Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Sorry


Photo by boxchain on Flickr.
Barry offends, apologizes: Councilmember Barry apologized for offending Asian-Americans after a day of criticism for his Tuesday remarks. He had disparaged Asian-Americans for "coming in" to Ward 8 and "opening those dirty shops." (DCist, Post)

Old Town Theater may stay theater: When we reported that Alexandria's Old Town Theater was likely to become retail space, a number of residents said they would have patronized the theater but for its mismanagement. The new owner heard this, and now may resurrect the theater, or at least will preserve the marquee. (AlexTimes)

Riverwalk to open 24-7: Confirming the preliminary hints we heard before, the Navy Yard will now leave the Anacostia Riverwalk open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, starting April 12, though they may close it for special Navy Yard "operations." (JDLand)

Recall effort dies quietly: The nascent effort to recall Mayor Gray and Chairman Brown has been suspended. Organizers hope ongoing probes into campaign efforts might ultimately oust the two anyway. (Washington Times)

Youngsters ditch car for bike: The car is no longer an attractive option for America's young people. Driving is down 23%, and bicycling is up 24% over 11 years ago - an incredibly rapid shift. Transit use, too, is increasing. (Streetsblog)

Smart growth LA: The Los Angeles region approved a major 25-year plan to improve transit and walkability across Southern California. Half the $524 billion in funds will go to transit projects, and bike/ped funding will triple to $6.7 billion. (CP&DR)

Animated history of the T: We have our animated history of Metrorail. Vanshnooken­raggen has created a similar animation showing Boston's T growing (and sometimes shrinking) over time.

And...: See Google Maps OpenStreetMap in watercolor. (Stamen Design) ... Arlington and Alexandria insist they are getting along just fine on Route 1 transit. ... Newport News Shipbuilding has 6,000 bikes. (Virginia Business via FABB)

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David Edmondson is a transportation and urban affairs enthusiast living in Mount Vernon Square. He blogs about Marin County, California, at The Greater Marin

Comments

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Congrats to the Navy Yard for getting it!

by MLD on Apr 6, 2012 9:29 am • linkreport

Youth driving (they are skewing it to include 34 year olds) is more a function on unemployment than a change in behavior.

And, not surprsingly, there is some change based on gas pricing vs. 2001. Amazing!

Distrurst any report from a US PIRG.

by charlie on Apr 6, 2012 9:33 am • linkreport

@charlie

Even when you look at employed young people driving has gone down.

VMT per capita peaked in 2004. That's before the economic downturn.

And of course gas prices are a factor (they mention it) - does that mean the trend of driving going down doesn't exist?

by MLD on Apr 6, 2012 9:39 am • linkreport

@MLD; but saying, wow, people are driving less because they don't have jobs and can't afford fuel isn't a postive statement on urbanism.

I'd fully agree with the idea that a new car just isn't a cool as it 10 years ago. Again, low cost finacing in the 2000s kinda klled that idea. And people would rather spend $100 a month on iphones rather than a car payment. Great. Again, not a real victory for urbanism.

by charlie on Apr 6, 2012 9:43 am • linkreport

@charlie: I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss it as simply unemployment. There is a lot of evidence out there suggesting that younger people are eschewing cars in favor of other modes of transportation. A big example of this: percentage of the age group that has drivers licenses compared to 20 years ago.

by Froggie on Apr 6, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

In the 1960s and 70s, the acquisition of the driving license was a giant rite of passage for American 16 year-olds. Now it elicits suburban high schoolers' unanimous "meh".

by Sydney P. on Apr 6, 2012 9:44 am • linkreport

Correction: the Stamen Design maps use OpenStreetMap data, not Google Maps.

by David R. on Apr 6, 2012 9:47 am • linkreport

@froggie; again, how much is that is illegal immigrants who CAN'T get a driver licence? That population also skews young.

Again, buying a new car: nowhere near as cool. "Youth" under 34 not driving -- bad economy.

by charlie on Apr 6, 2012 9:54 am • linkreport

@charlie

I would suggest you actually read the report and read my comment again because that's neither what the report nor I said.

Also, people being more willing to spend $100 on a phone than a car IS a victory for urbanism because those people don't see a car as as much of a basic necessity. That means they will want and choose places to live where they don't need a car.

Again, VMT per person began declining 3+ years before the economic collapse.

by MLD on Apr 6, 2012 9:55 am • linkreport

I am very surprised to see how often Boston's T moved or eliminated lines. That must be very expensive and very politically risky. (Mostly the light rail green line changed, but other changed as well)

by MW on Apr 6, 2012 10:02 am • linkreport

Barry and his ridamndiculous mouth!

*sigh*

Although his point is valid.

by HogWash on Apr 6, 2012 10:10 am • linkreport

A co-worker (who happens to be Korean since some of my best friends are Korean and I'm not a racist) approached me yesterday, mentioned Barry, said, "Isn't that messed up... he's right," started laughing, and walked away.

by selxic on Apr 6, 2012 10:22 am • linkreport

Hmm, let's see. VMT peaked in 2007 -- the same year the national employment (which is different than unemployment) rates also peaked.

http://www.adpemploymentreport.com/ner/charting.aspx

@ selxic; yep. I was involved in a black-korean task force years ago. When the white and black people left the room, the Koreans opened up. Eye opening.

by charlie on Apr 6, 2012 10:33 am • linkreport

Corner stores in much of DC aren't as lovely and helpful as OP likes to think. Just troublesome "85%ers".

Irony here that the KBA was a big supporter of Barry as mayor. They must have stopped the checks.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 6, 2012 10:36 am • linkreport

charlie - how much is that is illegal immigrants who CAN'T get a driver license? That population also skews young.

QED, amirite?

selxic - (who happens to be Korean since some of my best friends are Korean and I'm not a racist)

This comment is so special.

by Thaps on Apr 6, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris: Where are you getting the OP's thoughts on DC corner stores? I'm not seeing them in the post at all.

by Gray on Apr 6, 2012 10:45 am • linkreport

Charlie-

Car ownership, even in DC, where the per capita income has been growing faster than inflation, and unemployment has been relatively stable, is way way down - especially in the under 34 demographic. Also, as the study clearly shows, public transport, cycling and walking are all way way up for under 34s earning more than $70,000. Clearly, you are dead wrong. It isn't just unemployment, as these driving figures are paralleled for not only the employed, but also for those who are making lots of money.

by dukiebiddle on Apr 6, 2012 10:52 am • linkreport

charlie,

Also, in the past 10 years or so, there have been significant more restrictions placed on under 18 drivers, thus making driving more of pain and has lessen the appeal. It used to be just don't drink, now there is a litany of restriction from the times you can drive and who can ride with you.

by RJ on Apr 6, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

Gray- OP is Office of Planning, not opening post.

by Tom Coumaris on Apr 6, 2012 10:59 am • linkreport

I am very surprised to see how often Boston's T moved or eliminated lines. That must be very expensive and very politically risky. (Mostly the light rail green line changed, but other changed as well)

The changes all seem to be the elimination of elevated/surface routes (usually replaced by a subway), or elimination of streetcar surface routes.

It's not really surprising, and paralleled changes elsewhere in the country. It's one of the reasons why Metro used very few elevated lines (and the designers were careful to brand them as "aerial" structures). Sadly, we're making that mistake again by building a huge, hulking elevated railway through Tysons. I doubt it'll survive more than 50 years before we tear it down or abandon it.

by andrew on Apr 6, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

Sadly, we're making that mistake again by building a huge, hulking elevated railway through Tysons. I doubt it'll survive more than 50 years before we tear it down or abandon it.

No, we are not making the same mistake.

There's a huge difference between an elevated structure over a street like you'd have in Boston and New York and Chicago, and one in the median of an 8+ lane highway. That part of Tysons might be an eyesore, but it won't be because of the aerial rail structure.

by Alex B. on Apr 6, 2012 11:06 am • linkreport

I'll take that as complimentary, Thaps. Too often, this site, the writers, and comments take everything too seriously.

by selxic on Apr 6, 2012 11:49 am • linkreport

@Andrew

Totally agree, they really dropped the ball by putting it on top of Tysons. Rail lines are like fences, and tough to get around. Think the red line by NY Ave etc. Such a mistake to put the red line above ground over there.

For the sake of saving money up front, you then have to deal with that mistake for the next 50 years or so. Dumb.

by Kyle W on Apr 6, 2012 12:01 pm • linkreport

Youth driving (they are skewing it to include 34 year olds) is more a function on unemployment than a change in behavior.

The report actually says the trend has been strongest among the middle and upper classes, not the unemployed:

“From 2001 to 2009, young people (16- to 34-year-olds) who lived in households with annual incomes of over $70,000 increased their use of public transit by 100 percent, biking by 122 percent, and walking by 37 percent.”

This passes the smell test as anecdotally, it certainly appears that bikers are predominantly folks living in the wealthier parts of town. For Arlington, a study that confirms that your typical biker is wealthy with a median income of $108K:

http://www.arlnow.com/2011/12/27/study-reveals-habits-motivations-of-local-bicyclists/

What data would you need to see to be convinced that there is in fact a long term shift away from driving among the young?

by Falls Church on Apr 6, 2012 12:07 pm • linkreport

Re elevated lines

replacement of elevated lines is driven by A. The physical obsolescence of said lines B. Structural maintenance cycles C. Narrowness of streets (as ALex B points out) and D the density of surrounding areas

I know when the old Manhattan els were replaced by subway, it was mostly due to their inability to handle modern heavier rail cars, and limited speeds due to their geometry. The later post WW1 els built in NYC (in brooklyn, bronx and Queens) are still there, and are approaching 100 years old. The Chicago loop el is still there, despite being on narrow streets and near some of the most valuable real estate in the US. Im not sure about the Boston els. Anyone with more details should chime in.

I think it MOST unlikely that the Tysons el will considered for replacement in 50 years. It will be narrower and quieter than the 100 plus year old els, and as Alex B points out, on much wider roads. That means a lesser issue of blocking light than say for the Chicago loop, and it also means its a much smaller barrier to pedestrians than are the roads themselves.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 6, 2012 12:09 pm • linkreport

"Think the red line by NY Ave etc. Such a mistake to put the red line above ground over there."

I'm confused. That's adjacent to an existing railroad ROW that serves as a much more dramatic fence, no?

by AWalkerInTheCity on Apr 6, 2012 12:12 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity: I was going to ask the same thing. All of those rail lines and yards are no big deal for pedestrians to cross, but the metro line is a problem, right?

by Gray on Apr 6, 2012 2:03 pm • linkreport

Both Chicago and Philadelphia have spent hundreds of millions of dollars rebuilding elevated rail lines in recent years. The new structures are considerably quieter and less visually obtrusive than the old ones, thanks to reinforced concrete. Meanwhile, cities like Vancouver have seen development blossom along new elevated rail lines.

Boston replaced the Washington Street el with a surface/subway alignment along the canceled but cleared route of I-95.

by Payton on Apr 6, 2012 2:08 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

Fair enough. The lines were there, and as such the metro in that spot is not an impediment. Better example would have been Silver Spring perhaps.

The point does stand, if all of the lines near Union Station were underground, the are would have better continuity etc. Point being, the Metro through Tysons, is going to be used for commutting for the most part, and doesn't seem like it will do nearly as good of a job of creating a livable walkable community as if the stations were in better locations.

by Kyle W on Apr 6, 2012 2:54 pm • linkreport

@Kyle W

The railroad tracks were there before the Metro in Silver Spring, too.

by Alex B. on Apr 6, 2012 3:36 pm • linkreport

I think the less driving is a real trend, but more complex and somewhat less dramatic than ran antagonists claim. The big jumps in walking, etc. is rising from a very low baseline. There are still plenty of places where anything but a car is rarity---in Atlanta, its unusual to see whites on a bus.

Used cars are much more expensive than the used to be and gas prices are volatile at best. In contrast, incomes have not been growing and much of the burden of unemployment and under employment is borne by those at the younger end of the age spectrum. Household income can mean all kinds of things--it may, for example, reflect employment in high cost cities which also tend to be expensive places to live.

I should note that I'm not "young" and gave up my car almost 5 years ago. I know I'm not unalone in still enjoying driving and renting cars on occasion. An despite the testimonials, there's been more demand for the parking space I own (a hedge against needing a car in the future) in the past year than in previous years.

by Rich on Apr 6, 2012 6:32 pm • linkreport

The PIRG report cited above by way of Streetsblog is a clear example of the selective use of statistics to create a false impression. The report claims, for example, that "Young people who have the funds today to afford cars are still increasing their use of transportation alternatives." It supports this claim by citing the increase in person-miles of travel by public transit between 2001 and 2009 by affluent young workers.

The first problem is that it takes no account of the increase in population between 2001 and 2009. The increase in person-miles of travel per person is much lower than the total increase for all persons, because there were so many more persons in 2009 than in 2001. The second and more serious problem is that although the number of person-miles increased, the number of trips declined (as the report itself notes in a footnote buried on page 34). This indicates that affluent young people took fewer trips by public transit in 2009 compared to 2001, but the average trip length was greater. That trend is completely inconsistent with the "back to the city" and "densification" narratives that the report is promoting. Fewer but longer trips indicates spatial dispersal, not densification. Long transit trips are typically suburb-to-suburb or suburb-to-central-city. The longer the average trip length, the more sprawly the urban environment.

by Bertie on Apr 7, 2012 2:09 am • linkreport

I'd fully agree with the idea that a new car just isn't a cool as it 10 years ago. Again, low cost finacing in the 2000s kinda klled that idea. And people would rather spend $100 a month on iphones rather than a car payment. Great. Again, not a real victory for urbanism.

So your point is that the slow collapse of "car culture" among those under 40 says nothing about the comparative future prospects of completely car-dependent, versus car-lite or -free neighborhoods? That seems off to me.

by oboe on Apr 10, 2012 3:24 pm • linkreport

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