The ‘order of planning’ determines transit priorities. What if we inverted it to prioritize people?

November 12, 2020 by  
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The ‘order of planning’ determines transit priorities. What if we inverted it to prioritize people? Alan Hoffman Thu, 11/12/2020 – 00:01 Are your transportation plans letting you down? Regions everywhere have adopted ambitious goals for their long-range plans, from climate change to land use to reductions in automotive dependency. Yet even with decades of spending on creating new transit and bicycle infrastructure, many cities still struggle to see the kinds of changes in their travel and growth patterns that point toward resilience and sustainability. COVID-19 has highlighted these issues, upending travel patterns and choices with what may be permanent reductions in office commuting, as well as big impacts on transit and shared ride services. At the same time, COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rethink our use of public space, much of which has been dedicated to automotive movement (roads) and storage (parking). Transportation planning can lead to better outcomes by focusing on three parallel strategies: Identify what solutions look like Invert the order of planning Update your computerized planning models 1. Identifying solutions Too often, transportation projects are pushed through with no clear sense of whether they will be able to solve the problems for which they are intended. Planners and politicians jump to efficiency and expansion before effectiveness can be established. Once planners learn how to produce a desired solution, then they can engage in value engineering by asking how they can achieve desired results more efficiently. A perfect example of this is Curitiba, Brazil, famed as one of the innovators of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT). Curitiba didn’t set out to develop a BRT system. What it did was identify, up-front, what its ideal transit network should look like. In its case, it was a subway (metro) system with five arms radiating out of downtown and a set of concentric ring routes surrounding the center. Curitiba’s “solution” to creating an effective transit network was based on five major corridors radiating from downtown and a set of concentric rings linking major transfer stations (“integration terminals”). Subways are incredibly expensive to build. So Curitiba’s leaders asked themselves how they could replicate the functionality of their ideal network as quickly as possible with available resources. They decided to create their ideal subway system on the surface, running extra-long buses along dedicated transitways in the centers of their major roads. Enclosed stations with level boarding were spaced every 500 meters (three to a mile). Major integration terminals, about every 1.2 to 1.9 miles apart, serve surface subway lines, an extensive regional express network, and local buses. They also feature government services, recreation centers, shops and eateries. This transit corridor in Curitiba features a dedicated center-running busway with auto traffic and parking relegated to the sides of the boulevard and to parallel roads. Besides moving passenger loads normally associated with rail systems, the strategy was tied to a land use plan that placed most of the region’s denser land uses within one block of surface subway lines. Use of transit for commuting rose from about 7 percent in the early 1970s to over 70 percent by the 2000s. As a look at the skyline of Curitba reveals, the city literally and conspicuously developed around its transit network. By restricting high densities to “surface subway” corridors, Curitiba literally grew around its transit system. Besides preserving more land for single-family homes, this strategy reduced the impacts of new growth substantially. 2. Invert the order of planning The order of planning reflects the priority assigned to different modes as solutions to your goals. It is fair to say that most regional strategies today embrace the importance of modes such as transit and bicycling, yet this is rarely reflected in the order of planning. Most cities begin or center their transportation planning by focusing on optimizing their automotive systems: expanding capacity; improving signaling; building new roads, often dictated by where road congestion is at its worst. The logic is impeccable: the auto is the primary mover of people, and too many new transit and bicycle projects have shifted only a relatively small number of trips, highlighting popular preferences. Once the automotive system is optimized, transit planning is then asked to fit around the automobile. In most places, transit either shares the right of way with cars or is delayed by traffic signals and cross traffic. In some cases, corridors are identified which could support rail or BRT infrastructure. Pedestrian circulation is then asked to fit around car traffic and transit. Finally, the bicycle is asked to fit around everything else. This bicycle lane along an 50 mph expressway in California puts cyclists at great risk from distracted drivers. The alternative is to engage in Advanced Urban Visioning, a process that identifies what optimized or ideal systems look like, much as Curitiba did decades ago. You get there by inverting the order of planning. You begin with transit, allowing an ideal network to emerge from a detailed analysis of urban form (how your region is laid out) and trip patterns. An optimized transit system focuses on three key dimensions: network structure (how you connect places); system performance (how long it takes to get from origins to destinations); and customer experience (essentially, what a person feels and perceives while moving through the system). The goal is to connect more people more directly to more likely destinations in less time, with an experience that makes them feel good about their choice of transit. The transit network at this point is still diagrammatic, a set of nodes and links more than a set of physical routes. Even so, it likely looks little like your current transit plan. This aerial of central San Diego shows many principal nodes of the zone and the likely connections between and among them. The rapid transit map, meanwhile, looks little like this network. Why does transit go first? To begin with, transit often requires heavy infrastructure, be it tracks, transitways, bus lanes, stations or garages. Stations, in particular, need to be located where they will do the most good; even short distances in the wrong direction can make a big difference in public uptake of transit. Second, transit otherwise takes up relatively little urban space when compared to the car. For example, two-lane busways in Australia move as many people during the peak hour as a 20-lane freeway would move. Third, transit, when well-matched to a region, significantly can shape how that city grows, as access to a useful transit network becomes highly valued. Transit, when well-matched to a region, significantly can shape how that city grows, as access to a useful transit network becomes highly valued. Getting from an idealized transit network to an actual plan happens through a staging plan that focuses on “colonizing” whatever existing road infrastructure is needed, and specifying new infrastructure where necessary to meet strategic goals. In practice, this means identifying locations where new transitways, surface or grade-separated (free of cross-traffic or pedestrian crossings), can meet performance and connectivity goals. Planners also need to devise routes that minimize travel time and transfers for core commuting trips. Transit at this stage is free to take space from the auto, where warranted, to meet performance goals subject to expected demand. Brisbane, Australia’s, Busway system includes many grade-separations (bridges and tunnels) so that buses can operate unimpeded by traffic. Once an optimized transit plan is identified, the next step in Advanced Urban Visioning is to develop an idealized bicycle network. Drawing on the lessons of the Netherlands, perhaps the global leader when it comes to effective bicycle infrastructure, this network is designed and optimized to provide a coherent, direct, safe, and easy-to-use set of separated bikeways designed to minimize conflicts with moving vehicles and pedestrians. This approach is a far cry from the piecemeal incrementalism of many cities. It also gives the bicycle priority over cars when allocating space in public rights of way. Amsterdam and other Dutch cities have some of the best-developed bicycle infrastructure in the world, providing cyclists with an extensive network of separated bike lanes. The third step in Advanced Urban Visioning is to use major transit nodes to create new “people space”: walking paths; public plazas; parklands; and open space trail networks. These may colonize land occupied with motor vehicles. These new spaces and parklands also may be used to organize transit-oriented development; the combination of optimized transit and bicycle networks; and park access can increase the value of such development. In this example, from a conceptual plan developed for San Diego, a strategic investment zone (SIZ), supporting high-density residential and commercial uses, wraps around a linear park and two proposed community parks. The proposed underground transit and surface parks together add significant value to the SIZ, some of which may be captured through an Infrastructure Finance District mechanism to help fund much of the project. Only after transit, bicycles and pedestrians are accommodated is it time to optimize the automotive realm. But something happens when these alternative modes are optimized to the point that they are easy, convenient and time-competitive with driving: large numbers of people shift from personal vehicles to these other travel modes. a result, the auto is no longer needed to move large numbers of people to denser nodes, and investments in roadways and parking shift to other projects. The power of Advanced Urban Visioning is that it gives you clear targets to aim at so that actual projects can stage their way to the ultimate vision, creating synergies that amplify the impacts of each successive stage. It turns the planning process into a strategic process, and helps avoid expensive projects that are appealing on one level but ultimately unable to deliver the results we need from our investments in infrastructure. San Diego Connected, a conceptual plan developed at the request of the Hillcrest business community, demonstrates Advanced Urban Visioning in action, combining bicycle, transit, pedestrian and automotive improvements that optimize their potential contribution to the region. Advanced Urban Visioning doesn’t conflict with government-required planning processes; it precedes them. For example, the AUV process may identify the need for specialized infrastructure in a corridor, while the Alternatives Analysis process can be used to determine the time-frame where such infrastructure becomes necessary given its role in a network. 3. Update your models For Advanced Urban Visioning to make its greatest contribution to regions, analysis tools need to measure and properly account for truly optimized systems. Most regional agencies maintain detailed regional travel models, computer simulations of how people get around and the tradeoffs they make when considering modes. Many of these models work against Advanced Urban Visioning. The models are designed generally to test responsiveness to modest or incremental changes in a transportation network, but they are much weaker at understanding consumer response to very different networks or systems. Regions can sharpen the ability of their models to project use of alternative modes by committing to a range of improvements: Incorporate market segmentation. Not all people share the same values. Market segmentation can help identify who is most likely to respond to different dimensions of service. Better understand walking. Some models include measures as of quality of the walking environment. For example, shopping mall developers have long known that the same customer who would balk at walking more than 492 feet to get from their parked car to a mall entrance will happily walk 1,312 feet once inside to get to their destination. Likewise, people are not willing to walk as far at the destination end of a trip as they are at the origin end, yet most models don’t account for this difference. Better measure walking distance. Not only do most models not account for differences in people’s disposition to walk to access transit, they don’t even bother to measure the actual distances. Better account for station environment and micro-location. We know from market research that many people are far more willing to use transit if it involves waiting at a well-designed station, as opposed to a more typical bus stop on the side of a busy road. Incorporate comparative door-to-door travel times. No model I am aware of includes comparative door-to-door travel time (alternative mode vs. driving), yet research continually has demonstrated the importance of overall trip time to potential users of competing modes. Conclusion Advanced Urban Visioning offers a powerful tool for regions that are serious about achieving a major transformation in their sustainability and resilience. By clarifying what optimal transportation networks look like for a region, it can give planners and the public a better idea of what is possible. It inverts the traditional order of planning, ensuring that each mode can make the greatest possible contribution toward achieving future goals. Pull Quote Transit, when well-matched to a region, significantly can shape how that city grows, as access to a useful transit network becomes highly valued. Topics Cities Transportation & Mobility Urban Planning Public Transit Meeting of the Minds Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off New York City subway Photo by Wynand van Poortvliet on Unsplash. Close Authorship

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The ‘order of planning’ determines transit priorities. What if we inverted it to prioritize people?

States sue over Trump administration’s fuel efficiency rollback

June 1, 2020 by  
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Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C. have sued the Trump administration over rollbacks in fuel-efficiency standards, citing poor science and threats to public health . While the world has focused on the novel coronavirus pandemic, President Trump has been busy easing environmental regulations. His undoing of Obama-era fuel efficiency standards, the country’s biggest effort so far to fight climate change, has been especially bitter to environmentalists. Trump says lower standards are better for the auto industry and the economy in general. Related: Trump administration rolls back fuel efficiency standards California is leading the lawsuit. According to Xavier Becerra, California’s attorney general, the pandemic is a whole other reason — besides destroying the planet we live on — not to lower efficiency standards. “Vehicles are the biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in America, and pollution-related respiratory illnesses make people more susceptible to COVID-19,” Becerra told The New York Times . Under Obama’s plan, U.S. vehicles would be required to average 46.7 miles per gallon. Trump’s policy dials it down to 40.4 miles per gallon. According to the Trump administration’s estimates, this will result in Americans consuming 2 billion additional barrels of oil and releasing 867 to 923 more metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Fuel costs will average about an extra $1,000 over the lifetime of a single vehicle. The auto industry is split about Trump’s efficiency rollback. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation supports it. But four member companies — Ford, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen — declared they will uphold higher standards than the government mandates. “The Trump administration’s rollback of the Clean Car Standards will hurt Americans, increase harmful pollution, cause more than 18,000 premature deaths, and cost consumers billions of dollars at the gas pump,” Peter Zalzal, lead attorney at the Environmental Defense Fund, told The New York Times . “The rollback is deeply and fundamentally flawed, it is inconsistent with the agencies’ legal duty to reduce harmful pollution and conserve fuel, and we look forward to vigorously challenging it in court.” Via The New York Times Image via Pixabay

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New Airstream camper uses solar panels for off-grid power

April 30, 2020 by  
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For nearly a century, Airstream has been designing campers built for both adventurous forever roamers or big families looking to enjoy summer time trips together. Now, the iconic camper brand has just introduced its latest concept, which is geared towards sustainable travelers of all types. The 2020 Atlas Camper features a solar-paneled rooftop and an ultra luxurious living space. Although Airstream has long leaned into contemporary and high-tech design, even featuring smart technology in their recent models , the Atlas 2020 is one of the company’s boldest designs yet. Modeled after the 201′ Mercedes-Benz  Sprinter , the exterior stays true to the camper’s signature shimmery silver cladding, which affords the camper an aerodynamicity that provides a very smooth ride. Related: Airstream unveils new 2020 camper with smart technology For power generation, the camper’s rooftop is lined with three-hundred watts of solar panels , which provides enough clean energy to charge electronic devices, and can be increased to potentially go completely off-grid. The contemporary camper stretches out over 24 feet and looks to be one of the company’s most luxurious designs yet. With the capacity to accommodate two passengers, the camper’s living space is increased thanks to its power slide-out — a first of its kind for the camper manufacturers. The interior design  is made up of sleek, shiny black and grey furnishings that give off a definite contemporary vibe. The main living space converts into a comfy bedroom thanks to a  fold-out Murphy bed . When not in use, the bedroom is a spacious living room with a hideaway smart TV. Past the living room is a small kitchenette, which features a refrigerator and two-burner stovetop. And for a true glimpse into luxurious design, the bathroom is a spa-inspired space with closet, standup-shower and porcelain toilet. For extra living space, the beautiful  Airstream model  features a wonderful amenity on its exterior. At just a simple push of a button, an exterior awning extends to let campers enjoy a bit of outdoor space for dining or just taking in the views while parked in amazing settings. + Airstream Via Design Boom Images via Airstream

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New Airstream camper uses solar panels for off-grid power

Meet ‘Blade’, the world’s first 3D-printed hypercar

May 21, 2019 by  
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At first glance, any motorhead would be head over heels for Blade — a sleek sportscar with shimmery deep magenta facade. The aerodynamicity of the car is obvious from its low, curved volume. Yet, this isn’t just any supercar that has just hit the market. Created by San Francisco-based startup  Divergent Microfactories,  Blade’s chassis was entirely 3-D printed. 3D printing is already revolutionizing the manufacturing process around the world. Printing in 3D makes products such as furniture, jewelry, machinery and even cars, more lightweight, but without sacrificing durability. Not only does 3D printing offer a new, faster and more reliable way of manufacturing, but it is also more affordable and sustainable. Related: World’s first mass-producible 3D-printed electric car will cost under $10K Within the automotive industry, sustainability is an aspect that, according to Divergent founder and CEO, Kevin Czinger, can no longer be ignored. “We have got to rethink how we manufacture, because — when we go from 2 billion cars today to 6 billion cars in a couple of decades — if we don’t do that, we’re going to destroy the planet,” Czinger expains. The startup has been working on the Blade design for years. The car’s chassis is a 3D printed aluminum “node” joint, which is made up of carbon fiber tubes that plug into the nodes to form a strong and lightweight frame for the car, weighs just 1,400 pounds. According to the company, the 3D manufacturing process reduces the weight of the chassis by as much as 90 percent when compared to conventional vehicles. The Blade features a 700HP engine capable of running on both compressed natural gas (CNG) and gas. As for performance, its light weight enables the supercar to accelerate to 0-60 m.p.h in 2.2 seconds. But, in case you’re itchin’ to get the metal to the pedal in this sweet ride, you’ll have to wait. The company has only manufactured a few models, but hopes to start working with boutique manufacturers soon to start producing more. + Divergent 3D Images via Divergent 3D

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Nissan unveils incredible solar-powered mobile workshop for woodworkers

February 15, 2019 by  
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Over the years, we’ve seen thousands of unique van conversions , but Nissan has taken the van-loving world by storm with its new NV300 concept van — a mobile workshop for woodworking professionals. The amazing design, which was a collaboration between Nissan and UK-based firm Studio Hardie , is fully-functioning mobile woodworking studio that can be taken off grid, letting wood-loving artisans find inspiration anywhere they choose. What’s more, the van runs on solar power and its tools are powered by an emissions-free, weatherproof power pack made out of recycled electric car batteries. Unveiled at the Brussels Motor Show in Belgium, the van’s incredible design was created to provide the average craftsperson with optimal flexibility to move regularly between jobs as needed, in a functional and sustainable way. Slated for a springtime launch in Europe, the van will come in various lengths and heights. Related: DIY kits help explorers transform Sprinter vans into rugged adventure vehicles By contrast to the dark exterior, the van’s bright interior space lit by LED lighting is a woodworker’s dream come true. Lined in “lightweight and strong” pale ash, peg boards, boxes, cabinets and cubbies were built into the walls, while the doors have been outfitted for optimal tool storage. A wheeled stool glides on on metal rails to keep it from sliding around. The open interior allows the woodworkers to use the portable workbench inside during inclement weather. As studio founder William Hardie explained to Dezeen , “We decided to create a grid which we could anchor desks, racks and boxes to; this gave the interior a strong and rational form. We then played with our three-dimensional lines, adding or taking away to create a functional Mondrian-esque grid,” he stated. “The designs for the tool storage came from years of site work, thinking about how we work, what tool you want where. We often work in far-flung parts of the country and having such a versatile refined workspace that you can use on site is the ideal solution.” As an energy source, the van conversion operates on solar power and can go completely off grid. All of the power tools run on an Energy Roam battery, an emissions-free, weatherproof power pack with a storage capacity of 700 watt-hours. The batteries are repurposed from Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicles. + Studio Hardy Via Dezeen Images via Nissan

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Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport incorporates natural fibers into body design

January 18, 2019 by  
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A race car made from flax and hemp? Count on Porsche to pull that off. The second generation Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport is built with the typical handling and speed capabilities you would expect, with one very different component—body parts derived from natural composite materials. A first in the racing world, Porsche has sourced natural fibers from agricultural byproducts such as flax and hemp fibers to create the doors and rear wing on the cars. With sustainability in mind, the Porsche company set out to find a substitute for standard carbon-fiber frames while ensuring similar performance, weight and control. But don’t think for a minute that a sustainable design can’t whip past the competition. In addition to decreasing the car’s carbon tireprint, the goal was to increase performance over the original design . The new 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport brings with it a 40 hp increase over the predecessor as well a redesigned driver’s cockpit that includes a welded-in safety cage, racing bucket seat and six-point harness. The 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport comes equipped with a 3.8-liter flat-six, 425 hp engine. Even with upgrades, the newer design is a lightweight at around 2,900 pounds. Related: Large scale 3D Printer capable of printing a motorcycle Two models are available. The “Trackday” is designed for amateur race drivers looking to hit the track with safety in mind and some aid from automatic systems like ABS, ESC and traction control assistance systems that ensure forgiving handling at the limit and can be deactivated. The “Trackday” costs just over $150,000. The “Competition” model targets professional circuit drivers with adjustable shock absorbers, a high-capacity safety fuel tank for less pit stops, an integrated air jack system to aid the pit crew and a quick-release racing steering wheel adopted from the 911 GT3 R that ensures a range of adjustment options for the individual needs of the drivers. The “Competition” model runs around $179,000. + Porsche Images via Porche

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Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport incorporates natural fibers into body design

Recycling Mystery: Antifreeze

December 19, 2018 by  
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Antifreeze: It’s not just for Fireball Whisky. Wise car owners … The post Recycling Mystery: Antifreeze appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Recycling Mystery: Antifreeze

Earthling Survey: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating?

December 19, 2018 by  
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Express your opinion and help drive environmental change. Every week, … The post Earthling Survey: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earthling Survey: Will You Embrace Sustainable Eating?

You say you want a revolution: How changing mobility will make new cities

November 13, 2018 by  
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As infrastructure weathers and tech disrupts traditional transportation, we need a transition.

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Curbing CAFE and zero-emissions standards wouldn’t mean the end of plug-ins

November 6, 2018 by  
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Long vehicle design cycles and mandates beyond the U.S. border will continue to fuel progress.

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Curbing CAFE and zero-emissions standards wouldn’t mean the end of plug-ins

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