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Transit Updates for Greater Grand Rapids


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I had to reread the article to see if I missed something. I didn't. The article is not describing anything out of the ordinary. It would appear some members of this forum have deep-seated frustrations and biases towards investing in pedestrian and multi-modal improvements. The negativity this article engendered is a bit silly. 

 

The question some are bringing up is what percentage allocation of transportation taxes should go to automobile uses versus bike lanes, transit, and pedestrian improvements. 

 

No where in the article did it mention bike lanes. No where in the article did it mention expanding BRT or street cars. No where did it mention forcing people out of their cars. It simply offered a rational for expanding transportation choices to:

  • Adopting a "Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance" to improve urban mobility through new development.

  • Deploying a car share service for people who have the occasional need to hop in the car and go longer distances.

  • Deploying a bike share service for people traveling short distances around the urban core neighborhoods.

  • Pricing valuable public parking properly to manage the growing competition for space and maintain certainty for customers.  

  • Expanding the public parking supply where it makes sense.

  • Rebooting the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service to function as a proper urban circulator and more easily connect, say, the Spectrum employee to the Downtown Market for lunch.

  • Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit.

If anyone really thinks these are not practical, pragmatic solutions, and somehow describes an insidious attempt to "just 'ride the bus', 'get on a bike', and 'why dont you walk'' by 'these people [who] are tone-deaf?", then I will shush.  But I must say that some of you have come across a bit tone deaf lately. 

 

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All this talk about rail made me find these from the library

Fancy new Laker Line stop at the zoo!

There are several levels of automation, and we essentially have to pass through each one. Level 0 - No automation. Level 1 - Extremely limited automation that still requires input from driver. Li

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If anyone really thinks these are not practical, pragmatic solutions, and somehow describes an insidious attempt to "just 'ride the bus', 'get on a bike', and 'why dont you walk'' by 'these people [who] are tone-deaf?", then I will shush.  But I must say that some of you have come across a bit tone deaf lately. 

 

 

 

Can we get an amen!?

Thank you, well said.

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I had to reread the article to see if I missed something. I didn't. The article is not describing anything out of the ordinary. It would appear some members of this forum have deep-seated frustrations and biases towards investing in pedestrian and multi-modal improvements. The negativity this article engendered is a bit silly. 

 

 

A good rule is not to use false dichotomies nor put words in people's mouths.

 

Urbanism is not a church for me. I dont just cheer lead anything because it's the new hot trend nor pretend to back everything for fear of falling short of the groupthink like at the Salon.

 

 

If anyone really thinks these are not practical, pragmatic solutions, and somehow describes an insidious attempt to "just 'ride the bus', 'get on a bike', and 'why dont you walk'' by 'these people [who] are tone-deaf?", then I will shush.  But I must say that some of you have come across a bit tone deaf lately.

 

The city has been for a long time making it clear that they want to implement policies that put more weight on riding a bus, walking, and using a bike (or as it is labeled in this article "transit equity"). It isnt a secret. Heartwell and other officials have stated as much on multiple occasions, and the policies emanating from City Hall past this article's content is all easily Googled.

 

This article makes it clear that City Hall isnt trying to find a more efficient way to managing traffic so that congestion can be lessened. They pretty much state that they arent interested in that, but instead are hoping that gimmicks like bike and car sharing will become a hip thing for people to engage in. Other things like eliminating on-street parking have also come out as ideas they want to peruse.

 

What I wanted to read in this article was how the city was going to better manage the traffic flow on this busy street that went beyond the usual stick a bus, run a bike lane and it will work like (insert city here) type answers. That is tone-deafness.

 

 

But I must say that some of you have come across a bit tone deaf lately.

 

Please explain that one. I would love to know what we are supposedly missing.

Edited by GR_Urbanist
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As long as the Parking Commission continues to have Mike Ellis as a member I will question their judgement and the rationale behind every decision - no matter what they change their name to.  This glaring conflict of interest undermines the legitimacy of so many of their choices, especially when it comes to parking rates, supply and demand, surface lots, parking validation, etc.

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A good rule is not to use false dichotomies nor put words in people's mouths.

  • I quoted you, so I am not sure how to respond to this. 

 

 

Quote

 

Please explain that one. I would love to know what we are supposedly missing.

 
 

Again, if you think the following are too draconian, I don't have much to offer:

  • Adopting a "Parking and Transportation Demand Management Ordinance" to improve urban mobility through new development.
  • Deploying a car share service for people who have the occasional need to hop in the car and go longer distances.
  • Deploying a bike share service for people traveling short distances around the urban core neighborhoods.
  • Pricing valuable public parking properly to manage the growing competition for space and maintain certainty for customers.  
  • Expanding the public parking supply where it makes sense.
  • Rebooting the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH) service to function as a proper urban circulator and more easily connect, say, the Spectrum employee to the DowntownMarket for lunch.
  • Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit.

I know that I am coming across as a jerk, but come on....the above solutions do not warrant the sharp criticism that you are offering. I am not worshiping anything, I am pointing out that your sharp reaction to a very innocuous set of proposals is out of proportion. If we can't agree on the above set of improvements is worthwhile for downtown, then we have nothing to debate. The listed solutions are Transportation 101 policies shared by the majority of bustling downtowns. Heck, the majority of Florida and Arizona large downtowns, the champion of sprawl, share the majority of these solutions. 

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I know that I am coming across as a jerk, but come on....the above solutions do not warrant the sharp criticism that you are offering. I am not worshiping anything, I am pointing out that your sharp reaction to a very innocuous set of proposals is out of proportion. If we can't agree on the above set of improvements is worthwhile for downtown, then we have nothing to debate. The listed solutions are Transportation 101 policies shared by the majority of bustling downtowns. Heck, the majority of Florida and Arizona large downtowns, the champion of sprawl, share the majority of these solutions. 

 

 

 

Just because the neighbor kid is doing it, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Grand Rapids is way smaller than most of the other parts of the country adopting huge new mode shifting policies. There's something to be said for being bold and innovative, but if you stick a HEMI supercharger on a volkswagen rabbit, it might actually damage the motor. 

 

It'd be great if we can debate these issues without tearing each other down, which was becoming commonplace on the Salon (and debate doesn't really happen on the Rapidian, as far as I can tell.)

 

Now everyone play nice. Go back to talking about bad architecture. :) 

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It's too bad that this topic seems to always turn into absolutes.  "All cars vs. No cars."  I think that for the last 100 years, Grand Rapids along with the rest of the country has spent the vast majority of infrastructure money on roads with a car-centric point of view.  I'd like to believe that the "Cabal" of City Hall is not out to destroy the cars and all who dare drive them.  I believe that they are simply trying to make the ratio of spending slightly more equitable.  Although I think the spending on car based infrastructure is still slightly higher.  I can see how these new steps could be seen as shunning all those who drive but until they rip up 131 and replace it with bike lanes, I'll stay in the camp that believes multiple choices of transportation are better than a single mode.  That being said, it makes my day when I get a parking space in front of HopCat!

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Once upon a time, the typical Urban Planet GR patron was championing more urban development and transit. In the last year, the sentiment has suddenly shifted, or perhaps the policies of the city have shifted. Now the City is advocating for more urbane policies than the average Urban Planet GR patrons. It is now the norm that the folks commenting on the GR forum are advocating for more and cheaper parking, less transit, and more space reserved for the traveling automobile.

 

What happened is that the City took urbanist suggestions and went hog-wild marketing them.  Instead of satisfying their base, they started satisfying the fringe.  At least a few of us recognize that at least could have negative long-term implications for people's willingness to consider the downtown and near-downtown areas as viable places to live, work, shop, and play.  Ultimately, that--not transit--is the goal.  Without population density, transit means nothing.  It is a dead letter.  I know almost no one who says, "I really want to move to the city so I have the privilege of riding on a public bus."  You move there because of the people and the dense environment.  You take the awful bus because you have to.

 

The risk that is being run is not one of policy, but of PR.  Behind the scenes, the city recognizes the need to build additional ramps and to revise roads to reduce congestion.  They know that almost everything that has been done on Division has been a disaster.  But they refuse to acknowledge most of this publicly, or to reverse failures.  Their more public push continues to be for more of the things which the majority cares the least about.  That is very risky business when your goal is to grow your city.

 

It is not that adding alternatives modes is bad.  It is that allowing the perception that you favor alternative modes at the expense of primary modes is incredibly dangerous, and potentially threatens many of the gains already made

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One of the reasons I moved to East Grand Rapids was because I'd be able to ride the bus and it was very walkable.  I'd take it to work if I could, but instead I use it when I go downtown so I don't have to pay for parking.  I'm not saying everyone thinks this way but now you can't say no one says that.  To be fair, I just read that you said almost no one.  

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We also bought our house in part because of its walkability and close proximity to transit. I use the bus almost exclusively when I'm going downtown—rather than being constrained to stay within walking distance of where I parked, I'm free to move around, as there is almost always a line nearby that goes near my house. I've been working downtown a couple of days a week recently (will be working downtown full-time starting next month), and I've found it to be very convenient to take the bus downtown, walk to my kids' daycare a mile away, and take a different line home (my kids also greatly prefer the bus, though at their ages preferences change frequently).

 

Yes, this post (and GRJohn's post above) is anecdotal, but it's much more common than some people think.

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One of the reasons I moved to East Grand Rapids was because I'd be able to ride the bus and it was very walkable.  I'd take it to work if I could, but instead I use it when I go downtown so I don't have to pay for parking.  I'm not saying everyone thinks this way but now you can't say no one says that.  To be fair, I just read that you said almost no one.  

 

Very nice that you can take the bus.  But you also live in EGR with safe neighborhoods, parking everywhere, well-repaired streets, plenty of stores, groceries and shopping, clean and safe parks, close proximity to malls, and good schools.  None of the near-urban neighborhoods have any of that stuff.   It seems to me we need people and a reason for them to come here any stay first.  That is why this frivolous stuff makes people angry--it fixes a "problem" that does not exist, and creates real traffic problems in the process.  Build me a world-class shopping mall on top of the Calder (next to a 12 story free parking ramp, of course), put cameras on all the light poles (goodbye crime!), ticket subwoofers and broken mufflers into submission, attract a grocery store that isn't filthy, and fill all the potholes, and then we'll talk more bike lanes and bus routes.  Because maybe then we'll actually have streets so clogged with cars and people that it makes good sense just to take the bus (or our new monorail)...

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For the record, a Volkswagen Rabbit equipped with a supercharged HEMI could be amazing.

 

7091_1477695915829050_27298401091900879210405671_1477695889162386_43291739615490

 

 

I knew when I posted that there would be some smartass with a picture of a VW with a hemi. :)

 

Because Grand Rapids is just like a rally race. 

Very nice that you can take the bus.  But you also live in EGR with safe neighborhoods, parking everywhere, well-repaired streets, plenty of stores, groceries and shopping, clean and safe parks, close proximity to malls, and good schools.  None of the near-urban neighborhoods have any of that stuff.   It seems to me we need people and a reason for them to come here any stay first.  That is why this frivolous stuff makes people angry--it fixes a "problem" that does not exist, and creates real traffic problems in the process.  Build me a world-class shopping mall on top of the Calder (next to a 12 story free parking ramp, of course), put cameras on all the light poles (goodbye crime!), ticket subwoofers and broken mufflers into submission, attract a grocery store that isn't filthy, and fill all the potholes, and then we'll talk more bike lanes and bus routes.  Because maybe then we'll actually have streets so clogged with cars and people that it makes good sense just to take the bus (or our new monorail)...

 

..and exorbitant taxes. Don't forget the property taxes that most people can't afford. 

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Just because the neighbor kid is doing it, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. Grand Rapids is way smaller than most of the other parts of the country adopting huge new mode shifting policies. There's something to be said for being bold and innovative, but if you stick a HEMI supercharger on a volkswagen rabbit, it might actually damage the motor. 

 

It'd be great if we can debate these issues without tearing each other down, which was becoming commonplace on the Salon (and debate doesn't really happen on the Rapidian, as far as I can tell.)

 

Now everyone play nice. Go back to talking about bad architecture. :)

 

So let's talk about the policies. Which policy suggestion of the seven listed by DRGI do you think is too progressive for a small city like GR?

  • Three of the 7 directly have to do with improving parking.
  • The DASH helps support parking downtown and improving it in anyway is not forcing anyone to do anything. It makes sense to improve the efficacy of a program to the extent possible.
  • Car- and bike-sharing are another option that is not forcing anyone to do anything. Both are very low cost as well. 
  • So I guess we are down to "Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit."  Curious to hear the opposition on this one. 

GrDad, I absolutely agree that we want to keep this forum filled with clean decorum, but it is not just how we treat each other. The folks working for the city are real people who care a lot about their communtiy. I would much rather have debates on the policy aspects but often a few of the folks on the forum have more focused on the people working at the City and how they are apparently idiots (e.g. "Are these people this tone-deaf? ...obsessed with attracting these gods known as "young professionals"). It gets under my skin when folks can't have reasonable discussions on the whats and instead focus on the who's. 

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So let's talk about the policies. Which policy suggestion of the seven listed by DRGI do you think is too progressive for a small city like GR?

  • Three of the 7 directly have to do with improving parking.
  • The DASH helps support parking downtown and improving it in anyway is not forcing anyone to do anything. It makes sense to improve the efficacy of a program to the extent possible.
  • Car- and bike-sharing are another option that is not forcing anyone to do anything. Both are very low cost as well. 
  • So I guess we are down to "Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit."  Curious to hear the opposition on this one. 

GrDad, I absolutely agree that we want to keep this forum filled with clean decorum, but it is not just how we treat each other. The folks working for the city are real people who care a lot about their communtiy. I would much rather have debates on the policy aspects but often a few of the folks on the forum have more focused on the people working at the City and how they are apparently idiots (e.g. "Are these people this tone-deaf? ...obsessed with attracting these gods known as "young professionals"). It gets under my skin when folks can't have reasonable discussions on the whats and instead focus on the who's. 

 

The people that work for the city are up to be criticized because they are public servants. If they have an issue with it, then they can come here and talk. They are public officials and as a citizen of GR, I (since you use my words) am more than free to say that they are "tone-deaf" and criticize their policies. it is not your place to demand that criticism be censored because you may know them or feel bad for them.This is not an extension of City Hall. I would suggest that you grow a thicker skin and please do not use leading language demeaning opposition to your preferred position as not being "reasonable discussions".

 

As for their "progressive" policies? No, the city should not be in the business of running a car or bike sharing program as there is no need for it, no demand for it, and no money for it.

 

All of the rest has ZERO to do with decreasing congestion on Michigan St at peak times as the problem exists today (off-peak times on Michigan street are not congested). That is why I said clearly that these people are tone-deaf and keep resorting to goofy gimmicks based on trendy urban planning ideas that are still obsessed with attracting these apparently more important demographic than actually serving the people that are already here that are stuck in traffic on Michigan at rush hour times.

 

Why on Earth do we need bike or car sharing to lessen congestion on a street with steep hills on both sides during rush hour when the people there are going to be driving to places that are miles away? They want to get out of the area and go home, not bike to a brewery, or car share somewhere. This is about the congestion on Michigan street at certain times of day. The street most of the time is virtually dead. The city is taking this as just another opportunity to push things that are at this time unnecessary.

 

I gave a perfectly "progressive" idea the first time. Monitor the street with cameras and from 6 - 10am and 4 - 6:30pm  have a team of people manually control the traffic lights so that you dont have long lines on Michigan and College (the epicenter of the mess) or at the on-ramps waiting to make turns to get onto the highway.

 

That's all that needs to be done and 95% of the issue goes away.

 

As for "Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit". When they fill in the blank called "incentive" then we can address that. Right now most of the workers on the hill do not live in HH or Belknap and are not interested in waiting around for a bus to add 60-90 minutes to their commute home. That is if they even live near a bus route, so the total number of people that that will even benefit is likely a fraction percentage.

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Jeff wrote:
"It'd be great if we can debate these issues without tearing each other down, which was becoming commonplace on the Salon..."

Was? Is Salon dead?

 

Nope, just suffering from the usual off-topic "hey that reminds me" postings. Yesterday I suggested this spot (UP) for searchable discussion and threaded topics.

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What's striking in these recent posts is that many of the clear objections are either ignored, met with indignation, answered nebulously, or rebuked with implied assurance that the mere existence of a planning commission somehow legitimizes their proposals.  

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So let's talk about the policies. Which policy suggestion of the seven listed by DRGI do you think is too progressive for a small city like GR?

  • Three of the 7 directly have to do with improving parking.
  • The DASH helps support parking downtown and improving it in anyway is not forcing anyone to do anything. It makes sense to improve the efficacy of a program to the extent possible.
  • Car- and bike-sharing are another option that is not forcing anyone to do anything. Both are very low cost as well. 
  • So I guess we are down to "Developing incentive programs to encourage willing people to choose walking, biking and transit."  Curious to hear the opposition on this one. 

GrDad, I absolutely agree that we want to keep this forum filled with clean decorum, but it is not just how we treat each other. The folks working for the city are real people who care a lot about their communtiy. I would much rather have debates on the policy aspects but often a few of the folks on the forum have more focused on the people working at the City and how they are apparently idiots (e.g. "Are these people this tone-deaf? ...obsessed with attracting these gods known as "young professionals"). It gets under my skin when folks can't have reasonable discussions on the whats and instead focus on the who's. 

 

I wasn't specifically talking about the DGRI article. I only skimmed it. 

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Rather than decry the over-emphasis on bicycles, perhaps it is better to think of what neighborhoods bicycles might make sense. In that light, there are several neighborhoods where an attention to bicycle amenities makes sense: the old West Side,  the floodplain of N Monroe,  and out Plainfield to  Creston Heights,  Cheshire Village and Riverside. Transit options ought to be matched with the marketing possibilities of the various neighborhoods. in that light the extension of the White Pine Trail into downtown would seem a natural spine for this sort of bike-oriented community.

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I personally don't think that adding bike infrastructure is a bad idea, or car sharing ideas, or better transit options, improved DASH service, another BRT line to Allendale, etc etc etc....

 

My problem lies in the faulty belief that now that much has been added, that the mode shift of people ditching their cars has taken place on a large scale. The attitude of "there's a bus line in that neighborhood, parking doesn't need to be provided." Or I've even seen well meaning and I assume intelligent people claim that now that the Silver Line is built, no one should be driving downtown anymore. 

 

You can't browbeat people into alternative modes of transportation. You provide a much better alternative, make it easy to use, don't make people feel guilty about driving an automobile, and incentivize, incentivize, incentivize. The car is still a much better alternative in a small city like Grand Rapids, for the great majority of people. Don't make it painful on them for what seems like no good reason, make it BETTER to leave their car at home. If you make it too painful, they'll choose an alternative for sure: they'll go elsewhere. 

 

This is not the Chicago Loop or Manhattan where people have absolutely no other alternative than to take the train. This is not even Indianapolis. We can't even do things as well as Ann Arbor is doing (10,000 people park-n-ride the buses into downtown every day, because they incentivize employers and workers and students). 

 

A recent article in Mlive regarding these proposals:

 

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/06/bike_share_program_recommended.html

 

Sounds good, except the part about removing the requirement for developers to provide their own parking. That spells trouble. For parking projects the developers would love to nix parking, because it increases their margins. But again, parking is not free and the residents will go somewhere (like on the West Side where they're proposing to demolish 3 houses and create a block wide surface lot for an apartment complex that doesn't have its own parking). 

 

Another article about increasing parking meter rates to "force people to use alternative modes of transportation."

 

http://fox17online.com/2015/06/10/recommendations-for-grand-rapids-to-increase-price-at-parking-meters/

 

Or maybe "force people to meet friends for lunch or happy hour somewhere else other than downtown." 

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Another article about increasing parking meter rates to "force people to use alternative modes of transportation."

 

Hilarious mindset in the article:  "We know we are going to grow more. We know that is coming. If we do the same thing we have always done it’s going to end up as a congested downtown. If all the new people who are coming down are in a car, that’s not good." 

 

OMG!  Congestion in a downtown!  The horrors!  Driven through Rivertown Mall's parking lot lately?  Gone down Wilson?  Or Rivertown Parkway?  Congestion!  But people deal with it because it is a viable destination.  Congestion is good.  I live under a mile from downtown, and it is hardly ever a destination for me other than as a place to work.  We drive somewhere else for most shopping, dining, and entertainment.  Bars are only so interesting for so long. 

 

Ottawa is a 3-4 lane empty boulevard that you could land an airplane on much of the day.  That needs to be fixed before transit becomes seriously attractive.  There needs to be so much stuff to do packed in so tight that no one can remember why they ever went anywhere else.  You foster those uses with *FREE* ramps on weekends and after 6PM (maybe just Pearl/Ionia/Monroe Ctr or something?) and $.50 meters, and building parking ramps every-freaking-where with ground floor retail in them.  You build an Ikea on top of the Calder.  Then you start coming up with ways to people to get around once they've already parked their evil car. You certainly don't charge as much as possible for parking.  There is a reason the mall does not do that.

 

I don't mean to sound like a broken record (and I am aware I do), but we keep hearing the same thing over, and over, and over again:  Too many cars downtown.  Causing big problems.  Oh the horrors.  Build more transit and discourage car use.  People flood in because can't stay away from the awesome bikes and buses.  Brewpubs forever, bro.  Uh-huh.

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I agree that meters should be as cheap as possible. In my opinion they are there to creat turnover for street parking so that a parking spot is not monopolized by people who want to store there car for free. I also think that a limited amount of time in a parking ramp should be free. Two hours would be ideal as it is long enough for most people to accomplish any errands, shopping, etc. I don't think we will see it as long as Ellis sits on the parking committee as it would hurt his business quite a bit if his main competitor was free for two hours.

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