* New photos here and on the way. Wicker Park Critical Mass and my recent trip out west, for instance.

* I’ve spent far too much time lately rebutting right-wing arguments against transit funding on various blogs. Most of those responses have been crossposted (for my own reference, which is the primary reason why I have this blog) as comments under various earlier posts tagged “transit.” (Another good rebuttal: MPC’s in Friday’s Trib. However, one bus really = about 34 cars; 43 passengers per hour on CTA buses divided by 1.25 per car. An even better one: the Sun-Times’ editorial, pointing out that the tax increase amounts to $33 a year for Cook residents.)

You want to talk “backdoor fare increase”? The Economy League study of SEPTA that I’ve mentioned, examining substantial [but smaller!] cuts proposed, found that riders would pay $2.20 in higher fares, longer waits, and more driving for every $1 that government “saves” by cutting SEPTA. To pay that much via the “backdoor fare hike,” you’d have to charge up $880 in bills every day.

One common theme has been “privatize the damn thing,” as the public has little confidence in CTA’s ability to manage its current system, much less invest to renew it. However, words of caution from the libertarian-leaning City Journal‘s Nicole Gelinas:

While the private sector has a role to play in building, upgrading, and maintaining public infrastructure, it can never assume the public sector’s ultimate responsibility—financial and otherwise.

* I’ve also spent a lot of time on the phone with reporters lately. Published articles to date: Mark Lawton from the Booster on WPCM; Matthew Hendrickson from the Chicago Journal on WPCM; Nara Schoenberg from the Tribune on CCM. (Even though I didn’t get quoted in the last one, it was by far the best of the interviews: well over an hour on topics ranging from political theory to winter riding. She’d never heard so many people say “it changed my life.” One line: “the utopian eco-cyclists who pioneered the party/protest/prank in this city point to numerous achievements.”)

Forthcoming (with photos!): Chicago Tribune on car-free living, and Sierra Magazine on eco-jobs.

* Apparently, the whole Dutch-bike trend is really taking off among Manhattan models, a rather influential crowd I don’t pay much mind to. Gillian Reagan reporting in the NY Observer, quoting George Bliss of the Hub Station:

“[Lela Rose ha]s really inspired me, and now I’m focusing on the tricycle child carrier as a product for upscale women in SoHo. … That’s the niche, professionals and models because, you know, if you go to a cocktail party, you’ve got to have something to talk about. ‘Green? What’s green? Oh, bicycling!’

Ms. Rose’s paean to her bike: “it sounds ridiculous, but I don’t go anywhere anymore without bringing the bike, because to me it’s like my car. At a minimum, it’s the best way to get around. It’s for the environment. It’s great for health reasons. For me it’s just a great way to get a better peace of mind. I could go on and on about the benefits of bike riding.”

(Disclosure: I once rented a bike from George — a 50-lb. single-speed with a coaster brake — at his prior location at SoHo’s west edge.)

* MTC recently held a workshop on Smart Parking on “parking policies to support smart growth, focusing on providing strategies for interested local jurisdictions”; the presentations are online.

* A 2004 report on TDM strategies from FHWA has many interesting case studies focusing on special events and large employers.

* Socialized car insurance in B.C. (PDF from VTPI) offers the province a unique way to fine-tune the costs of driving — which might be why B.C. was among the first places to experiment with eco feebates. Another VTPI paper (page 10) demonstrates how increasing fuel economy standards could actually increase the social costs of driving by encouraging more of it.

* Dallas has a streetcar. How did I not know that?

* Here’s an interesting approach: Louisville, Colo. tested a proposed zoning designation by running six examples of ground-related multifamily housing around Denver past the code. Interestingly, all of them exhibit the kind of quasi-Dutch modernism that I saw a lot of around there: blocky massing, bright colors.

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