Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It was not mentioned in any of their reports, but texting while driving can be a hazard even to those of us who don't own cars. In fact, it can be more dangerous since we are not surrounded by the body-armor of a car even though we walk on sidewalks and crosswalks that are mere feet from vehicles with texting and chatting drivers. Bicyclists are equally at risk, as well as any person not in a car or well-built building.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a study come out someday that also incriminates pedestrians and bicyclists for texting while on the move. (Do you think I could make any money by publishing such a report?) It is as easy to be distracted while walking as it is to get distracted while driving. The real issue in all of this is, of course, not the act of texting or talking on the phone but is instead the issue of distraction. Someone trying to walk across a busy intersection while filling out a crossword puzzle is just as dangerous as someone driving a car who is trying to figure out their exact position on the map.
While it is a serious issue since people can and have been seriously injured and even killed due to distractions, it is interesting that it is blamed on different media throughout the ages. I've heard anecdotally that when they first started putting radios in cars that it was considered as dangerous as texting is today.
So, the moral of this rant is to pay attention to your surroundings, no matter when or where you are (especially in the future when people will be playing Playstation 4's while driving and installing holodecks on the in their minivans!)
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
"In this study, the Maine Department of Transportation is considering implementing either rail or Bus Rapid Transit service between Portland and destinations north of Portland. Bus service would be provided in the I-295 and I-95 corridors, and the following three rail corridors will be analyzed for potential funding... Portland to Yarmouth, Portland to Brunswick, and Portland to Auburn."
There is a wealth of information on the site, such as studies that have been completed, powerpoint presentations, and plenty of maps. I encourage you to spend some time looking around.
This map shows a couple of different options as far as rail service into Portland from the North. One option, using publicly owned land, would involve repairing the rail bridge that runs next to Tukey's bridge (which carries I-295) and would presumably have some impact on the Narrow Gauge Railroad attraction along the Eastern Prom. Another option would have trains coming in more from the northwest on rail that belongs to PanAm. Do note that the only currently existing train station in the map below is the Portland Transportation Center.
I don't have much to say about the project, except that I obviously support it and it sounds like they are on the right track (pun intended). While rail service (utilizing existing rails) would be my first choice, a bus rapid transit (BRT) system would have just as many benefits and would likely be easier to implement. I haven't read enough into it to determine how a rail service would work with the (eventual) extension of the Amtrak Downeaster to the north, but I'm sure that is somewhere in the notes. I would also be curious to know if there is any project like this for the southern side of Portland (currently served by a few shuttle buses and the Amtrak at Old Orchard Beach, Saco/Biddeford, and other points south).
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Who pays for [free parking]? Everyone. The cost of building all that parking is reflected in higher rents, more expensive shopping and dining, and higher costs of home-ownership. Those who don’t drive or own cars thus subsidize those who do.
Because [parking] surveys are often conducted in “pure” auto environments (malls or office buildings with free parking that are inaccessible by other modes), and because they measure the absolute peak of demand, these standards often result in an enormous abundance of parking. Malls, for example, are required to build sufficient parking for the busiest day each year – with the consequence that for the other 364 days, many parking spots stand empty, a poor capital investment...
Why do Americans drive everywhere? Because everything’s far apart. Why’s it far apart? Often because there’s so much parking in between! In the end, creating bright green cities will require undoing the damage created by mandating free parking. But it won’t be easy. Urban form is path dependent. If municipalities just changed the zoning ordinances tomorrow, many drivers would raise political hell over their lost right to free parking, and many developers would go on providing free parking because that’s what the market expects. Fixing the problem will require not only a regulatory change, but also a behavioral change.