Felix Salmon

How the taxi-medallion bubble might burst

Remember the sharp rise in taxi medallion prices over the past few years? I thought that the price was pretty justifiable back then, in October, although I did have my concerns:

How to rent a bike without a credit card, DC edition

Good news over at the Capital Bikeshare website, which has now been updated to make it perfectly clear that you can, after all, use your debit card to pay for a Bikeshare membership. The FAQ,which used to say that memberships require a credit card, now says “credit or debit card”; the signup page, which used to ask for your credit card details, now says “credit/debit card” at the top of that section. All of which means that although it was always technically possible to sign up for a membership with a debit card, now many more people are likely to actually do so.

Improbably unwalkable city of the day, Jerusalem edition

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Remember the importance of counting intersections? Density alone is good, but not sufficient for a pleasant, walkable urban experience: you also need to be able to get from one place to another in a reasonably straightforward, noncircuitous manner. Cities did this naturally before the 1930s, but then urban planners started building cul-de-sacs and other ways of maximizing the effective distance between any two points.

Getting the unbanked on bikes

American Banker’s Andy Peters has a jolly story about how West Virginia’s United Bank is teaming up with Washington’s bike-sharing program, to help the formerly unbanked have access to this handy form of transportation.

Did wifi cause a rise in bus ridership?

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What’s behind the rise in bus travel in recent years? It certainly seems very impressive, according to the latest research from DePaul University.

Chart of the day, NYC biking edition

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This is a chart of the number of bike commuters in New York. It’s known as the NYC Commuter Cycling Indicator, and it comes from surveys taken ten times per year at predetermined points around the city. It doesn’t give a good count of the number of bike commuters in New York, but it gives an excellent idea of the trends: bike commuting has essentially quadrupled in the past decade, and has doubled over the past four years. Which just happen to be the four years during which Janette Sadik-Khan has run the Department of Transportation.

Can TomTom help solve the congestion problem?

Traffic congestion is one of those problems to which there is no single silver-bullet solutions. If a city has too much congestion, the main thing it needs to do is build out much better public transportation infrastructure — something which takes many years and many billions of dollars. But failing that, or in the mean time, is there anything else?

Parking datapoints of the day

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Emily Badger has found a fantastic paper (not online, sadly) from the University of Connecticut. Authors Chris McCahill and Norman Garrick took aerial photographs of New Haven, Hartford, and Cambridge, and started counting up the number of off-street parking spaces over time.

Market failure of the day, Connecticut commuter department

Shelly Banjo’s article about the multi-year waiting lists for parking spots at Connecticut train stations is going somewhat viral, for good reason: