Raleigh Greenway Plan Update

Raleigh was ahead of the curve with its greenway network, which provides non-auto spine routes for many in suburban locations. The next phase is to create connections between the greenways and activity centers. That’s something that a proposed zoning text change would require:

Weigh in until Jan 22!

Reminds me that the best transportation plan is a land use plan (yet again) - from Slate, about how even in suburban contexts people who are near things drive less, often because they have actual travel choices (like walking and biking):

In Dallas–Fort Worth, the country’s fourth-largest metro, about 1 in 4 residents lives within 3 miles of five different “activity centers,” the Brookings researchers’ term for those busy spots. Another 1 in 4 residents has just four “activity centers” within 7 miles of home. Each year, a household in the second group drives 15,000 more miles than a household in the first. Moving from one part of the suburbs to another could save a typical driver $1,000 a year, hundreds of hours of driving, and thousands of pounds of CO2 emissions… “You have people in every metro within 3 miles of five activity centers,” said Adie Tomer, one of the report’s co-authors. “That’s a biking distance.” There’s a 15-minute city in suburbia too. You just need to redesign the streets.

Typically, the strategy for adding people to the city without adding traffic has been what’s called “transit-oriented development,” in which new buildings pop up along the fingers of the metropolitan train or bus network. This approach has some problems: For one thing, U.S. transit service is often quite bad. For another, in many cities, this policy amounts to corralling new residents along the busiest, loudest, most dangerous, and most polluted streets.

What this data suggests is that substantial reductions in driving could be achieved by a different policy: just putting more people within a few miles of stuff like malls, colleges, office complexes, and historic town centers. Currently, these parts of town account for just 1 in 3 residents of big U.S. metro areas. Adding new residents could take the form of what some planners call “stealth density,” in which housing types like duplexes and garage apartments are allowed to fill in suburban neighborhoods across the metropolis.