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Monday, February 28, 2011

KEITH MYERS -- URBAN PLANNER PROFILE 3


KEITH MYERS

By Steve Wright

With offices in Pasadena and Winter Park, Florida, the MSI firm also is active in public park, city master plan, resort, town center, industrial to mixed use and amusement park design.

Myers’ next project is converting an 80-acre former grocery chain warehouse complex in an inner-ring suburb into another Nationwide-developed urban center with ground floor retail and office or residential above.

“I consider myself an urbanist: New, Old -- it does not matter to me” Myers said. “I do love some of the research and the passion of the New Urbanists, if I don't always agree with the dogma.”

“When the New Urbanists first banded together, there was a distinctive mission. In 1980, few people cared about creating great urban space. The rules were stacked against it and the attitudes of bankers, engineers, planners and politicians were even worse. It was a crusade. One that I think has been largely successful,” Myers continued.

However, Myers cautions against the Congress for New Urbanism becoming to rigid.

“I worry that the Charter is too narrow and that those who explore outside its boundaries are dismissed as 'not in the club.’ Not a healthy outlook,” he said. “Curiosity is the first sign of intelligence. Curiosity gave birth to the NU movement, and it is the only thing that will sustain it. Rhetoric and rules won't.”

Wright has written for a living for 25 years, with nearly 5,000 published articles. He lives in historic Little Havana and is very active in Miami’s urban issues. He and his wife of 20 years also are involved in making new and old towns more accessible for people with disabilities.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

KEITH MYERS -- URBAN PLANNER PROFILE 2



KEITH MYERS

By Steve Wright

The contrasting styles shaped a designer who literally built a neighborhood where there was none in downtown Columbus Ohio – a capital city sprawled in every direction with over-engineered one-way streets aimed at getting cars out of the urban core and off to the farthest flung suburbs as quickly as possible.

Myers and his firm played a lead role in planning the Arena District for Nationwide, the insurance giant based in Columbus. The district is anchored by Nationwide Arena, home of the city’s only big-four professional sports team – the Columbus Blue Jackets of the National Hockey League.

The District features a grid pattern, throwback brick buildings and: 1.5 million square feet of office, retail and entertainment use where more than 3,600 people work and nearly 1,000 will live.

“The residential uses in the Arena District have been much more successful than we had ever dreamed, said Myers, a landscape architecture graduate of the Ohio State University. “The original master plan was for 350 units and we will likely double that or more. The rental units are getting the highest rates in the market and the for sale product went very quickly. “Over $650 million of private investment has off set the meager $43 million of public investment. The City of Columbus made the best business deal in America.”

The city’s land investment and Myers’ master plan turned the grounds of a huge abandoned penitentiary and adjacent largely vacant former industrial zone into a highly popular mixed use destination.

In a downtown that used to die after 5 p.m., the Arena District comes alive year round with a restaurant row, indoor-outdoor live performance venue, the NHL arena, a compact urban multiplex theater and a waterfront park featuring a Daniel Burnham-designed arch salvaged from a nearby building that was sadly razed during Columbus’ less enlightened era.


TOMORROW: New Urbanism

Wright has written for a living for 25 years, with nearly 5,000 published articles. He lives in historic Little Havana and is very active in Miami’s urban issues. He and his wife of 20 years also are involved in making new and old towns more accessible for people with disabilities.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

KEITH MYERS -- URBAN PLANNER PROFILE


KEITH MYERS

By Steve Wright

Keith A. Myers grew up in exurban Cleveland during the late sixties/early seventies area of urban renewal with and middle class exodus from big cities.

His dad worked in downtown Cleveland, but his family lived in the next county over – far from the “Mistake of the Lake,” the sooty Great Lakes city where the polluted river burned, the baseball team was a joke, the school system was broken and a once-thriving industrial hub went bankrupt.

The prevailing wisdom at the time was that cities were dark and dangerous places -- all of which was exemplified in the great cult classic movie Escape from New York,” said the principal of Columbus, Ohio-based MSI Design. “The movie captured the feeling about cities at that time. In spite of that, I used to love to go downtown to my dad's office…I never really felt threatened by the city, Cleveland, in spite of its appearance and reputation. In some ways, that made it more of an adventure.”

The award winning urban planner spent his early professional years in the Mariemont, the fabled 1920s master-planned community on the outskirts of Cincinnati on the Ohio River.

Mariemont was a sharp contrast to suburban Cleveland with its village setting, wealth of parks, red brick Norman, Georgian and Tudor buildings, bell tower, concourse, village square – and one of the few elected town criers in America.

“I moved to Mariemont in 1980 and couldn't understand why we were not building villages, towns and cities on the same principles that seemed to work so well in the past,” he said.

TOMORROW: The Arena District in Columbus OH

Wright has written for a living for 25 years, with nearly 5,000 published articles. He lives in historic Little Havana and is very active in Miami’s urban issues. He and his wife of 20 years also are involved in making new and old towns more accessible for people with disabilities.

Friday, February 25, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 11


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming gives elected officials, local Public Works Directors, City Engineers and even local police the opportunity to work with their communities to create personalized solutions to dangerous traffic.

Traffic calming devices “have the back” of all these officials when they wade into the community and try to create real-life, tailor-made solutions to address everything from annoying cut-through commuters to sites of multiple pedestrian fatality tragedies.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 24, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 10


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming fits with all trends toward a greener, more sustainable way of living.

Traffic calming promotes shared use of roadways by bikes, pedestrians, transit and vehicles.

Anything that promotes walking to the neighborhood store or strolling to the local library is green.

Which would you rather do? -- pay 4 or 5 bucks a gallon to get in your car and drive to a pricey gym?

Or take off a few pounds on a calmed streetscape for free?

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com each month by walking safely

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 9


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming is a big part of the Safe Routes to School movement.

Transportation departments have a decent amount of federal bucks to grant to communities that want to create safe routes to schools.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 8



TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming makes it possible to bike to work from an inner ring suburb, and it makes it safe enough to bike to a transit station.

It does the same to enhance walking. When sidewalks are narrow and traffic is roaring by, people don’t feel safe and secure walking even a couple blocks to the bus stop or train station.

Traffic calming can make the walk – in more humane surroundings -- feel safer and even shorter.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, February 21, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 7


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming is essential, especially in the new economy.

There is no quick fix to the economic crises.

Experts say it will take a decade more for the housing, financial, retail and related markets to recover.

In the meantime, more people than ever are looking at ways they can turn a three-car household into a two-car household, or a two-car household into a one-car one

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 20, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 6


TRAFFIC CALMING

Education/public involvement is a big part of traffic calming.

With all due respect to the profession, many people shudder when they hear “traffic engineer.”

They equate it with sins of the past: losing their front yard to road widening, losing their tranquility to rushing traffic, etc.

They first may be skeptical of traffic calming, but in the long run, traffic calming is the rarest of opportunities to reach out and improve a community on a personal, “see, touch, feel the improvement” level.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 19, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 5


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming turns seas of pavement/overdesigned roadways into points of civic pride. After traffic circles were installed and landscaped in Miami, some neighborhoods asked for and got entrance signs for their neighborhoods.

The circles, which were controversial at the design stage, now boost community pride with “now entering the historic Miami Roads neighborhood’ signs placed on the circles.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, February 18, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 4


TRAFFIC CALMING

Traffic calming beautifies.

In the City of Miami, which often is broke and has trouble maintaining civic spaces, there are traffic circles (actually roundabouts) that are landscaped as beautifully as golf courses.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 17, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 3

TRAFFIC CALMING



Traffic calming slows cut-through traffic – putting commuters back on the arterials and off of neighborhood streets.

Communities should push their governments to hire traffic/transportation engineering firms with the track record urbanist philosophy needed to approach traffic calming and safe pedestrian pathways with enthusiasm and expertise.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING - 2


TRAFFIC CALMING

Gone are the days when streets were designed purely to move as much vehicular traffic as quickly as possible.

Here are the days when residents “take back their streets” so they can cross an intersection without risking life and limb, peddle their bikes within designated lanes, let their kids walk to the community center or pool without fearing for their pedestrian lives.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

TRAFFIC CALMING


TRAFFIC CALMING

We live in Miami – a City where we love the diversity, but hate the dangerous driving that has become commonplace and accepted.

Whether it is the:

• Weekly near-miss accident avoided only by our intense awareness and defensive driving.

• Daily reporting of another hit-and-run killing or maiming of a pedestrian.

• Hourly fear that crosswalks are NOT safe for wheelchair users, bicyclists or pedestrians.

We believe the time is now for our elected and appointed officials to advocate for complete streets where pedestrians are safer, sidewalks are wider, bike lanes are built, transit is facilitated and traffic is calmed.

We will list our top 10 benefits of traffic calming during the next 10 days

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, February 14, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC -- part 6


Once I went to law school and got married, my time became very precious. Working as a staff attorney for a state agency, taking care of a house and finding time for writing is often all I can manage.

Consequently, volunteering with the Arthritis Foundation has taken a back seat to drafting contracts, helping to make our house more accessible and, in team with my husband, writing free-lance articles about people with disabilities and travel.

I don't really miss the fund-raising dinners or the staged photos with celebrities very much.

I had my time in the spotlight and I have my memories of television interviews, speeches before congressmen, and, of course, the Moose.

While I still have my qualms about using kids to raise money for charities, all in all, my experiences were positive ones. I gained poise, grace and public speaking skills that have helped me in my legal career.

And maybe along the way I touched the lives of a few kids with arthritis and their families who were as scared and confused as I was more than a quarter century ago when all I wanted was to do handstands in my back yard again.

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC -- part 5



GROWING UP IN PUBLIC
FROM POSTER CHILD TO PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL


Editor's note:

Each day leading up to and including Valentine's Day, this blog will tell the story of my bride of 22 years in her own words.

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

The Atlantic City trip was an awakening of sorts. A pair of young, adorable blond-haired twin girls had also made an appearance on the telethon. They were loved by the audience and I noted that although they had arthritis, they exhibited little, if any, physical limitations, unlike myself.

I was beginning to feel like an aging movie queen who had her close-up shot stolen by the pretty, young starlet. For the first time I began to have second thoughts about how children were used to raise money for charities.

My focus turned more toward public speaking and I traveled to such cities as Washington, D.C. and New Orleans for fund-raising events. I met senators and congressmen and made friends with people from other chapters across the country.

In the meantime, I was asked to write a column directed at kids with arthritis for the National Arthritis News.

The column addressed issues about coping. It featured a pen pal list so that kids could write each other and not feel so alone. Even after accepting my arthritis and meeting many others in the same boat, I could still remember how alone I'd felt when
I was newly diagnosed.

Throughout my teens, I never really had a remission from my arthritis. The disease continued to progress, forcing me to become the proud owner of bilateral shoulder, hip and knee replacements and also to have my ankles fused.

When college came along, my arthritis stabilized.
The damage resulting from the disease's previous fierceness, however, will always limit me physically.

I plan on a steady diet of anti-inflammatory medication the rest of my life.

I can walk only short distances and it must be with the aid of platform crutches. Longer distances require a motorized wheelchair if I'm alone or a manual chair if someone's around to push me.

Stairs are impossible without assistance, and then, only a couple at a time. I am able to drive a wheelchair ramp-equipped van with a seat that turns around so I can move from wheelchair to driver's seat.

I can do most of the things I like to do, as long as I pace myself and rest when I start to drag down.

TOMORROW: Poster Child Grown Up

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC -- part 4


GROWING UP IN PUBLIC
FROM POSTER CHILD TO PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL


Editor's note:

Each day leading up to and including Valentine's Day, this blog will tell the story of my bride of 22 years in her own words.

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

Soon my volunteer work became a regular part of my life. The Foundation asked me to be featured in a slide show titled -- what else? -- "Heidi." A photographer followed me around school taking pictures of my efforts to deal with the roadblocks of a typical day.

He also snapped a few shots of my parents and my miniature schnauzer.
When the slide show was being assembled, it was more convenient to hire actors to dub in the voices of my parents and me.

The actor hired to read my dad's part had a voice several octaves lower than my dad's and my mom and I laughed ourselves sick the first time we heard that deep voice paired with my dad's face.

No one else was aware of the dubbing and the otherwise excellent slide show has been used as a public education tool by virtually every chapter across the country. Even today I occasionally meet people at Foundation functions who are amazed that I'm "the Heidi."

My smiling face continued to appear on publicity material when I became the poster child promoting an alliance between the Arthritis Foundation and the Loyal Order of the Moose. For a while, the Ohio Moose adopted the Foundation as their official charity, later to be followed by the Moose nationwide.

I spoke at innumerable lodge dances and awards banquets and while I endured horrendously bad moose puns and sometimes inedible rubber chicken dinners, I made some wonderful, life-long friends -- of the artificially antlered variety, of course.
My publicity and public education work also included a trip to New York City for interviews by columnists from two newspaper syndicates and an appearance on a radio talk show.

I was enjoying the opportunity to travel and be in the spotlight and it felt good to find something that I knew I could do well.

One of my fondest memories is my appearance on the Arthritis Foundation telethon when it originated from Atlantic City, N.J. While it was fun being interviewed on national television and checking out the noisy, neon-lighted casinos, my favorite part was sitting next to falsetto-voiced crooner Tiny Tim in the hotel restaurant.

If only I'd had a camera.

TOMORROW: Child Celebrity

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Friday, February 11, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC -- part 3


GROWING UP IN PUBLIC
FROM POSTER CHILD TO PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL


Editor's note:

Each day leading up to and including Valentine's Day, this blog will tell the story of my bride of 22 years in her own words.

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

Soon my folks were volunteering extensively with the local chapter and my mom was appointed to several committees on a national level for the Foundation. Years later, she co-founded the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization, a group comprised of health care professionals and lay people whose sole focus is the forms of arthritis that affect children.

Where was I in all of this? Like any young teenage girl, with or without a chronic health problem, I was obsessed with clothes, rock 'n' roll bands and, of course, boys.

But I was also in search of my own answers about my arthritis and what I could expect from the future. I sometimes thought about the thousands of other kids with arthritis facing the same problems. The next natural step for me was to begin volunteering my time and talents with the Arthritis Foundation.

It started out in small ways. I was interviewed by several local newspapers about what it was like to grow up with arthritis.

I'd tell them about my personal challenges and give them information and statistics about arthritis.

I was soon proficient at rattling off the numbers -- "a new diagnosis every 30 seconds, one out of every seven people, no known cause or cure." I always hated that last one.


TOMORROW: The Heidi Show

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC -- part 2


GROWING UP IN PUBLIC
FROM POSTER CHILD TO PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL


Editor's note:

Each day leading up to and including Valentine's Day, this blog will tell the story of my bride of 22 years in her own words.

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

By my mid-teens, I would get to travel to several major cities, be interviewed by top rate print and broadcast journalists in New York City and shake hands with famous politicians, such as veteran U.S. Senator Alan Cranston.

Not long after I began working to increase awareness of juvenile arthritis, I was delivering speeches before thousands of people and I even had my own column in a national publication.

Closer to home, my disease process was totally out of control, mostly because it was so tough to find a competent specialist in juvenile arthritis more than two decades ago. Finally, my parents found a good pediatric rheumatologist, he found the right balance of medication, and I found some stability and normalcy.

Once we could exhale for a while, we began to look around for some answers and ideas for coping. Soon my folks were volunteering extensively with the local chapter and my mom was appointed to several committees on a national level for the Foundation. Years later, she co-founded the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization, a group comprised of health care professionals and lay people whose sole focus is the forms of arthritis that affect children.

Where was I in all of this? Like any young teenage girl, with or without a chronic health problem, I was obsessed with clothes, rock 'n' roll bands and, of course, boys.

But I was also in search of my own answers about my arthritis and what I could expect from the future. I sometimes thought about the thousands of other kids with arthritis facing the same problems.

TOMORROW: Juvenile Arthritis

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GROWING UP IN PUBLIC


GROWING UP IN PUBLIC
FROM POSTER CHILD TO PRACTICING PROFESSIONAL


Editor's note:

Each day leading up to and including Valentine's Day, this blog will tell the story of my bride of 22 years in her own words.

By Heidi Johnson-Wright

In 1973, shortly after my ninth birthday, I was told by my pediatrician that the pain I'd had for several months in my shoulder and feet was caused by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

The week I'd spent in the hospital undergoing tests had yielded a diagnosis. My parents were confused, scared and disbelieving that their little girl had "an old people's disease."

I was anxious to take a pill and return to practicing handstands in the back yard.
Within a month the pain had found its way to nearly every joint in my body. It hurt my jaw to chew.

It hurt my shoulders and elbows to pull on a shirt. It hurt my wrists to carry my
schoolbooks. It hurt my fingers to write.

It hurt my hips and knees to climb stairs. It hurt my feet to walk from my bedroom to the bathroom when I got up in the morning.

It hurt.

No matter how much I tried to deny it, no matter how many reassurances from my parents and doctors that a remission was possible, I knew inside that my life would never be the same again. And, it seemed to me at the time, the change was not for the better.

My friends and classmates treated me funny -- acting either overly attentive or strangely aloof. Old ladies at church wanted to swap war stories about heating pads and Ben-Gay.

Strangers in shopping malls stared when I limped or struggled with doors. And, of course, the pain -- there was always the pain.

Ironically, the illness I was fighting so desperately would eventually send outstanding opportunities my way.

TOMORROW: Poster Child

Heidi Johnson-Wright is a licensed attorney and Americans with Disabilities Act expert living in the heart of Miami's Little Havana. She and her husband, Steve, write free-lance articles about travel, entertainment and enhancement of life for persons with disabilities.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 10


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

CAR SHARING RESOURCES
Zipcar www.zipcar.com

PhillyCarShare www.phillycarshare.org

U Car Share www.ucarshare.com

Connect by Hertz www.connectbyhertz.com

car2go www.car2go.com

Car Sharing blog www.carsharing.us

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Monday, February 7, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 9


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

Zipcar members report spending on average, about six percent of income on transportation, compared to the US average of 19 percent, said Zipcar spokesman John Williams.
“For anyone looking to decrease monthly expenses, Zipcar represents a great option,” said Williams, who said many customers write to the company to praise the money it saved them. “A family in Seattle wrote to us to let us know that thanks to Zipcar, the family sold their second car and due to those the savings the wife was able to cut back her hours to part time so that she could spend more time with their infant. To be able to directly affect the quality of that family’s life is very powerful.”

Zipcar is most successful working in tandem with other transportation and infrastructure providers, Williams explained, noting the company partners across the “value chain” with bike clubs, ridesharing organizations, government agencies, parking facilities, transit authorities and more.

“We know that Zipcar’s vision is a world where there are more car sharers than car owners in major cities around the world,” he said. “Will that be true in a decade? We hope so!”

TOMORROW: CAR SHARING RESOURCES
Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 8



CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

Daimler’s car2go car launched in Austin, Texas with several features unique to car sharing. Members are not required to commit to a specified time or location to return the vehicle, but rather have the flexibility to use the vehicle as needed in an open-ended fashion. The member is charged for actual usage per minute, with discounted rates for hourly and daily use. Rates include costs for fuel, parking, mileage, maintenance and insurance.

The car2g0 fleet of free-floating, low-emissions, fuel efficient (41 mpg) self-service Smart fortwo cars is distributed all over the city. The Smart fortwo cars -- the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicles in the United States -- can be accessed spontaneously, or reserved up to 24 hours in advance. For “on-demand” access, members simply swipe their membership card against the vehicle’s windshield.

More than 200 car2go vehicles are accessible to the 13,000 City of Austin employees for both business and individual use, making it one of the largest deployments of
fuel efficient vehicles in a car sharing program in a single North American city. Anyone with a car2go membership can easily locate available Smart Cars by using the internet, a mobile device, or the car2go call center.

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Saturday, February 5, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 7


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright


Connect by Hertz is in New York, several college campuses and major cities in Europe. Griff Long, Senior Director Global Carsharing, said Connect by Hertz stared with 40 cars in 10 locations in New York and quickly grew to more than 350 cars in about 100 locations.

“While operating for a little more than one year, we've signed on more than 6,000 members in New York City alone,” Long noted. “We also notice that some members are car owners, but use Connect as a second car, or to simply try out a vehicle they have always wanted to drive, like a Smart Car or Mercedes.”

Connect cars are all equipped with NeverLost-Hertz’s in-car navigation system, an I-Pod adapter as well as an in-car system that provides drivers with the ability to interact with Connect by Hertz representatives.

Long said the average car owner spends at least $700-$800 on payments, insurance, maintenance, parking, gas, etc. per month per car while often driving for only an hour a day.

“Regardless of the location -- urban, suburban, or rural -- the benefits of car sharing are the same. It is an alternative route to owning a car and simply paying for the usage of the car as opposed to all of the expenses that are generally included (in automobile ownership),” Long said. “For those who are conscious of their “carbon footprint”, car sharing is a means to reduce it with eco-friendly cars.”

TOMORROW: car2g0

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Friday, February 4, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- PART 6


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

Jim Sebastian, transportation planner for the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, said the District wanted to promote car sharing so much, that it granted 86 valuable on-street spaces for free to Zipcar and Flexcar in 2005.

The District also provided large orange poles to identify the reserved spaces and prepared car sharing brochures. Car sharing has grown so much since – Zipcar merged with Flexcar and has hundreds of private space for cars in D.C. – that now the District is looking at charging a fee for the on-street spaces.

The District of Columbia requires that car sharing companies place cars in each of its eight wards – ensuring that the benefits of car sharing can be accessed by low-, medium- and high-income neighborhoods.

“We understand Zipcar has done well in lower income areas,” Sebastian said. “Car sharing users usually help cut down on traffic congestion because they are paying per trip, they walk and use transit more than driving. Even If you use it every day for an hour a day, car sharing adds up to about $4,000 per year – about half the total price of car ownership, parking and maintenance in an urban area.”

“From our experience, car sharing integrates well with an urban transportation system,” he added. “It works especially well for cities with limited space for parking because there may be 20 members sharing one car versus 20 individual cars on the street.”

TOMORROW: Hertz Connect

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Thursday, February 3, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 5


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

Salt Lake City entered into a two-year agreement with U Car Share and agreed to provide on-street parking spaces at no cost.

The city also modified its laws to permit the car sharing vehicles to be parked in the same parking stalls for periods longer than 48 hours.

The Utah Transit Authority and the University of Utah also entered into separate two-year agreements with U Car Share to provide car sharing services on their properties.

“Car sharing is beneficial to Salt Lake City for the following reasons: it supports the long-term economic, environmental and social sustainability of the region through balanced transportation that encourages wise land use and increases public transportation connections and mobility across the Wasatch Front,” said Mayor Ralph Becker.

The Wasatch Front includes Salt Lake City, Provo and Ogden, where about 3/4ths of Utah’s population lives. “Car sharing helps improve air quality by reducing the number of vehicle miles traveled; provides an alternative to the high costs of owning a personal vehicle; encourages more transit-oriented development and multi-modal travel; eases road traffic congestion and demand for new parking; and longer term – may possibly replace some dedicated fleet vehicles with shared cars.”

TOMORROW: DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 4


CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE
ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP


By Steve Wright

Cassandra Allen, U-Haul U Car Share Program Manager, said studies show the average cost to develop one new parking space can be upwards of $50,000. Car sharing can reduce that spiraling urban cost while adding greater value to public transportation – “so that the idea of having fewer cars on the streets can become a reality.”

“With the number of residents increasing each year, cities are faced with limited resources to make room for additional cars on city streets. It makes sense for cities to be creative and innovative in their attempts to meet the needs of residents and be sensitive to the community and environment around them,” Allen said. “This need has spurred new forms of transportation and greater sustainability in the way people go about their daily commute. Car sharing meets both needs for new transportation and greater sustainability.”

Allen said U-Haul U Car Share is actively pursuing contracts with universities. She said some Car sharing companies do not accept members under 21, or requires drivers 18 to 20 to use their own insurance, while all members 21 and over are covered by the free inclusive insurance.

U Car Share covers younger drivers and doesn’t charge a yearly membership fee, making its service very attractive to university students. “Universities are the best place to plant the seed for car sharing as a part of lifestyle choice.” Allen observed.

“Car sharing is a great savings mechanism for cities and universities,” she said. “Institutions can save money through car sharing by reducing the need for additional parking structures -- car sharing reduces parking congestion by taking vehicles off the road, one car share vehicle can take 15-20 personally owned vehicles off the road -- thus redirecting those funds to more revenue-generating projects.”

TOMORROW: SALT LAKE CITY

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CAR SHARING TREND GROWS AS URBAN DWELLERS SEEK INEXPENSIVE ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP -- part 3



ALTERNATIVE TO THE HIGH PRICE OF VEHICLE OWNERSHIP

By Steve Wright

As Managing Director of Brandon Green Companies Commercial Real Estate and Investment Group, Washington, D.C.-based Realtor Ken Rub can certainly afford to own a luxury automobile. In fact, he had a beloved convertible and owned a parking space in his apartment building – but he gave up the automobile and traded them in for a Vespa scooter, public transit, healthful walking and a Zipcar membership.

“I had a convertible that I loved, but I had a $600 per month payment, $200 per month insurance, with maintenance, it was costing $900 a month at least – and I was using it just once or twice a week,’ Rub said. “For Zipcar, I pay about 11 bucks an hour and my monthly usage costs maybe $200 a month total – with gas, insurance and everything included.”

Rub lives within a mile of his office and he has good access to Metro train stations for community. He uses car sharing almost exclusively for business – driving clients to look at commercial properties, foreclosures and other real estate investment opportunities.

“I definitely bring up car sharing as an asset to a property, when there’s a good Zipcar spot nearby,” he said. “Right now, I have an 8,000-square-foot space that has been used as a charter school and day care. But it has very tight parking. So I sell the availability of transit and Zipcar right across the street. That way, workers can take transit, save the $200 a month they’d be spending for a parking space, and have Zipcar to use if an emergency comes up and they need access to a car.”

TOMORROW: U-Haul U Car Share

Wright frequently writes about Smart Growth and sustainable communities. He recently participated in the prestigious Forum on Land and the Built Environment: The Reinvented City sponsored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Contact him at: stevewright64@yahoo.com