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Saturday, October 25 2014 @ 10:48 PM UTC


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Region has 6,000+ with no car, no transit access

Mass Transitfrom Getting There by Michael Dresser

The greater Baltimore region has more than 6,000 household that lack either a car or access to mass transit services, according to a report released Thursday by the Brookings Institution.

That number is overshadowed by the more than 114,000 regional households that own no vehicles but do have access to transit. That puts the region at 94.6 percent coverage for zero-vehicle households -- coming in 20th out of 100 metropolitan areas around the country.

The Baltimore numbers do show a significant gap between the city and the suburbs in transit access for such households, most with low family incomes. While the city has 100 percent transit coverage, according to Brookings, 85.1 percent of no-vehicle households in the suburbs have such access.

When it comes to providing no-vehicle households with access to jobs, the region doesn't fare as well. The report days Baltimore provides 42 percent of no-vehicle households with access to jobs -- ranking 32nd out of 100. Of those households, 50.3 percent are in the city and 23.7 percent in the suburbs.
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Too Many Transfers, Too Much Parking, Not Enough Multi-Modalism

Mass Transit"Transit Stations Built for Cars Aren’t Built for Transit Riders:"

Hear, hear! This and more points:
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New site highlights transit options

Mass TransitBy SHANTEÉ WOODARDS - Hometown Annapolis

A new website aims to transform area motorists into commuters by connecting them to their nearest bus and rail lines.

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County are among 10 locations featured on, which was launched this spring. Central Maryland Regional Transit, or CMRT, originally created the site to show the elderly and disabled how to use public transportation, but organizers encourage anyone to use it and hope it will result in 4,000 people using the bus over the next year.

"There's so much information out there for all the different providers … and people often have a difficult time navigating all of that information," said Julie Rosekrans, a travel trainer for the organization. "We wanted to come up with a way to combine what's out there to help (commuters) figure out how to get from point A to point B."

The site is the latest effort to get cars off the road. Annapolis officials are in the midst of updating their bicycle master plan, which is designed to make the region easier for commuters to use bicycles instead of other vehicles.

There have been setbacks.
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Mass transit 15 min travel time, starting at any location.

Mass Transitimage
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It Ain't Just Sticker Shock, Folks

Mass TransitBy Laura Barrett

The pain of watching the Total screen on the gas pump speed past the price of subway fare, then bus fare, then Amtrak fare, and finally settle somewhere around budget airline fare, is enough to get anybody thinking about “alternative transportation.”

But there’s one thing wrong in the portrayal the average American as mindlessly car-obsessed, and interested in “alternatives” only at times when gas prices pinch. It’s not true. It was April 2010—more than a year ago—when 82% of Americans polled said they wanted expanded transportation options, “such as trains and buses,” and 79% of rural voters said the same. They didn’t say so because of sticker shock at the gas pump. Average gas prices were below $3 a gallon in April 2010. They’re around $4 now.

In fact, in 2010 as a whole, American voters approved 43 out of 56 public transportation ballot initiatives, at a rate of 77 percent, for a total of more than $1 billion of funding. To be clear, that’s 77% approval of higher taxes for public transportation. In an ongoing economic crisis. During a nationwide frenzy of budget-slashing. Before gas prices spiked.

Need more historical perspective? From 1995 through 2009, while gas prices went up and down, public transportation ridership increased by 31%—more than the 15% increase in U.S. population and the 21% increase in highway use over the same period. There’s something deeper going on here, and any policymaker who even pretends to follow the will of the people should be paying attention.

Eighty-two percent of Americans say they want expanded transportation options because, to start with, the average working American spends 396 hours a year behind the wheel—roughly 10 work weeks. And most of that time isn’t fun. Especially when more of that time than ever is spent in traffic. The average household spends 18 cents of every dollar on transportation, 94% of which goes to buying, maintaining, and operating cars. Households that are likely to use public transportation on a given day save over $9,000 every year. That matters especially now, with millions of ordinary people still struggling to make do.

But it matters all the time, whatever gas prices are. And its just one of many, many public transportation benefits that have changed the minds of millions of Americans. We’re listening. We’re working with them. And we’re not the only ones.

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Planet D.C.: Rising Gas Prices + Rising Transit Ridership = Cut Transit Funding

Mass Transitby Ya-Ting Liu

Congress returned to work this week just in time for a new round of political football over soaring gas prices, which have topped over $4/gallon in our region. Two weeks earlier, President Obama ordered a Department of Justice task force to “make sure that no one is taking advantage of the American people for their own short-term gain” by investigating the role of traders and speculators in oil markets. The House majority is laying the ground work to move two bills that will expand domestic oil and gas production while Senate majority leaders are planning to introduce a bill to repeal tax subsidies to oil companies.

As the President, the House and Senate majority leaders scramble to address rising gas prices, Americans are doing what they did when national gas prices rose to over $4/gallon in 2008: they’re driving less, buying smaller cars, and turning to transit. Type in “transit ridership” in Google News and one will see reports of upticks in transit ridership across the country, from large cities to small towns (Pierce County, WA; Lake Tahoe, CA; Palm Beach, FL; Luzerne County, PA; Nashville, TN; Montrose, CO; Valparaiso, IN to name just a few).

Unfortunately for those turning to public transportation for a reprieve, they’re most likely experiencing a system that has been cut to the bone in the past 18 months as lawmakers in D.C. stood by. Not only did the 111th Congress fail to pass the Public Transportation Preservation Act of 2010, which would have provided emergency federal funds to restore and maintain transit service across the country, the 112th Congress has recently slashed transit funding as a way to curb federal spending. More could be on the way. The House Budget Committee recently passed Congressman Paul Ryan’s proposal for fiscal year 2012 that would slash federal transportation spending by 30%, bringing it from $50B/year to about $35B/year. According to an analysis conducted by House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee minority staff, the tri-state region would lose over $1 billion in federal transportation dollars and 38,515 jobs.
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How Far Will People Walk?

Mass Transitfrom Planetizen - Urban Planning, Design and Development Network by Tim Halbur

Planners have embraced "1/4th of a mile" as the official distance that people are willing to walk to take transit. But why is that the measure, and is it accurate?

read more

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Do We Need More Highways?

Mass Transitfrom Transportation Experts
The U.S. Conference of Mayors will unveil the results of a survey this week showing that the country's mayors are big fans of transit, and perhaps less so of new highways. The survey will show that most mayors want highway expansion to be a low priority when investing in infrastructure. A majority of mayors also oppose a gas tax increase--the preferred revenue-raising option of the transportation and business communities--unless the money from those taxes goes only to support maintenance of existing roads and bridges and expanded transit like rail, buses, and other public transit. They would oppose a gas tax increase if it were directed at highway expansion.

The gas-tax conversation is theoretical right now, with both President Obama and congressional Republicans on record opposing it. But the mayors' perspective speaks to a broader debate that will bubble up when policymakers start crafting a new surface-transportation bill--where should infrastructure investment go? New highway construction is lucrative and sexy, and thus easier to win political support for it. Road maintenance, by contrast, is boring. Public-transit investments can also cause difficulties because they set up disputes between urban and rural areas.

Are the mayors right that the United States doesn't need anymore new highways? If they are wrong, where should new highway construction take place? If they are right, how should infrastructure spending be allotted among public transit projects and road and bridge maintenance? Does it make sense to devote any gas tax funds to public transportation?
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How Smartphones Can Improve Public Transit

Mass TransitFrom Wired's Autopia:

An interesting study of commuters in Boston and San Francisco found people are more willing to ride the bus or train when they have tools to manage their commutes effectively. The study asked 18 people to surrender their cars for one week. The participants found that any autonomy lost by handing over their keys could be regained through apps providing real-time information about transit schedules, delays and shops and services along the routes.

Though the sample size is small, the researchers dug deep into participants’ reactions. The results could have a dramatic effect on public transportation planning, and certainly will catch the attention of planners and programmers alike. By encouraging the development of apps that make commuting easier, transit agencies can drastically, and at little cost, improve the ridership experience and make riding mass transit more attractive.
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Cars are more efficient then trains, ya right.

Mass Transitfrom Streetsblog New York City by Noah Kazis

In the headlines this morning, we linked to a great historical photo of the approach to the Brooklyn Bridge on Brownstoner, and it’s taking a closer look at the full implications of the shot. Not for nostalgia’s sake, but to make a cool, calculated appraisal of the efficiency of this piece of transportation infrastructure, as currently configured.

The Brooklyn Bridge in 1903 carried far more people than it does now. Top photo: via Brownstoner. Bottom photo: Google Maps via Brownstoner.

The 1903 image shows the bridge with only one lane in each direction for private vehicles, which at the time were drawn by horses. The rest of the space is given over to tracks for streetcars, elevated railroads, and pedestrians. Now, of course, there’s still a shared bike-ped path through the middle of the bridge, but the rest of it is all for cars, with three lanes of automobile traffic running on either side. No buses or trucks run over the bridge.

If the job of the Brooklyn Bridge is to move people between the two boroughs, the reallocation of space from transit to cars has been disastrous. In 1902, one year before the photograph was taken, the Brooklyn Bridge moved roughly 341,000 people a day across all its modes, according to the Federal Highway Administration. It hit its peak capacity a few years later, with 426,000 people using it each day in 1907.

Today, 125,000 motor vehicles cross the Brooklyn Bridge each day [PDF], as do roughly 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists. For the bridge to carry as many people as it did at its peak, each of those cars would need to carry more than three people, but they do not. In 1989, when the city counted around 132,000 motor vehicles crossing, the FHWA estimated that 178,000 people crossed the bridge daily.

More than a century has passed since this photo was taken, and the Brooklyn Bridge’s capacity has declined by an enormous amount, thanks to the elimination of transit across it. You just can’t fit enough bulky and mostly empty cars on the bridge for it to add up.


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