Making Parking Scarce and Expensive ….

….is the best way to encourage people to walk, take transit and ride bicycles. Thank you, Matthew, for your speaking into what many of us also believe. I am shamelessly re-posting this because it resonates with me and so many. I hope readers will also click on the link to read about how even in cities with extensive transit systems, getting around by transit will not get you around faster than a car

By Guest Columnist MATTHEW GARBETT, a community activist who lives in Atlanta’s Adair Park

As I talk to Atlantans about transit, walkability, and parking – especially parking – I am often confronted with what I have come to call the “Tipping Point Theory of Transit.”

The theory, often summarized with a simple “We’re not there yet”, goes like this:

MARTA is a bare bones system that doesn’t go anywhere, and where it does go, it goes slowly. If we keep building the BeltLine, expanding the Streetcar, and growing MARTA, one day there will come a Tipping Point, when people will begin abandoning their cars for our finally completed system. Until we get there, however, we need to recognize reality and continue to build for cars, especially via parking.

It’s a great theory, and even better politics. We can support transit while pushing the difficult decisions off to the future. Unfortunately, it’s not true. As long as we keep building our city for cars, no matter how much transit or BeltLine we overlay on the city, we will continue to drive for the vast majority of trips.

Matthew Garbett

At some point we will need to choose to make driving more costly. The easiest and most efficient way to do so, with the most benefits, is to dramatically reduce the amount of parking while increasing its cost.

The biggest mistake in the “Tipping Point Theory” is that the key to getting people out of their cars is to make riding transit easier. Easier than what, though? To be appealing to most “choice riders” – those who have access to a car – transit or walking do not need to be easier than they currently are; they need to be easier than driving a car.

Even in cities with extensive transit systems, getting around by transit will not get you around faster than a car.

We’re rational beings, and on a per-trip basis, cars are quicker. Fundamentally, riding transit consists of walking – up to half a mile often, waiting, riding, waiting, riding, and then walking again – often up to half a mile.

When you can step outside, hop in your car, drive, park for free, and be at your destination, which would most people choose?

It’s no surprise that in a comprehensive study of light rail systems built over the last 30 years, the number one factor correlating with reduced ridership was the availability of cheap or free parking along the route. Why ride when it’s easier to drive?

Read the full post…

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It’s Time to Love the Bus

Come on, America. London has done the koolest thing ever .  I know MARTA is financially strapped, but now, I really have transit envy!

(Credit: hxdbzxy via Shutterstock)

London has  unveiled.their new Routemaster bus  – the Mayor describes it as “nostalgia” meets “latest technology”.The fuel-efficient bus will be quieter than its diesel-run predecessor and.lots and lots of glass so you feel like you are on the tour bus, on vacation – not being shuttled in a mobile box. ANd the best thing…wait for it…wait for it… has a platform for  hop-on, hop-off service. How fun! Now we’re talkin’!

Making people like the bus when not liking the bus is practically an American pastime essentially means making the bus act and feel more like a train.Trains come on time and MARTA’s trains are quite good at that.  But if we had busses like London,  or maybe dedicated lanes like Seattle’s RapidRide. Or, what about Eugene, Ore. that features a grassy median….?

Busses get hung up in traffic. Cars are the reason buse

Photo not by me. Captured from…

s are late. Not busses. New York is doing things like “bulbing” its sidewalks into the street at bus stops so buses don’t have to struggle in and out of traffic. San Francisco is outfitting its fleet with foward-facing cameras to catch cars that block the bus lane. Chicago is even letting its buses drive on the expressway shoulders during rush hour. Not every solution needs a high-tech fix. The other day I got on an Express CCT (Cobb County Transit – yes, I had to go OP) and it is an tour bus = high back seats, high windows – I was on it an hour (yes, really far out there….) and feltlike I was on vacation! I felt more relaxed because the interior was so pluch, comfy – I got a lot done nestled in!

The other night, Midtown Alliance announced plans for an eco-district, one of five in the country. I hope they ask me about MARTA and better transit ideas.  i want those GPS’s on teh bus so I know how long and far away the bus is, if it is not on time. In an age when your phone knows exactly where you are, it should know where your bus is, too. Chicago, Philadelphia and New York let riders track their bus’s location on their smartphones via GPS. And GPS can be used to hold green lights for oncoming buses, like in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.

Bus stops could use an upgrade. I vote QR codes with specials from area restaurants and businesses. All tied to MARTA and a potential revue stream. A design studio in Seattle-, created a  conceptual bus stop  that includes an interactive map to demystify the route, and flashing green lights atop the bus-stop poles that signal impending arrivals. Dubai is rolling out air-conditioned bus stops.One in Vancouver, temporarily, included a hammock.

Whether more glamour will translate into more riders is yet to be seen. But one thing is certain: When it comes to improving mass transit, there’s a lot of low-hanging fruit on the humble city bus. The vital connective tissue of multi-modal transit systems, the bus could be an efficient — nay,elegant — solution to cities’ mobility woes if only we made it so.

The new Routemaster model

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Oh The Places You Can Go!

Atlanta offers a wide range of activities to please many types of visitors. History buffs — especially of the Civil War and civil rights eras — will flock to the Atlanta’s historic museums and attractions. Travelers with kids might enjoy a visit to the famous aquarium or zoo. The city also has plenty to offer when the sun goes down. Although, I am too old for that! So, most likely, I will be offering posts for while the sun is up!

The most important thing to know about getting anywhere in #AtlantaWithOutaCar, are the apps to use, the trains to catch, the buses that pass by and, if you are a visitor, maybe how to return to the planes when the trip  is over.

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Why I bike with MIKE

Why I bike with MIKE.

He makes a lot of sense!

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What’s Mine Can be Yours – for an Hour, Day, Week, or…?

Remember the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten?  We learned childrenthe importance of sharing. Who knew it could become an economy?

I am more and more intrigued by this approach to ownership and the ways it will alter quotehow we live.  “They say” it is a $110 B economy and growing.  Maybe you won’t participate but to not at least be aware of this is akin to thinking the digital economy is a passing fad. In case you are not up to speed, the shared economy is where access to trumps ownership of and in my case, it’s access to cars (plural)  vs. ownership of a (singular) car. Hence,  #AtlantaWIthOutaCar!

Think about it. Take the car, for example.  And in Atlanta plenty of people do! If you commute from OP (Atlanta speak for outside the Perimeter) you drive approximately thirty minutes to work each way on average, according to a recent Atlanta Business Chronicle article. (‘Really?’ I ask because those times I am in a car it takes me thirty minutes to go three miles sometimes. But I digress.)  Then you get to work and do what? Park your car where you pay for it to be stored for  8-10 or 12 hours.  What if your car made money for you while you worked?  What if someone, fully licensed, insured, vetted to the 9s,  and maybe even worked in your office, could use your car? Let’s do the math…3 hours @ $10.00 per = $30.00 per day * 5 days= $150.00 per week * 50 weeks…$ 750.00 annually. “What’s in your wallet?”

20130309_LDP002_0And now for the supporting data.

Airbnb reports 11 million users, operates in 34,000 cities and is reported to be valued at 10B, more than a lot of four star hotel chains.  UBER is reportedly worth 17B,   but the growth of the shared economy  doesn’t come without obstacles. “Disruptive’ is the new business buzz word and these and others are certainly contributing to doing just that for transportation and hospitality industries.

hands up sharingWhat’s in your closet, garage, driveway or…and what are you planning to share? Selfishly,  I hope it’s your car because it’s Year 5 of Going AWOC – AtlantaWithOutaCar!

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Innovation in the Green World!

One of the best things that comes through Sustainability is innovation. As companies seek to ‘go green’, they get creative in how they see business processes crating all kinds of  adaptive technology and really kool things come out of it. Social innovation, product innovation, process innovation – nothing is sacred.

I thought you might like to see some kool things that I have noticed – maybe you have a few to share too?

Look out Rosie! The Jetsons are so 2000! Meet JIBO, The World’s First Family Robot. It’sjibo only $499.00. Not bad, eh? A lot of other nifty robotics are on you tube here and you can see all the other uses for the technology that these use, like autonomous cars.  Also, note JIBO was funded through crowd sourcing and has achieved over 1800% of its $100,000 goal – yes that is $1,815,710. Now that is a successful campaign!

Creative use of space – Homelessness is an issue in almost every city in the world. billboardsWhat if billboards became homes? Meet The Gregory Project. The priority of the Gregory project is to find optimal alternatives for people without a home through the use of back to back billboards and their advertisement spaces.

Think jellyfish meets fluorescent light bulb – Daan Roosegaarde, a Dutch designer is exploring ways of using bio-mimicry to light our night time stroll home in case you find yourself out after dark in Glowing-Tree-Urban-setting-Roosegaarde-Dezeen_644Atlanta WithOut a Car!

We’ve seen the really interesting and way kool storage containers turned residences. How about this? Matali Crasset has designed a neighborhood grocery shoPoteet-Architects-Container-Guest-house-537x357p for Toulouse University. Mini M is a part of a project that focusses on the availability of food services within student environments. What a great solution to help bring fresh, local food to food desserts in cities!

Speaking of great ideas for food deserts, here is one that New York City Mayor’s Office has developed that not only brings in the fresh food into the under served community but creates an entrepreneurial opportunity targeted to the immigrant community! Green Cart is a home run, I say!

So, what did you create today? ME? I contributed to creating a city with less pollution because I am Going AWOC- AtlantaWithOutaCar! 



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Save Me a Seat!

You know I love my MARTA.  I like using it to commute for work, run errands or get to various social events. Since I am on MARTA so much, I have developed a few, and I really mean a few, pet peeves. The obvious are panhandling and playing loud music without earphones. In my experience, these are one-off experiences and it is a rare phenomena. But the ones that really get my goat (that’s a southern thing) are the masses on a train car that seem to be  totally unaware how their behaviors are impacting others.

One group is a bunch of middle school aged students Most of the students board at the Arts Center or the Midtown Station. They are adorable in their school uniforms middle schooler heacy back packand overfilled backpacks. And, as you can imagine, their socializing is all that matters. I get that this is a result of their age group, especially since I use to teach middle school.  On occasion, the school teacher in me comes out and I break up a fight, or ask a student to give up his/her seat for another rider. Once I comforted a  student who tossed her cookies all over her Oxfords and was as embarrassed as she was sick. And yes, I stick my nose in when bullying rears its ugly head.

But the real pet peeve occurs during rush hour traffic with those going to or coming from the airport. Marta has started a new initiative, ride withRide with Respect, with an accompanying app. called See and Say. The idea obviously is to be mindful of others and respect their space and then report those who are not.

In my experience, the biggest offenders are the airport riders. I love seeing the trains full and the diversity of riders but folks, the seats are for riders, not for your luggage, especially packed train carduring rush hour. When some are standing and your luggage has a seat, there is something wrong with that picture. I’m just saying….

I have concluded the reason this happens is because these riders perhaps ride so infrequently that they do not know the appropriate protocol. So,I am taking it upon myself to share the protocol to Ride with Respect with luggage  during rush hour.

Step 1: Find the right train car

Not every car is designed for luggage transport. As the train pulls into your station, or as you board at the Airport,  look for the cars with decals of universally recognized symbols. There are seluggage on marta logoveral:  the symbol for handicap indicating room for those in chairs in that car; the bike outline indicating room for bikes in that car; and then there it is – wait for it, wait for it…..the luggage emblem! That is your
cartrain and driver looking! Take the time to look for it as the cars go by when the train pulls into the station or as you board at the airport. Hop on! Not to worry, the train driver is watching and will not pull away if you are actively seeking to board.

Step 2: Lock and Load

Now that you are in the right car, go to the front or rear of the car.  There you will find a section where there are no seats and you can stash your luggage and lock it in.2014-04-11 14.11.55 If you have fear of it being taken, then stand near your luggage. Once it is locked in, a grab and go is pretty difficult.

Step 3: Enjoy the Ride

Next stop, your destination. Take a seat for your fine, thoughtful and considerate self and save one for me!

Worried that you will not be able to get your luggage out at your stop? The airport stop is a long wait since it is a turn around so there is plenty of time if you think you might fumble with it but I find it quite easy. If you are traveling from the airport, there are maps indicating the order of stops and perhaps start removing your luggage from its location the stop prior to yours.

Ride with Respect – It’s everyone’s responsibility. 

Thank you for your mindfulness because as of Earth Day 2014, I am starting year 5 of Going A.W.O.C. – Atlanta WithOut a Car!


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I Walked Across the Street

I had the most fantastic day Friday with a ka-zillion errands and appointments on the calendar. Living in a community with great connectivity and walkability and the necessary services within walking distance makes Living, Working and Playing in Midtown easy breezy if you are Going AWOC – Atlanta WIthOut a Car! 2011-12-27 09.50.38

For example:

My errands started at 13th and Piedmont with a AATPwalk across the street and up the hill  to return an item borrowed from a friend. I then walked 5 blocks to the UPS storeUPS Store on Peachtree and 8th to fax (really, DELTA, FAX?) some needed info to Delta or my Sky Miles account. I then walked across the street to have a healthy lunch at Arden’s Garden. I sat at the bar, had a few shots (of wheatgrass- oh, how my life has changed!) and chatted about the merits of juicing with some amazing women.

Little Five Point store front but you get the picture!

Little Five Point store front but you get the picture!

After my engaging conversation and healthy lunch, I walked across the street to my bank, Delta Community Credit Union, and completed some mega-transactions for my upcoming trip

Yes, I do. I love my bank!

to Barnhouse on Martha’s Vineyard. (I love this bank! Can you say that about yours?)

After banking, I walked across the street, then west 3 blocks from 9th and Peachtree Place to 10th and Piedmont for my haircut @ HELMET Hairworx.  (Do you think Lisa Rinna says ‘I want my hair cut like Stephanie Armistead’s?) Then again, I walked across the street to get  a frappacino @ Caribou  The 'Bouto take with me to my salon next door to get the all-important pre-trip mani-pedi. manipediAfter that, it’s a less than a block walk around the corner for my chiropractic adjustment and then down the hall for my facial appointment.

Feeling pretty pampered and productive, I headed home. On my way , I walked across the street and down a block to 12th and Piedmont  for a light salad,  then walked a  block home to freshen up and quickly head out for  a concert. ” In a car?” you ask. “Ney!” I say! My Concert (was) in the I walked across the street to the Botanical Gardens for the Shawn Colvin, Mary Chapin Carpenter show. Can it get any better than this?

Concerts in the Garden - My Midtown view!

Concerts in the Garden – My Midtown view!

After a rain free evening (so rare these days) with fantastic temperatures and amazing music, I walked home,  in the dark, through the Park, with a group of new friends. I then walked across the street and was back at home – safe and sound, enjoying my wonderful life in Midtown!

How many ‘walked across the street’s did you count?

I love MIDTOWN and all that is happening here and THANK YOU Dan and the gang at Midtown Alliance for making it easy for those of us Going AWOC – Atlanta WithOut a Car! 

Follow my route for the day!

Follow my route for the day!

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