Talking Headways: A Streetsblog Podcast (transportation)
Direct download: TalkingHeadwaysMCNBS4292015.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 2:58am EST

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Category:transportation -- posted at: 2:25am EST

Christof Spieler joins me again to chat about Houston.  This time we chat transportation and all the great things Houston is working on. 

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Category:transportation -- posted at: 1:45am EST

Guest host Randy Simes, Headline writer for the Streetsblog Ohio Network Blog and owner of, joins me from South Korea to give his thoughts on his current home in the Gangnam district of Seoul and his previous one in Atlanta.  We cover Keith Parker’s turnaround of Atlanta’s transit agency MARTA, talk about the belt line and the types of people that won’t leave the cozy boundary it creates,  and Randy shares the best place to get southern hospitality in town.


From there we swerve from a discussion about Al Gore’s $90T plan to remake cities without cars into a chat about America’s crumbling infrastructure.  Or splintering.  Depends on what material the pipes are made from. 


And for the final few minutes there is a celebration of Denver’s 10 year anniversary of the Fastracks vote.  Regionalism and light rail on freight rights-of-way is debated and the locals might know what Randy means when he mentions Biker Jim.  



All that and more on this week’s Talking Headway Podcast


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Category:transportation -- posted at: 6:15am EST

Episode 45: The Year in Transit Starts (feat. Yonah Freemark)

This episode pretty much sums up why this podcast exists in the first place. You thought you knew something about transit? Listening to Yonah Freemark of the Transport Politic and Jeff Wood of the Overhead Wire (and my lovely co-host) geek out on transit starts of 2014 and 2015 is a humbling, and surprisingly animating, experience.

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You can study for this episode by reading Yonah's seventh annual compendium of "Openings and Construction Starts Planned for 2015" or you can come straight here and hear him tell it (and then argue with Jeff about it).

You thought the Oakland airport connector was a good idea just because transit is good? Get schooled. Didn’t know the country was getting its first bus/rail/bike/ped (but no cars!) bridge? Learn about it here. Wondering how escalator length impacts subway ridership? Yup, you heard it here first, folks.

With that, I present to you: Yonah and Jeff on the transit starts of 2014 and 2015. Spoiler alert: Last year was a good year for expanding transportation options, and this year stands to be even better. But don’t take my word for it. Have a listen.

Direct download: yonah_session_010715_final_Mixdown.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 9:49am EST

Episode 44: Here I Am, Stuck in Seattle With You

Stuck in Seattle or Stuck in Sherman Oaks. There are so many places to get stuck these days and so many clowns and jokers making it worse. 

First, poor Bertha, stuck 100 feet under Seattle. All the tunnel boring machine wanted to do was drill a 1.7-mile tunnel for a highway that won't even access downtown and is projected to cause more congestion at a higher price than a parallel surface/transit option -- and it got stuck just 1,000 feet in. Last December. Now the rescue plan is making downtown sink. It's not going well. And to be honest, it was always destined to not go well, but it was a crappy plan to begin with. Luckily, there is a rescue plan for the rescue plan, if anyone cares to carry it out. It starts with some accountability and ends -- spoiler alert! -- with pulling the damn plug.

But if the new tunnel to replace Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct is likely to cause traffic tie-ups, it's nothing compared to the perennial jam on LA's I-405. The popular navigation app Waze has started directing drivers off the freeway and into the residential neighborhood of Sherman Oaks, infuriating the people who live there. Their solution: Try to convince Waze there are traffic jams in Sherman Oaks too. Our solution: Build a better transportation system.

And that's it! This is our last podcast until the New Year. You can catch up on anything you missed on iTunes or Stitcher, and if you follow our RSS feed (or our Twitter feeds) you'll be the first to know when a new episode is out.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Trails!

Direct download: podcast_121714_Mixdown_final_3241.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 3:11pm EST

Episode 43: Level of Disservice

Whether you’re building an office tower or a new transit line in California, you’re going to run up against the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The law determines how much environmental analysis you need to do for new projects. But sadly, it’s better at supporting auto oriented development than it is at determining environmental impacts. 

That’s because instead of looking at a project’s impact on the environment, it looks mostly at its impact on traffic. And the measures CEQA uses to determine traffic impact focus on individual intersections, instead of the region as a whole. As a result, they end up penalizing urban infill development and transit projects while promoting sprawl and road expansion. 

Here’s the good news: This traffic measure, known as Level of Service (LOS), is set to be overhauled in California. Last year, Governor Brown signed into law SB743. Mostly what that bill does is allow the Sacramento Kings to build a new stadium. But the other thing it does is allow for the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research to come up with a new measure to replace LOS. We’ve discussed this on Streetsblog before, and this week’s Talking Headways is a special podcast episode all about how LOS works against sustainable development patterns and what is being done to change it. 

Jeff produced this podcast for the NRDC Urban Solutions Program. Guests include Jeff Tumlin of Nelson\Nygaard, Amanda Eaken of NRDC, and Chris Ganson of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. Hope you enjoy it.

Catch us on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed. And we'll see you on Twitter.

Direct download: SB_Level_of_Service.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 9:33am EST

Has the stupor worn off yet? Election Day was last Tuesday, and we'll be living with the results for years. But Beth Osborne, a former Hill staffer and U.S. DOT official now at Transportation for America, says the changes on the Hill are no big deal: Nothing was getting done anyway.

So Beth, Jeff, and I examine the prospects for a new transportation bill. One is due in May, and it's a Republican House and a Republican Senate that will preside over it. Will lawmakers raise the specter of devolution of transportation funding to the states? Will they suggest that the Highway Trust Fund should just be used for highways? Of course they will! But the conversation won't end there. 

Even the short-term extensions aren't as easy as they used to be, and that could make the politics of a long-term bill a little easier to manage. Some people blame the end of earmarks for the difficulty passing a bill, but Beth makes the point that you can't very well turn a transportation bill into a Christmas tree for every member of Congress when there's absolutely no money.

We don't have a crystal ball, but here's everything you need to know to make an educated guess about how the next six months will play out -- this, and our coverage of the ballot initiativesgovernors' racesSenate leadership shakeup, and the new top transportation Democrat in the House.

Do you subscribe to this podcast yet? You've got three choices: iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.

Direct download: podcast_final_mix_beth_osborne_post_elex_110714.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 11:12am EST

Episode 40: Uber and the Case of the Hidden Gas Tax

Uber is celebrating. DC passed an Uber-legalization law that Uber thinks cities the world over should follow. The problem is, most cities have much more tightly regulated taxi industries than DC, with a far higher cost of entry. In those cases, letting Uber get away with providing taxi services while complying with none of the rules is unfair. The taxi companies have been screaming about this for a while now. Uber's response is something like, "Catch me if you can, old geezer." DC's contribution to that conversation strengthens Uber's position.

In other news, a front group for the oil industry is trying to cause panic among California drivers about a "hidden gas tax" that's going to hit come January. What they're really talking about is California's landmark cap-and-trade law to limit greenhouse gas emissions, which will start including transportation fuels at the beginning of the year. Jeff and I called up Melanie Curry of Streetsblog LA to explain to us a campaign that didn't seem to really make any sense and she assured us that we're not crazy; it really doesn't make any sense.

Stay tuned; our election recap edition will be coming out shortly.

We want to hear what you think in the comments.

You can find this podcast on iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed, or wherever cool kids gather.

Direct download: podcast_103014_3051_final_mix_melanie.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 12:42pm EST

Episode 39: That Indie Flick You Were Looking For

If you're a Netflix member, you're part of the downfall of the brick-and-mortar video store. There are all kinds of reasons to be sad about that, but we look at its implications for urbanism and transportation. Besides, now where will you find esoteric foreign films to impress your friends? There are reasons to believe a few hardy indie-shop survivors could keep hanging on for a while (and we encourage you to bike to them).

Next, we shift gears to talk about how Vision Zero is unfolding in New York City. Streetsblog has called attention to the need to go beyond grand policy pronouncements and do the dirty work of changing the very culture that surrounds mobility. Specifically, the police need to stop forgiving deadly "errors" by drivers and start taking death by auto as seriously as other preventable deaths.

And then we called it a day because really, that was a lot.

Tell us about your favorite video store, or your least bike-friendly cop, or whatever you feel like telling us, in the comments.

And find us on  iTunesStitcher, and the RSS feed.




Direct download: TalkingHeadways103014_35_mins.mp3
Category:transportation -- posted at: 11:26am EST