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.

Assnmnt 10/16 & Need co-discuss leader

Hi Folks

A) Based on the surveys, we will go a step deeper now into the Transportation issue, including other possible ways forward than the Concept Plan we were working off of. (Survey results & Revised syllabus coming up, I'm still waiting for a few more survey returns!)
Read Green Urbanism: Chapter 4 Transit Cities pp. 109-136 and Green Urbanism: Chapter 5 Taming the Auto pp.137-165 and Ecocities: Chapter 6: Access & Transportation pp. 137-179
(Highly recommended, not required: Green Urbanism: Chapter 6 Bicycles: Low-Tech Ecological Mobility)

B) Reflect, roughly 1 page, DUE SUNDAY OCT 14, at 8 PM
Note 10 of the tools/strategies you like best from the reading in both books and show how they could help shape a ten-year plan for sustainably transforming the transportation and land use infrastructure in Ithaca OR another city you know & care about. Include the systems thinking and the equity/access/justice planning that is built into your plan.
***Optional, Recommended: Do this with a partner and both sign on as authors.

C) Bring in Behavior Change Journals, be prepared to talk about your Behavior Change journey and to hand in the journal. If you want to send in an electronic copy sooner (as someone has already done) that would be great, but I'm assuming most people are doing handwritten journals.

D) We will take a nice chunk of time to talk about our Projects, so if there are any things or thoughts you want to show and share, bring them in.

E) Note requested and suggested leaders/presenters for 10/16. I would like us to have a discussion co-facilitator with Greg.
Case Presentations Rachel Salima
Nature in the City Gabriella Melissa
Discussion Facilitation Greg

Connect Ithaca Team Updates

The Connect Ithaca Team (Carlos, Elisabeth, Gregory, and Tania) has done some great work to date. Below is a summary of our work to day, followed by a summary of our plans, and preceded by our goals.

Goal 1: To engage the Cornell community in learning, discussing, and eventually approving the vision of Connect Ithaca, which includes collaborative planning for an Ithaca-wide personal rapid transity (PRT) system.

Goal 2: To outreach to the downtown Ithaca community about Connect Ithaca and work with any other parties in promoting PRT in Ithaca.

Work To Date:

- We conducted some research on what cities around the country have done to become more sustainable. Information that we found was used by the Connect Ithaca Steering Committee when it presented to the Mayor of Ithaca information about PRT and the group's goals.

- We created other materials for the group, including a mission statement and logo.

- We created a google group for communication (, helped set up a temporary website (, and set up a blog for the Ithaca community together with some groups at IC and Cornell (

- We distributed 27 tent cards about Connect Ithaca during Apple Fest and talked to community members about Connect Ithaca. We made some good connections with locals.

- We have engaged several student groups at Cornell. We have created a committee within the Sustainability Hub to promote Connect Ithaca's vision.

- Through the Sustainability Hub, we met with members of the Student Assembly Environment Committee at Cornell to talk about the possibility of approving a Resolution in support of Connect Ithaca's vision.

- Through the Sustainability Hub, we have set a date (October 29 @ 4:30PM) for Connect Ithaca to present about PRT to the Cornell community.

Work To Be Done:

- We are working on a Statement to be endorsed by organizations in Ithaca, including student organizations at Cornell and IC.

- We will seek the endorsement of organizations to support Connect Ithaca's vision.

- We will update the website with more useful information about Connect Ithaca.

- We will continue doing more outreach (such as to the Greenstar Meeting today) at Cornell and elsewhere to build support for Connect Ithaca.

- We are looking into getting copyright, trademark, and non-profit standing for the organization

The Connect Ithaca Team meets on Thursdays at 10:30AM and Fridays at 4:30PM every week.