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What is the value of a Greenway?

Bikes on a deck in Charlottesville

What is the value of a green way to a buyer in today’s market?

Had an interesting conversation this morning in the Crozet Mudhouse with someone who was noting that the attitude shift toward greenways has shifted significantly in the past 10 years or so.

It used to be that real estate agents and developers and even buyers placed little to no value in having access to a means of passage that was not centered around an automobile.

Today, that attitude has shifted 180°.

Access to bike paths or suitable walking trails (for strollers) is an enormous asset. through my admittedly myopic view as seen through the eyes of my buyer clients who are seeking such access and proximity, and through the eyes of my seller clients who are advocating for the benefits of such access, I would say that the world has shifted in this respect.

In the Charlottesville Albemarle area my view is that the City of Charlottesville is fairly well poised to design and build more greenways and bike paths (hint: West Main). The County of Albemarle needs more will and more money. And they both need to work together to have the respective systems work together.

Worth noting is that the departments within the respective localities are filled with remarkable people doing remarkable work.

The market wants these things.

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Charlottesville City Police Ticketing Bicyclists

Police officers in the City of Charlottesville have doubled in the past two years the number of tickets they have issued to bicyclists, Charlottesville Tomorrow reports.

First thoughts:

– Good. As a bicycle advocate and rider, seeing cyclists cutting in and out of traffic, on and off sidewalks, blowing through red lights, etc. makes it harder for the law-abiding cyclists.

– Really? The number of times I’ve watched a car badly blow through a red light while a police officer sits there watching the offense is itself almost criminal.

– Bad. Points on a driver’s license because of these infractions? Don’t you have to have a license in order to get points on said license?

– Good. Maybe this will serve as a discussion point for educating the police, cyclists and drivers.

– Is there something in the Code of Virginia for distracted pedestrians? Maybe they could target UVA students on the Corner; they’re dangerous, too.

Maybe the City can add this discussion point to their newest $50k study on creating and integrating “complete streets.” (it would be awfully nice to have this discussion include how to traverse City/County lines rather than myopically looking solely at each locality’s needs.)

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The discussion generated by this excellent story is quite worthwhile.  Read the whole thing.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if the street car does not tie into transit outside the City limits (do borders really matter so much?), and is not a part of a comprehensive plan, it will be a neat tourist attraction, with its own place on the tourist’s guide to Cville.  If I work up 29 North, or in Crozet to the west, or Lake Monticello to the east, how useful will the streetcar be?Without considering travel and settlement patterns, this will be a sadly futile exercise – with taxpayers’ dollars.

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Central Virginia development moves on

The traffic study work session next month should be interesting.As always, Cvilletomorrow has much more information as well as a podcast of the planning commission’s meeting.Wal-mart is finally coming to Greene County!…  There has been much discussion locally about the merits of Wal-mart, but I do know that my clients in Greene will welcome this addition to their community.  Soon they won’t have to go to Culpeper or CharlAlbemarle, Yesterday at an open house for a new development, I was interested to see that their solution, as approved by the County, to the affordable housing situation is to provide affordable “accessory apartments….  More at the County’s website.Fluvanna’s clustering is moving forward and Daniel has his thoughts on the newest Fluvanna development.Housing inventory is up, but development plugs on, and for many, that’s a good thing.

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Housing and Transportation costs

The Center for Housing Policy has released a fascinating report titled: A Heavy Load: The Combined Housing and Transportation Burdens of Working Families (PDF).  It’s 32 pages long, so I have not had time yet to fully digest it, but the premise is fairly commonsense: It typically costs less to live farther from urban centers….  Driving farther costs more money.As I have noted before, important and clear parallels may be drawn between the Central Virginia and the Northern Virginia market:Among the regions studied,the Washington,D.C.–Baltimore has one of the least affordable housing markets.  Both housing costs and housing as a share of income are especially high among the region’s outer suburban and suburban fringe areas.Except for married couples with children who bear the brunt ofthese high costs, Working Families are more likely to live in central city and inner suburban neighborhoods where housing costs and cost burdens are somewhat lower….  This is as true in central city neighborhoods as it is on the suburban fringe.In our market, by contrast, many of those in the City have taken advantage of the recent housing boom and sold their houses and moved out into th Counties….  Locally, just look at the numbers of people who are commuting into Charlottesville/Albemarle (CharlAlbemarle!).These are a few of the stories from my feed reader about this story:Bacon’s RebellionBusiness WeekCommenter EM Risse notes on Bacon’s Rebellion:Of course, as we all know by now, Autonomobility is a dead end.  But shared-vehicle systems (aka, “mass transit”) cannot overcome random distribution of origins and destinations.For this reason, studies such as Albemarle’s recent one on residents’ opinions regarding growth serve only to perpetuate the myopic view which local governments continue to reinforce.  Unless there is region-wide cooperation, transportation will remain as inefficient as it is today – and will only get worse.

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