walkability

American Cities’ Biggest Transportation Innovation is Decidedly Low-Tech

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

Long Island Bike Lane

American cities are adding bus and bike lanes, implementing bikeshare systems, and creating public plazas and miniature parks at a rapid pace.

Urban streets, long the domain of automobiles, are increasingly being reclaimed by and for the people, a change that amounts to the biggest transportation innovation in recent years, according to a new report by TransitCenter.

“A People’s History of Recent Transportation Innovation” details how strong alignment among local civic organizations, city leadership, and transportation agencies has yielded enduring changes in regional transportation systems.

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Embassy Row in Dupont Circle

Washington D.C.’s recent renaissance probably doesn’t include the Dupont Circle neighborhood. Dupont has been an attractive place to live since the 1970s, when the neighborhood (in decline after World War II and the 1968 riots) was revitalized by gay and lesbian urban pioneers. Along with other neighborhoods like West Hollywood, Chicago’s Boystown, and Greenwich Village, Dupont Circle became nationally known as a gay neighborhood, in large part defining gay identity and culture in America. Today, gentrification has made the neighborhood more mainstream, and you’re more likely to find a pour-over coffee shop or yoga studio in Dupont Circle than a gay bar.

According to Zillow, rents in Dupont are slightly over the median for the city, and housing values, while high, lag those of hotter neighborhoods like U Street and Logan Circle. MWCOG’s Activity Centers project determined that Dupont Circle is the most walkable neighborhood in D.C. (and WalkScore concurs). Dupont’s terrific walkability is not only because the neighborhood is mixed-use, but also because the numerous transportation options — Metro, Capital Bikeshare, and Circulator, among them — make owning a car unnecessary.

Photo of the Dupont Circle neighborhood by Paul Goddin.

Businesses are Moving Back Downtown

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

Ann Arbor, Michigan

The deciding factor in Panasonic’s move of its North American headquarters from Secaucus, New Jersey to Newark was public transportation, according to Jim Reilly, vice president of corporate communications.

The company relocated from a large corporate campus with lots of green space to an amenity-rich downtown location. Reilly said his company’s relocation has been “transformative” and has created a more collaborative company culture.

After years of locating in car-dependent, suburban office parks, large numbers of companies like Panasonic are now moving back downtown.

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Wearable Tech Will Make Our Cities More Walkable

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab and Tech Cocktail]

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Apple’s announcement in September regarding the 2015 launch of the Apple Watch has some pundits wondering if the tech giant can do for wearable tech what it did for the MP3 player and smartphone: create a must-have consumer device out of a fledgling, yet promising, product line.

I think the more interesting question is, if the Apple Watch is a consumer hit — and I believe it will be — could it change the way people choose to get around and ultimately transform the built environment?

I’ll explain why I believe these things are possible, but first a disclaimer: I’m a closet tech geek, and an Apple fan. I love gadgets, and tend to prefer those created by America’s number one-tech company.

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As Driving Habits Change, Places That Cater to Millennials Thrive

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

An employment opportunity brought Matt Smith (above right), a 30-year old business-development manager, to the Washington D.C. area from Shrewsbury, Pennsylvania in 2009.

He chose to live in Arlington because of its urban feel and plethora of transportation options. “Arlington feels like D.C. to me, but it’s cleaner and greener,” said Smith, who works at goDCgo in the same suite as Mobility Lab. “I hear people complain about the Metro here and I just don’t get it. We don’t have anything like that where I’m from.”

Smith’s appreciation for transit is aligned with those of his peers, as furthered in yet another new study, this one from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG) and the Frontier Group, linking Millennials with changing attitudes and habits around the automobile.

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Are Suburbs The Secret to Walkability in D.C.?

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[By Paul Goddin for Mobility Lab]

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Washington D.C. is the most walkable metropolitan area in the U.S., according to a report by George Washington University and Smart Growth America.

The District’s number-one ranking has surprised some, prompting them to ask how D.C. was able to surpass places such as New York City, which not only contains one of the best subway systems in the world but also that epitome of walkability known as Manhattan. (See the full rankings below.)

The secret to Washington’s walkability – according to the report entitled Foot Traffic Ahead – is its suburbs.

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