Thu, 22 May 2014
Welcome to a super-long extra-bonus episode of Talking Headways! We only took on two topics this week, but we got so gonzo excited about them both we just couldn’t shut up.
First, we talked to Christof Spieler, a member of Houston Metro, about the “blank-sheet” bus overhaul he helped design. Instead of trying to tweak the current system around its edges, Metro decided to start again from scratch, planning a system of routes and service that makes sense for the way the city is now. They thought the upside would outweigh the downside, but they weren’t prepared for this: There was almost no downside. By eliminating redundant and inefficient service, they could optimize their routes without eliminating low-ridership routes that people depend on. And to hear Christof tell it, what they’re accomplishing is pretty amazing:
Once we tear ourselves away from Christof and his beautiful vision of the future of transit, we do a debrief on what’s going on with the transportation bill in Congress. The Senate bill isn’t all it could be, but in Congress nothing is ever all it could be, and this one at least stands a chance of passage — or it would, anyway, if there were an actual, realistic funding stream attached to it. No such luck. Tune in for all the gory details.
Side note: Big thanks to all who have donated during Streetsblog’s spring pledge drive, especially those of you who specifically mentioned the podcast as why you’re giving. We appreciate you! There’s still time to get in on the fun: Please donate today!
As always, Talking Headways is available on iTunes or Stitcher or by signing up for our RSS feed, and this right here is where you leave your snappy comments. We welcome your backtalk and your sassy mouth.
Mon, 12 May 2014
We were so excited about the Census' first-ever report exclusively focused on biking and walking that we devoted this entire episode of the Talking Headways podcast to an interview with its author, Brian McKenzie.
Bike commuting is up 60 percent since 2000, the Census data shows, and people with low incomes are by far the biggest proportion of the riding public.
People who bike and walk are hungry for reliable data. While government-sanctioned statistics on vehicle-miles-traveled are easy enough to come by, where would you go for foot-miles-walked or bicycle-miles-ridden? Strava? No. The Census.
Not that the Census data doesn't have its limitations, and Brian talks candidly about those. But the data gives us a glimpse of who's walking and biking for transportation, and where, and why they stop.
Dive deep with us. Here is a full half-hour just for you bike-ped dataheads. Enjoy. And talk at us in the comments.
PPS: Many thanks to those of you who have already donated -- especially those who specifically mentioned that you enjoy the podcast. Keep it coming!
Thu, 1 May 2014
Welcome to our all-California, all-the-time episode of the Talking Headways podcast.
We start with a statewide debate over whether $60,000+ Teslas should qualify for tax breaks -- or whether any electric vehicles should get tax breaks. Then on to the conversation about how California's cap-and-trade dollars should be spent. One proposal, from the State Senate leader, would spend it on affordable housing, sustainable communities, transit, and high-speed rail. And then we zoom in on Fresno, where one blogger wonders why the demise of BRT didn't get as much attention as it did in Nashville.
We missed the podcast after a long-ish break and are glad to be back! We hope you filled the gaping hole in your life from by our long headways by listening to back episodes of Talking Headways goodness and subscribing to us on iTunes or Stitcher or signing up for the RSS feed.
And, side note: The giveaway for our spring pledge drive has changed since we recorded this podcast. Now, you'll be entered into a drawing to win a package of zines and books by feminist bike activist and writer Elly Blue. Thanks for your donation!
Thu, 17 April 2014
Did you go to the World Urban Forum in Medellín, Colombia last week? Neither did your hosts Jeff Wood and Tanya Snyder, but we sure found a lot to say about it anyway -- or at least, about the remarkable urban transformation that Medellín made, in the midst of war, to make the city's transportation infrastructure more equitable.
But first, we talked to our very own Angie Schmitt about the Parking Madness tournament. Did she know Rochester was a winner from the moment she laid eyes on that remarkable parking crater? You'll have to listen to find out.
And finally we turn to Dallas, where local activists are pressuring officials to tear down a 1.4-mile stretch of I-345 in downtown to make room for 245 acres of new development. If it happens, it would be a tremendous win for smart urban development over Eisenhower-era car-centrism.
And the other big news this week is that Talking Headways podcast is now available on Stitcher! So if you're not an iTunes person, you've still got a way to subscribe. But if you are an iTunes person, by all means! Or you can follow the RSS feed. And as always, the comments section is wide open for all the witty comments we should have made but didn't think to.
Wed, 9 April 2014
Quick quiz: What city is the world leader in highway teardowns? San Francisco? Portland? Madrid?
Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's Seoul, South Korea, which has removed 15 urban highways -- and is about to remove another. In this week's Talking Headways episode, Jeff and I talk about what can take the place of a freeway in a city and why it's worth it.
We also debunk the argument, made in Atlantic Cities and the Washington Post last week, that promoting car access will benefit people with low incomes. The whole concept is based on a study that basically said that in the 90s you needed a car to get around the suburbs. Not exactly a persuasive justification for automobile subsidies in today's cities.
We wander down Saffron Avenue and Nutmeg Lane to investigate whether it's true that cities are losing their smell -- and whether that's really such a bad thing. Then we accidentally trip into a conversation about pheromones and good-smelling men.
What's your favorite smell in your city? Let us know in the comments.
Wed, 2 April 2014
Jeff and Tanya had a great time this week, getting all outraged at the short-sighted move by the Tennessee Senate to ban dedicated lanes for transit and high and mighty about cities that devote too much space to surface parking, at the expense of just about everything else. And then we treat ourselves to a fun conversation about the origin of the American playground -- and whether the entire city should be the playground.
We think you'll enjoy this one.
Meanwhile, have you subscribed to the Talking Headways podcast on iTunes yet? Well, why the hell not? And while you're at it, you know we'd love a little bit of listener feedback. Oh, you can also follow the RSS feed. And we love your comments, below.
Thu, 27 March 2014
It was a dark and stormy day in San Francisco and Jeff Wood stayed dry in Woonerf studios, recording the Talking Headways podcast with co-host Tanya Snyder, who was bitter that days after the spring equinox, Washington, DC, was getting hit with another snowstorm.
But more importantly -- will New York's gangbusters Citi Bike system wobble due to management issues and financial problems? What can Chicago (and, oh, every other American city) do to create more affordable housing in the neighborhoods everyone wants to live in? And is the self-driving car seriously going to become a reality by the end of this decade? And is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Jeff and Tanya take on all that and more. Or really, pretty much just that.
Tue, 18 March 2014
You think the conflict between Uber and regular taxi drivers -- and cities like Seattle -- is bad? Check out how new taxi apps in China are upending the transportation system and central economic planning. Meanwhile, in Houston, a flea market has brought revitalization without gentrification to a depressed area near the airport, and now an urban design firm is bringing in pop-up infrastructure. And Californians are proving that the culture shift away from the automobile and toward other modes of transportation is happening -- maybe even faster than we'd thought.
And for a real downer, check out U.S. DOT's big idea about how to hold states accountable for better safety outcomes -- by not holding them accountable at all.
Thu, 13 March 2014
What a week! Transit numbers skyrocketed (ahem, by 1.1 percent) to levels not seen since 1956 (depending how you look at it). And Radio Shack is shutting down 20 percent of its stores. And there's a new video game for transit nerds to stay up all night obsessing over!
And we tackle the fundamental question of how to make a real change in how people get around. Will it happen just by improving transit and other modes -- or do you need to make driving less appealing, as Emily Badger suggests in Atlantic Cities?
Thu, 6 March 2014
This week, more than 700 bicycling advocates converged in Washington -- despite a snowstorm that closed down the federal government on Monday and thousands of cancelled flights -- to learn from each other and compare notes from the past year in bicycling advocacy.
Tuesday, as the summit wound down and participants started gearing up for Wednesday's Lobby Day on Capitol Hill, hosts Jeff and Tanya were joined by Doug Gordon of Brooklyn Spoke, Suepinda Keith of Triangle Bikeworks in Chapel Hill, and Jonathan Maus of Bike Portland for this very special Bike Summit episode of the podcast.
The Women's Forum is in its third year. The League's Equity Advisory Council came into being just before last year's summit. These voices, historically not at the center of the national conversation about bicycling, are coming to the fore.
The five of us talk in this, our lucky 13th episode, about how effectively the movement is transitioning to a more inclusive approach, and we share some of the highlights of the summit, including some truly incredible work happening everywhere from Memphis to LA to Afghanistan.