Transportation headlines, Friday, June 17

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

The costs and savings of bicycle commuting (Forbes)

In this guest post, So Cal resident Duran Valdez crunches the numbers on his bike commute and finds that he has saved almost $1,000 this year. He didn’t even have to ditch his car to achieve those savings; they came solely from reducing how much he drove, and therefore the amount he paid in gas, repairs and vehicle depreciation.

To top it off, he’s lost 10 pounds this year from all the exercise. Valdez wonders towards the end of his post why more Americans don’t make biking part of their daily travel routine. My short answer: Most American city streets are designed to accommodate only cars traveling at high speeds, and bike infrastructure is often scarce, making bicycling an intimidating proposition for many individuals.

Senate introduces fix-it-first bill to save crumbling U.S. roads (Infrastructurist)

Transportation reformers have long complained that the Federal Government has been too eager to pay for new highways and roads, without setting aside funds to help local governments with their upkeep. The result is that our highways are in a rather sad state. The American Society of Civil Engineers — who admittedly have a stake in better funded repair work — gave American roads a D- in their latest report card.

But that could all change: Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) has introduced a “fix-it-first” bill, which would establish standards for road quality and hold state governments accountable to meeting them. It turns out to be a very cost effective approach, too. Delaying maintenance until a road is in really bad shape can lead to more expensive repairs than paying much smaller sums on upkeep, more frequently.

Transit agency weighs a digital upgrade for aging subway cars (New York Times)

The upside of having a century old subway system like New York’s is that it has had time to expand its reach over the years. The downside? Old school technology like hand-cranked display signs on some of the “vintage” subway cars. However, the New York MTA is determining the feasibility of making tech upgrades to some 1,700 cars. One such improvement would be automated recorded station announcements — like Metro Rail has — to replace announcements by train operators. Though some lament the loss of that human touch, one NYC transit advocate points out that he’s never heard a recording make a mistake.

1 reply

  1. “Valdez wonders towards the end of his post why more Americans don’t make biking part of their daily travel routine.”

    Because the ugly suburban sprawl that the US created makes a person to bike an average of 20 miles is not really time efficient. Sure it helps your physique, but that also means you also lost that much time, and time is very important in US culture.

    For as many people beginning to take the bicycle, there are just as many people deciding to get a M1/M2 endorsement on their drivers license to get a motorcycle or scooter instead as a go-between the car and the bicycle.

    My 49 cc Vespa can get 80-90 MPG, it costs less that $4.00 to fill up weekly (way cheaper than taking the bus!), it goes faster than a bicycle, and it still gives me the freedom to go where I want when I want in a reasonable amount of time (25 min for a 8 mi commute from home to work on a scooter vs 20 min for the same commute on the car using the freeway).

    I’m surprised no one in Metro has noticed the increase in motorcyclists and scooter riders in LA along with bicyclists. And as more motorcycles and scooter riders are on the road, it won’t be much time where clashes between car riders, motorcycle and scooter riders, and bicyclists will start to happen on many of our transit issues.