Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s recent advocacy of treating cycling and walking as integral parts of holistic transportation planning has generated comment after comment after comment--mostly favorable. That’s not to say the idea is without its share of controversy. The National Association of Manufacturers said the policy lacked connection to the real world and the role of the United States as a modern industrial economy. Members of Congress questioned cycling projects’ ability to create jobs. Others called it pandering to the spandex crowd.
In which we, hopefully regularly, highlight articles and resources of note: Portland, Ore. is spending $47 million on an economic development project… for the homeless. Cleveland magazine argues the city won’t be reborn until it “buries its dead” and that means demolishing vacant properties.
“For too long the perception, the narrative, around Western Pennsylvania, or Ohio, or Michigan has been around the so-called Rust Belt. Actually what you have in this part of the country is almost a kind of “brain belt.” There are incredible assets not only in the higher ed institutions but also on the factory floor, the places where innovation happens in almost a natural state.” --Bruce Katz in a wide-ranging discussion of America’s emerging next economy, its role as a global exporter, and the nation’s “get a grip moment.”
Recent pieces of note: David Broder on how state budgets are being affected by the Great Recession The Detroit News on the difficulties of “downsizing” the Motor City Sam Roberts reports on how minority births are now almost one half of the U.S. total The administration looks to exports to boost the economy
Christian Wolmar’s recent New York Times piece advocating a major Amtrak Acela corridor upgrade and an AP file datelined Buena Park, California are illustrative when it comes to the hurdles facing the nation in building high speed rail. In the Times, Wolmar argues that Acela should be made into a sort of demonstration project to truly achieve high speeds. That would involve straightening tracks, improving the catenary power supply, and eliminating grade crossings at substantial cost.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka, ARRA, aka the Recovery Act, aka the stimulus bill) doesn’t get any respect, in some ways deservedly. We ourselves have complained, since its inception one year ago, about its reliance on existing “business-as-usual” delivery systems, which thwarted any conversation about real reform and reinforced the approach of spreading money around instead of targeting investments.
Initial ballot results should come in around 11 p.m. Eastern tonight for Oregon’s proposal to tax high-earners and businesses to cover a $733 million shortfall in the state budget. If passed, Measure 66 would increase the income tax by two percentage points on those earning over $125,000.
If you put aside the debate over the overt, or non-existent depending on your viewpoint, hucksterism of Richard Florida’s economic development prescriptions as described by Alec MacGillis in the American Prospect, you’ll find the piece has spawned a real debate over what sorts of policy approaches might best work for the places we call shrinking cities. While MacGillis’ smackdown is entertaining (prompting Willy Staley at Next American City to say the whole piece reminded him of the Simpsons monorail episode), his blog debate with Ryan Avent examines the gamut of issues surrounding the cities
Talk of bicycle infrastructure dominated last evening’s “Cities, Cycling, and the Future of Getting Around” forum last night at the Newseum. Heavily attended by members of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, the event, sponsored by the National Association of City Transportation Officials and Brookings, featured comments from avid cyclist/author/Talking Heads musician David Byrne, Congressional Bike Caucus Chair Rep.
A key tenet of public transit advocates has always been to provide commuters with choices beyond the single-occupant vehicle and also to price the true cost of drive alone travel. Then man the rational economic animal kicks in and theoretically chooses the cheaper, and greener, transit option. But we all know man isn’t a completely rational actor, taking into account all sorts of intangible inputs, from perceived status to subjective quality.