“Right to Go Left” Streets in Houston could reduce Traffic

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Here’s a clever intersection design simulation for the intersection at Highway 6 and Westheimer. Such a design would save drivers 46.5 seconds and reduce car accidents.

Original story “Realistic Mobility Strategies” written by Tory Gattis in Houston Strategies.

Did you know that in San Diego, for example, an expanded bus and rail transit system is planned to receive more than half of the $48.4 billion in total highway and transit spending through 2050. Yet transit would increase its share of travel to a measly 4% from its current tiny 2%, according to data in the San Diego Association of Governments regional transportation plan. This slight increase in mass transit ridership would be swamped by higher traffic volumes.

Higher population densities in the future means greater traffic congestion, because additional households in the future will continue to use their cars for most trips. In the San Diego metropolitan area, where the average one-way work trip travel time is 28 minutes, only 14% of work and higher education locations could be reached within 30 minutes by transit in 2050. But 70% or more of such locations will continue to be accessible in 30 minutes by car.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: any urban area that did most of it’s growth in the post-WW2 automotive era is simply not going to be transit friendly, and that cannot be substantially changed.  Yes, you can create a few New Urbanist neighborhoods around a light rail line, but they will always be trivial in the overall context of the metro area.

That said, there’s a lot that can be done to make simple bus transit much more attractive in these urban areas (and it’s already dramatically more affordable than rail), as this Salon article “It’s time to love the bus” describes:

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. And yet we rarely do. Streetcars are replacing bus routes in cities across the country, and billions are thrown at light rail while the overlooked bus is left to scream “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!” “If you decide that buses don’t merit investment, you’re going to miss a lot of opportunities to help people get where they’re going, and to expand their sense of freedom of movement, just because you don’t like the vehicle they’re riding,” says transit consultant Jarrett Walker.
The article goes on to list a litany of potential improvements, including better bus design, BRT, sidewalk bulbing, frequency, real-time information, mobile phone alerts, better maps, better bus stops, bike racks, wi-fi, electrical outlets, and more.  Unfortunately, most transit agencies are totally focused on overpriced rail projects and ignore easy, affordable improvements to the bus system.

Forget Expedia, had a wonderful experience using Airbnb

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It is not often I write about a service or a business, but I have not been this excited about a new brand/concept in a long time. A colleague of mine who is based in Toronto, but often travels to Houston, is no longer staying at hotels. When I went to pick him up to go out to dinner, he was staying at a very nice loft off of Post Oak near the Galleria. The next time he was in town, he was at a very cool apartment in Greenway Plaza. Both places costs less than $100 a night. The sites he uses – Airbnb.

Airbnb offers people the opportunity to list, discover, and book unique spaces around the world online or from an iPhone. Whether the available space is a castle for a night, a sailboat for a week, or an apartment for a month, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to showcase these distinctive spaces to an audience of millions. With 110,000 unique listings available in more than 13,000 cities and 181 countries, Airbnb offers the widest variety of unique spaces for everyone, at a reasonable price point around the globe.

See a list of Shared Goods and Services Companies Here

I first used Airbnb by booking a house for one night in Galveston Texas. The house was absolutely charming and our host was so kind and nice. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. My next booking will be for a weekend in Austin in a house that is near the center. Cost… less than $215 for the entire weekend! I think the only time I will be staying at hotels will be for company conventions.

Less Waiting Time at the Houston DPS

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Department of Public Safety offices are looking to speed up the time it takes to get your driver’s license in Houston! New initiatives are to eliminate the first-come, first served process and to implement an express lane for customers with shorter transactions such as license renewals.

For people who need more time, they can make an appointment! Yes, actually make an appointment at the DPS. Moreover, people can check on-line to see wait times at DPS offices before heading to one.

Rebecca Davio, assistant DPS director, is looking forward to see how these changes will impact wait time and customer satisfaction. One suggestion, why not have DPS offices opened on Saturday for all of us who work Monday thru Friday?

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Original story by Peggy Fikac, Austin Bureau

How Texans can save on their Car Insurance

It may seem a bit different, but by paying insurance by the mile, you can save a substantial amount of money on your car insurance. Moreover, it may help you change your driving habits. Based on a study out of the University of California, Berkeley, adopting a pay-per-mile car insurance nationwide would reduce our driving miles by 8% – save money and help the environment.

Chris Gay is the founder of Dallas-based MileMeter and it is the first company to offer pay-by-the-mile policies. The company has been available in Texas since October 2008 and is planning to rollout nationwide within a year.

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