Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Petition for SunRail Weekend and Night Service Strong out of the Gate


In the span of a day, more than 750 people signed an online petition to add SunRail service on weekends and later at night.  You can sign the petition at: http://www.change.org/petitions/ananth-persad-florida-secretary-of-transportation-run-sunrail-on-the-weekends-and-later-at-night  (UPDATE -- 7/21/14 -- More than 1,700 have signed the Petition and Mayor Jacobs has begun dialogue on expanding service.)

I added a comment that SunRail is bringing hundreds to Winter Park and that weekend and late night trains would bring even more.  Here are photos of crowds heading to and leaving from Park Avenue businesses on a recent Friday:





The Orlando Sentinel reported that Rep. John Mica (R-FL) is attempting to secure $25 million worth of self-propelled trains, on loan to Tri-Rail in South Florida, in order to expand SunRail service. 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Vehicle Miles Traveled Still Down




You can find an interesting set of charts analyzing vehicle miles traveled based on United States Government data, through April 2014, at:

http://advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/DOT-Miles-Driven.php

Overall miles driven remain at 2004 levels.  (I can't recall any traffic study correctly projecting this declining and stagnating reality during the years I sat on the Orange County Planning and Zoning Board). Vehicle miles traveled based on population growth, shown in the chart above, are the same as they were almost 20 years ago.  

Here's the relationship to gasoline prices:





Saturday, July 5, 2014

Winter Park's Aggressive Tree Chopping

My street, Carollee Lane, has lost two impressive canopy trees lining the street in the last year--not to storms or disease, but to the City's aggressive campaign to remove trees ostensibly near the end of their natural lives.

I'm not convinced the trees were dying or posed an inordinate risk to property.  (UPDATE: 7/21/14--The City was convinced).  Limbs weakened from age or rot can and should be removed before removing an entire tree. 

Any number of contractors, out to make several thousand dollars, will tell you a tree "should be removed."  The question is whether the City's arborist made that determination and whether it was a sound one. 

The most recent tree removed had an apparently healthy trunk--not one hollowed out by age or riddled with disease.  The foliage was still lush. (UPDATE: 7/21/14--As to the tree below, the property owner said a recent storm downed half of the tree.  He supported the tree's removal and said the City will plant new live oaks.  As to the other tree, I'm informed there was visible rot hollowing the trunk, although the property owner isn't happy about the tree's removal.  Yet another neighbor informed me that branches and trees downed in storms have damaged parked cars, nearly hit walkers, and, during the 2004 hurricanes, uprooted water pipes.)   

The stump disrupting Carollee Lane's tree canopy.   

This scene has repeated, more recently, on North Park Avenue near Pennsylvania Avenue and on Webster next to the golf course.  

More communication with citizens as to which trees require removal and why is in order.  

Carollee Lane -- before removal of the tree on the right.  What a loss.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Childhood Obesity Costing Tens of Billions

An article at Medpage.com cites two studies with sobering news about the prevalence and cost associated with childhood obesity:
"Nationally representative data do not show any significant changes in obesity prevalence in the most recently available years ... unfortunately, there is an upward trend of more severe forms of obesity, and further investigations into the causes of and solutions to this problem are needed," Skinner and co-author Joseph Skelton, MD, of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., said. 
The analysis was one of two studies examining pediatric obesity published this week. A second study in the May Pediatrics suggested that, over the course of a lifetime, higher medical costs associated with childhood obesity average about $19,000 per person, and extra costs average about $12,900 per person when normal-weight children become overweight or obese during adulthood. 
"To put these findings in perspective, multiplying the lifetime medical cost estimate of $19,000 times the number of obese 10-year-olds today generates a total direct medical cost of obesity of roughly $14 billion for this age alone," wrote Eric Andrew Finkelstein, PhD, from the Duke Global Health Institute at Duke University, and colleagues.
Extrapolating the $14 billion cost of higher medical costs associated with obese 10-year-olds over their lifetimes to other age groups results in an even more staggering figure.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Municipalities Can Adopt 20 mph Speed Zones

Florida Statutes sec. 316.189 states, "With respect to residence districts, a municipality may set a maximum speed limit of 20 or 25 miles per hour on local streets and highways after an investigation determines such a limit is reasonable.  It shall not be necessary to conduct a separate investigation for each residence district."

Around the world, cities are lowering speed limits to 20 mph for greater safety.



If those living on a residential street want a 20 mph limit, municipalities should accommodate the request.   The Florida legislature should amend the statute to include counties.

Massengale and Dover on "Great Streets"

Below you'll find a video of John Massengale and Victor Dover's "Great Streets" lecture at the Congress for the New Urbansim in Buffalo last month.  It's more than an hour long, but worth viewing for the wonderful examples from around the world, many of which Victor presented at Rollins College a few months ago:





Friday, June 13, 2014

Convert One-Way Streets to Two-Ways

Here's a LINK to a story about a study of streets in Louisville converted from one-way to two ways.  An excerpt:
While Louisville experienced a five percent jump in crime during the post-conversion study period (2011 to 2013) as well as the period before conversion (2008 to 2010), a disproportionate amount of crime occurred on multi-lane one-way streets (according to police records). Yet nearly three years after the conversions took place, crime dropped a jaw dropping 23 percent on the converted streets. Auto theft alone has decreased by almost a third on the converted streets, even as it climbed by 36 percent on the nearby one-way streets. At the same time, there was a 42-percent reduction in robberies on the converted streets.
Some of the best returns on real estate investment in Louisville are now found on these formerly fast and furious streets. Property values have increased on two-way streets while nearby one-way streets have declined. The now two-way Brook Street has seen a 39 percent increase in property values after conversion, according to records from the Property Valuation Administration.
Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando could see a resurgence of retail if the City were to convert it from one-way to two-ways.  As a pilot project, the City should at least consider such a conversion north of Colonial Drive.  According to the Orlando Sentinel, a citizen volunteer task force advising City Hall said that
City officials should consider changing downtown's current one-way street network, which is designed to moved traffic in and out quickly but isn't so great for people who aren't in cars. 
Ridgewood Avenue, which connects North Park Avenue in Winter Park to Maitland, would become more desirable to home buyers if converted to two-ways.  I suspect the City made Ridgewood a one-way street heading north to reduce cut-through traffic from the Enzian theater and Park Maitland School.  However, a conversion to two-ways would slow-down cars as well as reduce unnecessary motor vehicle travel by residents, who often must "circle around" to get home. I also suspect property values would rise.  If presented with data from the Louisville study, I'm curious as to what the residents who live there would prefer.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Roundabouts: A Tool for Placemaking

Better Cities and Towns published a piece titled, "Roundabouts: A Tool for Placemaking," which City of Clearwater engineer Ken Sides and I co-wrote.  You can find it at this LINK.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Too Fat to Fight

Retired military generals, concerned about the impact of childhood obesity on military readiness, released a report titled, "Still Too Fat to Fight,"  available at this LINK.  BusinessWeek picked up the story at this LINK.  The report focuses on consumption of sugar-laden junk food by kids and teens, the fact that one out of five are ineligible to serve due to their weight, and the enormous cost of treating medical conditions of servicemen and their families linked to obesity.  A built environment that discourages walking and biking, contributing significantly to this epidemic, does indeed affect our national security.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sentinel op-ed on Cycle Tracks

Click to enlarge
Some vehicular cycling advocates criticized my support of traffic signals that prevent crashes by detecting and controlling the movements of motorists and bicyclists in a cycle track.  The critics, who oppose cycle tracks, contended that such signals cause motorist delay.  Ironically, vehicular cyclists often delay motorists by "taking the lane" in no-passing situations before "releasing" motorists trapped behind.  The concern about motorist delay--no doubt genuine--seems rather selective.

Here's an article about the signalized Dearborn cycle track: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-06-10/classified/ct-met-getting-around-0610-20130610_1_cyclists-signals-bike-traffic