Transit in brief (updated)

A bunch of bike/transportation related briefs.

* Bike sharing is moving forward, according to news items posted to the Bike Sharing Blog. Fran Spielman reports in the Sun-Times that JCDecaux has offered to trade ad panels for 1,000 downtown bikes here. (Any chance they’d offer a similar deal to neighborhoods?) Back East, Clear Channel still intends to be first in the USA by placing bike stations in DC this month [via DC Business Journal], with Arlington and Bethesda studying proposals for launch later this year.

* Bill Fulton in CP&DR notes that California officials, when pressed at the New Partners for Smart Growth conference on how they plan on cutting transportation-related carbon emissions (as part of their broader, likely unattainable CO2 goals), really didn’t know yet. Transportation claims an outsized share of California’s CO2 emissions, as is typical of the West Coast.

* A bit further north, British Columbia’s government has advanced a budget that includes a carbon tax of surprising magnitude. Marc Lee from the Progressive Economics Forum notes: “The government chose to stick to a narrow definition of revenue neutrality, with all carbon tax revenues recycled through low-income tax credits and tax cuts… a low-income carbon tax credit that will piggyback on the GST credit. The credit is worth $100 for adults and $30 for children with a phase-out period.”

(GST credit — hear that? Sales tax rate in Vancouver = 12%, includes free health care, spotless trains, and a $300 annual credit. Sales tax rate in Chicago = 10.25%, includes, well, what?)

* Greg Hinz in Crain’s notes that CMAP, fresh off its reorganization, intends for its 2040 plan to actually include real capital planning, not just the “grab bag” of projects that typified CATS capital plans in the past. (“Every agency submitted their plans to us, and we stapled them together.”) Hinz: “Of particular importance is how Mr. Blankenhorn says the new group will approach giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down to requests for billions of dollars in federal aid for [infrastructure]… Mr. Blankenhorn says the region actually will use metrics — yardsticks to value each proposed project against an absolute standard — to allow the region to set its own priorities.” Of course, whether there will be capital funding to make such plans around hinges on the state’s willingness to back such an effort — now, we have the odd spectacle of suburban Republicans blasting the governor (and Daley joining in separately, on behalf of CTA, and apparently suggesting a bunch of pie-in-the-sky customer-facing ideas) for severely underfunding transit capital (albeit their pet appears to be Metra’s STAR Line).

* Not everyone is quite as blind to transportation finance woes as Springfield. I’ll try to follow the upcoming federal reauthorization fight as best I can; the first shot across the bow was recently issued by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission‘s Report to Congress.

* I’m always suspicious of AAA’s motives, but I do appreciate their hiring of Cambridge Systematics to look at the cost of car crashes to society each year — and the attendant call to focus on safety (and a little less on congestion) in the next transportation reauthorization bill. Note that Chicago’s tab for crashes is well below the national average, perhaps because of a more balanced transportation system?

The societal cost of crashes is a staggering $164.2 billion annually, nearly two and a half times greater than the $67.6 billion price tag for congestion, according to a new report released today by AAA. Furthermore, the cost in Chicagoland, is $8.378 billion for crashes, which amounts to an annual per person cost of $887. The total cost per person for congestion in Chicagoland was $487… the $164.2 billion cost for crashes [nationally] equates to an annual per person cost of $1,051, compared to $430 per person annually for congestion…

If there were two jumbo jets crashing every week, the government would ground all planes until we fixed the problem. Yet, we’ve come to accept this sort of death toll with car crashes.”

* Hadn’t seen these before: Steve Breese’s greenway maps include a GIS viewer to see trail corridors that cross jurisdictions (like the Valley Line) and their progress to date.

* A recent Jon Hilkevitch column gives this astonishing example of car dependency:

in Aurora, where city building inspector Allen LaFan says he can stand at the bus stop near his house and watch his child get on and off the school bus, because the entire trip amounts to crossing a busy intersection that is not pedestrian-friendly.

“I can wave to the school,” LaFan said.

The situation represents an unending cycle. More children are being transported to school on buses or in private cars because the streets are not safe. But that leads to more vehicles and more traffic, increasing the potential danger to all pedestrians.

* Streetsblog gives a cite for the “the corn that could feed an SUV for a week could feed a human for a year” tidbit recently published in an Economist survey of food prices: Lester Brown from EPI.

* Civia Cycles, the new upper-end commuter bike brand from QBP (TPTB behind Surly) strives to make the morning commute easier with clothing recommendations, matched to your local weather forecast. Every winter, I think that I’ll scribble down notes on this topic (using dewpoint and wind speed, though, rather than temperature), but never do — and, as a result, end up having to guess again each fall what I will need to wear. At first glance, this guy’s internal thermometer appears to be 10 degrees cooler than mine; I guess I overheat easily. It’s also all “bikey” clothing, unleavened by “real” clothes.

* And, okay, not transportation related, but Vince Michael notes the irony of redeveloping [Alby Gallun in Crain’s covering the unveiling of the proposal] that paragon of “towers in the park” urban renewal, Lake Meadows. Now that the railyards and industrial lofts and public housing projects are gone, the only big privately held parcels left — and with deteriorating physical plants to boot — are the private housing projects. I’ll write more later on historic preservation and urban renewal.