsible for passing them in the first place. However, a growing body of academic research suggests that, even when most people favor less restrictive zoning, local officials will side with wealthy homeowners who favor the status quo. In these cases, state legislators can be called upon to help. Reformers have succeeded in doing so in Oregon and have shown promise in California. Far less attention has been paid, however, at the federal level. Recently, several Democratic candidates for president have released federal plans to prod states and cities to relax their zoning.

Congress could condition a small share (say, 5 percent) of federal funds on the adoption by states of housing-production goals or Vision Zero design standards calibrated for safety. Conditional appropriations, which are how Congress goaded states into raising the drinking age, are already in use for numerous transportation programs.

Litigation for dangerous street design is another promising way to hold public entities accountable. So far, plaintiffs have mostly sought money damages, but they can also seek design changes through injunctive relief, including by class action. This has the potential to move not only laws and budgets but the entire discourse around street safety.

Finally, reformers could seek recognition of the freedom to walk. The federal Americans With Disabilities Act and state and local counterparts, as well as case law recognizing a constitutional right to movement, suggest such a right to mobility.

Americans customarily describe motor-vehicle crashes as accidents. But the harms that come to so many of our loved ones are the predictable output of a broken system of laws. No struggle for justice in America has been successful without changing the law. The struggle against automobile supremacy is no different."
2019  cars  law  zoning  accidents  insurance  policy  government  taxes  publictransit  pedestrians  parking  cities  urban  urbanism  transportation  transit  speedlimits  california  us  design  safety  health  risks  tortlaw  negligence  oregon  housing  litigation  gregoryshill 
6 days ago by robertogreco
Could Sound Transit build light rail faster? It wouldn’t be easy. | The Seattle Times
In the end we'll have a great system... but I wonder if it will be behind our needs by the time it's done?
seattle  infrastructure  construction  seattletimes  publictransit 
9 days ago by UltraNurd
LAWA Official Site | LAMP News
LAX Automated People Mover Train Maintenance and Storage Facility Moves Forward after Structure Demolition
lax  news  2028  peoplemover  publictransit 
21 days ago by josephishak
Muni Poetry - Nine Haikus | Arts and Culture | thebaycitybeacon.com
"Muni Haikus

This nineteen bus
Went out of service again
Stop barfing in there

Market Street Railway
Dreamy cream green streamliner
Embarcadero

Ocean Beach in June
Waiting for the twenty three
My ass is frozen

Mission red carpet
Fourteen is so much faster
Fuck your parking spot

Unhoused family
Sharing the back bench all night
Their baby is safe

Streetcars have a bell:
“Ding ding, ding ding!” And a horn:
“Move, Motherfucker!”

Escalator broke
in Civic Center and every
elevator reeks

J Lurch, K Lied
L Terri-ble and N Judas
M Motion-less, T turd."
muni  poems  poetry  haiku  mcallen  2019  publictransit  transportation  sanfrancisco 
9 weeks ago by robertogreco
Shade
[via: https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122670547777871874

who concludes…
https://twitter.com/shannonmattern/status/1122685558688485376
"🌴Imagine what LA could do if it tied street enhancement to a comprehensive program of shade creation: widening the sidewalks, undergrounding powerlines, cutting bigger tree wells, planting leafy, drought-resistant trees, + making room for arcades, galleries, + bus shelters.🌳"]

"All you have to do is scoot across a satellite map of the Los Angeles Basin to see the tremendous shade disparity. Leafy neighborhoods are tucked in hillside canyons and built around golf courses. High modernist homes embrace the sun as it flickers through labor-intensive thickets of eucalyptus. Awnings, paseos, and mature ficus trees shade high-end shopping districts. In the oceanfront city of Santa Monica, which has a dedicated municipal tree plan and a staff of public foresters, all 302 bus stops have been outfitted with fixed steel parasols (“blue spots”) that block the sun. 9 Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles flats, there are vast gray expanses — playgrounds, parking lots, and wide roads — with almost no trees. Transit riders bake at unsheltered bus stops. The homeless take refuge in tunnels and under highway overpasses; some chain their tarps and tents to fences on Skid Row and wait out the day in the shadows of buildings across the street.

Shade is often understood as a luxury amenity, lending calm to courtyards and tree-lined boulevards, cooling and obscuring jewel boxes and glass cubes. But as deadly, hundred-degree heatwaves become commonplace, we have to learn to see shade as a civic resource that is shared by all. In the shade, overheated bodies return to equilibrium. Blood circulation improves. People think clearly. They see better. In a physiological sense, they are themselves again. For people vulnerable to heat stress and exhaustion — outdoor workers, the elderly, the homeless — that can be the difference between life and death. Shade is thus an index of inequality, a requirement for public health, and a mandate for urban planners and designers.

A few years back, Los Angeles passed sweeping revisions to the general plan meant to encourage residents to walk, bike, and take more buses and trains. But as Angelenos step out of their cars, they are discovering that many streets offer little relief from the oppressive sunshine. Not everyone has the stamina to wait out the heat at an unprotected bus stop, or the money to duck into an air-conditioned cafe. 11 When we understand shade as a public resource — a kind of infrastructure, even — we can have better discussions about how to create it and distribute it fairly.

Yet cultural values complicate the provision of shade. Los Angeles is a low-rise city whose residents prize open air and sunshine. 12 They show up at planning meetings to protest tall buildings that would block views or darken sunbathing decks, and police urge residents in high-crime neighborhoods to cut down trees that hide drug dealing and prostitution. Shade trees are designed out of parks to discourage loitering and turf wars, and designed off streets where traffic engineers demand wide lanes and high visibility. Diffuse sunlight is rare in many parts of Los Angeles. You might trace this back to a cultural obsession with shadows and spotlights, drawing a line from Hollywood noir — in which long shadows and unlit corners represent the criminal underworld — to the contemporary politics of surveillance. 13 The light reveals what hides in the dark.

When I think of Los Angeles, I picture Glendale Boulevard in Atwater Village, a streetcar suburb converted into a ten-lane automobile moonscape. People say they like this street for its wall of low-slung, pre-war storefronts, home to record stores and restaurants. To me, it’s a never-ending, vertiginous tunnel of light. I squint to avoid the glare from the white stucco walls, bare pavement, and car windows. From a climate perspective, bright surfaces are good; they absorb fewer sun rays and lessen the urban heat-island effect. But on an unshaded street they can also concentrate and intensify local sunlight."



"At one time, they did. “Shade was integral, and incorporated into the urban design of southern California up until the 1930s,” Davis said. “If you go to most of the older agricultural towns … the downtown streets were arcaded. They had the equivalent of awnings over the sidewalk.” Rancho homes had sleeping porches and shade trees, and buildings were oriented to keep their occupants cool. The original settlement of Los Angeles conformed roughly to the Law of the Indies, a royal ordinance that required streets to be laid out at a 45-degree angle, ensuring access to sun in the winter and shade in the summer. Spanish adobes were built around a central courtyard cooled by awnings and plants. 15 As the city grew, the California bungalow — a low, rectangular house, with wide eaves, inspired by British Indian hill stations — became popular with the middle class. “During the 1920s, they were actually prefabricated in factories,” Davis said. “There are tens of thousands of bungalows, particularly along the Alameda corridor … that were manufactured by Pacific Ready-Cut Homes, which advertised itself as the Henry Ford of home construction.” 16

All that changed with the advent of cheap electricity. In 1936, the Los Angeles Bureau of Power and Light completed a 266-mile high-voltage transmission line from Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam), which could supply 70 percent of the city’s power at low cost. Southern Californians bought mass-produced housing with electric heating and air conditioning. By the end of World War II, there were nearly 4 million people living in Los Angeles County, and the new neighborhoods were organized around driveways and parking lots. Parts of the city, Davis said, became “virtually treeless deserts.”"



"It’s easy to see how this hostile design reflected the values of the peak automobile era, but there is more going on here. The destruction of urban refuge was part of a long-term strategy to discourage gay cruising, drug use, and other “shady” activities downtown. In 1964, business owners sponsored another redesign that was intended, in the hyperbolic words of the Los Angeles Times, to finally clear out the “deviates and criminals.” The city removed the perimeter benches and culled even more palms and shade trees, so that office workers and shoppers could move through the park without being “accosted by derelicts and ‘bums.’” Sunlight was weaponized. “Before long, pedestrians will be walking through, instead of avoiding, Pershing Square,” the Times declared. “And that is why parks are built.” 19"



"High-concept architecture is one way to transform the shadescape of Los Angeles. Street trees are another. Unfortunately, the city’s most ubiquitous tree — the iconic Washington robusta, or Mexican fan palm — is about as useful in that respect as a telephone pole.

Palm trees have been identified with southern California since 1893, when Canary Island date palms — the fatter, stouter cousin — were displayed at the Chicago World’s Fair. On the trunk of one of those palms, boosters posted the daily temperatures at a San Diego beach, and the tree itself came to stand for “sunshine and soft air.” In his indispensable history, Trees in Paradise, Jared Farmer traces the palm’s transformation from a symbol of a healthy climate to a symbol of glamour, via its association with Hollywood. 26

Despite that early fame, palm trees did not really take over Los Angeles until the 1930s, when a citywide program set tens of thousands of palms along new or recently expanded roads. They were the ideal tree for an automobile landscape. Hardy, cheap, and able to grow anywhere, palm trees are basically weeds. Their shallow roots curl up into a ball, so they can be plugged into small pavement cuts without entangling underground sewer and water mains or buckling sidewalks. As Farmer puts it, palms are “symbiotic infrastructure,” beautifying the city without making a mess. Plus, as Mary Pickford once pointed out, the slender trunks don’t block the view of storefronts, which makes them ideal for window-shopping from the driver’s seat. The city’s first forester, L. Glenn Hall, planted more than 25,000 palm trees in 1931 alone. 27

Hall’s vision, though, was more ambitious than that. He planned to landscape all of Los Angeles’s roads with 1.2 million street trees. Tall palms, like Washingtonia robusta, would go on major thoroughfares, and side streets would be lined with elm, pine, red maple, liquidambar, ash, and sycamore. A Depression-era stimulus package provided enough funds to employ 400 men for six months. But the forestry department put the burden of watering and maintenance on property owners, and soon it charged for cutting new tree wells, too. Owners weren’t interested. So Hall concentrated his efforts on the 28 major boulevards that would serve the 1932 Olympics — including the now-iconic Ventura, Wilshire, Figueroa, Vermont, Western, and Crenshaw — and committed the city to pay for five years of tree maintenance. That may well have bankrupted the tree planting program, and before long the city was urging property owners to take on all costs, including the trees themselves.

This history partly explains the shade disparity in Los Angeles today. Consider the physical dimensions of a major city street in Hall’s time. Between the expanding road and narrowing sidewalks was an open strip of grass, three to ten feet wide, known as the parkway. Having rejected a comprehensive parks system, Los Angeles relied on these roadside strips to plant its urban forest, but over time the parkways were diminished by various agencies in the name of civic improvements — chiefly, road widening. 29 And the stewardship of these spaces was always ambiguous. The parkways are public land, owned and regulated by the … [more]
losangeles  trees  shade  history  palmtrees  urbanplanning  electricity  inequality  2019  sambloch  mikedavis  urban  urbanism  cars  transportation  disparity  streets  values  culture  pedestrians  walking  heat  light  socal  california  design  landscape  wealth  sidewalks  publictransit  transit  privacy  reynerbanham  surveillance  sun  sunshine  climatechange  sustainability  energy  ericgarcetti  antoniovillaraigosa  environment  realestate  law  legal  cities  civics 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Introducing Transit Insights, a Visual Tool to Track Transit Ridership in American Cities - TransitCenter
[See also: http://insights.transitcenter.org/

"Transit Insights displays changes in public transit ridership, service characteristics, and demographics for the 55 most populous U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) and their transit agencies. TransitCenter partnered with Axis Maps to build the tool.

Transit data are from 2006 to 2017, collected from the National Transit Database (NTD). The highest-ridership transit agencies per MSA are displayed individually, and the rest are aggregated into “Other.” Agency data are assigned by headquarter location for MSA-level tabulations. Bus ridership includes “unlinked passenger trips” (UPTs) on local, express, commuter, and trolley buses. Rail ridership includes UPTs on light, heavy, commuter, hybrid, and streetcar rail, as well as on monorail and cable car. Transit ridership and other indicators are reported for all modes. All transit indicators are presented as percent change.

Demographic data are from the U.S. Census Bureau's 5-year American Community Survey estimates from 2010 to 2016. Jobs data are from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics estimates from 2010 to 2015. All demographic indicators are presented as absolute, percentage point change, except for total population, median household income, and density (presented as percent change).

Transit service shapefiles and frequency designations are from 2018. Interline exported the data from the TransitLand API. Transit service shapefiles for Memphis, Tennessee and Richmond, Virginia are unavailable. Note: low-frequency service is only visible by zooming in from the regional map view.

View the data dictionary for term definitions. Download the ridership data by agency or export static images with the icons in the top right. Visit the project’s GitHub repository to learn more about the data collection, analysis, and production. Visit this repository to access scripts and documentation on exporting transit stop and route shapefiles. Email ridership@transitcenter.org with any questions, comments, or suggestions for improving Transit Insights."]
maps  mapping  transit  transportation  publictransit  us  2019 
11 weeks ago by robertogreco
Muni Poetry - Hooray for the Buses (36 Teresita) | Arts and Culture | thebaycitybeacon.com
"Hooray for the Buses (36 Teresita)

“Hooray for the Buses” was the title of a flyer the Miraloma Park Improvement Club distributed in advance of the opening of a new bus line in the neighborhood.

Your first inbound stop
is the same first stop
for inbound babies
at St Luke's Maternity ward.
Same terminal transfer point to under hill
as folks outbound at Laguna Honda too.

Your first operator was the Mayor
and your inauguration followed
in the wake of a marching
Drum Corps, Bugle Corps,
Parkside Post Legion plus the Municipal Band
and a bicycle parade.

A panoramic drive,
sometimes Sutro fills your windscreen,
a city view, a sea view, a sky view,
cross over Portola, snake
along your namesake street
or in daylight climb a prominent spur.

Teresita you keep secrets too,
an old name and an old number,
a secret stop you almost always skip.
In eighty years what whispers
have you heard but buried
under a blanket of fog?

Ply the highest prominences of the City,
Twin Peaks and Mount Davidson and Mount Sutro.
Serve spectacular scenes but also
connect neighborhoods and
humbly serve daily passengers,
commuters still need to get to work.

A young boy might be riding to school,
An elder may need to get to the doctor,
A pilgrim may need to get to the cross,
A wedding party is going to the conservatory,
be right on time for their transfers!
This is not your last stop."

[See also:

"Muni Poetry: Spectacle of the Turn (33 Stanyan)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry-spectacle-of-the-turn-stanyan/article_193daebe-4f43-11e9-bcff-13b286542f0f.html

"Muni Poetry - Sky Line (25 Treasure Island)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---sky-line-treasure-island/article_8f1a21bc-4999-11e9-9cc0-2b8a1c3a9246.html

"Muni Poems - 37 Corbett"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poems---corbett/article_fa98f746-443b-11e9-9d03-e7ed732b8a57.html

"This is Just to Say (38 Geary)"
https://twitter.com/BayCity_Beacon/status/1105838429739208704

"Muni Poetry - M. Mole"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---m-mole/article_551e6f18-5a24-11e9-879b-4389bcc5a039.html

"Muni Poetry - Nine Haikus"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---nine-haikus/article_640f9302-5fa2-11e9-89d6-93e38d0e7659.html

"Muni Poetry - Twenty-Eight Nineteenth Ave"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---twenty-eight-nineteenth-ave/article_cb5b8ac6-6528-11e9-b0d3-1b208b50119a.html

"Muni Poetry: Rondeau for the 14"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry-rondeau-for-the/article_bfec3260-6b06-11e9-b6cb-3b52d678de26.html

"Muni Poetry - Surf Boarding (23 Monterey)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---surf-boarding-monterey/article_f2cfa6e2-706c-11e9-80ea-0ff2b2c8797d.html

"Muni Poetry - New Splice (55 16th)"
https://www.thebaycitybeacon.com/culture/muni-poetry---new-splice-th/article_8c2e334a-7580-11e9-950b-8f1b79bd324e.html ]
muni  36teresita  buses  sanfrancisco  publictransit  2019  poetry  38geary  37corbett  33stanyan  25treasureisland  classideas  poety  poems  mcallen  haiku 
april 2019 by robertogreco
Future of Cities: Medellin, Colombia solves city slums - YouTube
"Medellin, Colombia offers a window into the future of cities. Once synonymous with the drug violence of Pablo Escobar's murderous cocaine cartel, Colombia's second largest city undergone a remarkable transformation. Medellín has done so largely by investing heavily in upgrading slums and connecting them to the city center. A centerpiece of this effort: innovative public transportation, such as a Metrocable gondola system that helps residents of informal communities get around town and enjoy all the benefits of a reinvented city.

In collaboration with Retro Report, learn more here: https://qz.com/is/what-happens-next-2/ "

[See also:
"Slums are growing around the world—but a city in Colombia has a solution"
https://qz.com/1381146/slums-are-growing-around-the-world-but-a-city-in-colombia-has-a-solution/ ]
medellin  medellín  colombia  cities  urban  urbanism  housing  poverty  2018  urbanplanning  justinmcguirk  slums  favelas  transportation  mobility  publictransit  urbanization  libraries  infrastructure  juliodávila  funding  policy  government  cablecars  economics  informal  education  schools  edésiofernandes  omarurán  janiceperlman  eugeniebirch 
march 2019 by robertogreco
Duke’s concerns could block Durham-Orange light rail projects | Raleigh News & Observer
Duke University has taken an odd approach to protecting the health of its medical center’s patients. It has decided to do something that could injure the economy and impair the future of its surrounding community.
publictransit  durham  duke  nc  editorial  important  angry 
march 2019 by npdoty
Viewtiful Muni – Mc Allen – Medium
"As the Chronicle gears up for a mysterious Total Muni Sequel, Peter reached out to subscribers for input on ranking the best–and worst–of San Francisco’s Muni lines. I threw my hat enthusiastically into the ring by proposing an entire route of Muni lines which offer stunning views of the city. I haven’t actually tried to complete this route, which involves ten transfers and nearly eight miles of walking. I think it’s possible as a whole day trip beginning at dawn and finishing after dark. I tweeted step by step directions, but twitter doesn’t make it exactly read-able, so I thought I’d make it more accessible as a post here. And I made a map!"

[See also:
https://www.sfchronicle.com/news/article/The-5-best-Muni-lines-in-San-Francisco-your-13559760.php ]
sanfrancisco  classideas  muni  2019  mcallen  buses  tains  publictransit  views  lcproject  openstudioproject  parenting  children  cv  transportation  adventuredays  tcsnmy  sfsh 
january 2019 by robertogreco
Why the West Coast Is Suddenly Beating the East Coast on Transportation - The New York Times
"When Seattle’s King County Metro won the award in September, it was praised as “a system that is expanding and innovating to meet rising demand” — not to mention a program that offers lower fares for poor riders that has served as a model for New York and other cities. Transit ridership in Seattle is growing, and car use is down.

One key difference is the West Coast has the ballot measure, while New York State does not allow voters to directly approve measures like transit funding. In 2016, both Los Angeles County and the Seattle region approved measures to boost transportation funding. The Los Angeles proposal, known as Measure M, won nearly 70 percent of the vote, greenlighting $120 billion in spending by raising the sales tax.

“The ballot initiative allows them to proceed without the political angst you’d have in Albany,” said Jon Orcutt, a director at TransitCenter, a research group in New York. “It takes some pressure off politicians. The voters go out and do it, and that creates political cover.”

Los Angeles plans to build 100 new miles of rail — essentially doubling the Metro system, whose first rail line opened in 1990. There are now six lines and 93 stations. Huge machines recently began digging new tunnels for a Purple Line extension to the county’s Westside — part of a plan to attract younger people who are more likely to favor transit and worry about the environmental impact of cars.

“We had a political miracle,” Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, said in an interview. “A permanent 1-cent sales tax.”

Mr. Garcetti, a Democrat, hopes the new rail lines will boost transit ridership. The number of train and bus trips in Los Angeles has dropped in recent years, though he blamed that on low gas prices and national trends in declining transit ridership.

Mr. Garcetti makes a point of using the subway. He took the Red Line recently, from City Hall to MacArthur Park, to visit Langer’s for the city’s “best pastrami sandwich.” He is also deciding how best to regulate the electric scooters that have flooded Los Angeles."
losangeles  nyc  policy  politics  maintenance  repair  seattle  infrastructure  publictransit  transportation  subways  lightrail  cars  2019 
january 2019 by robertogreco

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