What We’re Reading: Induced Demand, New Starts, and Berkeley


Phase 2: Many counties in the Puget Sound region have moved to Phase 2 reopening ($) under Governor Jay Inslee’s new orders.

Induced demand: A new paper suggests that more parking puts more cars on the road.

Slow street recovery: Can a network of slow street speed pandemic recovery?

State preemption at work: More cities in California are having to take an active role in planning for housing due to new state laws.

National bike interests: An Oregon representative is pushing a national bill for bikeshare and commuter tax benefits.

West Marginal PBLs: Local groups are speaking up for protected bike lanes on West Marginal Way.

Warehouse moratorium: In the Atlanta area, there is a push for a warehouse moratorium to slow road damage.

Not enough: A new report suggests that economic relief from December is still not enough to solve the eviction crisis.

Housing and racial equity: The Biden administration promised big action on housing reform and racial equity last week.

Community Transit’s future: The Everett Herald interviews Ric Ilgenfritz, the new head of Community Transit, about his transit agency’s future ($).

Repair power: How can national Democrats fix the housing crisis in America?

New Starts: Yonah Freemark does his annual roundup of openings and construction starts for transit projects in North America (and beyond) this year.

Transit take: Politico has a suburban-centric commuter take on transit and the pandemic.

Mayoral race: Colleen Echohawk has entered the race for mayor of Seattle.

Planning rail service: A Los Angeles-to-Coachella passenger rail service is in the planning phase.

Victory: A Trump-era “clean energy” rule has been struck down by an appeals court allowing states to regulate emissions in the power sector.

Not in line: While collisions are plummeting in Seattle, traffic fatalities are not falling as fast.

Streamlined rezones: Nonprofit housing providers in Vancouver may soon be able to skip the rezone process to expedite their infill projects.

Gasless homes: Sightline argues against gas in homes.

Not out of the woods: Despite falling rents in San Francisco, the affordable housing crisis could get worse there.

Driver responsibility: A new Virginia bill would put more onus on people driving than people riding bikes.

Crossing the Columbia: What would a modern bicycle facility on the I-5 bridge crossing the Columbia River look like?

BK and LIC bike: The famed Brooklyn Bridge and Queensboro Bridge are finally poised to get dedicated, separate bike lanes ($).

Berkeley: In a surprising move, Berkeley has eliminated parking minimums for housing.

Housing Seattle: Seattle’s hotel-based “shelter surge” plan may be in jeopardy and could be in competing with other proposals.

He’s back: Portland’s mayor Ted Wheeler is indeed bringing on former bike-friendly mayor Sam Adams to his team.

Completed: The first phase of the Central Ridge Greenway is now open in the Central District.

Modest infill: Capitol Hill Seattle Blog highlights a new planned four-story project on E Pine St.

New segment: A new segment of the 7th Ave bike protected lane has opened in the Denny Triangle.

Transit fairy: A dedicated transit rider is beautifying bus stops in Seattle ($).

Cleaner fuels: Is Washington finally going to pass a “clean fuels” bill?

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Stephen is an urban planner with a passion for sustainable, livable, and diverse cities. He is especially interested in how policies, regulations, and programs can promote positive outcomes for communities. Stephen lives in Kenmore and primarily covers land use and transportation issues for The Urbanist.

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Daniel Thompson

I always like the post on what we’re reading. Very educational. A couple excerpts:

From Politico:

“Transit ridership had been falling for years before the pandemic shut down much of the U.S. economy last spring, and it’s likely that the virus will only accelerate some of the trends behind that decline. Those include hastening the migration of jobs and people away from dense cities, where transit works best, as well as a newfound enthusiasm for letting employees work from home.”

“Many of these big urban areas have seen a complete shift of where people are living right now,” said Jim Derwinski, CEO of Chicago’s Metra system and chair of the Commuter Rail Coalition.”

“Even a 5 percent decrease in commuters in a major metropolitan area is going to have massive impact,” said Scott Bogren, executive director of the Community Transportation Association of America. “That tends to be, from what I’m reading from economists, on the low side of what they expect to be ‘permanent.'”

“Meanwhile, as many people gain the freedom to work from anywhere, home sales in suburbs and small towns have risen to 85 percent of total sales, up from 80 percent before the outbreak. That’s accelerating an overall shift away from the hub-and-spoke model that transit systems were built on, after years in which suburban office parks have pulled rush hour traffic away from urban cores.”

“Even a five percent decrease in commuters in a major metropolitan area is going to have massive impact,” said Scott Bogren, executive director of the Community Transportation Association of America. “That tends to be, from what I’m reading from economists, on the low side of what they expect to be ‘permanent.'”

Personally I take the “end of commuting” predictions with a grain of salt, depending on how attractive the city is where the office is located for after work dining or shopping. However, the two interesting points in this article for me are: 85% of all home sales are in suburbs and small towns, up from 80% pre-pandemic; and just a 5% decline in commuters will have significant funding ramifications for transit, especially IMO for ST because ST has always been very aggressive in its estimates of future ridership and general fund revenue when selling ST 2 and 3.

I also thought the design of the four story infill development on E. Pine St. was pretty and appropriate for 14th, although probably expensive.