This is a follow-on to my Wednesday post on the CEQA Guidelines update/reform: CEQA VMT reform has a fatal flaw. Four organizations spoke at the hearing: Climate Resolve (Ella): spoke against exemption, spoke about equity and displacement, mentioned request to Caltrans to use VMT instead of LOS City of San Jose: spoke against transportation exemption, […]

If you are not otherwise occupied on Thursday afternoon, you may want to attend the California Natural Resources Agency hearing on CEQA reform. The hearing is Thursday, March 15, 1:30 to 4:30, at California Energy Commission, Rosenfeld Hearing Room, 1516 9th St, Sacramento, CA 95814. One of the great things about living in Sacramento is […]

In my previous post, Yes, and lower speed limits, and many others, I’ve written about speed and and need to reduce vehicle speeds. This can be done in a number of ways, most effectively by redesigning streets. But street redesign is a multi-billion dollar undertaking just in our region, and that is a conservative estimate. […]

I believe that stroads should be turned back into Streets, and roads preserved for their transportation function. I’m a Strong Towns member, and fully support the argument that the best solution to stroads is to reconstruct them into streets. #SlowTheCars is the right approach. Key to that approach is that changing speed limits doesn’t do much to slow cars, and that ticketing people for going the design speed instead of the posted speed is often just a pretext for profiling and oppression.

BUT. It will be a long while and trillions of dollars to accomplish that. Undoing the damage of the past is not easy, because the money it would take to fix everything has long since gone into the pockets of those who profited from unsustainable (socially, economically, environmentally) development. We will have to triage, changing the most dangerous places first, and those places with the best chance of becoming walkable, livable, and vibrant second. We may never, and perhaps should never, get to those places that are the model of the suburban experiment. Many suburban places will fail and go back to agriculture. Others will not. But spending a lot of money to fix a suburban stroad, adding sidewalks and bike lanes and street furniture, will be good money after bad because these places won’t ever be dense enough or successful enough to pay back the investment.

Back to speed. It will be a long while before we can lower the design speed of stroads and streets back to the correct speed. In most cases, that design speed should be 20 mph. Occasionally higher or lower, but mostly 20. In the interim, I think that we should reduce the speed of all urban streets, that are not arterials and collectors, to 20 mph. I am not suggested that this limit be tightly enforced, as the point is not enforcement but education and commitment. A community willing to lower the speed limit to 20 is a community willing to think about safety and livability, and to accept that the way we have done thing in the past is absolutely not what we need in the present or future. Setting speed limits to 20 is a message to pay attention and think about consequences. Portland and Seattle have recently reduced some speed limits to 20.

Continue reading

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research has completed the first step in replacing level of service (LOS) with vehicle miles traveled (VMT) as the primary measurement for determining the CEQA impact of development on roadways by drafting the replacement language. This process was specified in In the second step, the Natural Resources Agency is […]

So, given that new HOV lanes do not reduce congestion, and in fact induce demand and increase vehicle miles traveled (VMT), what is the solution? I suggest the following policy: HOV lanes will not be added to any freeway by the construction of new lanes. If, in the judgement of Caltrans or other agencies, a […]

HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes have been in the news over the last few years, and will be so more and more often. They are the preferred option by Caltrans and other transportation agencies (which often have to fund these largely on their own dime) for increasing highway capacity. Notice that I said increasing capacity […]