Since late July, the website Envision Baltimore has been running a weekly series of articles exploring how to make transit popular and widely embraced in Maryland's largest city. Examples are presented from many other cities, and the ideas in the series can be applied widely.
In the Sept. 28 posting, Stu Sirota of TND Planning Group focuses on the advantages and challenges of establishing on-street lanes for exclusive use by transit vehicles (including buses, streetcars, and light rail).
Well, not quite exclusive; bicyclists can use them, too.
The cost associated with basic conversions as a first step would include the cost of paint for lane re-striping and pavement markings, new signage, and signal modifications. In later stages, more advanced transformations can occur, which can include partial or full street construction with new curb lines and hardscaping, transit priority signal systems, barrier-free ticket vending, and other associated infrastructure improvements....
While these kind of changes do cost money, the cost of gradually introducing dedicated transit lanes along select corridors in the coming decade is a drop in the bucket compared to the astonishing cost of expanding highway lanes in our region. As Carol Sildorff, Executive Director of Bike Maryland, succinctly put it in a recent interview, "(Portland, Oregon) has spent 52 million dollars to build a multi-modal system of transport, when it costs the state $60 million to build a mile of highway." There's also a growing realization that the benefits of expanding highway lanes are dubious at best, as increased lane capacity only induces more driving, cancelling out the temporary reduction in traffic congestion within a relatively short period of time.
He suggests starting in the dense urban core as a pilot and then expandinng outward.
For more in-depth coverage on this topic:
• Subscribe to New Urban News to read all of the articles (print+online) on implementation of greener, stronger, cities and towns.
• See the September 2011 issue of New Urban News. Topics: Walk Score, sprawl retrofit, livability grants, Katrina Cottages, how to get a transit village built, parking garages, the shrinking Wal-Mart, Complete Streets legislation, an urban capital fund, and much more.
• Get New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, packed with more than 800 informative photos, plans, tables, and other illustrations, this book is the best single guide to implementing better cities and towns.
• See the April-May 2011 issue of New Urban News. Transit-oriented development, “Cycle tracks,” gentrification versus revitalization, HUD grants, economic silver linings, light rail development, pocket neighborhoods, Close-in Maryland housing less expensive, transit outperforms green buildings, Charter Awards, shift to smaller stores