Gabe Klein, keynote speaker for the RTA State of Mobility 2015 event, author of Start-Up City (see earlier RTA blog for excerpts, see Streetfilms video), offered the following responses to questions received from RTA annual meeting participants.
Thank you to Gabe for your insights and guidance!
RTA Q. What are the pros and cons for public transportation regarding one way vs two way streets in urban environments?
Gabe Klein: To some extent it comes down to road space, but also operations. On a one-way street with say, 5 traffic lanes, there is room for a complete street (see Chicago Loop Link) and also often a need to take capacity to slow speeds. On a two way facility (see Ashland BRT in Chicago) there can be tougher choices to make because of limitations in the size of the right of way, which can lead to political obstacles, and choices.
RTA Q. Can you ever go “too far” or “too soon” with transit, and if so, are there political and financial consequences for doing so?
Gabe Klein: Sure, this is possible, but the fact is that these projects often take years to incubate. I see in the U.S. more damage done from waiting too long and never getting anything on the ground. In China they can implement a project in record time and see the benefits sooner. On the other side they don’t have the same environmental processes that we take as a given in the U.S. which includes looking at how communities will be affected.
RTA Q. What advice would you give for a spread-out region named after a shape, that depends on the synergy of all parts for success?
Gabe Klein: Start where you can and have the most demand. Sometimes that’s in the urban core of one of your cities, or it could be a desperately needed link between two cities. My point is that you should go where it’s wanted first in my experience.
RTA Q. What are the biggest misconceptions about the past, present, and future of transportation?
Gabe Klein: That roads are free and transit is subsidized, that land use and transportation are not connected at the hip, and that our cities were not built around transit and by the private sector typically.