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:

No comments:

Post a Comment