News Roundup: July 8, 2013

Ferry passengers waiting in line on second day of BART strike, photo by  Steve Rhodes .

Ferry passengers waiting in line on second day of BART strike, photo by Steve Rhodes.

What the BART Strike Means for the Regional Transit Agenda (SPUR)

SPUR, a San Francisco-based non-profit has an expansive post on the implications and lessons learned from the BART strike last week. They also take a moment to bemoan the inevitable harm that the strike will cause to transit's image in the area, which is warranted.Their big four takeaways are: 1) the need for redundancy; 2) the importance of communication in transportation; 3) the benefits of workplace flexibility; and 4) the value and role of complete communities.

More Cogent than I (Crossing the Lines)

Steve Stofka sees a growing awareness about the need for serious passenger rail safety regulation reform, both among urbanists and some broader organizations, like the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute. I've written about the topic before, and the CEI writers sum up the issue well. Referring to the FRA's apparent protocol for evaluating train safety, they have this to say: 'It now asks, “Does this train fit our rules?” It should ask, “Is this train survivable in a crash?”'

The Missed Opportunity of Underspending During the Recession Will Haunt America for Years (Slate)

Though none of this is a surprise, and many commentators and bloggers have been writing about this for years, Yglesias reflects on our failure to take advantage of the economic recession for infrastructure spending. Back in 2008-2010 we had the opportunity to finance projects at very low interest rates, with lower contract costs, and at a time when putting people to work would have had the most benefit. Now, as the economy recovers and interest rates climb, the need for stimulus spending is less and the cost of projects is more. "So we underinvested when it was cheap, and now that it's possible to spend a bit more, that extra money is going to be eaten up by debt service obligations."

Car Ownership May Be Down in the U.S., But It’s Soaring Globally (Streetsblog)

Streetsblog brings some much-needed international context to the state of car ownership in the US. The New York Times wrote last week about "The End of Car Culture," but in many countries car culture is just beginning, and it's going to have disastrous impacts on the livability and efficiency of cities, as well as the environment. In virtually every developing country and most of the less wealthy developed nations car ownership is increasing at an incredible pace--in the case of China more than doubling in just four years--and millions more cars are built worldwide in each successive year.

The Side Effects of Property Taxes (Planetizen)

In response to a recent article by The Economist, Michael Lewyn tries to temper the pro-property tax message with a few warnings about possible negative effects of relying more heavily upon property taxes, particularly the potential for a more antagonistic environment for development. It's an interesting argument but I disagree with his conclusions, and you can find my comments below the article, as well as a response from Lewyn.

Sunday Dialogue: Cycling in the City (New York Times)

This is just another anti-bike share editorial with responses from readers, but I had to share it because the writer's response is just hilarious--Rabinowitz-esque, even. Complaining about the color scheme of the NYC Citi Bike stations and bicycles, he said: "I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To my eye they are the most disturbing clash of blue and gray since Gettysburg." Hahaha, brilliant!