Monday, August 20, 2012

Convention cities worried about traffic. Umm.. transit?

Here's an article about worried people are about the traffic snarls and delays getting to work that will be caused by the Democratic and Republican conventions in Charlotte, NC and Tampa, FL. They do mention working from home, but really, not one mention in three pages of transit?

I know there's a transit system in Tampa. At least there is a regional system And look, they even have information about the GOP convention. However, when I clicked on the link for the System Map (local) link I get a Page Not Found message. Not really helpful.

Charlotte has transit too. They even put out a press release about service during the DNC. I'm not overwhelmed by their website, but at least you know it exists.

Maybe they should tell the folks at the paper that this would be a great time for locals to try it out instead of focusing on how bad the traffic is.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Transportation articles roundup - not just bikes

More articles with a few comments, OK, sometimes quite a bit of commentary.

The Atlantic Cities ran an article titled, Why Cyclists Run Red Lights. I'm not entirely sure the research conclusions for Australia are valid here in the U.S., but at least someone is doing the research.

And the above article also refers to the NY Times article, If Kant Were a New York Cyclist. This article ponders the ethics - not the legality - of running red lights. A nice quote sums up the feelings of many bicyclists with regard to traffic laws:
Laws work best when they are voluntarily heeded by people who regard them as reasonable. There aren’t enough cops to coerce everyone into obeying every law all the time. If cycling laws were a wise response to actual cycling rather than a clumsy misapplication of motor vehicle laws, I suspect that compliance, even by me, would rise.

The Guardian (UK) suggests that demonstrating cycling proficiency be a requirement to get a driver's licence. In general, I think that getting a driver's licence in the U.S. us far too easy. In many countries it is hard and expensive to get a driver's licence and easy to lose it. People take it seriously. It's more like getting a professional certification. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. consider driving a right instead of a privilege. We require a licence because operating a motor vehicle is dangerous to yourself and others. Maybe if we made it harder to drive we could cut down on the 33,000 people every year that die in motor vehicle crashes.

A New York Times transportation reporter writes about learning to ride a bike for the first time - as an adult. He talks about how he felt he needed to learn for professional reasons. Bicycling has become a controversial and popular topic over the last few years, and he thought he needed to know first-hand how it felt to ride through the streets.

From the other side, a couple years ago I taught an adult (OK an 18-year-old) how to ride a bike for the first time. I didn't write about it at the time because I didn't want to embarrass her, but it was thrilling for both of us when she started pedaling around the streets for the first time.

And make sure to read the comments on the NY Times article. Over 200 so far. Although some complain about rude bicyclists on city streets, a great many talk about the joys of learning to ride as an adult. To many of us who ride, a bicycle gives a certain type of freedom of movement and a feeling close to flying. Seeing someone experience this, or hearing them describe that joy and freedom almost brings tears to my eyes.

Frustrations of air travel push passengers to Amtrak. The NY Times article title says it all. And it makes me want to weep, or maybe throw something, that we also had the chance to have rail service to Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Chicago, and is was all thrown away due to short-sighted thinking and allegiance to the road builders.

The article is about the NE Corridor, the most popular and only profitable service for Amtrak, but I've been seeing enough other articles about pending rail service - run as for-profit companies no less - to make me think rail travel is on the verge of a resurgence. After all, you can work on the train without being told to turn off your phone, computer, or music.

More articles about rail service coming back, and it's sometimes a bit surprising where people have redeveloped an interest in trains:

Saturday, August 4, 2012

To the guy in the white Lexus hybrid SUV

Scene: Today, Saturday, August 4, 2012, approx 11:15 am. Westside Farmers Market (DOT parking lot).

I had parked next to the above mentioned white Lexus hybrid SUV. When I parked, I noticed that the engine was running, and a woman was sitting in the passenger seat looking bored, maybe slightly irritated, and definitely not smiling. I sort of wondered why she had to run the engine, contributing to the air quality problems on a hot summer day. (Last night there was an air quality alert.)

But I didn't say anything and went off to to my shopping.

When I returned, I was just opening the door to get into the car when a man, apparently the driver of the SUV, called out, “Whoa! Careful there.” I looked down, and my door was nowhere near his car. I had opened the door slowly and carefully. I nodded to him, indicating that I saw his car and was being careful.

SUV guy: “Well, it's a $63,000 car. Don't want it to get scratched.”

Me, silently, in my head: [Well, aren't you special. If you really wanted to be sure no one would get near your car, you could have parked it on the other side of the lot where no one would park near you, but you couldn't be bothered to walk a few dozen extra feet.]

Me, out loud, but still calmly and politely: “Don't worry, I'm not going to ding your car. But since we are having a conversation, you should know that there is a 15 minute idling ordinance in the City of Madison.”

SUV guy, sarcastically: "Oh, well, thanks for letting me know."

SUV guy, under his breath, as he gets into the car: “Yeah, and you can stick that....”

Me, through the rolled up window: “Oh, thanks for that comment too.”

We both smile insincerely at each other and give each other a thumbs up as he drives off, obviously both thinking we'd both rather be using another finger.

[end scene]

Seriously, I didn't do anything except try to get in my car, and this self-important jerk starts blustering about his expensive car.

So if anyone knows someone that fits that description, tell him he's a real piece of work. And tell him his behavior and concern for his status symbol car is indicative of someone trying to compensate for, umm, shall we say “shortcomings.”