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Brunch links: Big new parking

Image from Curbed via Streetsblog.
Manhattan's own DC USA: Like DC, Manhattan has an urban big box store complex with a garage going mostly empty, a landlord surprised so many people take transit, and big ongoing government subsidies. (Streetsblog NYC, Stephen Miller)

Automated garages: A maker of automated parking systems produced a video of their garage located under a public square in Budapest. (Erik W) ... A new automated parking garage in Chicago's Bucktown may be the first to get LEED Gold, touted as "emissions free," though the car traffic it generates won't be. (Government Technology, Bryan)

It's still complex: Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. would rather not get a traditional Wal-Mart on New York Avenue ... Rental housing is turning into condos again ... How about a conservation district for Barney Circle? It worked in Galveston, Texas. (City Paper)

Bus "driver" arrested: Metro Transit Police arrested a man driving a bus after he crashed into a tree and kept driving. But the kicker, which they don't reveal until the end, is that the man wasn't a real bus driver; he had stolen the bus from the depot.

BRT not so rapid: Cleveland's new BRT line, the HealthLine, is not moving faster than the previous regular bus. City officials are tinkering with the lights to try to speed it up. (, George B)

Which Gov's better for schools?: A Baltimore Sun editorial praises Martin O'Malley's pledge to construct more schools, and notes that Bob Ehrlich actually cut school capital projects to pay for the ICC.

Making crossing worse for safety: 8 pedestrians were hit by cars in 2 years at an intersection in Rockville, but MCDOT refuses to install a regular light since it would "impact" traffic. Instead, they're putting in a button-activated HAWK signal. Unfortunately, pedestrians will have to push a button, wait, cross halfway, then push another button and wait a whole second cycle, which in the county is often 150 seconds. (Gazette)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Also note that the 19-year-old bus thief was apparently wearing a busdriver's uniform.

by KCinDC on Jul 10, 2010 10:25 am • linkreport

The Automated Garage in the video was AWESOME !!

The incredible use of space seems perfect for new buildings in prized land spots -like 14th Street.

by Bob Moses XIV on Jul 10, 2010 1:33 pm • linkreport

Don't feel like submitting this via the "Tip Line," but two relevant developments:

1. Arlington to approve second Rosslyn entrance:

2. Metro gets the go-ahead to spend the "safety measures" money that was jeopardized by Governor Bob:

by Dizzy on Jul 10, 2010 1:54 pm • linkreport

That automated garage is clever, but I don't think most American drivers [especially here in DC] are skilled enough to place their vehicles correctly centered on the parking platform. We would probably have to have the stations manned by a valet or significantly larger platforms with a greater margin of error.

by ontarioroader on Jul 10, 2010 2:11 pm • linkreport

Seems like the cops need to be asking the 19-year old how he had a bus driver's uniform and gained access to the depot.

by Fritz on Jul 10, 2010 4:56 pm • linkreport

Why arent pedestrians traffic?

The LOS for a 150 second wait is clearly an F.

by J on Jul 10, 2010 5:52 pm • linkreport

Though the article doesn't specify WHERE on Gude Dr the HAWK signal would go, this appears to be to be an appropriate place for such a signal. I also think the "150 second" cycle length comment by David is a bit of fear-mongering...this doesn't operate like a normal signal so the actual number will likely be a lot less.

by Froggie on Jul 10, 2010 8:39 pm • linkreport

The story about the Healthline confirms what I wrote about it last year. Those buses spend an inordinate amount of time sitting at red lights. Even on a old crummy hybrid bike, I could get from University Circle to downtown Cleveland in about as much time as people on the Healthline.

by Rob Pitingolo on Jul 10, 2010 10:56 pm • linkreport

That entire Euclid Ave project is a complete waste. In cities like Cleveland, are these city beautification projects even useful? The core problem is a massive lack of development. Rather see investments in preserving the rich housing stock before it is torn down (another city funded project, seriously). I'd love to see a cleveland project take over heritage houses and sell them to gay couples.

The HAWK article writeup is a bit off; there is no "Complete cycle"; the light flashes yellow all the time and when someone presses a button it turns red to allow pedestrian to cross. Not a bad idea.

by charlie on Jul 11, 2010 8:55 am • linkreport

@charlie--most of Euclid Avenue has been blighted for decades, particularly the section from 55th to 107th. That area was filled in with car lots, wholesalers, loft manufacturing, and mostly rundown retail. The once vibrant shopping entertainment strip at the far Eastern declined from the 50s onward. Places closer in had been declining since the 40s. Abandonment throughout this area took place after the Hough & Glenville riots of the 60s. The rather grand housing to the N of Euclid had been declining since the 30s--often subdivided and some of it removed for the building of Chester Avenue (a commuter boulevard) in the late 40s. The stretch between the traditional downtown and 55th used to be filled in with regional offices of businesses and hotel. That area has had its own decline and for decades was a major prostitution stroll.

There has been a long-term effort going back to the 70s to remove the most unsalvagable structures from Eastern Euclid Ave, and find new uses for the more sound ones. the area has been lucky to have institutions who've stayed and continued to build, like Cleveland Clinic and Cleveland Playhouse. This has been complemented by the development of single family and condo housing on somewhat greater the typical suburban density, near the Cleveland Clinic. The BRT is meant to be one step in making the are more attractive for a variety of uses. The downtown area and the "midtown" corridor to its East have slowly been attracting new kinds of development including housing and non-profits, as well as investment from Cleveland State University. Long way of saying that BRT may be a dumb idea in many places, but stick to ones you know about.

by Rich on Jul 11, 2010 12:19 pm • linkreport

RE: Rockville crossing-

A two-stage crossing *can* have benefits for both peds & vehicles. Operating each leg independently can enable pedestrians to fit between vehicular platoons, and the ped phase doesn't necessarily have to wait a full 150 second cycle each time.

Actually, waiting a full cycle would be pointless since it'd then sync in with the same point it was in the previous cycle. You'd want it to be shorter to fit in with when the other flow's direction is moving.

I'm unfamiliar with the specific intersection, but there's a good chance it could benefit peds by providing a safe crossing which should be far less than 150 seconds per crossing; and without adverse impact to vehicular traffic. Trying to push more intrustive pedestrian signals in place (especially in areas with comparatively low existing pedestrian volumes) only lends further fodder to the powerful & vocal motoring lobbies. Doing something less invasive has a strong potential to start shifting mindsets to pedestrian-oriented at a more gradual pace.

It has a potential to be win-win, but I can't say for sure until it's put in place. Similarly, note that it's reported to be an experiment -- something that just came up a couple weeks ago regarding the Penn Ave Bike Lanes where people were a number of folk were glad to see things being tested out to see if they work. If they do work, great; and if they don't: it's good experience & lessons learned of what went well and what didn't pan out as hoped.

by Bossi on Jul 11, 2010 2:55 pm • linkreport


As a pedestrian, this is one of my pet peeves. How long is it acceptable to strand pedestrians on a small concrete island in the middle of eight lanes of speeding traffic? If not 150 seconds, then 120 seconds? 90? 45?

This is one of the many, many reasons why no one walks out in the 'burbs unless they absolutely have to.

by oboe on Jul 12, 2010 1:42 pm • linkreport


I agree with you... to an extent. And it'd depend on whether the crossing is solely a pedestrian crossing (I got the impression that this is what's planned for Gude) or if it's a crossing worked into a full movement vehicular/pedestrian signal.

If just a ped signal: at a high volume crossing, absolutely it's something that is probably less than ideal.

However, if a low volume crossing: I'm inclined to side with the motorists -- it's difficult to justify stopping a large volume of users for 25 seconds (each) than a single pedestrian for a full 150 seconds (assuming a more worst-case delay for the ped).

Whereas a 2-stage crossing could still provide a safe crossing for that one pedestrian whilst fitting in between the gaps of traffic in each direction independently.

I won't deny that it can be slower for peds, but keep in mind that pedestrians are still physically able to cross against the signal; however they're also given an option of utilising a safer crossing which they hadn't had before.

For suburban volumes of pedestrians of only a couple per day, my opinion is that this can be a decent solution until land use patterns change such that pedestrian volumes demand something more substantive.

To touch more upon the safety element: median design does require some consideration. First, width must be adequate to provide for ADA considerations, fitting in bikes, and also providing adequate storage for peds/bikes.

Secondly, particularly along higher-speed roads, the median should provide some sense of comfort. Clearly, standing on a 4-ft concrete divider with 50 MPH traffic on each side of you is not the most inviting of spaces, and a 6-ft median may still put some at unease -- especially if the crossing is along a curve or if lanes are narrowed only at the crossing in order to make room for the median refuge (College Park's Trolley Trail crossing on Paint Branch Pkwy being a prime example of a less-comfortable refuge island).

There have been some interesting approaches nationally as well as abroad regarding making median areas more inviting & safe for pedestrians, with the trick being how to provide something capable of protecting pedestrians albeit without causing significant risk to motorists. Deflecting errant motorists is one common route, but of course deflection can be tricky in that one must ensure that the vehicle isn't deflected into an even worse trajectory; isn't instead vaulted into the air; or what happens if the vehicle strikes head-on such that it isn't deflected.

Another element to consider is whether or not there is median-based transit station, where pedestrian trips may be focused more on the station -- requiring only a half-crossing in the first place -- with a comparatively low volume of movements traveling fully across the crossing.

Transit stations may also widen the crossing to such a degree that to provide for a full crossing, it could be necessary to provide upwards of 50+ seconds for the crossing... again, difficult to justify if only 1-2 people are doing it.

As for 2-stage crossings at full movement intersections serving vehicles as well as peds: depending on the geometry and operations it may be that a 2-stage crossing can actually increase both the frequency & total amount of walk time provided for pedestrians. This is particularly true of intersections with split-phasing or with exclusive/protected left-turn phases, though attention must also be given toward potential conflicts with U-turning movements.

@Anyone still reading this far down-

If you've been to London, how did you feel about the numerous 2-stage crossings rather prevalent throughout the city? This was my first experience with them & they left a pretty good impression on me. They include a mix of ped-only signals as well as vehicle/ped signals. They tend to be high ped volume as well as high vehicle volume, but also generally low(ish) speeds of about 35 MPH or less.

I was a pedestrian 100% of the time, though; no experience as a motorist traveling through them. I've come across a number of such crossings elsewhere in the world as both a motorist & a pedestrian, but London's have been undoubtedly the most abundant & systematic.

by Bossi on Jul 12, 2010 4:43 pm • linkreport

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