Transportation headlines, Wednesday, June 30

Here’s a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

The bike sharing program is great, but… (Denver Post)

The Denver area’s new bike sharing program has so far been a success and it’s common to see the red bikes — available at 42 different stations — zipping around town. Only one problem: there still isn’t the infrastructure in place to make commuting on bikes easy. Bike lanes tend to funnel into very busy streets where bikes and vehicles often conflict or sometimes there’s no viable bike route, pushing cyclists onto sidewalks. Build the infrastructure, suggests this smart editorial — and I suspect the Denver area, which has been pushing forward on the transpo front, likely will.

Barcelona spends less on its subway (Transport Politic)

The Barcelona subway. Photo by papalars, via Flickr. Click above to visit Flickr.

The Spanish city is spending about $7.9 billion for 30 miles of line, far less than the cost of building subways in Los Angeles or New York, where the cost is no less than $500 million per mile (the blog incorrectly reports the cost of the Westside Subway Extension at $6 billion — the most recent estimate is about $4 billion). Why the low price in Barcelona? Cheap labor, generally lower property values and single-bore tunneling that reduces digging from the surface.

Lose the parking, create a better city (Slate)

This isn’t exactly head-imploding news, but Slate is running a series on how to create nimbler cities with better transportation. Writer Tom Vanderbilt does a nice job rounding up stats that show that most cities have far more parking than is actually needed. And he does a nice job explaining the cost of having all that parking — an overinvestment in parking and roadways and an underinvestment in transit and affordable housing (the cost of which is driven up by minimum parking requirements). The answer may be to cap the amount of parking new developments can provide, but of course that’s always a very tough sell in communities who fear their existing parking will be gobbled up by new residents or workers. Still, some cities are changing anyway. Excerpt:

Some cities are beginning to look anew at parking. In Columbus, Ohio, the very birthplace of minimum parking requirements, the city recently cut the amount of parking required at shopping malls by 20 percent. (Studies had found most lots were half empty.) Last year, Washington, D.C., changed parking requirements for the first time in half a century, doing away with a law requiring parking for retail developments in high-density areas. San Francisco’s “SF Park” program (inspired by the idea, most famously proposed by Shoup, that on-street parking should be priced according to real-time demand and to an ideal 85 percent occupancy level) is using sophisticated sensors to track parking spot availability and match drivers with spaces. Hoboken, N.J., meanwhile, has debuted a network of shared cars (managed by Hertz) that can be picked up and dropped off right on dedicated curb parking spaces (90 percent of residents live within a five minute walk of a space) in the city.