Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snowy Neckdowns

According to the aptly named TrafficCalming.Org, a neckdown is:
"Neckdowns are curb extensions at intersections that reduce the roadway width from curb to curb. They "pedestrianize" intersections by shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and drawing attention to pedestrians via raised peninsulas. They also tighten the curb radii at the corners, reducing the speeds of turning vehicles."
This video on StreetFilms.Org (part of the StreetsBlog network) takes a look at the affects of "snowy neckdowns" in New York, a phenomena also common in Portland:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Senior Citizen's Transportation

I happened to see an article posted on the New York Times recently which mentions little old Portland, Maine. See here. The article is in the blog section called "The New Old Age," which appears to deal with topics related to the elderly population.

This article is about the Portland branch of the Independent Transporation Network. The ITN, as it is called, provides transportation options for senior citizens who are not able, or no longer wish to, drive and maintain their own automobiles. As they say in their overview section of their website, "few of us think, and even fewer plan for, the day when we'll have to turn in our keys." This is true, and I'm led to believe that there are many people who live in communities that also have not thought about people who want to go places without a car, such as people who are no longer able to operate a motor vehicle safely due to age.

Anyhow, the blog article looks at the transportation choices made by some elderly people here in Portland. The ITN system works similarly to a taxi service when combined with a carsharing service. Members pay a certain amount per year for membership, a pick-up fee, and a set amount per mile. According to the article, the cost per mile in Portland is $1.50, which they compare the the average cost per mile in a Portland taxi which is $3.60. It's more expensive than the bus, even without the senior discount, but certainly offers more convenience.

The article has a great quote by the network's founder Katherine Freund:
“The same impairments that make it difficult for people to drive make it difficult for them to use public transportation, where they may have to walk down stairs, walk on icy sidewalks, wait in the cold or the hot sun,” said Ms. Freund. “And now we’re living longer. We’re outliving all of our systems, including the transportation system.”
This seems like a really valuable service that could grow substantially as the population ages. Safe and efficient transportation options for the elderly will continue to be an issue for some time here, as Maine is already the state with the oldest population. I'd be happy to see some investment in organisations such as the ITN.


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