Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Making Up for Monday's Vacation Linkages

The NYT runs a debate in Do We Tolerate Too Many Traffic Deaths? Predictably, the most interesting response is from Tom Vanderbilt, the author of Traffic:
We have come to treat traffic deaths in the U.S. as isolated, individual tragedies — occasions for tears and flower-strewn memorials — rather than the result of clearly definable (and predictable) patterns of behavior and other traceable variables, no different from a virus...As the leading cause of death for people aged 1 to 34 years old in the U.S., traffic deaths represent nothing short of a public health crisis, not a collection of “accidents,” and should be treated as such.
Nate Berg of Planetizen is in Johannesburg and he says you need to get hit by a car to feel like a true pedestrian in that city in a piece entitled Johannesburg's Auto-Orientation and the Persecution of the Pedestrian Majority which echoes last week's guest post on bicycling in Dallas:
At first I was a proud pedestrian, yelling at drivers and calling them terrible names as they careened around me or nearly through me. But after a while I realized I was the only one upset. Every other pedestrian had learned to accept that they were simply second class citizens in the mobile world of Johannesburg. Maybe I should accept it too. Or maybe I should experience the city the way the minority likes it -- from behind the wheel of my own private automobile.
What sense does it make for the safer, cheaper, cleaner, greener, more economically efficient method of transportation to be relegated behind that which can kill them?
The second round of TIGER grants for urban mobility projects has been announced. Need a couple dozen or so millions of dollars to kickstart a streetcar system? I know of a City that rhymes with Wart Firth that could...
Tod Litman writes about the true and full costs of various forms of transportation and the objectives that are supported by such comprehensive analysis:
  • Improve transportation options (i.e., help create more diversified, less automobile-dependent transport systems)
  • Expand access to affordable-accessible housing.
  • Enhance economic competitiveness- improve workers' access to jobs, education and services, and businesses' access to markets.
  • Support community revitalization and rural landscape protection.
  • Improve cooperation among federal, state, and local governments to improve transport planning and investment practices.
  • Value the unique qualities of all communities.
He also doesn't forget to deliver the smackdown:
Most transportation professionals are unprepared to deal with these objectives. Conventional transport project evaluation models only consider a small set of impacts: travel time savings, vehicle operating cost savings, and sometimes reductions in accident and emission rates per vehicle-mile.
While many of the livability rankings that have recently emerged weigh heavily on objective data analysis, Forbes has a Most Beautiful Cities in the world list, where a panel of experts devised the list based purely on aesthetic attraction. The overlap with livability is negligible, but the cities are predictable while ranging from classic to the modern.
"The strength of Paris' 'sameness' enables this beautiful city to absorb such fantastic one-off pieces as the highly controversial (at the time) Eiffel Tower, the outrageously modern Centre Pompidou (by English and Italian architects) and the highly original and innovative Institute du Monde Arab," says Reynolds. Moreover, the city's historical height restrictions limited the development of towering buildings. "You don't feel like you're walking in shadows through most of the city," says Kaufman.