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Peter Smith
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This is a horrible idea that will (predictably) fail.
Toggle Commented Oct 13, 2010 on Helmets via vending machines at TheWashCycle
I would like trains to be equipped with exterior protection for pedestrians -- basically, an exterior air bag-type device, like they're testing for cars in Europe. Air bags really belong on the _outside_ of cars, not on the inside -- the people inside cars are already protected enough -- it's the people that drivers hit -- the folks outside the cars -- that need the protection. maybe a cowcatcher-type device with cushioning would work fine.
My world is different than many in Los Angeles owing to the fact that I don’t have a car. many? is that a lot or a little? if you own a car in Los Angeles, then your world is different than many in Los Angeles, too. but the studies are funded by men and men like funding things that end with there is all sorts of institutional bias to be found, but the studies are clear -- it's time to accept the truth and move on. That’s how guys show their fear, by making more money and not going to that location anymore. Guys get that option. Girls don't get the option too? Good to know. If women are afraid of being outside then why are we the higher percentage that are carFREE? oh, i dunno, let me venture a wild guess...maybe because they don't have/make as much money? oh, right. If women are afraid of strangers and the dark then why are we the higher percentage on public transit? they're broke. you don't have to like it, but you don't get to choose which facts are true based on whether you like them or not. I feel that many of these studies and ideas are simply sexist propaganda your fears are not rational. read the studies and look at the questions and data -- i have. there is simply no rational basis to question the data. the more you try and direct attention away from the real problems facing women, the more harm you'll do to them. i mean, we could go around blaming global warming on solar flares, but that's not going to fix the problem. and instead of using all the 'fear' language, you can use something that puts women's behavior in a positive light instead of a negative light -- because these are positive attributes that women possess, not negative. Use words like, i dunno, 'caution' and 'responsibility'. and you could describe men's behavior appropriately too, by using words like 'crazy' and 'insane' and 'risky' and 'suicidal' and 'careless'. There is statistic evidence to back up the fact that women make corporate boards better. There's a reason for that. There's a reason that women, according to world health officials, are better caregivers for their children - at least in Africa. Maybe it's just that women aren't hellbent on destroying the world, and maybe that's something we can actually, I dunno, celebrate instead of run away from? the ongoing crime is not that women are risk-averse -- it is that men have created a world in which it is not safe, comfortable, and dignified to travel by bike. you can continue to make excuses for our streets until the cows come home, but it ain't gonna reduce the number of women stuck riding the bus, often with their children in tow.
I definitely think pedestrians need more training. As soon as that lady gets out of the hospital, get her back in that crosswalk and doing some training. Yes - get that lady some training, quick.
The friction coefficient of steel on steel is much lower than that of rubber on concrete or asphalt. i assume the 'friction coefficient' you were referring to was the 'rolling resistance coefficient' (or 'rolling friction' or 'rolling drag') as opposed to the '(sliding) friction coefficient' -- implying, i guess, that the rolling resistance is where most energy/efficiency is lost, as opposed to slippage and squealing from the steel-on-steel wheels during acceleration, braking, turning, rain, leaves, etc. Sounds reasonable to me. i suspect both friction coefficients go up in magnitude when going from steel to rubber, but i'm not sure how closely they are related. i'd be curious to see some numbers. couldn't find any after a quick bit of googling.
Toggle Commented Jul 16, 2010 on paris: the new old métro line 1 at Human Transit
1 reply
The Turkey project, and many others, will probably ultimately increase the production of greenhouse gas emissions by reducing congestion. Jevons Paradox will kick in, as it always does.
the picture looks like an _excellent_ design. the center median will help ensure maximum automobile speed through the area -- good for killing people. and the shared use path is great, too -- since they're proven to never work well for walkers or bikers. hey - i always say, if you're gonna screw something up, go ahead and make it the Game-Winning Super-Bowl Touchdown of Screw-ups. Mission Accomplished.
i responded to the absurd 'anti-urban' comment in the original post, but I don't think i addressed the 'threat of climate change' part. to dismiss that 'threat' so casually is such an abomination of a thought, i don't even know what to say -- but it should be condemned by every decent person who wants to save the world, as much as is possible, from the already-devastating impacts of climate change. i'd been forewarned that i would start to see and read things during these increasingly-chaotic/dangerous times that were unbelievable to me -- it's coming true, now, every single day it seems. here's to hoping we can somehow hold onto our collective humanity going forward.
Toggle Commented May 1, 2010 on streetcars and spontaneity at Human Transit
1 reply
Condon writes as though the way to make people's trips shorter is to offer them slower transit options. basically -- yep. The real solution to making people's trips shorter lies in land use patterns. yep - i think that's the idea -- build a transportation system that effectively shrinks everyone's world without sacrificing much, if any, economic/intellectual dynamism, etc. Rapid transit, on the other hand, expands worlds -- not good for sustainability. It would be interesting to live in a world in which all institutions were responsible for the impacts of the trips that they generate. It's probably coming soon enough. California is trying to move its environmental law (CEQA) towards an ATG (Auto Trip Generation) model, since auto trips are the trips that hurt most. Walking/biking/transit would essentially be 'free' for developers -- otherwise, they may have to pay various 'impact fees'. One point: Condon's premise of short trips versus long trips is invalid because it assumes how things should be versus how things actually are. so, don't try to change the world? allow things to remain as is -- unsustainable (i.e. can't be _sustained_)? on a separate note, that Duke of Wellington quote is on point. If people don't care about speed (or their time) did someone make this claim? Is that advocating for sustainability? so, you made this statement _after_ you've just said, "In all fairness, I think he was not advocating giving a prius to every UBC student..."? And presumably after you've read the actual study? And presumably after you've read the Tyee piece you link to which states, "Actually, for Condon, getting transit right does not mean giving away Prius vehicles to 18-year-olds. ... Nor, however, does it mean further funding the Cadillac of public transit, Vancouver's SkyTrain. ... Condon strongly advocates a third approach -- street-level trams on rails."? And rapid transportation, whether by car or by transit, is absolutely crucial in maintaining residential stability doesn't make sense to me, but i'm open to believing it if there's evidence to support it. To be against intra-urban mobility is to be against the very proposition of the city. streetcars are against intra-urban mobility? A better argument...is that perhaps surface rail is a cheaper solution that can be designed "fast enough"...But that's not the argument as presented. actually, the 'fast enough' argument is exactly the argument as presented. You should look at Toronto's experience with streetcars on Spadina Avenue. Toronto consistently ranks among the top most livable cities in the world, and that probably has a lot to do with their streetcars. That may or may not speak directly to your claims about faulty streetcars, but streetcars have been proven to provide a not-too-far-from-sustainable form of transport that increases a city's livability -- doesn't get much better than that, imo. Cross town trips are always going to be a necessity and they need to be fast. I'd argue 'no' on both counts. people talk about a 20-minute neighborhood -- i think 5-min neighborhoods are very realistic. all that said, why not take a billion bucks and move UBC into downtown, or split up the schools into a few nearby neighborhoods that will be connected by...you guessed it...the new streetcar lines? solves a lot of problems all at once, makes Vancouver a much better/livelier/more sustainable place at the same time, and sets it on a course for 'sustained sustainability'. :) The hostility directed at Condon's ideas/comments/research seems to me to border on the hysterical. The Tyee article seems to sum up my pov well: Here in Canada, we need people, like Patrick Condon, who prod us to think more deeply about how best to seize the opportunities that crises provide.
Toggle Commented Apr 24, 2010 on is speed obsolete? at Human Transit
1 reply
good post! i would generally agree with Professor Condon that speed is overrated. there's even a small part of me that thinks that speed is a bad thing -- and not just some super-high speed within urban contexts, but in general. time and place should remain meaningful. the closer we get to Star Trek-like teleportation, the more i think we're losing something important, even if i can't quite articulate it (yet). the 'development question' is overwrought -- i think it's only semi-interesting to talk about in that it could possibly be used to finance/pay for transit (value capture). the operational expense of driverless metro vs. probably-not-driverless (at-grade) streetcar/tram/light rail would be a concern for me, and as you've mentioned many times on this blog before, the frequency of service for driverless metros can be awesome comparatively. The promise of high frequency and low operating expense overhead for driverless metro makes me somewhat sympathetic to the idea of making people travel underground, or considering allowing them to travel at heights. that said, i like the idea of concentrating on removing the need for cars in the urban context -- and that, unfortunately, means local (what you would call 'slow') motorized transit. said another way, improving the quality of life in any city can best be achieved by removing (the need for) cars, and streetcars do this, i surmise, better than rapid transit, so let's build streetcars instead of rapid transit for now. i think we're in a bit of an emergency at the moment -- a crisis of democracy in America -- probably creeping up on a real fascist-type system (a la late Weimar Germany -- massive joblessness/frustration/anger, open racism/scapegoating, talk of 'the collapse of the center' is now hitting the mainstream press, etc.), and that means we need to restore public spaces _quickly_ so we can start having meaningful communities again where we can redevelop a rich public/civic life as quickly as possible -- future economic shocks could just tip us over in the wrong direction. that'd be one of my main arguments for building a streetcar network right now as opposed to possibly later, if at all. the subways can wait -- it's too dangerous to wait for improving the quality of life in our cities. my ideal transit scenario would also be very high quality transit and stations (which precludes the use of any/all buses/BRT), walk/bike sheds of a mile or more radius from each station, bike facilities at the station, but i would set stop spacing at about 2,500 feet (1/2 mile) -- that gives us a good balance of local transit with moderate speed/efficiency. no big/dangerous/motorized vehicle should be allowed to travel (at grade) at more than 20 MPH in an urban area/where there are people. maybe we'll eventually get driverless at-grade trams -- via collision avoidance systems -- something that certainly seems possible, even likely. and if not, people will need jobs, so maybe having operators is a good idea. we can't financialize the entire economy. the 'permanence' argument, too, is overwrought. developers never liked rails because they signified permanence -- they liked rails because they signified tolerable/upscale/dignified/yuppie-ish/placemaking transit. i'm skeptical of even express trains. i'm tolerating the development of high speed rail -- and even voted to tax myself for it -- because i figured it'd be the best way to help us achieve low speed rail. there's an added benefit that it could help us do away with flying a bit -- something that seems a bit anti-human to me in various ways. the way i see it, if you want to travel relatively long distances in relatively short amounts of times, using motorized transport, you should pay exponentially more for it. streetcar? cheap tickets. metro/subway? not-so-cheap tickets. commuter rail? medium. express commuter rail? expensive. high speed rail? really expensive. airplane? most mere mortals can't afford this. It appears that allowing people to make long trips on LRT means they live further from jobs and services and their non-LRT auto trips are therefore also longer. this would be one of my main arguments against rapid transit - and seems to be one of Professor Condon's key criteria for sustainability. if convenient to quality rapid transit, people will travel _massive_ distances -- totally rational on an individual basis, and totally crazy/unsustainable/undesirable on a societal basis. Doesn't Vancouver's existing density, in many corridors, rely on the intense mobility that the bus system provides? my guess is that Vancouver's streetcar network drove original density/development, and when replaced by buses (probably using the same route numbers), these just happened to be where the existing major corridors/arterials were, so that's where (re)development stayed. that said, i think the development/density questions are overplayed: 1) densification will happen even if you provide no new transit service at all 2) new transit service probably just draws development dollars/projects away from other areas -- which could have gone towards the development of more complete neighborhoods 3) we need urban growth boundaries anyways, etc. Not much of a challenge to dismantle Condon's studies, they seem to crumble on their own. i didn't notice much crumble. in any case, i'm always arguing for injecting a bit of humanity/qualitative reasoning into The Great Transit Debate, so looking at statistics like cost per passenger per mile per cookie doesn't appeal to me. but, if avoiding stats like that is how we got to this awful state of affairs, then we probably need to start using it a lot more. Many of the best tram cities are also great biking cities. if this is true, i have a theory as to why that is the case -- two parts: 1) cyclists are deathly afraid of buses, but we generally find streetcars to be non-scary -- thus, more folks ride in cities where there are relatively fewer buses (Toronto, I would argue, has great promise because of this), and 2) cities that cared enough about their citizens to hear their pleas to hold onto their streetcars probably have that 'je ne sais quoi' (good government? respect for human dignity? etc.?) that leads to generally better urban/civic planning/design that is just friendlier to humans who are not in cars.
Toggle Commented Apr 22, 2010 on is speed obsolete? at Human Transit
1 reply
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Apr 22, 2010