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- January 5, 2010BY BEN LOWE
This past fall, a group of SPUR board members and staff traveled to Washington DC to learn from the urban-planning successes of our nation's capital; today, three members of that group presented their findings at a lunchtime forum.
SPUR Deputy Director Sarah Karlinsky began the discussion with an overview of the Washington urban planning models from Pierre L'Enfant's plan of 1791 to and James McMillan's Plan of 1901 through modern-day endeavors to enliven the long-neglected Southeast waterfront area along the Anacostia. Regional Planning Director Egon Terplan expanded the geographical scope of the discussion, demonstrating with satellite photography areas in the region where forward-thinking transit-planning decisions brought about transit-oriented development along major corridors and high public transit use. Terplan focused on the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Virginia and Bethesda in Maryland, both tremendous successes in inducing dense development clustered around regional rail service.
Finally, architect and urban historian Rod Freebairn-Smith showed photographs gathered during the trip focused on how security threats affect both civic life and architecture. His photos included many examples of how buildings have been fortified through bollardization and other means, while not marring the storied city or preventing access to national monuments and icons.
- November 21, 2009BY BEN LOWE
Study after study has shown that cities prioritize development that lets visitors and residents walk, bicycle, or take public transit to get around, people are healthier and have far less negative impact on the environment. Now, a new study by TransForm entitled Windfall for All demonstrates another benefit to developing livable communities: people who do not use cars to get around spend far less money on transportation than people who do. Citing AAA estimates, the report shows that, on average, it costs $8,097 per year to own, maintain, register, insure, and fuel a vehicle. In all, individuals in the Bay Area spend $34 billion on private transportation, most of which on owning and operating cars.
Especially in current tough economic conditions, finding ways to cut costs is critical, and that includes money spent on transportation. Yet many Bay Area towns and cities have prioritized development that not only encourages auto use, but precludes other ways to travel. As the study asserts, people can only move away from expensive auto use toward more affordable transportation means if cities give them the means to do so by putting housing near transit, ensuring pedestrians and bicyclists can get around safely, and investing in pleasant places that are nicer to be in than to drive past.