Category Archives: USA

Will the real cost of car ownership kindly stand up

Carsharing changes our relationship with the cars we owned and loved and hated over much of the century just behind us. And one of the points we hear from proponents again and again is that carsharing offers substantial savings, because the cost of owning a car has become much higher than in the past. Surely the cost of car ownership in the 21st century —  and all that goes with it including direct and indirect costs, among them depreciation, insurance, petrol, maintenance, parking, etc.,  — is no light burden. But how expensive is it really? In this article, carsharing expert Dave Brook digs into the numbers and reflects on the true cost of ownership for most car owners in the United States.

canada cost car ownership

Continue reading

The Battle for the Street: Who won? Who lost? What next?

[Have a look at this good historical piece by Christopher Gray which appeared in today's New York Times under their Streetscapes/Traffic Wars rubric.]
IN the future, perhaps our time will be known as the first decade of the Bicycle Wars, with righteous armies fighting over traffic lanes, bike paths and sidewalks, indeed over the very purpose of the streets themselves. Like many wars, it’s a question of territory, and the pedestrian has been losing for years. Continue reading

P2P Carsharing galloping ahead in the USA

As we have seen in a certain number of articles over the last year or so — click here to review — the totally unexpected dark horse of carsharing which has emerged and is presently galloping with surprising speed in quite a number of places around the world is the concept of peer-to-peer (think do-it-yourself) carsharing.  Here is a good resume of the present state of play of P2P in the United States that has just appeared in a popular American newspaper.  And since carsharing. is a critical components of the overall sustainable transportation package for cities — you can bet on it! — there is good reason to stay on top of that if you are a decision-maker, entrepreneur, competitor  or source of counsel in our sector.

Continue reading

Learning from each other: Four Cities, Four Ways

Every time I go into a city that is struggling with its transportation/environment situation, I have the feeling that it would be a great thing for them to develop for themselves a “sharing and learning film” along these lines. Perhaps one day . . .

In the beginning was New York City and its historic transportation mess:
Streetfilms, the sharp media end of the innovative www.streetsblog.org program out of New York City, has recently put on line for free download a full feature version of a documentary originally produced in 2006 as part of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign. The film, “Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock“, explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to present. Even now, five years later, it gets its important points across.

Continue reading

The Battle for the Streets of New York City

What was the song? “If you can do it here you can do it anywhere. New York New York”? Well there just may be something to that. Here is some of the latest on how the proponents of more and safer biking in New York City are using social media to gain support from the citizen base, while at the same time an irate lobby is doing its best to keep the streets as they were and, as they hope, ever shall be. Amen Sister. (BTW, this is by no means a unique conflict. It could be your city.) Continue reading

New York City Memorial Project: Remembering walkers and cyclists killed on the city’s streets

On Sunday, the NYC Street Memorial Project held the 6th Annual Memorial Ride and Walk. According to the New York City Department of Transportation, 151 pedestrians and 18 bicyclists were killed on the streets of New York City in 2010. Participants called for stronger measures to reduce traffic fatalities. The ride culminated by installing a “Ghost Bike” in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall for the unnamed pedestrians and cyclists killed in 2010. Continue reading

Honk: “Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in New York City

Let’s see what our friends at Streetfilms have to share with us today on the topic of “Floating Parking” & Bike-Buffer Zones in Separated Cycletracks”.  Here is their short introduction with a narration by the noted traffic engineer Gary Toth of Partners for Public Spaces, by videographer Clarence Eckerson, Jr. who shot and edited the film.

Continue reading

What percent of your city’s street space is allocated to non-car uses

The pie chart you will find just below  graphically illustrates the state of street space allocation today in New York City, after four years of hard work on a committed local effort by city government and many associations to free street space for pedestrians, bikes and buses. All that for less than one half of one percent of the public space given over to cars. So here is our question this morning: Do things look any better in your city in 2011? We invite your reports and comments. Continue reading

What’s a life worth?

Gladwyn d’Souza comments from California an article that has just appeared in the New York Times on this subject. “The United States Environmental Protections Agency, EPA, should really be discussing the allocation of risk. A large curb radius for example transfers risk from the speeding driver to the pedestrian. The issue is that speed and convenience embody an energy bill whose consequences are not repatriated on the basis of least harm to public safety. While the consequences are local, an injury on your street corner, the impact under NAFTA, etc., of comparative or qualitative instead of preventive risk assessment is habitat destructive.  . . . ” Continue reading

Thanksgiving 2010 and Morning in America

On the eve of Thanksgiving 2010 sitting here in Paris, my thoughts not unnaturally turn to my native America. And since our view here is from the street I have to think a bit unhappily about why is it that we in this great country do not seem to be able to let go of “old mobility” – i.e., whenever you spot a problem you build something to solve it (also known as the Edifice Complex) – as the highest-possible cost, least civil, one size fits all solution to our problems of efficient transport and fair access in and around cities. Of course we Americans invented old mobility a long time ago — and at the time it seemed like such a logical and dynamic solution to the connection challenges of a vast growing nation. As indeed it was. But suddenly it’s 2010, the twentieth century is long behind us, and if we look carefully at the low quality of what we are seeing on our city streets across the nation it would strike one that perhaps it is time to rethink OM from bottom to top and come up with something a lot better. For example New Mobility, which without our having to define it here is the basic strategy and value set that is behind the far more successful city transport arrangements we can see in hundreds of leading cities around the world – and none of them sadly are American.

Why and how have we arrived at this sad state of affairs? Well, let me ask a foreigner working in this field who has long lived in and long admired America to tell us about what he thinks is going on. Sometimes when you are lost it helps to stop the car, roll down the window, and ask for some directions. Let’s try. Continue reading

Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City

The author of this careful and quite extensive book review of the battle for America’s streets is Karthik Rao-Cavale, a graduate student at Rutgers University and an associate editor of our sister publication, India Streets. He writes: “This review was originally written for a class I am taking with Prof. John Pucher here at Rutgers University. I am putting up this review here even though the book reviewed talks mainly about the United States, because I feel that the lessons learned are most immediately applicable to developing world. It is a lengthy read, but I hope you will enjoy it.”

Continue reading

Honk: The Story of Sprawl

New Video Series Tells the Story of Sprawl

- Brad Aaron in Streetsblog on April 21, 2009

As livable streets advocates work to make headway in breaking the cycle of American auto dependence, the folks at Planetizen have put together a video narrative that explains how we got here. “The Story of Sprawl,” a double DVD set produced by Managing Editor Tim Halbur, is a compilation of historical films dating from 1939 to 1965, documenting the confluence of factors that fostered the quintessential land use motif of the 20th century: far-flung, low-density, driving-intensive residential and commercial development. The discs include commentary from planning notables including Andrés Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, John Norquist, Neal Peirce, James Howard Kunstler and Robert Cervero. Continue reading