Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Can Massachusetts lead the way?

Some local news. Good news this time!

First of all, Massachusetts' Department of Transportation ordered a new bicycle infrastructure design guide that "will be a good resource for all 50 states". Why? Because apparently, it will be the most advanced one of its kind on this side of the Great Pond. Looks like finally our local authorities decided to copy well-proven Dutch solutions. That's a great news - as long as it gets used. Otherwise, the guide will decorate shelves in MassDOT's office and not much more. But it's nice to think that we could have real protected bike lanes and safe intersections across the state. Or maybe I'm expecting too much...
From the MassDOT Separated Bike Lane Planning and Design Guide

In other news, Massachusetts is considering adopting Oregon model for financing roads, namely, charging drivers for how much they drive, not for how much gas they buy. The reason for this is the nationwide animosity towards increase of gas tax (which is the way infrastructure is partially financed today) and more efficient cars on roads that use less gas, meaning lower tax revenue. Whether this approach is better, time will show. This could mean lower gas prices, perhaps lower travel costs for some but likely at a price of loss of privacy (monitoring of movement of every vehicle in the state) and initial cost of such a system.
Mayor Walsh had a good idea but some see only one side of it.

Let's say that the idea to charge drivers per miles traveled will not fly. How about then charging them more for prime parking spots in the city and less for those hardly used ones? This supply and demand-driven parking has been suggested for Boston by its Mayor, Martin Walsh. It had worked pretty well for San Francisco, where on-street parking spots in high demand ares went up in price to $7/hr, forcing drivers to park for shorter time, thus letting others finding free spots easily, resulting in reduced traffic congestion. Obviously, as soon as this concept was announced by Walsh, it was confronted with some harsh criticism. No wonder - right now it costs just $1.25 to park your car for 1 hour. Hearing about a chance of $7/hr parking must have been a shock to many.

Whatever the future brings for Boston and Massachusetts, we have a chance to become the most progressive state in terms of transportation policy. Will we use it well?

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