Transit Tuesdays: D.C. wants to reduce your agonizing commute
The District's residents simply work too far from their jobs, D.C. officials have realized. People need to live where they work, and the government is committed to making this change happen in a number of ways that were very much on display yesterday afternoon. The D.C. Office of Planning wants to change how we live.
"Sometimes we draw a box around the problem that’s a little too small," Harriet Tregoning, director of D.C.'s Office of Planning, told WAMU host Kojo Nnamdi during the 1 p.m. hour of his show yesterday. "If we drew the box large enough, we might have a different outcome."
Tregoning has long been touted as one of the officials who knows how to deftly talk vision and the future of D.C. She revealed some of this vision during the Rail~Volution transportation conference earlier this fall, as she and others discussed how D.C. would change over the next half century. During the Kojo Show, Tregoning again emphasized the housing-jobs imbalance in the District of Columbia and let listeners know details of the $200,000 Live Where You Work pilot program, based on a similar effort in Baltimore run in the District since May. D.C. has 700 to 800,000 jobs, Tregoning explained, but two-thirds of the people who have them live outside the District.
"Our employers aren’t necessarily marketing the District to their employees even if there might be real benefits to proximity," the official remarked. Affordability for a household isn’t really just housing …This program is addressing transportation costs."
The Live Where You Work program provides incentives of up to $12,000 for living in D.C. and the Office of Planning wants to partner with institutions like colleges and hospitals to encourage employers to help their employees' commutes. As I talked about last week, our bosses can help make our commutes more sustainable and even shorter. She and Nnamdi allowed people to call in with questions and addressed the many dimensions that Live Where You Work begins to address this deep-rooted imbalance in our city. Transportation costs for the average person in the metro region may cost a worker about a fifth of his or her budget, Tregoning said, but within the District that number tends to drop dramatically, from 19% to 9%.
Other questions: How to attract the proper retail to D.C.? The city is "very under-retailed," Tregoning acknowledged. Why should a parent live here given the state of the schools? One woman called in and said that she loves her Capital Riverfront neighborhood and gets by without a car — but doubts that can continue given her three-year-old child. "Here’s the problem — there’s not an elementary school in my neighborhood at all,” the caller told Tregoning. What will the six new Walmarts mean for residents? The official noted that many residents already leave the District for other Walmart and still spend about $26 million in sales there. How to change the landscape? Perhaps the answer is greening our alleys or changing the lots of RFK Stadium into playing fields (the latter was the most popular suggestion out of the 400 submitted as part of the Office of Planning's Sustainable D.C. crowdsourcing effort for ideas earlier this year).
All of this happens as the Office of Planning overhauls the zoning code for the first time since 1957. As Lydia DePillis reports today, this overhaul will, among many other things, changing transit zones to recognize the importance of walkability around Metro stations and no longer requiring that apartments and condos provide a certain number of parking spaces.
Both this and Tregoning's talk about Live Where You Work inevitably create a lot of words, and some not necessary. Here's a simpler slogan for what the D.C. Office of Planning is hoping we all do: commute less, live more.
Elsewhere in the realms of transportation, urbanism, and real estate...
Here's the new bike lanes we might see next year: DDOT and the D.C. Bicycle Advisory Council have released a new map of where they hope to improve bike infrastructure in 2012. Check out the interactive map and find a possible answer to what's going on with L and M.
Walls a writer could love: D.C. Curbed shares this home with literary quotations from Shakespeare and Edna St. Vincent Millay. It's just over a million dollars, so begin saving now.
The future of the District's alleys: DDOT has kicked off its Green Alley Pilot Project in mid-November, and WAMU covers how our alleys are faring so far.
Say hello to the William O'Neal Lockridge Library: The D.C. Council finally settled on a name for the $15 million library that's planned after what the Post's Mike DeBonis calls "months of sometimes personal debate" over the former activist and school board member whose name the library now bears.
America likes its tablets: Sure, American Airlines kicked actor Alec Baldwin off a plane for playing with his iPad ... but he's not alone. Transportation Nation looks at a study that shows Americans are turning to their tablets on their crowded commutes. A single Metro ride is usually enough to confirm the truth of this in the central District.
Virginia isn't for spellers: I saw this popping up on Reddit last week and couldn't believe it then. Via ARLNow, here's a new sign on I-66 that transportation officials may want to perform some copyediting on soon.
Leslie Knope would be thrilled with the amount of park land in D.C.: Via DCist, a new report shows that 19% of D.C. is a park. Also: "D.C. is third in the country in terms of the number of recreation and senior centers, 73, or 2.4 per 20,000 residents, and we're fifth in number of pools, coming in at 36, or six per 100,000 residents."
Riding the Metro is a sport all of its own: The GW men's basketball team decided to ride WMATA not long ago. Check out video of their little trip here.
Lose yourself in Union Station: Or for a more enjoyable experience, read last week's City Paper cover story about what a confusing mess it always tends to be as travelers enter the transportation hub — and whether there's any solution to the rat race.
Feel that Velodrome fever: Even as DCist broke the news that D.C. may be getting a velodrome, JDLand questions whether the deal will move forward, as the Wash Cycle notes.
Traffic deaths are down nation-wide in 2010 ... but they're up in D.C. this year: I took a look at traffic fatalities last week and identified the 13 factors that cause the most fatal crashes.
Metro touts its crime-fighters: With 50 on-the-spot arrests in November, WMATA is thrilled to let you know that "the Metro Transit Police Department’s new Crime Suppression Teams are sending a message to would-be criminals: The next person you try to rob may be a police officer."
Read more daily transportation news at TBD On Foot.
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