Like its intermountain contemporary, Salt Lake City, Utah, Boise once had an extensive streetcar system. But both cities—and dozens more across the country—replaced their people movers with roadways. Now, SLC has invested millions to rebuild its public transportation.
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“Our light rail is a cinderella story. In the last 14 years, we have delivered 140 miles of light rail and commuter rail. That’s, frankly, 17 years ahead of schedule. We’re so excited that the public gave us the confidence and the trust to deliver this,” Michael Allegra, General Manager of the Utah Transit Authority, tells viewers in a new video documenting SLC’s investment.
Tom Millar of Alta Planning notes the investment in light rail is coupled with new facilities that promote other forms of transit: walking and bicycling. Once complete, the Sugar House line will include a new multimodal trail to link the Jordan River trail and Bonneville Shoreline trail. According to Congress for New Urbanism President John Norquist, SLC’s light rail system is the “fastest growing rail system in America.” Norquist and SLC planners explain more in this short video from Streetfilms.org:
Grist’s Susie Cagle presents an interesting perspective on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) labor strike in San Francisco, Calif. Cagle writes that BART’s reputation is less than stellar, citing controversy and lack of cleanliness, but suggests that the real problem with the labor strike is not just contract negotiations, but fundamental flaws with the region’s transportation infrastructure writ large.
If the Bay Area wants to draw in more of those car-free folks, it doesn’t just need to fix BART—it needs to get its whole act together. That means deprioritizing cars and investing in bike and pedestrian infrastructure, creating a functional bus system (cheaper than trains!), building smarter and more densely—and improving labor conditions as well.
A boom in local craft brewing has, according to a report from the Associated Press, lead to the revitalization of aging urban neighborhoods. From Kansas City to Williamsburg, upstart breweries have helped attract new visitors, driven up home values and brought new business:
Small-time, independent brewers have been one of the beer market’s growth drivers. The number of breweries in the U.S. catapulted from 92 in 1980 to 2,514 as of May 2013, according to craft beer trade group Brewers Association. Barrels shipped have more than doubled in the past decade, and craft beer now makes up nearly 7 percent of a U.S. beer market that is growing slowly overall, according to trade publication Beer Marketer’s Insight.
Data from the League of American Bicyclists shows bicycling on the rise—especially among Hispanic, African American and Asian American populations. According to a report filed by the League, between 2001 and 2009, those groups grew from 16 percent, to more than 20 percent, of all bike trips in the United States.
What’s more, minority cycling groups have formed from New York City to Los Angeles. National Public Radio’s All Things Considered explores the trend by profiling Washington, D.C. cyclist Veronica O. Davis, and the minority cycling group Black Women Bike: DC. The organization strives to make cycling more accessible. From NPR:
With Black Women Bike: DC, Davis works to change the perception of just who is a cyclist. It’s not just spandex-clad weekend warriors riding 30-speed carbon fiber bikes. It’s moms who want to ride with their kids. It’s women who are training for their first triathlon. And it’s utilitarian commuters like her.
While cycling may be on the rise in the United States, American cycling infrastructure continues to lag behind that of the Netherlands, writes Mark Wagenbuur. On his blog, Bicycle Dutch, Wagenbuur outlines his issues with American bicycle lanes and paths, assembled during a recent visit to the states.
The main difference between the U.S. and the Netherlands is that cycling is not seen as transportation in the U.S. by the general public. Only very few people use the bicycle to go from A to B for their daily business. For the average American cycling is something kids do or when you do cycle as an adult, it is mainly for recreational purposes. And you dress up for the part: wearing hi-viz, a helmet, with a bicycle to match, one the Dutch would call a ‘race bike.’
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of Boise State University, the Center for Idaho History and Politics, or the School of Public Service.