Thursday, October 11, 2007

Transportation and Baltimore

1. Coordinating Transit and Land Use
I live in
Baltimore, so for a city that already experiences a lot of sprawl, integrating transit and land use pose a bit of a challenge. However, Baltimore also possesses areas that are the victims of blight, which have the potential to be redeveloped into transit-oriented communities. For example, there is a new mixed used development being constructed in Westport, Baltimore. The main feature is that this development will be centered on a previously unused light rail stop. Perhaps a new rail transit line could help with redevelopment efforts and steer the locations of higher density projects.

2. Trams with traffic priority
I like using
Baltimore’s one light rail line, but I would sure like using it a whole lot more if it ran quicker. It’s frustrating to be stopped at traffic lights downtown when the whole point of taking the light rail is to avoid dealing with the congestion.

3. High speed rail
Why is there not a high speed rail line running between Washington and Baltimore?!?! Or all of the east coast cities for that matter!!!!!! Register is right, we need to invest more into our country’s rail infrastructure rather than encouraging more highway growth.

4. Car-free developments
These could definitely work in some areas, and I have to agree with the authors- owning a car gives you incentive to use it. I do not have a car while I am up at school, and as a result, I walk or take the bus. I imagine that if I had a car, I would give up walking to places across campus and simply drive. Car-free developments in
Baltimore would boost bus ridership and lower congestion.

5. Car Sharing
See above.

6. Road Pricing
This policy I am somewhat more skeptical about using in a city like
Baltimore, because we are still struggling to reinvest in the downtown and get people excited about working and living there. New York or LA, yes- there is high enough demand for access downtown that a road pricing system would not harm activity. Perhaps in a couple years this would work. I like this idea a lot, I would just be afraid of implementing it prematurely.

7. Shifting investments toward public transit vs. highways
There are currently millions upon millions of dollars being spent right now reworking the 695-195 connection in
Maryland (basically, how commuters get from Baltimore suburbs to the city). I spent this summer taking the bus to my internship (I live in a suburb and worked in the heart of downtown), and I discovered a vastly underutilized resource. Why couldn’t those millions be used to promote and upgrade the bus system, which provides a great express service at peak traffic hours, instead of feeding into the cycle referenced in the readings?

8. Dedicated public transit lanes
Related to number 7, oh how I would have loved it if the #3 Express service was able to zoom past the rest of stalled traffic. At least 10 minutes could have been cut off my morning ride into downtown
Baltimore. And imagine what that would do to cut down on car traffic! If people found out that they could get downtown faster using the bus than driving their own car, I bet that would change some minds.

9. Designated bike paths
I really wanted to avoid using my car this summer. I told myself I would get back into riding my bike to get places and I would use the bus when possible. While I did use the bus to get downtown, mobility within my suburb was another story. The truth is, I was afraid to ride my bike along the busier streets because I always thought I would get hit (and I probably would have considering my lack of coordination). If there were actually bike paths, I could have biked to pick up the item I forgot at the grocery store, or used it to run to the photo store to pick up my prints. The time it would take to bike to my nearest commercial district really isn’t long, but the journey could be a lot safer.

10. Motivating the senior lobby
My grandma depends on my mother to take her to all of her doctor appointments and to the grocery store. When my mom has to work on their usual Thursday date, my grandmother either has to forgo her errands that week or call a cab. She votes religiously and is a member of the AARP. Perhaps that lobby should start pressuring local and national legislatures to address their transportation needs as well as healthcare.

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