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Going Car Free in Fort Worth

Rachel Albright decided to finally take the challenge and is going completely car free for the month of April.

Her goal: To learn more about the public transportation system in Fort Worth and in the rest of our region and to understand the daily choices people who rely on this system need to make in order to become a better all-around transit advocate.

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Car-Free Blog

  • 19 Apr 2019 3:58 PM | Rachel Albright (Administrator)

    Why not bike?

    As you can tell from my car-free tracker, I’ve been doing a lot of walking (averaging around 2 miles a day). A few people have asked me why I would choose to walk over riding a bike. To be fair, you can go double the speed and double the distance in less than half the time on a bicycle.

    Let’s just say I have a bit of a mental block on the whole biking thing. At this present moment I don’t have great access to a bike, and, as a novice bike rider, biking feels scary. I feel uncomfortable riding on some of our roads and streets. The bike lanes are narrow, and people drive aggressively.  It's not rare to read about cyclist deaths in the newspaper.

    Pedal Power

    That's not to say that this is how it always has to be. Between the new Active Transportation Plan being implemented by the city and the regional Veloweb, it seems like our focus continues to shift to two wheels. I'd say that since Fort Worth adopted the Blue Zones initiative kicked off in 2015, it feels like the awareness of biking and the priority we have been giving it in our city has increased significantly.


    I recently learned of a company who re-located their corporate office to a more transit-friendly location and have encouraged their employees to bike to work by replacing the office gym with bike lockers and showers. There certainly are benefits. Research reported in the British Medical Journal reported that "commuters who cycled to work had a 41% lower risk of dying from all causes than people who drove or took public transport. They also had a 46% lower risk of developing and a 52% lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and a 45% lower risk of developing and a 40% lower risk of dying from cancer. Those are pretty good stats! Bikes go most places a car or pedestrian can go, and, compared to a car payment (or even a monthly bus pass), owning and maintaining a bike is about as cheap as it comes." (via Forbes)


    Walking > Biking?

    If it sounds like the lack of safety for cyclists makes it feel like you are trading a healthy-heart for the potential to be car-murdered, that is not the point I'm trying to make. However, it would be wrong of me if I did not point out how it's not like walking is any safer.

    In fact, between 2008 to 2017, the number of people struck and killed while walking increased by 35 percent. Over that period, nearly 50,000 pedestrians were killed, which equates to more than 13 people per day, or one person every hour and 46 minutes. Texas took on almost 10% of those deaths (4,831) ranking us as the 8th most dangerous state in the country for drivers. The City of Fort Worth had 249 pedestrian accidents in 2017 and 21 fatal pedestrian accidents.


    What I’m trying to say is, both biking and walking have their risks. But, DRIVING is risky too.  Really the point I'm trying to make is that you run the risk of being car-murdered no matter how you get around. And that, to me, is something that must be addressed.


    That is exactly what the Vision Zero initiative is setting out to do. Through infrastructure and code improvements we could decrease the number of traffic deaths to zero.  Looking at the designed environment, conducting audits of dangerous intersections (for vehicles AND pedestrians AND cyclists) and making slight improvements for the safety of all is just a drop in the bucket, but could lead to a safer city for all of us.  Not just looking at how streets move traffic, but how they affect pedestrians, cyclists, residents and business and making smarter choices about different modes beyond vehicle traffic is imperative (shout out to the work city planners have been doing with Complete Streets). The more we move towards streets for all, the safer our community becomes, the easier it is for folks to get around safely and make alternative transit choices. It all works together.

    Car-Free Counter - 04/19/2019

     Miles Walked = 37.2 mi  Bus rides = 13  Rides received / TMC Rides = 28


  • 12 Apr 2019 9:19 PM | Rachel Albright (Administrator)

    While the first week of my car-free adventure was all about getting to know the system, the second was all about what is inaccessible with the current system. Last week, I didn’t go out beyond my ‘zone.’ It took slightly longer to get to where I was going, but it was time I didn’t mind taking. What are 20 minutes in added commute if I can read the whole time and catch up on emails?

    The bus, one of the best places to catch up on emails (or nap).


    Last weekend when I went to have dinner with my family, I ended up spending the night at their house because they live out in Benbrook where there are no transit options. This week began with me skipping out on attending an event because it would have taken an hour and a half to get there (there being the Lena Pope Home, a relatively central location). On Wednesday, I had an event that required me to schlep a big cart full of materials and a large foam sign. There was no way I was going to try to maneuver those things on a bus at 6 in the morning! On Thursday after working out, I decided I had earned a post-workout beer and ran into some friends. I ended up having to Lyft home because I stayed out past 9! Finally, on Friday I had a meeting at Texas Health Resources in Bedford. When using the google transit planner, I discovered that there were zero transit options for me to get there. It would have taken me an hour and a half to get on the bus to get on TEXRail to North Richland Hills, and I still would have had to use Lyft to get the rest of the way there. I ended up using Lyft (a $22 ride) to get to where I was going and getting a ride back from a friend.

    The First and Last Mile

    This experience made me think about when Uber and Lyft first really came into the City of Fort Worth. I heard a presentation where someone (I now can’t remember who it was) mentioned how important these services were for certain areas of our city where taxis historically would not go. Not only were there now options for those folks to make a little money, they now had increased access to the city. However, these options aren’t exactly economical. One of my Lyft drivers mentioned to me that he usually works in Arlington and just recently gave a woman and her adult son a ride around town to do their grocery shopping. It was a $50 ride. Can you imagine needing to pay $50 just to run your errands?

    Getting to the Doctors

    The lack of access in Bedford got me thinking on another issue facing our region. Access to healthcare for our citizens. While there are some supplementary services, many are only for those age 60+ or who require paratransit services (the exception is Catholic Charities who do not limit their rides to any particular age or ability). These services are also typically relatively small and require you to call in at least 24 hours in advance. As the population ages, the number of people who will need transportation assistance will go up. I’m not convinced that this current system is sustainable. Let’s add on to all of this that frequently these supplementary services have a very limited service zone. If you need to get from one municipality to another, say, because your doctor is in the next city over, you would likely need to coordinate between multiple services.

    A Regional Approach

    Improving access in just our central city is expensive enough, especially given what little we have invested. However, when people move around our metroplex, they aren’t just staying in one part of the city. They are crossing city and county lines, going from one service area to another, and you wouldn’t even know it unless you relied on these systems.

    Think about it - when driving, do you know where the city streets end and the county roads begin? If you needed to coordinate travel between cities in Tarrant County without a car, do you know how you would get there? Do you know which services might be available to you? At the moment, you can spend time online doing research, maybe call a service like MyRide Tarrant County or 411, but what if you didn’t have to worry? What if, just like driving between city streets and county roads, the ride transition was seamless?

    It is possible - It just takes coordination between the transportation agencies and cities in our region - and the conversation has been moving in that direction. However, there are still several cities who aren't convinced that they need to buy-in. I’m not offering any solutions in this post. It is going to take great leadership and investment from our leaders to make something like a regional system happen. However, what we CAN do is continue to have these conversations - why improved transit services are vital for us and our neighbors, what the system is now and what it could be - and we can try to dispel myths about public transportation by trying it. Find the route that is closest to your home, work or school and see where you might be able to go without a car... and then try it out. Try taking the train with your family to Dallas or Grapevine or the Airport. Allow public transportation to become a tool in your transportation toolkit.  Then tell people about it.

    Car-Free Counter - 04/12/2019

     Miles Walked = 25.7 mi  Bus rides = 11  Rides received / TMC Rides = 10


    Bonus Puppy-Tax: One great thing about taking transit and walking everywhere is
    the average number of puppies I have pet has gone up significantly.

  • 8 Apr 2019 5:57 AM | Rachel Albright (Administrator)

    Walking Along

    Yesterday, I volunteered for the Near Southside's Open Streets and did a TON of walking.

    (S/O to the Near Southside Team for putting on a killer event!)

    On more than one occasion now, I have found myself at a point where it would take roughly the same amount of time to walk to where I'm going than to wait for the bus. For example, yesterday it would have taken 44 minutes to wait for the next bus and get home, or 45 minutes to walk home. Although I had spent most of the day on my feet, I chose the latter because it was nice out and I enjoy walking.


    The Care and Keeping of Fort Worth

    Because I've been walking so much more, I've gotten to know more about the neighborhoods I frequent. I've seen cool old houses I've never noticed before, kids getting out of school, and I've even stopped by a few local businesses I've wanted to check out because, hey! I'm in the neighborhood.

    Look at this cute new coffee/pizza food truck and eating area off of Main Street catty-corner to the T&P Station parking lot.  Their iced coffee was the perfect treat on a warm afternoon.


    Yet, I've also seen how INCREDIBLY trashed some parts of our city are, where it feels like no one cares. 

    I've always considered one of the social benefits of public transportation is sharing space with your neighbors. Cars and other single-occupancy vehicles are so isolating from the rest of the world.

    I wonder if we would take more responsibility for our neighborhoods and city if we were to walk more. Would we take better care of those in-between places where no one is really responsible for maintenance and care? How might that affect the quality of life of our neighbors? Something to think about.

    :(


    Your Fort Worth, My Fort Worth

    Someone asked me recently if I felt safe while riding on the bus, which I can answer with an astounding YES.

    However, where I have not felt as safe is when I'm walking home, especially in areas that are missing sidewalks, and especially-especially in the dark. It made me think of a few articles I have read recently about how to design a city and make public transportation safer for women.

    However, my neighborhood is relatively safe and walkable. It is made up of a mix of students and the upper-middle class and is predominantly white. In comparison to other areas in our city, its infrastructure is fairly well maintained.

    According to the November 2018 City of Fort Worth Task Force on Race and Culture Final Recommendations, Super-Majority Minority Areas (S-MMAs) of Fort Worth have a disproportionate share of poor-condition streets, and poor-condition (or missing) sidewalks and street lights.

    "This disparity is caused primarily by the convergence of older infrastructure, prior construction standards and may also be related to project selection criteria."

    S-MMAs are also disproportionately affected by pedestrian and bike crashes.

    "This disparity is likely related to the higher vehicular speeds and volumes of the roadways on which they occur, as well as potentially greater dependence on, and the relatively poorer condition of, alternative transportation networks within S-MMAs."

    On top of all of this, I have the ability to walk on the grass if a sidewalk is missing, or call an uber/lyft if it begins to rain or I start to feel uncomfortable. For those who are differently-abled and require mobility assistance (and who typically rely on public transportation to get around) and for those who cannot afford the $4+ ride from an uber (or who can't use an uber due to their mobility-device) their options are significantly narrowed.

    A desire-path along a street that connects my neighborhood to the main street & my bus stop. 

    Note the confetti of litter & the lack of a sidewalk.  When not under construction, this street gets a lot of high-speed traffic, which can make using the road dangerous for pedestrians.


    Fort Worth's Future

    While I'm learning more and more about the current state of the transit network in our city and the infrastructure that is in place. I'm holding onto my hope that the conditions will improve.

    The City of Fort Worth has recently completed their Active Transportation Plan which will create a unified citywide transportation network for people who walk and bike, with a coordinated implementation strategy for planning, prioritizing, and building improvements.

    The City is also working with Trinity Metro and other partners to finish an updated Transit Plan - Transit Moves | Fort Worth - to create a transit vision for Fort Worth to guide improvements through 2045. The Plan will lay out specific improvements that should be implemented to achieve this vision, including the identification of potential new sources of funding and governance changes recommended to facilitate implementation of the plan and improve transit service delivery. TTA has been a part of the task force looking at this plan, but no priorities have currently been established.

    I hope that one of the first recommendations that comes out of this study is funding for increased frequency of routes.  Many bus routes in the city run every hour.  This makes getting around the city incredibly difficult (and has been an impetus for me walking so dang much!).  Think about how much easier the system would be if you knew that your next bus was only 15 minutes away.

    The city will be hosting a series of public meetings in May on the Transit Moves | Fort Worth plan. Keep your eyes open for more information.


    Car-Free Counter - 04/08/2019

     Miles Walked = 19.4 mi  Bus rides = 7  Rides received / TMC Rides = 4


  • 4 Apr 2019 5:06 PM | Rachel Albright (Administrator)

    I'm currently on Day 4 of my car-diet journey and am already learning a ton... like how easy it is to hop on a bus if you know the schedule, the importance of planning ahead, and the importance of sunscreen!

    Making sure you have a good idea each morning of where you need to be and when is key.  Luckily, you can work on your schedule while waiting for the bus!


    So far, I've walked a total 13 miles, taken the bus 6 times, used Lyft twice, and gotten a ride once. I've had to adjust my grocery shopping a bit and just pick up a little bit at a time as I walk home (luckily my stop is near a store!) I've discovered new shops along the way, cool houses in my neighborhood I've never noticed before, and met some very friendly people on the bus.


    Bonus of walking home after your workout: Enjoying an Alchemy Pops Popsicle


    I've also experienced some of the discomfort of walking home in the dark without a sidewalk near a busy street, the stress of not knowing exactly when the bus would arrive, and the anxiety of when I need to pull the yellow line on the bus to request a stop. All great learning experiences.... and let me tell you, I'm glad it hasn't rained yet!

    Compare and contrast two different bus stops - one is shaded, under a tree with a bench.
    The other is ... none of those things!


    I know that hundreds of people are living car-free 

    in Fort Worth right now, so my experience isn't particularly special, but making this transition has already opened my eyes to the possibilities of what our city could look like with improvements to our transit system.

    And it was a little scary to get started, ya know? (kind of like being the new kid in the cafeteria.... where do I sit? what if someone is mean to me?) But, like most new things, once you do it a few times it becomes easier.

    I hope that my experience encourages others to try alternative modes of travel and to get to know their street, neighborhood, and city better.




     A cute community garden I passed on my way to workout


    Me on the bus.

    Not pictured:
    The sunburn I acquired walking back home without sunscreen

    Look at this cool house with its James-Bond-Villan garage on the side of the hill!

    Car-Free Counter - 04/04/2019

     Miles Walked = 13 mi  Bus rides = 6  Rides received / TMC Rides = 3

  • 31 Mar 2019 10:46 AM | Rachel Albright (Administrator)

    Last Saturday I went to the City of Fort Worth Earth Party to set up a booth making a case for Transit and encouraging folks to try going car-free for a day. While it was REALLY windy and incredibly cold, we were still able to get 14 people to sign up and try going car-free!

    To prepare for the Earth Party, I did some research on why transit is an excellent choice for the environment, as well as some other lifestyle choices you can make to go a little greener, and I wanted to share them with you.

    The Case for Transit

    I know, I know one can't go door-to-door the same way we can in a car, a bike, or on foot – but let me give you some earth-friendly reasons why you might want to try and support our local transit system (buses or trains).


    • Because transportation accounts for about 27% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the US, public transit is an effective means for reducing these emissions without requiring a large capital investment
    • One study found that a bus “with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than the average single-occupant auto used for commuting,” and that buses generate only about 20% of the carbon monoxide and just 10% of the hydrocarbons per passenger-mile when compared with a single-occupancy vehicle.
    • By taking up less space and reducing gridlock, buses and other public transit options can also enable more efficient traffic flows for all vehicles, which in turn helps to reduce fuel waste and emissions that come from sitting in traffic jams. A big deal when you consider how much our population is growing.
    • These high-occupancy vehicles also free up parking spaces, which reduces the amount of time and fuel spent circling the block to find a good parking spot. 
    • According to the American Public Transportation Association, in 2011 the use of public transportation “saved 865 million hours in travel time and 450 million gallons of fuel in 498 urban areas.”


    20 ways to fight climate change through transportation choices

    These were graciously borrowed from a more extensive list from Curbed.com and slightly adjusted to be more relevant here.

    1. Start walking. Is there any single action that’s better for your mind, your body, and your planet?
    2. Work from home one day each week. Studies show that 45 percent of the U.S. workforce has a job that’s suitable for full-time or part-time telecommuting. Working a few days from home each month means one less commuter on the road contributing to greenhouse gases.
    3. Map a two-mile circle around your house and walk everywhere within it. You’ll not only realize how many places are an easy half-hour walk away, but you’ll also be able to eliminate unnecessary vehicle trips that make emissions and congestion worse.
    4. Take public transit. Public transportation helps reduce gridlock and carbon emissions. 
    5. Download a transit app. Transportation planning apps like google maps or Moovit help you get around the city and the GoPass app helps you buy tickets on the go.
    6. Become a member of your city’s bike-sharing program. Shifting just a few trips per week from a car to a bike could help the U.S. reduce emissions enough to achieve the Paris goals. Support the Fort Worth Bike Share by buying an annual membership to help keep the system humming.
    7. Just ride a bike. Yes, riding a bike really can save the world. According to a 2015 study by the University of California at Davis, shifting more urban trips to bicycling, and cutting car use accordingly, could reduce urban transportation CO2 emissions by 50 percent worldwide by 2050. That seems especially feasible when you consider that half of all urban trips are a bikeable six miles or less.
    8. Start a carpool. In 2014, over 76 percent of commuters in the United States drove to work alone, most often in their own personal vehicle. Carpools save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, let you work during the drive, and get you access to specially designated carpool lanes that are reserved for high-occupancy vehicles.
    9. Support transit-oriented development. Cities such as Chicago have codified the concept of transit-oriented development, which allows for larger buildings with smaller parking minimums if they’re near transit lines. It’s a conservation two-for-one, adding denser housing downtown with less need for private automobile trips.
    10. Say yes to transportation initiatives. Improving transit costs money, so the next time there is a transit-focused ballot measure in your city, vote yes. 
    11. Fight parking minimums. Up to 14 percent of the land in some U.S. cities is dedicated to parking motionless vehicles. That’s not just incentivizing driving, it’s also taking up precious land that could be used to build places that allow people to live and work closer together. Attend hearings for new developments and encourage planners to reduce or nix the construction of required parking spaces.
    12. Vote. 


CAR-FREE COUNTER

As of 04/22/2019

Miles Walked
39.8

Bus Rides
15

Rides Received/ TMC Rides
32


CONTACT US

(682) 231-2036

PO Box 470474
Fort Worth, TX 76147

rachel@TarrantTransitAlliance.org

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