This could be Hamilton if we could get one or two terms of progressive, courage leadership.
By Jason Leach
Published November 03, 2014
I just read a fantastic piece in CityLab (formerly Atlantic Cities) about Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton's leadership on transit and active transportation.
The entire piece is very much worth reading, but here's just a sample:
To call Mayor Greg Stanton of Phoenix a mere transit supporter would be an understatement. "I love public transportation," he says. "I love light rail. I love bikeability. I love walkability. I talk about it all the time. I'm a passionate advocate." Such passion might seem like an odd fit for a city with a reputation for car-reliance, but the truth is that Phoenix is having a love affair with transit, too.
Just look at its recent resume. The light rail system, which opened in 2008, has already reached 2020 ridership projections. Its success has sparked a wide push for walkability and transit-oriented development in the corridor. The Valley Metro transit agency had a record year in 2013. The share of car-less households is increasing. A bike-share system is nearly ready for launch. And there's Stanton at the helm.
"A great city, a great community, is truly multi-modal, and has many forms of transportation that work well," he says. "I want to make sure that people understand that from my perspective, great public transportation, great bikeability, great walkability, is of equal value as those cars on the road."
I love his answer when he's told that it's kind of strange for a mayor of a car-centric city to be so passionate about walking, cycling, LRT and so on.
He says the fact we have been so car reliant is why he's passionate. "We've been overly car-reliant in the past and our planning efforts have been geared toward that."
I've been to Phoenix, about six or seven years ago. It was totally car-dependent with nothing going on downtown. Now read the latest LRT numbers and new development in Phoenix - it's amazing. This could be Hamilton if we could get one or two terms of progressive leadership.
Mayor-elect Fred Eisenberger has an exciting opportunity here.
We need leadership to move quickly and not keep getting bogged down for decades just because a few loud opponents complain. Build LRT, install protected bike lanes city-wide, build calm streets and safe sidewalks with trees and trust that even the opponents will be on board once they see the transformation.
All we have to do is copy the successful strategies that are already working in other cities. Check out the list of traffic calming measures the City of Portland is out actively looking to implement city-wide: speed bumps, curb extensions, diagonal diverters, semi-diverters, skinny streets, raised crosswalks, choke points, speed cushions, median barriers, etc.
While Hamilton eliminates curbside parking on Rebecca Street as part of its two-way conversion so cars can go fast in both directions, Vancouver is installing bumpouts so deep that only one car can pass at a a time.
Bumpout in Vancouver: note the 'Yield to Oncoming Traffic' sign
I love the use of mid-block bumpouts or choke points to cause opposing cars to defer to each another. In other words, a street wide enough for two-way traffic to pass each other is narrowed so only one car can pass at a time, slowing everyone down.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation's Bike Plan comes with a Technical Design Handbook with great designs for friendlier streets. It includes the use of chicanes, alternating mid-block bumpouts that force cars to 'slalom' and slow down.
Chicane in Austin, Texas
People in every neighbourhood across the city want and value safe, inclusive streets. This was one of the most pressing issues at the door during the election, and it's one of the top issues mentioned in every single Code Red neighbourhood action plan.
Let's get going!
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