The High Return on Investment for Publicly Funded Research
Center for American Progress | Sean Pool and Jennifer Erickson
In order for the U.S. to maintain its role as an innovation-driven economy, “government must provide three key public-good inputs that allow innovation to blossom: investments in human capital, infrastructure, and research.” The authors cite and summarize the contributions of influential research funded by the U.S. Government through the Dept. of Energy Labs, The National Science Foundation, The Human Genome Project, The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Apollo Space Program.
Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities
Bicycling Magazine | August 29, 2014
#1: New York City
“Over the last few years across the United States, numerous cities have made cycling improvements, but none has done as much as quickly as New York. In 2008, powerful and moneyed naysayers scoffed when former Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled an ambitious plan to transform New York’s mean streets and reclaim them for people instead of cars. Gallons of green paint were spilled to create a citywide welcome zone for cyclists. There are now more than 350 miles of new bike lanes, … encouraging even casual cyclists to ride up Broadway and through a car-free Times Square.”
The 20 Most Bike-Friendly Cities on the Planet
Wired | June 2, 2015
“The city boasts 120 miles of what it calls “on-street bikeways” and 90 miles of off-street lanes. The latter is less interesting for urban cycling, but Minneapolis is quickly becoming the go-to city in America for building infrastructure. An impressive (for America) modal share helped push it onto the index, and we like the political will coming out of City Hall. A respectable bike-share system is helping cement the bicycle in the transportation foundation of the city. Seeds have been planted and a garden is growing. American cities—often content with baby steps—are in desperate need of leadership, and Minneapolis has emerged as a contender.”
When Adding Bike Lanes Actually Reduces Traffic Delays
CityLab | September 5, 2014
“To see what we mean, let’s take a look at the bike lanes installed on Columbus Avenue from 96th to 77th streets in 2010-2011. As the diagram below shows, the avenue originally had five lanes—three for traffic, one for parking, and one parking-morning rush hybrid. By narrowing the lane widths, the city was able to maintain all five lanes while still squeezing in a protected bike lane and a buffer area.
Rather than increase delay for cars, the protected bike lanes on Columbus actually improved travel times in the corridor. According to city figures, the average car took about four-and-a-half minutes to go from 96th to 77th before the bike lanes were installed, and three minutes afterward—a 35 percent decrease in travel time. This was true even as total vehicle volume on the road remained pretty consistent. In simpler terms, everybody wins.”
Metro puts half-cent sales tax increase for transportation projects on Nov. ballot
Los Angeles Times | June 23, 2016
“Metro’s proposal, one of the most ambitious in modern U.S. history, could transform a traffic-choked region that began building a modern rail system decades after other major cities. The expenditure plan calls for several north-south links in a rail network that runs largely east to west.
The tax, which has no end date, would increase the county’s base sales tax rate to 9.5% and push the rate to 10% in some cities, including Santa Monica and Commerce. If the tax were approved, two cents for every dollar spent in the county would fund transportation improvements. It would require a two-thirds’ vote to pass.”
$50B Sound Transit proposal: big taxes, big spending, big plan
The Seattle Times | March 24, 2016
“The plan, released at an agency board meeting Thursday, calls for $50 billion in new projects and services, funded by $27 billion in new tax collections through 2041, along with existing taxes, long-term debt and federal grants.
The debate over light rail is over. We are building a system north, south, east and west,” declared CEO Peter Rogoff. The full network would provide 108 miles of light rail, comparable to Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) or the Washington, D.C., Metro system, he said.”
“If approved by voters, Sound Transit 3 would boost an average household’s taxes by $400 per year.”
Losing Our Libraries
Public Goods Post
Public libraries are one of our most easily recognizable public goods. Most everyone knows that local public libraries are free to all, and most understand that this is because these libraries are supported collectively, by our taxes. But until citizens voted in the 1800’s in the U.S. to support the first public libraries, access to collections of books depended upon one’s wealth.
This Post is prompted by the potential loss or degradation of yet one more public library in the United States – in this case the one in Escondido, California, which may be privatized.
Privatizing public libraries does not mean that taxpayers stop paying the cost. No. What it means is that the operation of the library is contracted out to a private, for-profit corporation. Taxpayers keep paying — but in order to meet the profit requirements of the newly engaged private operator, one of two things must happen: either the cost to taxpayers must go up or the quality of services must go down. Read More …
The Quiet Revolution and a Submerged Para-state
Public Goods Post
Under normal circumstance, it would be safe to assume that “public goods” are delivered by public agencies. But current circumstances are far from normal. Over the last several decades, more and more public goods have been delivered by a para-state, a privatized government virtually hidden from view. We taxpayers still pay, but our money goes to a growing army of corporations on the public payroll.
Private corporations operate programs, deliver services and even manage other contractors. Some citizens receiving public services encounter only private contract workers, so are unaware that they are receiving a government service. While some forms of contract procurement have been in place since the nation’s birth, the very nature of contracting has changed as it has grown in scope. Basic governmental functions are now outsourced to for-profit corporations. Read more…