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Well done, David.
3 months, 2 weeks ago on Georgia’s green building lead at risk as state sides with forestry industry
If you zoom in on Peachtree City on the H+T map by the Center for Neighborhood Technology, you will see that Peachtree City is a small yellow area surrounded by blue. This means that it is a more affordable place to live than it surrounds, due (I hypothesize) to it's low automobile dependency. I will also go out on a limb and suggest that it's real estate foreclosure rates have been (conversely) relatively low and its home values more resilient, despite the high number of airline industry workers.
Might make for an interesting masters thesis.
3 months, 3 weeks ago on Poverty in metro Atlanta's suburbs growing faster than in the city
@The Last Democrat in Georgia The Center for Neighborhood Technology has a nice data-rich map called the H+T Index of affordability (Housing plus Transportation)which illustrates the way affordability changes once transportation costs are factored in. It's not a pretty picture for Metro Atlanta. http://htaindex.cnt.org/map/
I dare say that Atlanta's infamous auto-dependency is coming home to roost, in this era of higher oil costs.
Here's an interesting observation in looking at the map: Peachtree City, with its extensive network of alternative transportation, is free of red. My hypothesis: Even the 'burbs can be less auto-dependent and therefor economically resilient. Extend a commuter rail line to Peachtree City and watch auto ownership drop even more.
These "what if' scenarios are the sort of thing GASTA is all about.
It sounds to me like the trail may be missing an opportunity to incorporate low speed electric vehicles, which would be a shame. Peachtree City's multipurpose trails have proven that this can work, thereby providing a secondary mode of clean and quiet electromechancal transport, which reduces dependence on internal combustion automobile, reduces foreign oil imports, keeps transport dollars in the local economy, reduces air pollution and lowers the city's carbon footprint.
4 months, 1 week ago on Buckhead Trail to move ahead with design/build agreement with GDOT
Yes, LDIG, in my home state of Arkansas, a rather well known politician named Bill Clinton lost his only gubernatorial race after raising gas taxes during his first term. Rising vehicular MPG via new Cafe standards for fleets are eroding the power of gas taxes. I think it a matter of educating voters to that fact. The newly announced standards (yesterday) are going to really take a bite out of gas taxes. Tolls are a hassel and do not incentivize cleaner forms of transport. Every gallon of gas burned puts 19 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That piper will soon have to be paid.
9 months, 3 weeks ago on Challenging transportation myths after the failed regional TIA vote
Georgia has very low gas taxes in a nation with the lowest gas taxes in the industrialized world. Why should taxes on food and clothing pay for roads? This shifting of the revenue source away from petroleum is an incentive for more automobile travel. Is that wise, given the links between automobile use and air pollution, asthma and global warming? If more revenue is needed it should came from a higher gas tax. Higher gas taxes will incentivize alternative, heathier modes of travel that use less gasoline. Remember too that the majority of every dollar of gas that goes into your gas tank leaves the State. Oil-based transportation is a very effiective from of wealth transfer from Georgia to foreign lands and multinational oil companies.
@Question Man The real transportation crisis we face is that the number of vehicles on planet earth is forecast to double within 25 years. While the USA has leveled off, the developing nations are trading in their bicycles for autos. Knowing that, we cannot extrapolate the past patterns of petrol-intensive mobility inherent in sprawl-inducing road construction. We hope that the GA Legislature will consider our draft Bill, the Georgia Alternative, Sustainable Transportation Act (GASTA):
WHEREAS every major U.S. recession since World War II has been preceded by an oil shock, it THEREFORE seems certain that Georgia and the USA’s dependence on oil weakens both our economy and our national security. Oil’s virtual monopoly over transportation fuel coupled with limited alternatives for moving people and goods have left us vulnerable to the negative consequences of volatile and increasing transportation costs.
Passenger vehicles and light trucks account for more than 45% of U.S. oil demand.(1) To reduce the strategic importance of oil, the United States must embark on a comprehensive effort to both break oil’s monopolistic grip on fuel for the light-duty vehicle fleet and open the market to vibrant competition among transportation options.(2)
Mobility choice can help provide flexibility both to individual drivers, businesses and to the nation as a whole, creating a protective redundancy in the economically vital transportation sector. It also fosters competition, which is widely recognized by economists as a fundamental requirement for healthy economies.
Sustainable, affordable transportation has become a matter of growing concern and discussion throughout the nation. USA transportation costs have risen to as much as 20% of the average American income. According to a 2006 study(3), Atlanta ranks near the top in national rankings of working family household income percentage devoted to transportation, at 32%. Traffic congestion in Georgia cities, particularly Atlanta, have also been well-documented to have a considerable negative economic impact.
National conversations concerning sustainable transportation tend to focus primarily on mass transit and bicycling. Car-sharing programs, such as Zipcar, have recently gained popularity, as have bike-sharing programs in a number of American cities.
According to a recent study(4) metro Atlanta’s transit systems rank 91st out of 100 metro areas in the nation in terms of connecting residents to jobs. Georgia’s second largest city, Augusta, ranks 98th. Key factors in the study measure both the percentage of metro residents that have access to transit, as well as the percentage of metro jobs that are connected to transit. To qualify, residents must be capable of reaching a job within 90 minutes or less.
One of the central issues intended to be analyzed by GASTA is the extent to which alternative, sustainable transportation can be coupled with transit, to affordably increase transit ridership and improve connectivity between homes and jobs. This sort of multi-modal connectivity exists in many communities in the form of cycling racks at transit stations, bus-mounted cycling racks, etc.
Of particular interest to Georgia is the fact that Georgia leads the nation in production of low speed electric vehicles, with four separate manufacturers headquartered in the State. Once confined to the golf course, the industry now produces higher-speed, roadworthy cousins of the golf cars, complete with seat belts, head/tail lights and turn signals. In 1998, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 500 (49 CFR 571.500), paved the way for the use of low speed vehicles (LSV’s) on roadways with speed limits of 35 MPH or less. LSV’s have a top speed ranging from 20-25 MPH.
In 2011, Georgia became the first state to define requirements for an additional class of vehicles, known as a PTV, with top speeds of 20 MPH or less. In Georgia, these vehicles are also street legal on low speed roads (35 MPH or less).
Despite enabling legislation, the market adoption of such vehicles has been modest, limited primarily to suburban neighborhoods. Nicknamed “neighborhood electric vehicles” (NEV), these low speed cars are largely trapped within the confines of their neighborhoods, the victims of late Twentieth Century, automobile-centric, suburban planning. These neighborhoods typically feature isolated, limited-access subdivisions connected to one another and to their metro areas by high speed arterial roads. Being off limit to LSV’s, these arterials severely restrict the utility of LSV/PTV’s, thereby maintaining reliance on conventional vehicles.
If passed, GASTA will develop alternative transportation strategies and analyze the benefits and costs of implementation, as well as the economic benefits to Augusta, Atlanta and the State of Georgia.
1. "Annual Energy Outlook, 2010," Energy Information Administration, May 11, 2010.
2. "Taking the Wheel, Achieving a Competitive Transportation Sector Through Mobility Choice." Korin and Lovaas, 2011. Funded in part by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.
3. "A Heavy Load. The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families," by the Center for Housing Policies, 2006.
4. "Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America; 2011," The Brookings Institution.
The Augusta Greenway Alliance
Bravo. Broadening the definition and the diligence via financial cost/benefit analysis, Health Impact Analysis, etc. is very important to getting it right. We have spent the last 75 years pandering to the auto-centric gods of oil, Detroit and suburban-sprawl-type real estate development.
Such analysis should not be conducted in a vacuum. We need to look at alternative modes of transport as well as whether or not Road A makes sense.
President, Augusta Greenway Alliance
Do roads have to be for automobiles? Why can;t they be for alternative, sustianable transportation?
10 months, 1 week ago on Gov. Deal’s choice — lead in helping make metro Atlanta a global city or let it regress into a small Southern town
@The Last Democrat in Georgia
The referendum passed in the East Central Georgia and Augusta areas thanks to high support in the City of Augusta which is over 60% African American. This despite the fact that less than 5% of the spending goes to transit. Despite the support of the Chambers of Commerce, the suburbs voted it down.
The Augusta Greenway Alliance seeks to make Augusta a successful laboratory for the overlay of sustainable, affordable transportation systems onto Augusta’s urban environment, providing a valuable example for others to follow. The city is the global capital of the low speed electric vehicle industry. If it leads to economic vitality in Augusta, it will be of great interest to other communities.
Demographic and population trends predict that global, urban population will reach 6 billion people by 2050. This is nearly double the earth’s urban population at the dawn of the 21st Century, and twice the total human population of only 3 billion in 1960.
The advent and proliferation of automobiles in the 20th Century has hugely impacted the planning of cities, and resulted in highly automobile-dependent lifestyles. Rapid auto proliferation continues in developing nations, with global autos set to double in 20-25 years. The overwhelming majority of these automobiles utilize climate-altering, internal combustion engines reliant on dwindling resources. Clearly these trends are not sustainable.
Atlanta has historically been a leader in transportation, and would be wise to heed this in planning it transport systems for the 21st Century. MARTA should plan for much higher multi-modal connectivity with sustainable transport, which will boost livability,transit ridership and economic growth.
10 months, 2 weeks ago on It’s time for Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb to retake control of their own destinies
As the global leader in production of low speed electric vehicles (LSV), Georgia should throw LSV's into the mix for walkable communities. They are very affordable, emit zero tailpipe emissions, have dramatically lower carbon emissions (as compared to internal combustion cars), are quiet, compact and operate at speeds well-suited to coexist alongside cyclists and pedestrians.
They are excellent starter cars for the young and ender cars for the elderly. Bicycles are arguably the healthiest form of transportation, if you can ignore the obvious safety hazards of mixing bicycles with high speed vehicles. Bicycles are not, however, for everyone, and many will never feel comfortable cycling on roadways where massive, 4000 lb vehicles routinely zip past at 45 MPH.
1 year, 2 months ago on More cycling, walking and green space will make Atlanta a more competitive and livable city
Imagine how much money would be kept in the local economy if 5000 Atlanta auto owners stopped pumping gas and instead used an LSV or PTV.
Bob Munger AIA, CCM, LEED AP
President, Augusta Greenway Alliance, Inc.
Nice article, Maria. Georgia really needs to capitalize on its homegrown low speed electric vehicles as a major form of sustainable transportation, including making the infrastructure and local governmental changes to faciliate their use. They are certainly more compatible with cyclists and pedestrians (thus conducive to walkable environs), than internal combustion vehicles. Much cleaner, more affordable and no more filling up your tank with dollars bound for foreign lands. Our GASTA bill did not make it this last session, but rest assured we'll be back.
Augusta Greenway Alliance
1 year, 3 months ago on Can Georgia and U.S. compete while other countries continue investing in infrastructure?
The author makes some good points, including the importance of recognizing the paradigm shift that has occurred in housing preferences, and how they impact economic development.
Perhaps more important is that we plan for the likelihood of a future with much higher oil prices. Political hot air notwithstanding, the price of oil, like so many commodities in today's global economy, are no longer driven primarily by what happens in the USA. Growing economies in developing nations abroad are driving up global vehicle ownership at rapid rates. The best chance of slowing that down is unfortunately an oil-induced price shock, leading to another global recession.
Transit and use of Georgia's homegrown low speed electric vehicles (and other forms of sustainable transportation) as "segways" to connect to transit make for a nice contingency plan for oil price sticker shock.
1 year, 3 months ago on Transportation referendum a defining moment for Atlanta
Thanks so much. I just read the study and it is excellent! I'd love to talk offline sometime, if you are willing. I can be reached at email@example.com
1 year, 4 months ago on Georgia can lead the way to a healthier future with low-speed electric vehicles
LSV's are street legal on low speed roads, which are often found in urban environs. They emit zero emissions at the point of use, are quiet, are very affordable, and are less taxing on land for parking. They are mostly produced in Georgia by Georgia workers and tax payers. They do not use foreign oil. If 10K of these take the place of 10K internal combustion autos, helping Atlanta achieve air quality attainment, what's not to like?
Another point to make is that GASTA goes far beyond the suburban model. IMO, existing urban environments are where sustainable transportation can really shine, Dense urban environments need lower speed, walkable environments, High speed internal combustion vehicles in such locales is like swatting mosquitoes with shotguns--very inefficient and in fact harmful to health. Provide mini parking spaces and plug-ins in urban areas, and use zoning ordinances to make it sing like a virtuoso.
Why not marry low speed electric vehicles to transit, for instance? Your swath of sustainable transport increases from 1/2 mile wide to 8 miles wide. Provide mini parking spaces at MARTA stations, and maybe even use flat cares than one can drive right onto.
Good questions, Burroughston Broch.
1. Peachtree City is a multipurpose trail system that has been quite successful. It segregates golf cars and PTV;s from automobile traffic, placing them with bicycles, which is fine. However, bicycles are still allowed on low and medium speed roads, while PTV's are more restricted. LSV;s which travel up to 25 MPH, are sort of "in-betweeners" and my understanding is that they are not allowed on multipurpose trails, or if allowed, are restricted to lower speeds. So there are some holes in the logic, perhaps. Overall, a great system, but the LSV is sort of left out of the equation, as their "sweet spot" is around 25 MPH..
They eliminate a tremendous amount of auto traffic from their road systems. The high schools for instance have as many low speed electric vehicles as automobiles in their parking lots.
2. One cannot simply retroactively apply the Peachtree City concept to existing suburbs. Peachtree City has been planned for decades with alternative transportation in mind. Many of the concepts are transferable, but IMO they won't happen in a meaningful fashion (see Suburban America of the last 30 years) including the sorts of connectivity required to really accomplish much, without a level of governmental involvement. Most of our suburbs are designed for "exclusivity," which effectively makes them reliant on high speed arterial roads, making us highly reliant on autos. A neighborhood of $300K homes does not want to consort with ones of $200K homes, etc. thus they avoid street connections.
3. You make a good point about railroads, although much of the land was practically donated in the early days because the economic incentives of having a railroad were so clear.
4. I don;t completely understand your question, but the point is that transportation projects should be vetted by legitimate cost/benefit analysis. The key is "legit," because too often the studies are biased to a predetermined conclusion. Would you support funding of alternative transport projects without such analysis?
Adding to the preceding comments:
1. Our entire transportation system is paid for with taxpayer dollars.
2. Were those projects vetted with cost/benefit analysis?
3. Most of the current projects in the pipeline were planed 1-2 decades ago, when gasoline was around $2 per gallon. When the projects are completed, the price might easily be $5 or $6 per gallon, mainly due to the rapid proliferation of autos in developing nations like China. Lliving patterns and densities are dynamic as well.
I was in Peachtree City last week looking at their systems. They have a great thing going, but it can be improved, and it obviously hasn't spread much to other locations in Georgia.