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    A look at urban issues in the Bay Area and beyond

Personal Car Sharing Comes to California

October 13, 2010 BY FABIANA MEACHAM
Your neighbor's car could soon be available for hourly rental. Any takers? [Photo Credit: Fabiana Meacham ] Would you rent out your car to offset the costs of owning it? Would you get rid of your car if you could rent one from your neighbor? Until recently, those weren't legal options in California. But new legislation could dramatically increase the practice in the state. Starting in 2011, car owners will be able to maintain their personal insurance policies (albeit at a higher price) while renting their cars by the hour, helping them offset the costs and environmental impact of car ownership. Successful non-profit ventures like the Bay Area's City CarShare , which SPUR helped incubate, have led the way in promoting car sharing, encouraging many to give up their personal vehicles. A UC Berkeley study found that 30% of San Francisco households that used City CarShare sold at least one...

Three Things You Should Know about the Central Subway

October 12, 2010 BY ED PARILLON
The Central Subway project is the second phase of Muni's T-line, the biggest transit project in San Francisco today. Once completed in 2018, the line will connect Visitacion Valley and Bayview with downtown, SOMA, and Chinatown. As with any project this large, the project has its fair share of detractors, and we thought it would be useful to remind everyone of some of the benefits. 1. It will add capacity to a corridor that sorely needs it The Stockton corridor is one of Muni's busiest. According to data collected as part of Muni's Transit Effectiveness Project in 2006, the 30-Stockton and 45-Union/Stockton buses carry over 34,000 riders per day. These lines are often over capacity during peak hours, to the point where buses have to skip stops and leave riders waiting. The Central Subway will be able to take on some of that ridership, with 76,000 daily boardings expected in...

New Biography on Bay Area Environmental Champion

October 11, 2010 BY AMIE LATTERMAN
Dorothy Erskine: Graceful Crusader for the Environment doesn't exactly relay the magnitude of impact that one woman had on the entire Bay Area some 50 years ago. Janet Thiessen's brief biography delves into the life of a one-woman powerhouse whose influence is on par with other, more well-known civic leaders, like Dianne Feinstein, Willy Brown, Jr. and Harvey Milk. UC Berkeley geography professor Dick Walker recently reviewed Thiessen's story of "a pivotal figure in the history of Bay Area environmentalism." As Walker puts it, "[Erskine] was at work behind the scenes on almost all the defining moments of regional open space from the 1950s to 1970s," but even that hardly sums up her level of involvement in planning, good government, transportation, environmentalism and equity issues during the course of her life. Get a copy of the book here to read the story for yourself. Also, see this fascinating conversation between...

Datablog Roundup

October 7, 2010 BY JORDAN SALINGER
Operating with a much larger canvas than SF, and the ability to shape its surroundings, the planned Dubai City dwarfs SF and takes on the Bay Area Sprawl Crawl: A CEO's for Cities study shows sprawl as the true cause of traffic. As opposed to the Urban Mobility Report , which focuses specifically on travel times, this report takes into account such factors as land use and community design into its traffic calculations. GOOD magazine and Atley G. Kasky teamed up for this infographic. Journalism in the age of Data: How will the way we absorb data evolve? Where has the field of journalism started to drift, and what have we learned about what impacts us. Produced as part of the John S. Knight fellowship program at Stanford. Visualizing.org: A new initiative launched last week, with aims of becoming the ultimate resource for data sets and corresponding visualizations. Using an...

Notes from Abroad: Dublin's Bike-Share a Success

October 6, 2010 BY COLLEEN MCHUGH
All photos by Colleen McHugh In its first year, Paris' popular Vélib' bike share program — one of the first major programs of its kind and the largest system in the world — battled higher-than-expected rates of vandalism and theft . But in Dublin, where dublinbikes launched last September, the surprise has been just how smoothly and successfully the program ran in its first year. A modest system in comparison to Vélib' — with only 450 bikes compared to Paris' 20,000 — dublinbikes had over 44,000 subscribers (28,000 year members, and 16,000 short term members), over one million total journeys, an average of 10 trips per bike per day, no major injuries to cyclists, only two stolen bikes and nearly no vandalism over the year period. The dublinbikes program currently exists only in the city center of Dublin, but the city council intends to expand the system to other areas...

Banner Month for California Air Resources Board

October 5, 2010 BY LAURA TAM, SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT POLICY DIRECTOR
CARB and MTC have adopted strong regional targets for reducing emissions through better planning and less driving. [Photo Credit: flickr user Jovi Girl J ] In late September, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted unanimously to adopt a strong set of regional targets for passenger vehicle emissions reduction under SB 375 , the state's anti-sprawl law. The historic vote was the culmination of a two-year effort which included the entire Regional Targets Advisory Committee process and report, intense research by modeling experts, proposed targets from metropolitan planning organizations, and public workshops around the state. In the end, CARB adopted the staff-recommended targets for the big four regions, including the Bay Area's Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) -- 13-16% by 2035, and 10% for the San Joaquin Valley. These percentages represent a reduction in per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from passenger vehicle trips, and will be achieved through regional planning that will...

PARK(ing) Day 2010

September 22, 2010
PARK(ing) Day 2010 was a resounding success -- at SPUR, in San Francisco and around the world . SPUR's PARK(ing) spot used milk crates, giant wooden spools, house plants and a colorful painted canvas to transform two parking spaces in front of the Urban Center into a delightful urban park. Friends of the Urban Forest kindly donated trees; Rebar lent us Bushwaffle and a section of their Walklet (both featured in our current exhibit, DIY Urbanism: Testing the grounds for social change ). Stay tuned for our time-lapse video of the event. All photos by Colleen McHugh.

Parklet Request for Proposals Announced by SF Planning Department

September 21, 2010 BY KIT HODGE
The Divisadero Street parklet in front of Mojo Cafe. Last Friday at a noontime forum at SPUR, the San Francisco Planning Department announced the release of a Request For Proposals for parklets, due October 18. Anyone interested in installing a parklet in front of your business or institution should download the application and program overview here . Pass along the information to businesses and other institutions that you think could be good parklet hosts. October 18th is right around the corner! Spearheaded by the Planning Department's Pavement to Parks Program, parklets offer a unique opportunity to widen a sidewalk, providing public space for people to sit and relax. The SPUR forum was designed to help business owners and other potential applicants learn more about the parklet RFP. To learn more about existing parklets, click here. To learn more about the impact of parklets, click here. For any questions or information,...

Datablog: What it Takes to Get There

September 20, 2010 BY JORDAN SALINGER
Click to enlarge Commute times to zip code 94105 (SOMA) in San Francisco To the dismay of many a futurist envisioning the world in 2010, the vast majority of people commute significant distances to their jobs. Although the recent recession has led to reduced vehicle miles traveled , the average American still commutes 46 minutes a day. And while we don't always have a choice about where we work and live, commuting reflects both the successes and limitations of our transportation network and our housing supply. This interactive map , created by Harry Kao, uses the familiar google maps layout to shed light on commuting times across the nation. How to use it: This commuting map is simple. Before starting you are prompted to enter the zip code of where you commute. With that basic information, a screen displays multiple red dots, each dot represents another zip code, with the...

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