Friday, 25 of April of 2014

Category » Transportation

What’s Going On On New York Subways?

Yesterday brought us news of a second fatal shoving incident in front of an oncoming New York subway in less than a month.  On December 3, another innocent bystander was shoved onto the tracks as a subway came speeding in.

Of course, there have been many tragedies over the years of people accidentally falling onto tracks and being crushed by rail cars, and this method of demise has also been picked up by people committing suicide.  But this ghastly behavior of shoving seems to be a new development.  Was this a copycat killing?  The report says the woman was mentally ill.  If so, why was she unsupervised?

More importantly, what action should New York take to prevent further tragedies.  They cannot ban subways (to borrow the logic of the gun control crowd).  Can the move the waiting area, say, eight feet back from the edge of the platform?  I’m not sure, but I’m afraid to say I don’t believe we’re seeing the last of these “murder by transit” episodes.

Vibrant Urbanism – Christmas Edition

Just the other day, I was telling someone that it is noticeable that you see far more lawn ornaments in the lower density, suburban ring around cities than you do in the central city.  This is due, in part, to the migration of families to the suburbs.  Not many moms and dads want to raise kids in a tiny apartment above a Starbucks.

It’s also due to urban crime.  The person I spoke to responded that she had once lived near Gainesville’s downtown and remembers having her Christmas decorations stolen.  She has since moved to the rural outskirts of town.  In St. Louis, police are warning homeowners that the presence of Christmas lawn ornaments makes them a target for crime.

In Chicago, thugs are choosing a different way to get into the holiday spirit.  On Chicago’s rail transit Blue Line, a woman was assaulted by a man who had a stocking filled with … goodies … er, no, … coal … er, no, … how about poop?  Yes, feces.  A man attacked a woman with a sock full of feces.

“It was like the biggest degradation I’ve ever [experienced]. I wish he had just hit me,” the victim said.

DOT’s LaHood Sticking Around

Ugh.  Looks like Robin LaHood is planning to stick around and promote multi-million dollar boondoggles for another four years.  Politico says, “Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood talking with Obama about staying”

The Federal Push for Smart Growth

With Obama re-elected, we can expect an even stronger push for Smart Growth from the feds.  The U.S. Department of Transportation says there will be no slowing on sustainable communities.  This will come primarily through the Livable Communities Act, which I previewed here.  In short, this is a preference for mandates over markets and central planning over property rights.  Spend lots of money on transit and, oh yeah, push much higher densities … all represented in clever soundbites and catchphrases … but also bringing the very things we don’t want.

More Tolling of Roads to Meet Demand

With many states struggling in this weak economy, we’re seeing toll roads proliferate to compensate for state financing shortfalls.  My view is that tolling should be the first choice when considering ways to build new capacity.  I also think it should be considered on roadways with terrible congestion where variable tolling on select lanes can be used to improve traffic flow.  I have more difficulty with converting existing freeways into tolled roadways since motorists have already paid for them.

Rail Transit Divides Community

For those who believe rail transit can bring communities together by creating vibrant, livable cities, this New York Times article should give you pause: Rail Plan Stirs Distrust Among Black Angelenos

Red Light Cameras & Traffic Accidents

Installed at dangerous intersections to hopefully reduce the frequency and severity of car crashes, red-light cameras contribute to an increase in accidents, according to a new study in New Jersey.

“Rear-end collisions at the intersections were up by 20 percent, from 286 the year before the cameras were installed to 343 the year after, according to the report made public yesterday. Overall, accidents increased from 577 crashes the year before the cameras were installed to 582 the year after. The “crash severity cost” — which takes into account vehicle and property damage, emergency response and medical care — increased by nearly $1.2 million after the cameras were installed.”

Point – Counterpoint

Can We Please Stop Pretending Cars Are Greener Than Transit?

leads to …

Can We Drop the Fantasy That Transit Is Green?

The Greedy Government-Surveillance Society Complex

Technology is wonderful, but in the wrong hands can lead to abuse of our citizenry.  Combine technologies potential with the thrist for more money from local governments and you’ll have a toxic mix of government watching you and fining you “for your own good.”

National Journal reports on the latest development where local governments are re-timing traffic signals to shorten the yellow light function, thus making it more likely motorists will be caught (with intersection cameras) running red lights.

“Cities and for-profit camera companies maximize revenue by setting yellow-light times that are too short,” said National Motorists Association President Gary Biller. “It is a violation of the public trust, and it jeopardizes motorist, cyclist, and pedestrian safety.”

Local government’s insatiable appetite for money (i.e., greed) is putting lives at risk.  Yellow lights serve a critical function at busy intersections, and shortening them simply to raise more revenue show a callous indifference to the safety of the community.  Sadly, I see this trend only increasing in coming years.

Don’t Know How to Interpret This …

not even gonna try.