How we experimented with street design to help small businesses. (3 min read)

Who's streets are they now? (paywall - 4 min read)

The Federal Highway Administration released a draft of proposed changes to the Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices. (4 min read). Timeline of activity here.

Parking increases rent, decreases affordable housing. 2 sources: National (USA) Data Set, Minneapolis.

For fun, the most expensive parking space in the world? (2 min read)


Hey. What's up everybody it's Kyle. Where, on this podcast, I share and discuss the urban planning, architecture, and real estate development patterns. My hope is that you learn something you can use in a meeting, build a better project, or just understand your city a little bit more.

This week the theme seems to that Memorial Day was the positive turning point for dealing with COVID in the United States. Now depending on who you talk to, we might have a long way to go. But the fact remains that restrictions are being lifted. Vaccines are rolling out.

To help small businesses and restaurants during the last 5 quarters we got creative with how we used our streets. With chaos comes opportunity, right? And most cities got creative with converting unused street space into additional space for dinners. Not additional space. Essential, well ventilated space, for dinners. Unused street space presented opportunities for bikers to ride a little more free.

As restrictions wind down, will we also do away with the creative use of public space and push all these things back to the way they were? The cars are coming. If you haven't heard it's official people that people are driving faster and even though we drove less miles in the States there were more traffic fatalities (a 25% spike). That's according to the national safety council.

Will there be pressure to get the parking and the lanes back? Will we keep our out door dining and new found public space? An article in the New York Times calls out just this issue...the next administration in that city will have do decide what to do.

It a country where so many things are gird locked, it's impressive to think how quickly we utilized that underused (at least temporarily) space. Now we've got one of our biggest cities in the country wondering how to best use our streets and having it to make it a part of their campaign platform.

As we consider the streets the Federal Highway Administration has been working on gather public feedback to suggest changes for the manual for uniform traffic control devices.

The manual 85 years old, and on it's 11th edition considers that in order for our roads to be safe, they must be consistent, no matter where people are driving, walking, or biking.

They only make changes about once every decade. According to the article by Aarian Marshall the last time this was open for revision, the FHA only received about a 1,000 public comments. For this current revision cycle, they've collected over 26,000 from all over the country.

“There’s a broader set of people who see that these streets don’t work, that there are too many people getting killed, that they’re too unpleasant. It’s not consistent with what a place or a community should be,” says Mike McGinn, a former mayor of Seattle and executive director of the group America Walks.

The manual feels...old...and car oriented. Let me quote the example from Aaron.

"Consider how the manual instructs cities to set speed limits, the so-called 85th percentile rule. It recommends that agencies conduct occasional traffic studies to determine how fast drivers are traveling on a given road, then post a speed limit within 5 miles per hour of the 85th percentile speed—in effect, allowing speeders to establish the rules of the road.

There's also examples of how the manual requires a certain pedestrian threshold to satisfy requirements for a new signal and crosswalk. So what...we need more people jaywalking to build a cross walk? Maybe people aren't walking because it isn't safe...drivers are crazier this year than every before...

Enough about moving cars. Let's talk a little bit about parked cars. This is going to be quick dopamine rush. 2 sources that show that parking increases rent and decreases affordability of housing: A national study which found that parking garages associated to projects increase rent 17%. And a more specific example from Minneapolis, when parking requirements are reduced or eliminated rent fell from $1,200 per month to $1,000 per month.

Last up most expensive parking spot in the world? Likely the price someone paid in Hong Kong (where land is at a premium) $1.3m to buy the space outright.

That's all for this week. But I do want to preview next week. I'm looking at the infrastructure situation in the United States. And I stumbled across this idea "national infrastructure bank"...more next week.

Talk to y'all soon.