Wednesday, October 29, 2008

In Vancouver, cars, bikes and people are created equal

I recently visited Vancouver, where cyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles get equal priority. This is unheard of in Atlanta or most America cities, where the automobile has been a top DOT priority for the past 50 years.
There are no freeways running through downtown Vancouver, and retail stores wrap around every single block. Mixed use, high density development and bicycle lanes are everywhere, yet the streets do not feel over burdened.
Many of my friends who live and work in Vancouver will disagree with that last statement, telling me it takes them 20-30 minutes to get a few miles in their car. Of course, none of them cycles or takes transit. If nothing else, it is an amazing city where cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles co-exist on urban streets.
It's been said, if you build your city for people, you get people, and if you build your city for cars, you get cars. We should build our city for both.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Mixed feelings about falling gas prices

Gasoline prices recently dropped below $3 per gallon. This has left me with mixed feelings.

On the one hand I know how much high gas prices have been a drag on our economy. With gas prices declining, it will put more money in people's pockets, which is desperately needed in these sour economic times.

On the other hand, high gas prices have resulted in a real change in people's thinking and behavior. Recently, people have been driving less, using alternatives more, and demanding fuel efficient vehicles.

I recently reported on the upswing in MARTA ridership on my blog. I also recently attended the PACE Awards where the Clean Air Campaign and local TMAs have seen unprecedented demand for their services. These have been exciting times for those of us who would like to see less dependency on the automobile.

The question is what happens if gas prices continue to fall. What if we end up with gas at $1 per gallon? Will people start driving more? Sure they will. We have seen it before, and there is no reason why it would not happen again.

But I am confident that as a nation we have turned a corner with regard to our environmental understanding, which is certain to lead us in a different direction with regard to oil dependency.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Are high gas prices driving people to transit?

With gas well over $4 for the past few months, and gas hard to find at any price in the Southeast lately, I often ask myself what impact it's having on transit ridership. Anecdotally, I have noticed more people on the trains during rush hour. But what are the real numbers?
MARTA recently reported that in the month of July, ridership on the overall system was up 13.2 percent (14 million boardings) over the same month last year. Ridership increased across the board for all modes of transit including increases of 12.9 percent (7.8 million boardings) for rail, 13.6 percent (6.2 million boardings) for bus, and 18.2 percent (37 thousand boardings) for MARTA's mobility paratransit service for seniors and disabled customers.
This does not include the impact of the recent gas shortages that we have experienced. I look forward to seeing those numbers. For more information about how to take advantage of transit in Atlanta go to