Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Can't we all get along?


Photo by arimoore on Flickr.
Too many wars?: Really, no, there is no "war on cars" despite what car advocates say. Policies promoting walking, biking, and transit "are no more 'anti-car' than a healthy diet is 'anti-food,'" writes Todd Litman. (VTPI)

And in yet another article about the "bike backlash," New York Magazine notes that vitriol might just be fueled by media articles about the "bike backlash."

Cop assaults citizen with car: An off-duty MPD officer allegedly assaulted a Petworth Pleasant Plains restaurant owner with his private vehicle after the man refused to move out of the street where he was helping a truck move out of traffic into an on-street space. (City Paper)

Republicans good for biking?: A Republican Congress may force bike advocates to bridge political differences and better hone messages around freedom and helping business instead of health and climate change. (Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Colonel Brooks project zoning stalls: The DC Zoning Commission has postponed any action on the redevelopment in Brookland until the HPRB makes a decision about potential historic designation for the buildings on the block in question. (Examiner)

Moneme lobbies former WMATA colleagues: Former WMATA COO Emeka Moneme, who is now a lobbyist for MV Transportation, may have used his connections inside the agency to set up meetings and help MV retain the MetroAccess contract. (WAMU)

Examining Metro's capital budget: In the next few years WMATA will make some big ticket capital purchases, but the capital budget is also peppered with many small yet vital items, as well as some more questionable ones. (Examiner)

A national bag fee?: Arlington Representative Jim Moran will reintroduce a federal plastic bag fee proposal on Earth Day after his home jurisdiction failed to get a local bag fee through the Virginia legislature. (Examiner)

Construction afoot in Near SE: As the weather has warmed, so has the development outlook in Near Southeast. The mixed-income rowhouse project that replaced Capper/Carrolsburg housing project, conversion of an old Post warehouse into DC government office space, a new park and coffee shop are all pushing forward. (JDLand)

And...: Jonetta Rose Barras calls Congress the "District's state legislature." A legislature filled with people not from the state. (Examiner) ... Ever noticed the large old building on Pennsylvania Ave SE and wondered what it used to be? ... A Post reader has some sound advice for those who complain about parking meter rates and hours. (Michael P)

Have a tip for the links? Submit it here.
Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

Comments

Add a comment »

I love the bag fee, but a national one? Do we really want to stir that hornet's nest? Maybe just publicize that nature mockumentary, "The Majestic Plastic Bag"

by Ward 1 Guy on Mar 21, 2011 9:03 am • linkreport

+1 to the letter to the Washington Post. I live in the U Street neighborhood and am continually amazed at how hard people fight for sidewalk parking instead of paying $5 or $10 for a spot in the Reeves Center. It's less than the cost of one of the many mojitos and appletinis they came to the neighborhood to drink and probably closer to where they are going. Why is it that people hate using garages?

Meanwhile, residents, who need overnight parking (not available in the Reeves Center or other lots) have to do what I have recently done: double park, unload my car, drive to Columbia Heights, find a parking spot on their streets, take a bus or bikeshare home, and retrieve the car the next day. (Try doing that with a baby or a disability!) Thank you, suburbanites, who need to drive your SUVs to the Lincoln Theater and to U Street nightlife! Enjoy our free street parking!

by Ward 1 Guy on Mar 21, 2011 9:11 am • linkreport

@Ward 1 Guy

It's rational behavior - on-street parking has the advantage of being both cheaper and easier to get in/get out. The prices ought to be reversed. The on-street parking should be more expensive, the garage parking should be cheaper.

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2011 9:27 am • linkreport

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but other than the low-income seniors, the supposedly low income workforce housing in the former Capper/Carrolsburg is pretty high. You can't make less than about $84k or more than $119k to buy into the workforce units there.

I think "mixed-income" gives people the impression that actual poor people or people besides low income seniors who used to live in the housing project might be able to live there. That's just not the case.

Let's be honest about what we are talking about. This is mixed income in the sense that middle class and higher incomes are "mixed."

by Kate on Mar 21, 2011 9:48 am • linkreport

@AlexB; interesting logic. You must really expensive parking then. Cover the price of the building, rent, employees, security, insurance for a garage -- and then make street parking more expensive than that. Sounds wonderful.

The "bike-backlash" has three components:

1. CIty where there are lot of pedestrians, who are starting to really fear bikers
2. Badly behaving bikers. Yesterday I was out. The number of red light runner -- one across Pennsylvania Ave -- salmons and bike-lane salmons is just growing. Not to mention sidewalk riders.
3. Drivers who are stuck in traffic and wonder why an extra lane has been reserved for bikes, when nobody uses them. Weather, time of day matters on this, but it is still irritating.

by charlie on Mar 21, 2011 10:01 am • linkreport

Initially Work Force Housing was targeted at "essential workers" in a community i.e. police officers, firemen, teachers, nurses, medical personnel. It wasn't supposed to be section 8 or another program targeting lower incomes.

by RJ on Mar 21, 2011 10:05 am • linkreport

@Kate, the workforce housing at Capper is a different income level from the section 8/public housing. There are three income levels at Capitol Quarter--market-rate, workforce-rate, and public assistance.

Quoting my Capper page because I'm lazy and don't want to retype:

At Capitol Quarter, the entire first phase of the project is now complete, with 61 market-rate townhouses, 42 workforce-rate units, 8 Section 8 ownership units and 39 subsidized rental units.

Capitol Quarter's second phase [...] will include another 60 market-rate units, 39 workforce-rate units, 17 Section 8 ownership units, and 47 subsidized rental units. Reservations are already being taken for some of the market-rate units.

by JD on Mar 21, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

City where there are lot of pedestrians, who are starting to really fear bikers

Speaking as a pedestrian who owns neither a car nor a bicycle, whatever fear I feel for outlaw bicyclists pales next to the terror inspired by the average motorist.

If motorists really want to create common cause with pedestrians against bicyclists, as a first step they need to discover what turn signals and speed limits mean. Next, work on the differences between a right turn on red and a green arrow. Until then, this pedestrian will feel safer with the bicyclists, flawed though they are.

by cminus on Mar 21, 2011 10:15 am • linkreport

@charlie

interesting logic. You must really expensive parking then. Cover the price of the building, rent, employees, security, insurance for a garage -- and then make street parking more expensive than that. Sounds wonderful.

Of course, that's not what I said.

What I did say is that on-street parking is easy to use for the driver. There's an inherent cost in using a garage and that prevents people from doing so - time driving in, walking out, etc. To the driver, the on-street spaces are more valuable. Do you disagree?

You're talking about the practical realities of letting the price float. Sure, garage operators have costs to cover. I never said they didn't, nor did I say that only on-street rates should change.

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2011 10:18 am • linkreport

There isn't a war on cars?

So what do you call it when people propose eliminating parking spots and increasing gas taxes to modify behavior?

Sounds very anti to me.

by TGEoA on Mar 21, 2011 10:21 am • linkreport

Isn't street parking generally cheaper because it's "public" parking as opposed to private parking? The land on which street parking takes place is government owned and government administered. A for-profit garage has the cost of the property, real estate taxes, the cost of operation. All these costs for street parking are nominally covered by sales, income, and whatever other taxes you already pay.

Or am I missing the actual "public" (IE not owned by a company other than the USG) garages that already exist.

Parking Garages and the cost associated are an interesting subject. Should the cost be covered by the people who are parking there? or by the businesses which need the people to park there? Or some combination thereof? And how much does the fact there is some Cheap parking around contribute to an areas livelyhood, even though most people are gonna have to pay $18 for garage parking.

by Joe M. on Mar 21, 2011 10:22 am • linkreport

@AlexB; I'd hate to see what you think about valet!

Your statement is a bit ambiguous; do you want price momentum (Street up, garage lower) or absolutes (street parking as more expensive than garage parking). I read your comment the second way, but it is a bit loose.

And you're starting an externality argument, which is a fools game. Yes, to me street parking is faster. To a lot of people, it is very stressful trying to park on the street. Security also an issue. Time is only about where your final destination, if any, is. Also, many garages have this thing called a closing time.

Admitting garage parking is superior in many cases -- and could be cheaper -- also goes up against the primary Shoupian catechism: abolish garage parking to save developer costs.

by charlie on Mar 21, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

@Joe M.

Yes, that's usually why parking on street is cheaper. The question is if that makes sense in the grand scheme of our parking and transportation system - I would posit that it does not.

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

@charlie

Your statement is a bit ambiguous; do you want price momentum (Street up, garage lower) or absolutes (street parking as more expensive than garage parking). I read your comment the second way, but it is a bit loose.

Of course it is! It's blog post comment, not a PhD dissertation. I don't want either of those things over the other, the proper solution would depend on the context.

And you're starting an externality argument, which is a fools game. Yes, to me street parking is faster. To a lot of people, it is very stressful trying to park on the street. Security also an issue. Time is only about where your final destination, if any, is. Also, many garages have this thing called a closing time.

Yes, the market is inefficient. That doesn't mean the externality doesn't exist, or that we can't do better with the public policy tools available to us.

Admitting garage parking is superior in many cases -- and could be cheaper -- also goes up against the primary Shoupian catechism: abolish garage parking to save developer costs.

No, it doesn't - you've twisted Shoup's arguments here.

Garage parking isn't necessarily superior, it depends on the kind of parking. Garage parking has, all else being equal, a higher cost thanks to entry and exit time, therefore it's useful for longer term parking.

I also didn't argue that it should be cheaper in an absolute sense, I argued that it could be cheaper than on-street parking.

As for developers, you're conflating two very different issues - 1) how we should price and allocate the parking supply that we have, and 2) how we should decide to add more parking capacity.

Since we're talking about pricing spaces that already exist, we're talking about number 1 here. Your argument about Shoup and saving development costs is about number 2 - and nowhere does he argue to 'abolish' garages.

You can probably offer some substantive criticism of these issues without distorting Shoup's arguments, Charlie.

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2011 10:46 am • linkreport

@alexB; well, you're still dancing around but it seems as if you want garage parking to be cheaper than street parking, as you see street parking as a premium product.

And your division of pricing models vs. zoning choices is artificial, becuase you're not looking at the real message of Shoup. Shoup, like new urbanists, wants density. Density means larger buildings. Larger buildings, with parking minimums, means underground lots. Underground lots means a lot more expense and difficulty building. Hence, get rid of parking minimums, throw up buildings with substantially reduced excavation costs, let street parking take the new tenants rather than garage, and then price the hell out of street parking to keep congestion down.

And you said, it is blog post. Distorting arguments is all we do here!

by charlie on Mar 21, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

Street parking vs garage: for personal safety street parking is safer than garage parking.

by Tina on Mar 21, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

@Tina; for smash and grab robberies, garage parking is safer.

by charlie on Mar 21, 2011 11:06 am • linkreport

@Charlie

And your division of pricing models vs. zoning choices is artificial, becuase you're not looking at the real message of Shoup. Shoup, like new urbanists, wants density. Density means larger buildings. Larger buildings, with parking minimums, means underground lots. Underground lots means a lot more expense and difficulty building. Hence, get rid of parking minimums, throw up buildings with substantially reduced excavation costs, let street parking take the new tenants rather than garage, and then price the hell out of street parking to keep congestion down.

So what? What does any of that have to do with setting the prices for garages that already exist?

If you want to argue for/against Shoup, that's fine - just do so honestly. What does that paragraph of yours have to do with the price of existing parking garages?

by Alex B. on Mar 21, 2011 11:07 am • linkreport

"So what do you call it when people propose eliminating parking spots and increasing gas taxes to modify behavior?"

@TGEoA- I call it an equitable distribution of "public space" and making you actually come close to paying your own way.
Roads aren't your driveway, they belong to everyone. Look, the WHAAAaaammmbulance is coming down one right now to pick you up.

by thump on Mar 21, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

@charlie- I said "personal safety". I was not referring to property theft. Your response respresents oblivion of most men to the personal safety issues women think about all the time.

For edification -if you're a man and you are walking behind a woman alone she's going to think of you as a possible attacker not the good-looking gentle charmer you may be. Any man, any age, any ethnicity, dressed any way.

Parking garages are scary even in the daytime. I'm simply suggesting a reason why some people will go out of their way to park on the street to avoid a garage. Its not about protecting the car and its contents.

by Tina on Mar 21, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

@TGoEA
There isn't a war on cars?
So what do you call it when people propose eliminating parking spots and increasing gas taxes to modify behavior?

Sounds very anti to me.

Let's try this a different way:

There isn't a war on people who don't want to drive to work?
So what do you call it when people propose gutting public transportation and expanding and building roads and more roads, to modify behavior?

Sounds very anti to me.

by EJ on Mar 21, 2011 11:28 am • linkreport

Just to put things in perspective: The US just started a war against Libyan pilots.

by Jasper on Mar 21, 2011 12:08 pm • linkreport

@thumper - You want people to pay their own way? Then you should be in favor of removing the gas tax that supports Metro and let riders pay their full share.

@EJ -- I'm disputing the article's laughable theory that their isnt a war on cars. "Smart growth" advocates are suffering from delusions of grandeur.

by TGEoA on Mar 21, 2011 12:14 pm • linkreport

@ Thump

"I call it an equitable distribution of "public space" and making you actually come close to paying your own way"

Someone did the analysis outlining the subsidized cost of private car ownership versus commuter rail

"the subsidized cost per passenger-mile for private vehicle owners is about 39 cents per mile, as I computed yesterday. The average unsubsidized cost per passenger-mile for the most cost-efficient mode of mass transit, commuter rail, is 64 cents per mile."

You can read the pages long analysis, numbers and assumptions at the GGW link below.

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/6815/struck-in-dc-this-week-13-pedestrians-3-cyclists/#comment-65829

by freely on Mar 21, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

The "War on Cars"; about as real as the fantasy "War on Christmas".

Car-supremacists are just ticked off that other modes are getting slightly more consideration now. Don't worry—there will be hundreds of thousands of miles of asphalt ribbons for your gas-burning car for decades to come.

It's just that the era of the ever-ballooning 'burbs is coming to end, brought on by increasing fuel prices, diminished land for development, a saturated housing market, declining household sizes, and a new generation that doesn't think much of the 60-mile commute.

by Sully A. on Mar 21, 2011 1:12 pm • linkreport

@Freely- As he states in his analysis, he disregards several negative externality costs b/c he doesn't think the positive costs are included. While I'm sure it makes sense to figure in the positive externalities, you can't just discount the negative. He, or someone else, needs to figure out the positives first and see if they're comparable or offset the negatives enough to make them neutral. I doubt that is the case.
Also, I was referring to TGEoA's statement that parking was taken away, not specifically, costs per mile. Again, this goes back to a belief that there is a right for personal vehicles to be stored on public property. That's fine, but currently the cost of street parking in most major cities is significantly lower than the "market rate".
@TGEoA-It's "Thump", not "thumper". Says so right at the bottom of my comment.

by thump on Mar 21, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

@freely

Did you even read the VTPI paper? One of the big problems with that "analysis" you're touting (and I use that word loosely given that it has no citations and no real accountable author) is that it's using all NHTS data to make a bunch of REALLY BIG assumptions that don't apply when you want to compare commuter rail (or any other transit) vs. auto travel. The NHTS data includes long distance highway driving and such, and that's not something transit even attempts to cover.

Find some data that talks about places where transit service is actually competing against auto travel (peak period trips) and make an argument with that.

There's so much wrong with even the two sentences you reposted that I don't even know where to begin. Maybe with this: what is the value of comparing the "subsidy" granted to one entity with the "total cost" of another? They make transit look way more expensive because they completely ignore any fares paid.

by MLD on Mar 21, 2011 2:10 pm • linkreport

TGEoA wrote: You want people to pay their own way? Then you should be in favor of removing the gas tax that supports Metro and let riders pay their full share.

Perhaps we should do the same with roads, so that we're not using property taxes or sales taxes to pay for them. My back-of-the-napkin calculations suggest we'd need, at a minimum, a 50-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax to do so.

by Froggie on Mar 22, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.

or