Category Archives: Urban Planning

Currently seeking my master’s degree in Urban Planning at VCU

Record number of miles driven is a failure, not an accomplishment

traffic6“It’s Wow Wednesday! U.S. sets record in 2016 with an estimated 3.2 trillion miles traveled.” – Tweet from the Federal Highway Administration.

This is not good news. The “wow” here is that the Federal Highway Administration does not understand that we need to encourage people to drive less, not more. Driving 3.2 trillion miles is not an accomplishment, but rather a failure. It is in the best interest for our country that we promote alternative transportation options, not the consumption and exhaustion of the world’s remaining fossil fuels.  Continue reading

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Video evidence: Saving vulnerable users without needing data

Crosswalk at Dock Street in Richmond, Va.Can video evidence replace data when it comes to bike and pedestrian planning? I love this concept. Data collection is hard with bike/ped, and perhaps observing conflict areas over a dedicated period of time could prevent conflicts to vulnerable users…and unnecessary injuries and deaths.

A recent article by Next City detailed a planning process happening in certain cities that is helping to speed up processes in creating safer environments for pedestrians and bicyclists in key transportation areas.

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Dangerous by Design: Richmond rated worst in Virginia for pedestrian safety

 

Dangerous By DesignStatistics can be an important tool. Understanding statistics can help you assess the quality of studies and the validity of their conclusions.

As a planner, statistics are vital to assessing areas of need. As a bike and pedestrian planner, it can be difficult to measure certain aspects of our infrastructure and how people navigate our transit networks. Giving policy makers factual statistics to enhance work study is commonplace. Continue reading

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Local efforts are the backbone of a national cycling network

U.S. Bike Route 1 crosses U.S. Bike Route 76 near Ashland, Va.

Credit: Dana Carolyn

The November 2016 issue of Planning magazine had a detailed and well-written article entitled “Bikes Across America” about the efforts to build a national cycling network across the United States.

Now that I’m a transportation planner at the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, I can see how much coordination and work is behind this type of tall task. A national bike network will take decades to complete, but each locality and region can help speed things up with incremental improvements.   Continue reading

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Fun ride on the Southside: Tobacco Heritage Trail

As a part of my work as a transportation planner with the Richmond Regional Transportation Planning Organization (part of the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission), I was given a chance to study and ride the Tobacco Heritage Trail, a rail-to-trail east of South Hill.

I was given a chance to share my experience with the Virginia Bicycling Federation. and they were kind enough to post my story on their website. Give it a read, please. And while you’re there, take a moment to read up on the organization — if you are a cyclist in Virginia, you’ve likely benefited from their dedication to improving the laws on cycling in the Commonwealth.

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With ‘Door to Door,’ Humes’ look at transportation in U.S. is a fast read, but worth taking it slow

Edward Humes and the Google carI rarely read books before everyone else and I’m even less likely to finish a book quickly. However, with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Edward Humes’ Door to Door: The Magnificent, Maddening, Mysterious World of Transportation, he had my attention and was I strapped in for a fast ride.

The book is a wonderful read and inspiring to me as a writer and transportation planner. Humes covers many forms of transportation — from walking and biking to rail freight and cargo ships and even self-driving cars — and he touches on how fragile our entire transportation system is, especially thanks to our addiction to the solo-driven automobile. Continue reading

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Counting what you can’t see: Downsides of Data-Based Transportation Planning

Richmond Rides bike tour in Church Hill.

I am a transportation planner. My job is primarily focused on bike and pedestrian planning, which I love. But planners cannot wave a magic wand to create the infrastructure needed to better accommodate those modes of transit.

Planning requires data and information to quantify projects. Everything costs money and elected or appointed officials are not likely to blindly approve projects because somebody wants them built. But how do you best account for pedestrians and cyclists? Continue reading

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