Best Ideas of the Week

Nate Berg's picture
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Another week has passed, and some more exciting and interesting ideas have taken root in the world of urban planning.

Using Fees On Motorists To Fund Public Transit

in an effort to increase the amount of funding available for public transit projects, lawmakers in California are pushing a bill through the state assembly that would create a fund to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Los Angeles County by increasing taxes on drivers. The bill, written by Los Angeles Democrat Assemblymember Mike Feuer, would either add $90 to the price of car registrations in the county, or increase gas taxes by 9 cents per gallon. These taxes would generate more than $400 million per year, which Feuer hopes to be directed towards the expansion of the county's public transit system. The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has endorsed the bill, which heads to the California State Assembly Transportation Committee April 14.

Sales Tax for Transit Catching on in Twin Cities

In the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro region, five counties have latched onto a plan to increase the amount of funding available for transportation projects by raising their sales taxes by a quarter of a cent and charging an additional $20 tax on all new car sales. This optional tax was adopted by three separate counties this week, and it is gaining popularity since the Minnesota state legislature overrode Governor Tim Pawlenty's veto in February to approve it. The new taxes are expected to generate more than $100 million in 2009, which will be set aside by the counties for grants and bonds to support various transit projects.

Cities Putting Officials in Charge of Sustainability

A recent article in Governing looks at how cities across the country are trying to address concerns about climate change and the environment by creating a new official city position: the director of sustainability. About three dozen cities in the country have created these new positions, placing officials in charge of finding ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in city projects and processes. The directors (or in cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, entire teams of people) are also focused on helping citizens and local businesses green themselves up. And with concerns about the environment and climate change becoming increasingly important in cities and politics, many expects other cities to add "director of sustainability" to their rosters of essential city administrators.

Japan Unveils Its First Dedicated Bike Lane

The first exclusive bike path in Japan opened in Tokyo this week. The 400-meter long bike path runs along a major expressway in Tokyo and was constructed in response to a high rate of accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians. The two-meter wide strip is separated from the road by rails and is the first of nearly 100 dedicated bike lanes that are planned to be built around the country within the next two years.

Also, here are some of the best ideas from last week:

Nate Berg is a contributing editor for Planetizen and freelance journalist.

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