Posts about Texas
Will grocery shopping in the future look the same as it does today? Two stores are pursuing very different visions of changing shopping, from a large multinational helping people buy with smartphones to a small store abolishing wasteful packaging.
International retail giant Tesco pioneered a system in Korea where they paste large, full-size posters of store shelves on the walls of subway stations. While waiting for a train, people can buy items using their smartphones.
This is a logical extension of online shopping we have today, such as Peapod, which works pretty well in DC. However, while we work to reduce wasteful disposable bag usage, services like Peapod generally deliver their items in very large numbers of plastic bags.
A new store in Austin, on the other hand, is going entirely packaging-free. People bring their own packaging, or can buy some at the store. While most stores sell produce without packaging and some offer bulk grains and nuts in bins, in.gredients will also sell items like beer and cleaning solvents in the same way.
The Overhead Wire illustrates the destruction that wanton parking lot construction wreaks upon downtowns.
Left is Houston "at one point." Photo from the book The City Shaped: Urban Patterns and Meanings Through History via Transit Miami. Right is Rotterdam after bombing in World War II, via Wassenaar Expat.
The Overhead Wire writes,
Europe had war, yet we dismantled our cities in a similar way in the name of progress. So much parking though, what has that done to the city's value? What has it taken away in terms of tax revenue from land and greater employment agglomerations? A study by Anne Moudon and Dohn Wook Sohn showed that offices that were clustered had greater values than those that weren't in the Seattle region. In addition to the spending on highways that expanded our regions to their current far reaches, how much real estate value did we destoy?The post concludes with a look at Hartford, CT's downtown before and after Interstate 84 blasted through, from a presentation by Norman Garrick to the Congress for the New Urbanism:
fascinating history of the long debate over stadiums in DC.
Morgan Boulevard/PG United, maybe: DC United owner Victor McFarlane's first choice for a stadium site is a 37-acre property at the Morgan Boulevard station. According to the article, some Maryland officials are also skeptical about the wisdom of dedicating revenue bonds to the project amid severe budget cuts. (Post)
Signs at last: The National Park Service is planning new signs that represent a huge departure from the Mall's current signage. The major change: unlike the previous signs, these will actually tell visitors how to reach major attractions. (WTOP)
Bike trails, less of a freeway feel, and parking meters, oh my! Signs aren't the only piece of NPS's new Mall plan. WashCycle has a summary of the proposal, which includes separated bicycle facilities and bike trails throughout the mall, better pedestrian connections between the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin (currently a mess of freeway-like ramps for cars), and parking meters on Madison, Jefferson, and Ohio drives. WashCycle even gives us a little shout-out.
Why 7? Why any time? Mount Pleasant's Jack McKay sensibly asks why the National Park Service reopens Beach Drive, in Rock Creek Park, to traffic at 7 pm on Sundays. It's still light out, and runners and cyclists are still enjoying the park. There's no urgency to move traffic Sunday nights. Why not wait until dark, or after? (DCwatch)
Mess with Texas's bags: A Dallas state representative has introduced a bill to charge 7 cents for, similar to DC's proposed 5-cent charge. Other Texas lawmakers and Wal-Mart are pushing an alternative which would simply require stores to offer reusable bags, stamp bags with reminders to return them to the store, and recycling bins in the store for the bags. Recycling is a very distant second to reusing, making the latter proposal potentially much less effective.
Transit opponents like to claim that our gas taxes fully pay for roads, while transit requires ongoing subsidies. Therefore, free-market economics would conclude that we should only build roads.
There's just one problem: gas taxes don't pay for roads at all. Take the Texas DOT's word for it: "There is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less."
According to TxDOT, the proposed 15-mile SH-99 in Houston will recover only 16% of its costs in gas taxes.
Almost all US transit systems have a higher farebox recovery ratio; WMATA's is 61.6%, which means we are subsidizing every single road in Texas more than Washington's buses and trains (same for the NYC subway, the Bay Area's BART and Caltrain, Philadelphia's SEPTA and PATCO, and New Jersey Transit, the other systems that Wikipedia lists as having farebox recovery greater than 50%). Farebox recovery ratios don't account for capital costs, so it's not a fair comparison. Still, whether we build roads or rails, the public is subsidizing it. There's no transportation system that directly pays for itself. Our task as citizens is to decide which kind of transportation investments create the kind of development growth and economic activity we want.
Thanks to Jeff of Reconnecting America for the tip.
- Cyclists are special and do have their own rules
- M Street cycle track keeps improving, draws church anger
- O'Malley announces first projects using new gas tax money
- Can Loudoun grow while protecting its rural areas?
- ICC losing bus service in classic bait and switch
- Silver Spring mall could get massive facelift, new name
- WMATA launches "Short Trip" rail pass on SmarTrip