Friday, July 11, 2008

Did you know?

Bicycle use in Stockholm has more than doubled over the last 10 years.

Stockholm’s Bicycle Network

Stockholm, Sweden is a world-class city by any account, and its multi-modal transportation network contributes to that status.  Its quiet subway system, vintage trams, and efficient buses are used by 70 percent of commuters traveling to or from downtown Stockholm during rush hour.   But what truly makes Stockholm a tourist destination and a desired place to live and work is its pedestrian and bicycle paths that guide people to the train, tram and bus, while also weaving its transportation network together.   In 1998, Stockholm implemented a ridership and safety plan that separated bike lanes from traffic, making cycling safer and encouraging greater bicycle use.  Rather than simply stripe a lane just inches from auto traffic, as is the norm in most U.S. cities, Stockholm used historic-looking brick and cobblestone to create a highly visible divide between auto traffic and bicyclists along many of its streets.  The changes in pavement from smooth concrete to bumpy surface immediately signals to the motorist a dangerous incursion into the bike lane.   

The bicycle plan, which was updated in 2006, not only makes Stockholm’s car, tram, bus, pedestrian and bicyclist-filled streets truly complete, but also provide Stockholm’s 1 million residents access to transit stops that may have previously been inaccessible by bike.  This, in turn, increases transit ridership and decreases the reliance on the automobile and the need for costly road expansion.  As the Chicago region is finalizing its plans for a state capital bill, a 2009 federal surface reauthorization measure, and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning’s long-range, 30-year plan (to be released in 2010), bicycle improvements like those in Stockholm should be a key component of all transportation and infrastructure proposals. 

Photo Courtesy of Peter Skosey

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Local News

Life in the fast lane: CTA eyes Cleveland’s busesChicago Tribune “In Chicago, CTA officials are even more hopeful, projecting that travel times on the bus-only lanes could be cut in half when bus rapid transit reaches full speed by 2010.” 

CTA bus supervisors hit streets in hybrid vehiclesChicago Sun-Times “Instead of sitting in 37 stationary posts that will be torn down next month, bus supervisors will hit the streets in hybrid vehicles equipped with laptop computers.” 

Group notes state transit funds are on wrong trackDaily Herald “According to PIRG researchers, people using the Chicago Transit Authority, Pace or Metra buses and trains prevented 276 million gallons of gas from being used in 2006, a savings of $700 million.” 

Gas prices put car culture on the skidsChicago Tribune “Analysts projecting today’s high fuel costs into the future foresee a startling decline in cars on the road. The nation’s fleet of almost 240 million vehicles could be cut by as many as 10 million over the next four years, putting a serious dent in America’s bedrock car culture.” 

A fix we needJournal of Commerce “In Chicago each day, 1,200 trains – 700 passenger and 500 freight – crisscross a web of rail routes inherited from dozens of defunct or absorbed railroads. Freight transit inevitably must give way, often backing up into Indiana, and the truck traffic they spawn as containers are ‘rubber wheeled’ between railheads, contributing to an expansion of the city’s rush hour to eight hours a day.”  Subscription required

World News

City will explore bike-sharing programNew York Times “One year after a nonprofit group hosted a five-day bicycle-sharing experiment, the New York City Department of Transportation announced on Wednesday that it was considering creating such a program on a permanent basis.”

City to Test Peak Rates for Parking MetersNew York Times “The program’s goal is to increase turnover in curbside parking spaces in the test areas so that drivers will spend less time cruising in search of an open space...Cutting down on cruising will in turn decrease pollution and traffic congestion.” 

$100 for a Tank of Gas? Especially in an S.U.V., It’s Hard to Say ‘Fill It Up’New York Times “But during the first five months of 2008, about 11 percent of American drivers said they bought 24 gallons or more at their last fill-up, according to a survey of 81,000 drivers by the NPD Group, a market research firm – which at today’s prices would place many of them at or around $100.” 

Travelers Turn to Public TransitWashington Post “Soaring gas prices are pushing more Americans to take public transit, with streetcars, trolleys and other light rail experiencing a 10.3 percent increase in ridership for the first quarter of the year, according to a report released yesterday by the American Public Transportation Association.” 

Car Sales at a 10-Year LowNew York Times  “Sales of new cars and trucks plunged to their lowest level in more than a decade in June, as high gas prices and a weak economy kept American consumers away from dealer showrooms.” 

30 billion fewer miles driven, and countingThe Seattle Times “Motorists have driven roughly 30 billion fewer miles in the past six months compared with the same period a year ago, according to federal government estimates.” 

Cost of driving may work where politics failed and keep cars off city streetsNew York Times “Soaring gas prices and higher tolls seem to be doing for traffic in New York what Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s ambitious congestion pricing was supposed to do: reducing the number of cars clogging the city’s streets and pushing more people to use mass transit.” 

As Gas Prices Rise, Teenagers’ Cruising DeclinesNew York Times “From coast to coast, American teenagers appear to be driving less this summer.  These days, teenagers who do have licenses are not only driving less, but they are also having to come up with their own gasoline money.”  

Increasing Oregon gas taxes by 60 percent, for what?Metro Council  “It is also true that we continue to proposed major new highway projects while falling behind in fixing the roads and bridges we already have.” 


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