Smart growth

American Cities Are Haunted by Too Many Parking Spaces

Read the full story in BusinessWeek.

American car culture may be declining, but much of our urban infrastructure remains steadfastly centered around the automobile. Planning choices made in the heyday of car ownership may prove incompatible with a rising generation of consumers who seem remarkably disinterested in driving.

Smart Location Mapping

EPA has developed two data products that consistently measure the built environment and transit accessibility of neighborhoods across metropolitan regions and across the United States. Each of these products summarize the characteristics of census block groups. Users can download data, browse the data in interactive maps, or access the data through web services.

  • The Smart Location Database summarizes more than 90 different indicators associated with the built environment and location efficiency. Indicators include density of development, diversity of land use, street network design, and accessibility to destinations as well as various demographic and employment statistics. Most attributes are available for all U.S. block groups.
  • Access to Jobs and Workers Via Transit Tool provides indicators of accessibility to destinations by public transit. Indicators summarize jobs accessible by transit as well as workers, households, and population that can access the block group via transit. Coverage is limited to metropolitan regions served by transit agencies that share their service data.

For more information about EPA’s smart location mapping projects, please contact Ted Cochin (202-566-2181, cochin.ted@epa.gov).

Request for Proposals for a Smart Growth Information Clearinghouse

EPA’s Office of Sustainable Communities is seeking proposals for a Smart Growth Information Clearinghouse. Under this solicitation, EPA intends to fund further development and ongoing maintenance of a web-based national information clearinghouse focused on smart growth. Eligible applicants are States and local governments, Indian Tribes, public and private colleges and universities, and hospitals, laboratories, and other public or private nonprofit institutions, among others. For-profit organizations and individuals are not eligible to apply. Proposals must be received by EPA or through www.grants.gov by 4:00 p.m. Central time on Monday, May 12, 2014. EPA expects to make an award announcement by fall 2014.

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Invites Proposals for Rural Communities Facing Design Challenges

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural DesignTM (CIRD) has issued a request for proposals to rural communities facing design challenges – such as Main Street revitalization, how to manage and direct growth, design community-supportive transportation systems, preserve natural and historic landscapes and buildings, protect working agricultural lands, and provide adequate and affordable housing – who are interested in hosting a local workshop in 2014-2015.

Successful applicants will receive a $7,000 stipend and in-kind professional design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The deadline for submitting a proposal is Tuesday May 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm Central Time.

For more information or a copy of the RFP, see http://www.rural-design.org/.

6 Freeway Removals That Changed Their Cities Forever

Read the full post at Gizmodo.

It seems counterintuitive, right? Rip out eight lanes of freeway through the middle of your metropolis and you’ll be rewarded with not only less traffic, but safer, more efficient cities? But it’s true, and it’s happening in places all over the world.

Many freeway systems were overbuilt in an auto-obsessed era, only to realize later that cities are actually healthier, greener, and safer without them. Like freeway cap parks, which hope to bridge the chasms through severed neighborhoods—Boston’s Big Dig is a great example—freeway removal projects try to eradicate and undo the damage wrought from highways, while creating new, multifunctional shared streets that can be utilized by transit, bikes, walkers and yes, even cars.

Okay, you’re thinking, but where do all the cars go? It turns out that when you take out a high-occupancy freeway it doesn’t turn the surface streets into the equivalent of the Autobahn. A theory called “induced demand” proves that if you make streets bigger, more people will use them. When you make them smaller, drivers discover and use other routes, and traffic turns out to be about the same. Don’t believe it? Check out these freeway removals in cities all over the world and see for yourself.