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  #1  
Old Posted May 7, 2012, 7:10 PM
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Impressive Denver study on equity & transit should become national model

Impressive Denver study on equity & transit should become national model


May 4, 2012

By Kaid Benfield



Read More: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/kb...dy_on_equ.html

Denver Regional Equity Access Report PDF: http://reconnectingamerica.org/asset...-final-web.pdf

Quote:
.....

Called the Denver Regional Equity Atlas, the data-rich report is among the more sophisticated uses of GIS mapping that I have seen. It should be immensely useful not only to city officials, advocates, planners and social scientists in Denver, but also to anyone looking for a state-of-the-art analytical model to assist the coordination of transportation, housing, jobs, and access to important services in other American cities. It must have cost a fortune to underwrite.

- The Atlas comprises five chapters and 31 large-scale maps that cover demographics, housing, health, jobs and education; data were collected from a variety of sources for seven counties in the metro Denver region. Each map also shows the current and future transit network, including high-frequency bus routes and rail lines, enabling users to see quickly how well the transit lines and stops match up with, for example, concentrations of low-income populations, jobs, affordable housing, parks, shopping, medical services and the like.

- Denver’s Regional Transportation District is currently engaged in one of the country’s most ambitious expansions of public transportation infrastructure and services. RTD’s “FasTracks” Program is a multi-billion dollar effort to build 122 miles of new commuter rail and light rail and 18 miles of bus rapid transit, and to enhance current bus service for access and transfers across an eight-county district. It is already beginning to change the region by bringing more and better ways of getting around to more people, while stimulating walkable development around the rail stations.

The report uses the data and maps to make very important points about the region’s future. These in particular stand out to me:

• Last-mile connections” are essential to make transit a viable transportation alternative. Because many important destinations lie outside an easy walking distance from transit stations, “communities need to invest in pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.”

• Many planned transit lines will traverse low-income neighborhoods, better connecting them to opportunity but also potentially disrupting them as demand for housing near transit grows beyond the supply and puts pressure on housing costs.

• Affordable housing is available in more places than people realize, but the majority of it is not near transit. As a result, preservation and creation of affordable housing opportunities near transit stations is critical.

• Healthy food options are limited along many transit corridors.

• Research should be undertaken to understand the industries and types of jobs located along major transit corridors in order to understand how transit access can be leveraged to promote employment.

• Transit service to grocery stores should be increased and improved for people living in food deserts, and incentives should be provided to grocers to locate in station areas.

.....



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  #2  
Old Posted May 8, 2012, 3:47 AM
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Great report that however represents a huge issue in American metropolitan areas, which is transit access.

If public transit was actually provided with a base minimum level of service to all built up areas of the metropolitan areas of American cities, then we would not really need reports like this, as everyone would have access to transit.

If anything, this report shows that Denver and all American metropolitan regions need to set clear standards for transit access.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 2:46 AM
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IMO

More than little "What came first, the data or getting the data to fit the RTD build out."

A good chunk of this appears to be some what of a marketing ploy for the additional funding needed to complete Fastracks.

The emphasis on the size of the circles associated with light rail and commuter rail are disturbing. Believe me, if the size is intended to mean more than the stops themselves, they are a serious graphic exaggeration of neighborhood convenience.

The study is a little bit like Cinderella's wicked sisters trying to force statistics to fit RTD's footprint.
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Old Posted May 15, 2012, 2:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miketoronto View Post
If public transit was actually provided with a base minimum level of service to all built up areas of the metropolitan areas of American cities, then we would not really need reports like this, as everyone would have access to transit.
We do provide a base minimum of transit service appropriate for density levels in our metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, the density levels in many U.S. suburbs justify a base minimum level of transit service of zero. There is no common sense way to provide transit at extremely low densities. And being the eminently rational people that we are, we respond by providing none.

When land use patterns change, transit will follow, and not before. Land use changes spurred by transit are indirect. Land use changes spurred by zoning are absolute. The trends being touted here in Denver only work if the local government is supportive with transit friendly zoning, which thankfully, most local governments have been. Because zoning is absolute. It is perfectly possible to build a transportation facility with zero impact on land use - just don't allow it. In a laudable example, we managed to build the Northwest Parkway (highway) with almost no sprawl side-effects through supportive land use policies. Unfortunately, some municipalities take the same approach with transit... or, more often, they have subtle flaws in the zoning - not enough density, too much parking, too little supporting public infrastructure, to make the TOD financially viable. But we're learning.
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 6:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunt_q View Post
We do provide a base minimum of transit service appropriate for density levels in our metropolitan areas. Unfortunately, the density levels in many U.S. suburbs justify a base minimum level of transit service of zero. There is no common sense way to provide transit at extremely low densities. And being the eminently rational people that we are, we respond by providing none.

When land use patterns change, transit will follow, and not before. Land use changes spurred by transit are indirect. Land use changes spurred by zoning are absolute. The trends being touted here in Denver only work if the local government is supportive with transit friendly zoning, which thankfully, most local governments have been. Because zoning is absolute. It is perfectly possible to build a transportation facility with zero impact on land use - just don't allow it. In a laudable example, we managed to build the Northwest Parkway (highway) with almost no sprawl side-effects through supportive land use policies. Unfortunately, some municipalities take the same approach with transit... or, more often, they have subtle flaws in the zoning - not enough density, too much parking, too little supporting public infrastructure, to make the TOD financially viable. But we're learning.
When open land is available and/or property ownership (or control of property) is not fractionalized, build out follows transit lines (roads too).

When ownership is in small pieces and municipal governments each cover small portions of developed area, political accommodation becomes more important than effective, efficient design.

Within individual jurisdictions, particularly within juristictions with an affluent population, governments can work to create low impact public highways as well as nice rail station interfaces. Does this tend to be the rule? No.

The issue is not "learning", as, most of the answers to good planning, transportation- or otherwise, have been there for many years. Rather, the answer is that more of the private and government elite need to be a little less arrogant, and a bit more observant about the best that the rest of the world has to offer.

Sometimes, I suppose, generations of time must pass before the ruling elite(defined as the sum of those with money, and/or political will) learns what architects, planners, engineers, artists, beatniks, bohemians, radicals, etc. have been trying to tell them for decades.

I am reminded of the work adage about not telling the "boss" how to do anything; rather, present the info in such a manner that the "boss" thinks what you are selling is his idea.

The irony, of course, is that in the last few hundred years the pace of population change numbers, demographics, resource consumption patterns, housing demands, and, transportation "requirements" has become progressively more rapid. This increase in change rate means that being 10 or 20 years behind urban pattern change, and, therefore 30 to 40 years behind future scenarios a decade or two out, has far more serious effects on development than earlier in urban history.
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 6:46 PM
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Not quicker really. Most cities are growing far more slowly than their boom years, whether those were 2005 or 1905. Industrialization was a seismic shift in the 1800s. The adoption of railroads, rail transit, and cars created massive urban shifts in short periods of time. The suburbanization of retail, white flight, urban renewal, and the freeway-building era we all massive connected shifts that peaked in a fairly short period. Today the shift back to cities and mixed-use has been going on for decades.
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Old Posted May 19, 2012, 7:16 PM
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Originally Posted by mhays View Post
Not quicker really. Most cities are growing far more slowly than their boom years, whether those were 2005 or 1905. Industrialization was a seismic shift in the 1800s. The adoption of railroads, rail transit, and cars created massive urban shifts in short periods of time. The suburbanization of retail, white flight, urban renewal, and the freeway-building era we all massive connected shifts that peaked in a fairly short period. Today the shift back to cities and mixed-use has been going on for decades.
In the evolution of urban patterns you are correct.

But the change I am talking about is in the process of dealing with problems. When land was always available and when ownerships was in big pieces, railroads could build massive systems, trains stations, etc. When land was cheap and the federal government flush with cash, the interstate highway system could be be built with comparative ease.

What I am talking about, is the process of getting things done. New ways of having to do business. Government/private combinations that work for populations that are underemployed, and, increasingly non-competitive on a world wide basis; and how are these people to be housed, and, transported over the next 40 or 50 years.

Right now, bottom line, the methods of getting things done in the US are having to change extremely rapidly. Getting money to do X, when can be done with Y dollars, what will demands for use be at time Z, is becoming increasingly difficult. Questions concerning infrastructure in an era of declining real wealth. How is this going to be done in an era where 90% or so of the population live in metro-areas with landownership and governments fractionalized?

The methods of property development on a macro scale in the US historically have followed modes of transportation evolution in an environment of low, overall population to area ratios. In addition, the US existed for most of it's history in an era of resource availability, employment opportunity, and, low international competition. In the last 50 years the US has had easy credit. Oil was cheap, and, future reserves abundant- the freedom to live where one wanted to, with (in large measure) high paying jobs with cheap land fairly close by. These factors established traditions, which were used to template growth.

The first true shopping malls date from the 1940s, the first freeway from the 1930s, mass produced stickwall subdivisions from the 1930s, etc.

I strongly believe that how the traditions we developed- those before the rise of the federal government and those since- must change. And, that these traditions must morph at a very fast rate.

What worked in 1990 will not work in 2020, whereas what worked in 1930 worked very well in 1990.
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