Archive for the ‘Abogo Cities’ Category

Wright of Way

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Frank Lloyd Wright is possibly the most prolific and revered architect in all of American history. He pioneered revolutionary techniques and styles that are replicated countless times across the American architectural landscape. But did Wright build homes in location-efficient places? Today we will explore two of his most well-known works: The Fallingwater House in Stewart Township, Pennsylvania, and the Robie House in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.

Today these structures are museums rather than anyone’s home, but we were still curious to see what a typical family living there would pay for transportation. We at Abogo wouldn’t mind living in what must feel like a tree house. But what happens when we eventually have to step outside to work, shop, or meet up with friends? What kind of transportation costs would a typical family living in Fallingwater encounter?

The Fallingwater House, finished in 1937, is a revolutionary piece of organic architecture that integrates the structure of a man-made building with the brilliant resonance of its natural surroundings.

Architectural lore is that Wright designed the house in one sitting of less than three hours, which is remarkable given the international accreditation it has since received. Let’s take a look at the current monthly transportation costs a resident could expect.

Given an average gas price in the region of $3.50/gallon, transportation costs would average nearly $1,250/month. That’s more than a 20 percent increase in the cost in 2000.

This high monthly average is due to a number of factors, stemming from its location. The Fallingwater House was built as a rural weekend retreat, and to this day it remains in a very rural area. Stewart Township has a population density of only about 15 people per square mile and does not have public transit for the region. Walking and biking are certainly pleasant given the spectacular scenery; however, the nearest grocery store is over six miles away. Residents of Fallingwater and their neighbors may want to invest in fuel-efficient cars to keep transportation costs as low as possible.

The Robie House is a similarly revered work, completed by Wright in 1910. Located right next to the University of Chicago, it is a prime example of the Prairie Style of architecture. However, the building has faced the threat of demolition multiple times. One was so serious that a 90-year-old Wright visited the site to protest. Thankfully it is now a Chicago Landmark, which protects the building from demolition, and the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust maintains the building.

Let’s take a look at the transportation costs one could expect living in the Robie House.

Despite higher gas prices in Chicago, $794/month in transportation costs is markedly better than the cost of getting around if you lived in Fallingwater. The increase in transportation costs for Robie House over the past decade is a relatively modest 14 percent.

Chicago has a population density of 11,864 people per square mile, which provides both the resources and incentives for efficient public transit options. A 30-day pass on the CTA, which will take you anywhere in Chicago and even Evanston to the north, is only $86. Likewise, there are many businesses and amenities within a short distance, making walking and biking to destinations much more feasible. Having options other than the car makes average transportation costs less reliant on gas prices, keeping the average more stable over time.

What’s your favorite Frank Lloyd Wright home? Do you think transportation costs there are more similar to Fallingwater House or Robie House? Plug the address into Abogo and let us know what you find out!

Seattle: How the Emerald City Saves Green

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

For those destined for the West Coast, Seattle could be the place for all you looking for a city with beautiful scenery, mild weather, and a lively environmental scene.  It is relatively easy to get around without a car and in fact, preferable.

Seattle Transportation

Walking in Seattle

Walking around Seattle is easy, especially if you don’t mind frequent rain.  While the city receives less precipitation than New York, expect a drizzle at least 150 days of the year.  Luckily, after the winter rain, the city dries out in the summer.  If you want an insiders perspective on walking around Seattle, scroll through this “Walking in Seattle” blog.

Not only does the downtown area cater to pedestrians, but also most nearby neighborhoods have nearly everything you could need within a few blocks.  Walkways are constantly being improved.  The City of Seattle drafted a Pedestrian Master Plan with the goal of making Seattle the most walkable city in the nation.  Check out the current walking conditions and monthly improvements at the Seattle Department of Transportation.

Biking Seattle

Many streets have biker-designated “green lanes,” that highlight areas where bikes and cars cross paths; the thick green paint indicates that motor vehicles should to yield to bicyclists.  Some one-way streets have contraflow lanes, which are bike lanes headed in the opposite direction of motor vehicle traffic.  Access a Seattle bike map here. While the city does have many well established routes, such as the Burke-Gilman Trail, there are a few spots bikers have nightmares about.  Exercise extreme caution if using the trails adjacent to the West Seattle Bridge, the Ballard Bridge, and the Montlake Bridge.

For more information, check out the Seattle Bike Blog.

Seattle Public Transit

Seattle Buses

Buses are the way to go in Seattle and how most people use public transit.  Take a look at Bus Chick’s blog to see how a woman has been living car-free in Seattle since 2003.  To find the bus routes in your neighborhood, access the King County Transit page.

Seattle has a relatively extensive “Park & Ride” program that offers plenty of parking and even lots with electric vehicle charging stations as part of the “Plug-and-Ride” program.  The King County website lists all the stations and parking lots in your area.

Downtown Seattle features a “Ride Free Zone” where you can get around the downtown area by bus for free between the hours of 6 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Seattle Trains

The “Link” light rail runs north/south from the SeaTac airport up to West Lake.  Trains run frequently, about every 7 to 15 minutes depending on the time of day.  There is a convenient space for bikes on-board the train as well.  The train is very quiet and has push activated doors.  Here’s a clip of the train arriving at the Beacon Hill Station.

The Seattle Center Monorail takes passengers from downtown Seattle to Seattle Center.  While its practical use is limited by the short one-mile track, it is a quick alternative to get from one place to the other and a cool thing for tourists to explore.

For more updates on transit legislation, interesting studies, and lively arguments, check out the Seattle Transit BlogTransitsleuth is another great resource.

Seattle Car-Sharing

If you cannot get to a bus station, you can take a van.  Seattle boasts the most extensive publicly owned and operated commuter van program in the nation.  Metro provides everything you need from fuel to tires to the insurance.  Want to take your bike with you on the van?  No worries.  Metro will install a bike rack for free.  The ride matchboard helps you locate potential carpoolers in your area.

There are HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes reserved for people carpooling or taking the bus.  If you see a solo driver in one of these HOV lanes, SDOT encourages you to call 1-877-764-HERO and become a highway hero.  You could even rock out to the band 764-HERO while making the call.

If you want to take a weekend trip or need to run errands, Zipcars are readily available.  Find a friend to share the ride!

Driving in Seattle

If a personal vehicle is your only way to get to those hard-to-reach places of Seattle, you might face high parking rates and stagnant traffic.  Seattle Bike Blogger tells us why nobody in Seattle drives anymore.  Take a look at the pothole map to prepare for what you might face on your drive and which of the craters are being filled .  To avoid the daily jam on the notorious 5 mile stretch on the SR-520, check out your public transit options.

SEATTLE NEIGHBORHOODS

Here are a few of the neighborhoods that are easy to live car-free in and that have people talking.

Fremont

Fremont is the self-proclaimed “center of the universe,” transitioning from an artsy-hippie community to a more upscale neighborhood.  The main business district is pretty much on the side of a hill, five miles from downtown Seattle, and filled with independently owned shops and galleries.  Public walls are canvasses for street artists and statutes are frequently decorated with costumes.  Be sure to check out the outdoor beer movie theater and the Sunday farmer’s market.  Rent for a studio or one bedroom is typically in the $700-800 range.

To get downtown, you can take bus routes 5, 26, 28, or 82.  If you want to check out the zoo, hop on the 5.  If you need to head to the University District, catch the 31 or 46.  A lot of people in this neighborhood depend on public transit, walking, or their own bikes to get around.

Typical Transportation Cost:  $767 /month

Fremont Transportation Costs

Capitol Hill

This is probably the most walkable neighborhood in the city with a hipster flair. Part of its walkability is due to the fact that its one of the most dense and urban of Seattle’s neighborhoods.  Capitol Hill is a gay friendly neighborhood and arguably the best spot for Seattle nightlife along the Pike/Pine corridors.  If you must drive, there’s easy access to the I-5.  It is definitely a little cheaper to live here than, say, Queen Anne; a quick search on Craigslist yields a few sub $700 per-month studios, but plan on spending $800/month.

There are tons of bus lines that run through Capitol Hill.  For a trip downtown, 10, 11, 12, 14, 25,  43, 49, and the 84 will get you there.  If you need to go to the hospital, grab the 8 or 2 to the Children’s Hospital.

A streetcar line is opening in 2013 and a light rail station opens in 2015.

Typical Transportation Cost:  $699 /month

Capitol Hill Transportation Costs

Lower Queen Anne

For those of you with low transportation costs, you might put some of the savings towards a higher rent. You might consider Lower Queen Anne, the place for the 20-30 year old working professionals.  You might be able to get away with paying less than $750 for rent on a studio, but plan on spending $800-$900 a month.

With many different bus routes to chose from, getting downtown should never be a problem.  Take your pick: 1, 2, 3, 4, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 26, 28, 33, and the 81/82 “Night Owl.”

Typical Transportation Cost: $759 /month

Lower Queen Anne Transportation Costs

Ballard

If the college crowd isn’t your thing, this might be the neighborhood for you.  The majority of the residents used to be Scandinavian fisherman, boasting “Ballard Pride.”  However the area has quickly gentrified into a slightly more upscale neighborhood with many galleries and boutiques.  There are many different housing options (apartments, small houses, etc.) with rent around $700/month for a one bedroom.  Lots of restaurants and a great bar scene.  The Ballard Transportation Guild is rallying community members to decrease neighborhood traffic.  Some interesting projects include a bike-rack design contest and issuing “undriver licenses.”  Or take some notes on how this family of 5 survived without a car in Ballard for a year. There are east, west, and north public transportation options that head into major areas like Fremont, Belltown, the University District, and downtown.

Typical Transportation Cost:  $807 /month

To get around downtown, hop on buses 15, 17, 18, 28, 994, or the 81 “Night Owl.”  If you are headed to the UW Campus or the Northgate Mall, catch the 75.

Ballard Transportation Costs

Ravenna

A residential area named after Ravenna, Italy, it’s filled with lots of University of Washington grad students.  Definitely a quieter scene, but it surrounds the Ravenna Park, which is a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon or pass through on your bicycle.  In terms of housing, you are probably looking at a house or duplex rather than an apartment.  Rent here is relatively average in the $700-$800/month range.

Bus lines 64, 74, and 76 will take you downtown weekdays, while the 71 will take you there on weekends, and the 83 will get you there at night.  If you need to get to the UW campus, you can catch the 65, 68, 83, or the 372.  To go to the Seattle Tunnel, you can take the 71, 74, 76

Typical Transportation Cost:  $850 /month

Ravenna Transportation Costs

Overall, Seattle boasts an excellent network of public transportation that provides plenty of means to get around without a personal vehicle.  The city is actively working towards increasing routes and stations to encourage ridership.  As highway traffic slows and bike lanes open, more people are turning in their car keys for a bus pass or a bike.  Want to join the movement? Get out to Seattle.

Are you moving to Seattle? Do you live there now? Let us know how you get around Seattle!

Abogo Cities: Helping You Live a Low Transportation Cost Life

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

You’re moving to a new city! New job…new restaurants… new parks…new commute…new transit system…new transportation costs? At Abogo, it’s our goal to ease your new transportation anxiety and help you discover a better place to live by showing you what it costs to get around!

So we’re examining cities across the country and figuring out how you can lower your cost of living by minimizing your transportation budget. Where can you walk and bike? What’s the transit system like? Is there car sharing? We’re looking at local organizations and resources that are working to help you get around. We’ll also be highlighting a few neighborhoods with low transportation costs that might be good options.

Are you moving and want information on a particular city? Let us know! We’d be glad to hear suggestions of what cities we should cover. Are you already living a low-transportation cost life? Tell us about your neighborhood, how you get around, and why we should move there to enjoy life with you!

This week we’re starting with Seattle, known for its love of the outdoors and being on the cutting edge of sustainable living. Take a look and tell us what you think!


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