November 17, 2010

Sprawl Repair

I wouldn't mind being Daniel Jarrett ... for a day ... or more ...

Because this is excellent.

Transit's Role in Sprawl Repair

" ... since government has much more direct control over the street than over the development parcels, we might move faster on sprawl repair if we focused on the arterial first, or at least at the same time."

He takes Fresno as an example--it has a massive road network largely dominated by arterials, and it does not face significant congestion challenges. Here's a sample pitch that he would deliver to local officials:

" 'What if we learned from Los Angeles's path?  Instead of waiting until it's really expensive, as Los Angeles did, what if we take early, gradual, inexpensive steps to make our arterials safe and attractive for transit?  That doesn't mean ripping up our single-family neighborhoods, but it does mean rethinking our arterials so that they're safe and attractive places for pedestrians, and so that they provide appropriate levels of priority to transit.  We don't need transit to be attractive to everyone, we're not 'forcing' people to use it, but it could attract people who already want alternatives to driving.  Let's face it, a lot of our citizens are struggling on low incomes, and cars are expensive.  Many families would experience sudden improvements in wealth if they could get rid of one or more of their cars.'

'So we need to gradually repair our sprawl.  That doesn't have to mean big increases in density.  We'd build some denser centers for people who want a more urban life, but we're not going to build townhouses in your back yard -- or at least not until you and your neighbors want us to.  Mostly, we just need to stitch things together so that people can walk and cycle more safely, both to complete local trips and to get to transit stops.  It means making sure that at every transit stop, there's a protected way to cross the street, because you can't use transit for a round trip unless you can use stops on both sides of the street.  It means adding pedestrian links to cul-de-sac neighborhoods, so that they are through-routes for bicycles and pedestrians while remaining cul-de-sacs for cars.  And it means making sure that the design of bus stops and transit priority conveys a clear message that transit riders are valued as citizens, and appreciated for the contribution they make to a sustainable and functional city.' "

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