Sunday, June 26, 2011

Making people and cars equal.

The New York Times has an article talking about policies in European cities to make it down right hostile to drive. Actions include, unsyncing stop lights, letting pedestrians walk anywhere and most importantly eliminating parking (as discussed in Michael Kodransky's report titled "Europe's Parking U-Turn") . These steps have been able to drive down car ownership.

The goal of these actions is not to make it hell for cars, but to make cities habitable for people again. Also the other action is to make resources more equitable between people and cars. It takes 115 cubic meters to support a car vs 3 for a pedestrian. A greater than 30 to 1 ratio! My favorite quote of the article is:

“When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.” said Pio Marzolini, a Zurich city official.

Riding in Style....

The Wall Street Journal has an appropriately expensive articlearticle titles "Easy Riders". (Hint if you hit a paywall, do a google search on the title and and you should be able to get a preview version in it's entirety) that describes some nice albeit pricey bicycle clothing that makes it possible to bike and live normally. The Nau Jacket seems reasonably priced for a style item.

Closer to home (or at least my home) "B Spoke Tailor" and Nan Eastep hand crafts made to order bike clothing. The S.F.B.C. has a nice write up on other custom clothiers for bicycling.

On a slight related note, Matt Modine is a big bike promoter as noted in the WSJ article. One of his early movies, "Gross Anatomy" has a great scene where the med student is being quizzed in a "practical" where you are shown a body part and told to tell what it is. Some question is asked about the number of nerve pairs or something and the med student goes "12 (or some other number)" and the Professor goes "do you know or are you guessing?" Med student replies "Am I right?" and the professor goes "Yes" and the med student replies "I'm not guessing".

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Driving and Obesity.. coincidence

The Economist has a nice chart showing the correlation between increase in miles driven and obesity. Now this is hardly ground breaking, many have seen this correlation and one can look at studies that show that individuals in cities are on average thinner than suburban fold, and that they drive less.

I think you can look at many corroborating reports that tie, more driving is more sedentary and this leads to greater obesity. The Freakonomics blog has a post showing causation of his age with obesity. A bit cheeky, since the sample size of one is ridiculous, where the larger population suggests a pattern. Granted some normalization for average vehicle miles and maybe normalized BMI may be more convincing. But not sure, I'm not a statistician.

Freakonomics is taking a pot shot that can be used to describe any trendline going up.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What are the most Dangerous Cars in America?

interesting to see what is safe and it isn't. Some things are intuitive while others not so. The most dangerous car is a sports car, speed kills not a big surprise.

More details here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

It's summer, it's time to go "slugging"

No, I'm not talking about the World Champion, let me say that again, World Champion San Francisco Giants. And all you spoilsports who say it's not the "World Series" hey it's America, if you brand it it's true. I'm talking about Slugging sometimes known as "casual carpooling". I had heard of people picking up people randomly for before the bridge to save on toll on get to use the HOV lanes. But I didn't know that it existed in Washington D.C. and Houston until I read this article in Miller McCune that talked about the history and how even public transit agency covertly fund slugging organizers.

I love this quote:

“People are cooperating … to commute?” says Marc Oliphant, underscoring the novelty of what is going on here. “It’s like the opposite of road rage!”

It's amazing what a small shift in transit patterns through mechanisms like "Slugging" can do. This is really interesting:

Society always reaches first for the infrastructure fix — the costly highway expansion, the new route for the metro rail. But what if government could just nudge more people to do what they’ve done here, creating their own commuting cure within the existing system? Federal Highway Administration studies suggest that free-flowing traffic can be restored on a clogged highway simply by removing 10 percent of its cars.

Imagine what could happen if we took advantage of the roads and cars that are already present. I could share more, but it's worth a read to see how mass transit could be the peoples transit. Dynamic carpool services like my friend's company Zimride may be a technical solution to expand the people's mass transit. It's exciting to imagine a grass roots effort. I like it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

mass human movement...

The Bolder Boulder 10K running race just happened in Boulder, CO and one of the things I was most impressed with was the mass transit put in place to get runners to the starting line. It was called the "Run Ride" and it worked like the best of mass transit. You showed up without planning, and a bus was either there or soon to be there to get you along the way. The joy of driving is that it's on demand and you don't have to think or you don't live in fear of missing the bus. Just like great subway systems.

Perhaps the key is not huge buses, but lot of microbuses that run regularly. I know the cost component isn't in the bus but the drivers but perhaps this is an employment program that can make the earth better.