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Clarion call for fiscally-responsible transportation

Marc Lefkowitz  |  03/21/13 @ 11:00am  |  Posted in Transportation choices

Jason Segedy, the head of Akron regional planning organization, AMATS, is calling for a shift in thinking about transportation to emphasize fiscal responsibility.

Making connections<br />Covered bike parking at a Greater Cleveland RTA station in Lakewood helps people combine bike and transit trips. Model corridor<br />Cleveland's Euclid Corridor features bus rapid transit, bike lanes, a free trolley and an enhanced pedestrian environment.Complete Street plans<br />Fleet Avenue in Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood is scheduled to get a makeover with bike lanes, better crosswalks, street trees and wider sidewalks.Access for all<br />This concept for multi-purpose path on the new Cleveland Innerbelt Bridge inspired a major bike-pedestrian improvement on the nearby Lorain-Carnegie Bridge.Placemaking<br />Greater Cleveland RTA is rebuilding Red Line Rapid Transit stations, such as this one at University Circle, to better connect to the surrounding neighborhood and  be an anchor for development. Better ride<br />The RTA Health Line in Cleveland is the region's first bus-rapid transit service, and it features articulated, hybrid-drive vehicles that move more riders than regular buses.

Segedy will present a new, fix-it-first policy today to AMATs that he hopes will start a statewide conversation about redirecting how transportation money is spent to discourage suburban sprawl in a region without population growth.

He will ask the region’s leaders to question the status quo. In a region where congestion isn’t a problem, should the priority be less on new roads and more toward serving the needs of the current population?

-GCBL has been working with Ohioans for Transportation Choice to promote better transportation choices. The request is for "a fair allocation" of $75 million, or 2 percent, from the state transportation budget to build complete streets and more transit options. Currently, Ohio ranks 47th in the nation for funding transit. Have Ohio lawmakers listened? Not yet. Your voice could help convince them that vibrant communities, not more highways, are the best course for future prosperity.

-Public transit ridership grew nationwide in 2012 (despite superstorms). Meanwhile, intercity rail grew in the U.S. with Midwest rail ridership increasing by 35 percent over the past five years. This Toledo Blade editorial admonishes Governor Kasich for turning his back on freight and passenger rail development, stating “Ohio is in the middle of major inter-state corridors. The state needs a voice in how rail is planned, regionally and nationally, over the next several decades."

-A debate is brewing about the benefits of an arts and culture based economic development strategy. Why has Northeast Ohio historically not driven its ED on placemaking, on the “Creative Class” development that economist Richard Florida is so keen on? Some local writers, and now national figure Joel Kotkin, have questioned Florida’s motives and more importantly, promises to Cleveland and Rust Belt cities that pursuing a vibrant cities agenda will rise all boats.

For a decade now, Florida has studied the effect that concentrating tech workers and young professionals in close proximity and developing social spaces has in the growth of urban economies. Florida’s critics say his definition of “creatives” is overly broad, that he’s benefitted personally by trumpeting a fairly elite, not very diverse bunch, while downplaying the dominant paradigm of growth in lower-rent suburbs. Florida responds that Kotkin is like a climate denier refusing to believe the evidence laid out by a consensus of economists and planners that concentrating knowledge in cities leads to higher productivity and innovation.

Where does Cleveland’s recent gains in population in neighborhoods like downtown and Ohio City fit in to the Creative Class discussion? How can growth in Cleveland’s urban centers remain resilient, organic, and true to form? Is any growth good growth?

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Americans want high speed rail
5 years ago

US HSR, the advocacy group for high-speed rail in America, has this to say:

"America wants high speed rail! Polls have shown that 88% of Americans support high speed rail and want it built.

High speed rail is on people's minds all across America, especially as we hear news every day about all the other countries investing in high speed rail, while we're still debating.

Rail ridership is continuing to set records all across the country as more and more Americans come around to the great convenience of rail as a serious form of transportation.

It's imperative that we invest as heavily as China, Spain, France, Thailand, and all the other countries who see the importance of high speed rail and fast efficient mobility for their people."

Ohio legislature ignores calls for Transportation
5 years ago

Ohio Environmental Council's Jack Shaner is reporting today (3/21) that the Ohio General Assembly will not include a $75 million fund for Complete Streets and better transit in its $1.5 billion transportation budget. Click on the Ohioans for Transportation Choice link in the blog post above to speak up in favor of a vibrant cities / sustainable transportation future for Ohio.

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