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Will US DOT’s Self-Driving Car Rules Make Streets Safe for Walking and Biking?

This week, U.S. DOT released guidelines for self-driving cars, a significant step as regulators prepare for companies to bring this new technology to market. Autonomous vehicles raise all sorts of questions about urban transportation systems. It’s up to advocates to ensure that the technology helps accomplish broader goals like safer streets and more efficient use of urban space, instead of letting private companies dictate the terms.

Photo: Wikipedia

Photo: Wikipedia

The rules that the feds put out will be revised over time, and the public can weigh in during that process. With that in mind, I’ve been reviewing the guidelines and talking to experts about their implications for city streets — and especially for pedestrian and cyclist safety. Here are a few key things to consider as regulations for self-driving cars get fleshed out.

Fully autonomous cars can’t break traffic laws.

The feds say self-driving cars should adhere to all traffic laws. In practice, this means they’ll have to do things like obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Following the rules may be a pretty low bar to clear, but it’s more than most human drivers can say for themselves.

Transit advocate Ben Ross points out, however, that this standard will only apply to “highly automated vehicles” (HAVs). Cars that are lower down on the autonomy spectrum — where a person is deemed the driver, not a machine — wouldn’t need to have features that override human error.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Motorist Kills David Bratton in Bulter County, But Don’t Worry, the Driver Is Fine (KFVS)
  • Pedestrian Killed in Saint Robert — Driver Reports He Hit “Something” (Ozarks First)
  • Cody Alford Arrested for Hit-And-Run Killing of Megan Wheeler in Harrisonville (KMBZFox4KC)
  • St. Peters’ Police Search for Woman Driving Red SUV in Hit-And-Run of Young Cyclist on Sunday (KSDK)
  • There’s a Reason the Police Protests — and Riots — Happen Over and Over (CityLab)
  • Still Many Questions When It Comes to Partnering of Private and Public Transit Providers (GT)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via nextSTL

Senior Apartments to Be Built Next to Metro East Swansea MetroLink Station

 

Bi-State Development announced a $10.5M, 62-unit, senior apartment project to be built adjacent to the Swansea MetroLink Station in the Metro East. The full announcement posted on its website is below.  The project would be the second senior living transit-oriented development adjacent to the region’s light rail line on the east side.

The $22M four-story, 74-unit, Jazz @ Walter Circle development was completed in 2013 and was quickly fully leased to residents aged 62-94, according to Metro Transit. That project was LEED Gold certified and includes a community center, offices, a health facility, a grocery store and other retail space. Beyond being practical, the Jazz project is probably the most attractive new construction TOD in St. Louis. Tax credit specialists Dudley Ventures and architecture and planning firm Farr Associates worked on Jazz @ Walter Circle.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Investigators Think Megan Wheeler Was Killed By Hit-And-Run Driver in Cass County (KMBC)
  • There’s Movement Afoot on Traffic Calming St. Louis Streets (Strong Towns)
  • Recent Budget Cuts to “Missouri Moves” Project Already Being Felt (Southeast Missourian)
  • Jenny’s Use of Time on MetroLink Is a Little Different Than Others’ (NextStop)
  • Free Metro Passes for Students Living in SLU Housing (CMT)
  • Safer Streets Matter to Public Health (T4America)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

How Transit Agencies Can Offer Better Paratransit Service at Lower Costs

Paratransit costs are rising fast for transit agencies and riders aren't particularly satisfied. Graph: Rudin Center

Paratransit costs are rising fast. Graph: Brookings via Rudin Center

Paratransit service for people with disabilities is a big part of what modern transit agencies do, and it’s getting bigger all the time. As the population ages and more people rely on paratransit to get around, agencies need to get smart about how they provide the service — or else rising costs will eat into their capacity to run buses and trains.

A new report from the Rudin Center for Transportation at NYU lays out how to provide quality paratransit service without breaking the bank.

The 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act required cities to provide paratransit service for residents with disabilities but provided no operating funds. Nationally, paratransit now accounts about 12 percent of transit budgets, according to the report. It typically costs far more to operate than bus or train service — the national average is $29 per paratransit trip, compared to a little more than $8 per trip for fixed-route services.

The Rudin Center report explores how transit agencies can reduce costs while simultaneously improving service for paratransit users. Here are the four main recommendations.

1. Partner with ride-hailing services

Contracting with taxi services or ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft could benefit both transit agencies and paratransit riders.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Get Ready — Car Free Day Is September 22
  • Kansas City Installing Its First Traffic Signal for Cyclists (BikeWalkKC)
  • Has Addition of More Officers Made a Difference in Safety on MetroLink? (KMOV)
  • Swansea Building Affordable Senior Living Apartments Next to MetroLink (BND)
  • Any Bike/Ped Improvements Included in Phase Two of Richmond Height’s Boulevard Project? (KMOV)
  • USDOT Announces Autonomous Vehicle Safety Guidelines (Planetizen)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via nextSTL

$78.9M Boulevard South Mixed-Use Project May Start Late 2016

Screen Shot 2016-09-19 at 10.10.30 PM

This past November, we wrote about plans to finally build the second phase of The Boulevarddevelopment in Richmond Heights. Now, new images of the proposal point to possible progress.According to KMOV and the City of Richmond Heights, Chicago-based developers Condor Properties and Edwards Realty are set to acquire the property under the name CE Boulevard I LLC next month from Pace Properties. Development could be completed in the next 2-3 years.

While nominally controversial, Tax Increment Financing (TIF) has been approved for the project twice. The original plan was to complete a second retail and residential phase soon after the first phase was completed in 2005. TIF support was passed for the area back then. Late last year, a 23-year TIF for the $78.9M project was recommended. The latest rendering is by TR,i Architects.

Subsidies, and particularly TIF, for development in St. Louis has received renewed focus. In June,TIF reform was passed with the aim to empower county-wide TIF commissions to prevent subsidies that serve one municipality at the expense of others. Previous law allowed a municipality to override a commission vote. The reform still allows an override, but only demolition and land clearance may be reimbursed to the developer, significantly limited the amount of subsidy provided.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Julie Burnell Strikes, Injures Cyclist Scott Whitcomb in Springfield (KMZU)
  • MoDOT’s “Road to Tomorrow” Project All About Whiz-Bang Tech (Lake Expo)
  • KC Developer Building on Vision of “Increasingly Car-Less Community” (KC Star)
  • SLU Article Urges Students to Leave Campus, Explore St. Louis, Take Steps to Combat Division
  • Sales of Electric Cars on the Rise (Treehugger)
  • How Will People Who Park on City Streets Charge Electric Cars? (Treehugger)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via MoBikeFed Cycling News, Tips, Advocacy Alerts

Governor Nixon Eliminates Missouri Moves Funding

In a surprise move, Governor Nixon has restricted the $20 million in funding from the new Missouri Moves cost share funding.
This week, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon eliminated Missouri Moves funding

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon

Missouri Moves, passed by the Missouri General Assembly this spring, is the first state transportation funding in Missouri history to take the "total transportation" approach, which makes funding available for transit, walking, and bicycling alongside of road and highway projects. MoDOT has already solicited and received applications for the funding, which was to be distributed as a local cost share program. In the applications that were submitted, local cities and counties were offering to provide 50-80% of the total cost of the projects. MoDOT indicated that approximately 50% of the funding applications submitted were for multimodal projects, with many bicycle, pedestrian, and transit projects in the mix. MoDOT reserved 1/3 of the total funding for multimodal and bike/ped projects. In addition to the projects submitted specifically for the multi-modal/bike/ped funding, many of the projects submitted for the 2/3 of the funding reserved for road and highway projects also included bicycle and pedestrian elements. Altogether, a significant proportion of the Missouri Moves funding was slated to go towards pedestrian, bicycle, and transit projects. That is because there is tremendous pent-up demand for such projects in Missouri, and little funding available relative to the demonstrated need. Read more...
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Today’s Headlines

  • Grassroots Efforts for Better Transit in St. Louis Taking Hold (Post-Dispatch)
  • Belleville Working on Bike Path Adjacent to MetroLink (BND)
  • Should the Taxi Commission Be Regulating Horse-Drawn Carriages? (Post-Dispatch)
  • MetroLink Construction Schedule for the Week (NextStop)
  • Bike and Car Theft on the Rise Near Washington U (Student Life)
  • Rural Public Transpo Option OATS Celebrating 45 Years (Kearney Courier)
  • Car Crashes on the Rise Among Pokémon Go Players (The Wrap)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA