July 28, 2009


1. Like AC, I'm adding the new blog Keep Austin Wonky to my list. Welcome.

2. This article from AC is actually making me nauseous as I contemplate the damage that will be done to our city in the next few years. I will be writing more on this in a couple of days, but in the meantime, those of you at the Burnt Orange Report and Austin Chronicle who endorsed Morrison ought to be kicking yourselves in the ass. (Or let me do it for you). This is exactly what I and a few others predicted she would do, after all; she was never a candidate of balance as y'all convinced yourself she had become despite her history - she was always a NIMBY reactionary and had never tried all that hard to hide her stripes.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , I Told You So , When Neighborhoods Go Bad , Worst Person In Austin , metablog
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July 23, 2009

Red Line Myth #1: The 'downtown' station is within a short walk of your office

Was going to do a nice outline before I jumped in, but then I saw this really well-done brochure by Capital Metro on 'how to ride the train' which encourages this myth.

Red Line Myth #1: This 'urban rail' line will deliver you to within a quick, short, walk of your office building, like most other successful (light) rail lines have done.

Look at this picture, from page 5:

Looks like the train goes right in the middle of downtown, doesn't it? Looks like it's right on Congress Avenue south of the Capitol, where all those big office buildings are! Firmly rebutting everything I've been telling you about how you'll use commuter rail, if you do?

Well, not exactly. Move on to page 7 and look at this image:

and read this text:

Location: The Downtown Station is conveniently located outside the Austin Convention Center on 4th St. between Neches & Trinity. Dedicated Rail Connector buses will greet passengers at this station to move them quickly to major downtown employers and destinations.

Get it? I'll highlight for emphasis: Even Capital Metro admits that passengers will need to take 'connector buses' to get to major downtown employers and destinations from the 'conveniently located' station at the Convention Center - in the part of downtown where there aren't any office buildings or any attractions. Folks, the only way to take a fairly quick trip from NW Austin and points farther out to your office which isn't going to require a transfer will continue to be the express buses, unless and until Capital Metro cuts them off to inflate Red Line ridership numbers.

And for those of you who think you're going to walk every day because you're not lazy, good for you. Transit research shows that the 1/4 mile rule is a good planning tool because, frankly, most people have a limited time budget, even if they're not lazy, to spend on their commute. A train trip which is 5 minutes faster than their car but that requires 20 minutes of walking to get to their office isn't going to get anybody to ride who wasn't already willing to take the express bus, that's for sure.

Even better images of the downtown 1/4 and 1/2 mile walking zones from the downtown station courtesy of me, google maps, MSPaint, and DSK:

July 21, 2009

New blog to read

I still don't have much time myself, obviously, but did discover a great new blog called Human Transit which I'm slowly poring through - a transit planner from Portland, seems like. One of the first great finds has been a discussion of the inconvenient truth about streetcars which expands quite well on a point I've made here many times in the past: streetcars running in a shared lane are actually worse than buses on the metrics of speed and reliability.

Please check it out; I'm adding them to my blogroll.

This entry was posted in the following categories: 2008 Light Rail , I Told You So , Urban Design , metablog
Posted by m1ek at 11:39 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2009

Yes, right-wing know-nothings, bicyclists do pay for the roads

Just sent to the morning show guys at 590-KLBJ, who were discussing the 3-foot passing rule and then let a caller drag the show down into the typical "cyclists don't pay for roads" nonsense. They didn't start there, but also didn't contradict her...


Although you probably don't remember, y'all have had me on your show a couple of times for a short talk about transportation. This morning on the way into work, I heard you and your listeners talking about the 3-foot-passing law that Gov. Perry vetoed; and the last caller I listened to made some very inaccurate points which you didn't challenge at all which need to be corrected, regarding paying for roadways.

The fact is that in the state of Texas, the state gas tax is constitutionally dedicated to the state highway system (and schools) - meaning it cannot be spent on any roadway without a route shield (number) on it. For instance, I-35, US 183, RM 2222 - state highways; can get gas tax funding and usually do (with some local contributions thrown into the mix). While the federal gas tax has no such restriction, in practice in our area, the metropolitan planning group that disperses such money spends almost all of it on the state highway system as well.

What does that leave out? Well, essentially 99% of the streets cyclists ride on when they're actually trying to get somewhere. Not just little roads - major roads like Enfield/15th; Cesar Chavez; all the numbered streets downtown; Windsor; Lamar north of the river; Burnet south of 183; etc. - these roads don't get one cent of funding from the gas tax.

What about vehicle registration? Goes exclusively to the state and county governments - and the county doesn't spend any of their money on roads inside city limits.

So cyclists do, in fact, pay for the roads they ride on - in fact, they likely overpay by orders of magnitude considering that their 'bill' for using one of those city-funded streets is the same as if they drove that day, yet they cause a lot more damage and take up a lot more space when they drive (you can fit a lot more cyclists on a street like Speedway than you can cars, in other words).

Please don't let your callers get away with this kind of hurtful know-nothing reactionary attack. While "cyclists don't pay for roads" is a patently false statement, there's plenty of valid disagreement on the 3-foot-passing rule that could have been explored instead, and the listeners deserve that higher-quality discourse.

Mike Dahmus
City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission 2000-2005

Looking at this in retrospect, I forgot to even mention that the city pays for its roads with general funds - mostly sales taxes, property taxes, and utility transfers. D'oh. Will email them accordingly. (Still sick with plague and no sleep).

This entry was posted in the following categories: Funding of Transportation , PS: I am not a crackpot
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July 09, 2009


Yes, you haven't seen a crackplog in a long time. I did warn you, and since she came home almost a month ago, I have spent several fun overnights in the ER, and am barely sleeping (hint: preemie baby recovering from intestinal surgery is like normal newborn TO THE MAX!).

Today's Chronicle finally covers the live music issue, with a quote or two from your truly, thanks to Wells Dunbar. I think it lets Morrison off a little too easy - but is overall a good read. For another pointer, my pals at the Austinist gave me a nice "he told you so" shout-out.

For crackplog-lite, please check the twitter. I promise the crackploggin' will resume; but right now I'm just trying to get enough time to work.

This entry was posted in the following categories: Austin , PS: I am not a crackpot , When Neighborhoods Go Bad
Posted by m1ek at 11:22 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack