Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bus Reliability in DC

I was in DC yesterday for the National Bus Rapid Transit Institute Advisory Board Meeting and on the way to the meeting I was reminded about how we've got a lot of work to do to improve transit service. As I was walking to the meeting, I took this photo of a Route 52 buses bunched up at the intersection of 14th & L Street NW. I walked for about a mile and captured this image after seeing it occur twice within 10 minutes. The real-time passenger information system wasn't reporting this through the NextBus Arrival system very accurately either, so there's work to be done to improve both the management of the system and the technology behind it.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Bike Sharing Demonstration at Sunday Parkways

Portland is considering a bike sharing program like Paris and had the four potential vendors pitching their wares at Sunday Parkways this year. There were some interesting philosophical questions posed by the local entreprenuer that does Portland Bicycle Tours. Their point was that if the City selected them, they would employ some folks locally that were unemployed.
The first vendor, bixi was from Montreal and looked most professional. They recently won the Boston and London contracts and are probably the most likely to succeed. Their staff even had matching outfits, so you know that's a great sign. B Cycle is a consortium of Humana (the health folks??), Trek Bicycle Corporation, and Crispin Porter + Bogusky (??), which seems to have the best bikes, since they could be maintained by local suppliers (Bike Gallery).
The third potential supplier is Bike Share Group, but they had these goofy little bike houses that I had to chuckle a little bit. Apparently, they are based in Seattle and more information is available here.
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Finally, there is the home grown option, which I would be curious learning more about. I imagine financing is a huge issue for these guys.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Portland's Traffic Signals Recieve Mention in Portland Monthly

Posted in the "I know that guy" category, there was an article on the traffic signals along the new light rail line for Portland's bus mall. Equating the signal controller upgrade as moving from a Commodore 64 to a early 80s Macintosh was a nice touch to explain that our traffic signal controllers don't have too much processing power. Portland Monthly Magazine / Past Issues / Archives / Detail

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Portland's Bicycle Brilliance

Last night I was at Rob Bertini's going away party and happened upon John Pucher, who wrote the article entitled "Making Cycling Irresistible". A video of his presentation is located here. We were at the Lucky Lab enjoying some Blue Dog Pale Ale and we got to talking about the various elements of cycling and how he had come to Portland to take it all in. John was with a former doctoral student of his, Ralph Buehler, who is at Virginia Tech in the Alexandria campus. They were both very impressed with the tours and the visit overall having seen some of our best facilities during a tour with Mia Birk.

The article raises several points about Portland related to how we have established ourselves and what Vancouver might do to catch up. I always thought Vancouver was very forward thinking and they have still got us on the density and urban residential living, but maybe that's not as critical when you have a good bicycle system, i.e. things can be further spread out because it remains efficient to get there by non-auto modes.

Certainly, the politics plays an important role in all of this and the leaders in charge have to support the efforts of the public agency staff to insure that the policies are carried out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Google: Leaving Freeway Era

I reviewed a research problem statement for the Transportation Research Board Traffic Signal Systems Committee tonight and came across this paper online (see link above) that came up when googling "leaving freeway era". It states: While the jury is still out on the long-range impacts of freeway deconstruction, evidence to date suggests that, on balance, they are positive. Original research reveals substantial capitalization effects. Whether this has been due to the removal of a visual eyesore and public nuisance or the positive effects of a central-city stream and public amenity cannot be assessed from the cross-sectional database used to conduct the analysis. Still, the evidence suggests that the more valuable resource in many large, built-up cities is high quality public space, not transportation accessibility.
Evidence from the United States suggests that following the removal of freeways, most traffic gets redistributed to alternative routes, with public transit absorbing relatively few former freeway travelers. Many discretionary trips are likely not taken once central-city road capacity is removed. Also, the traffic chaos predicted following freeway demolition generally has not materialized, a consequence of operational enhancements, marketing, and transportation demand-management strategies.

It would be wrong to conclude that elevated freeways are increasingly relics of a bygone era. Tampa, Florida, for example, recently opened six-miles of an elevated freeway (three lanes plus a breakdown lane on each side). However, the era of indiscriminate freeway construction and a focus on mobility-based planning is without question over.

Whatever freeways and high-capacity road facilities are built in the future will have to be strategically sited and tied to larger urban development and land-use objectives of the cities and neighborhoods they serve. In this sense, freeway deconstruction is tied to the re-ordering of urban priorities that gives preference to planning for people and neighborhoods, not mobility. Smart growth, high-quality public transit options, bike- and pedestrian-friendly corridors, and improved boulevard designs will no doubt serve to further diminish the necessity for high-capacity elevated freeway structures in many global settings.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

WSDOT wants feedback from cyclists

I haven't seen a press releases like this before and I applaud WSDOT for their focus on this.

The Challenges of Transit

Toles+on+Blind+Spot.png (image)

The Simpons Monorail Episode

Came across this blurb and love the Simpsons episode.... There was a point made that high speed rail may not be the right answer to our transportation challenges.

America will just be living through a real-life version of the Simpsons episode where the residents of Springfield were foolishly infatuated with a snazzy Monorail project oversold in song by Phil Hartman's character.