How We Roll, subway construction

Art of Transit 1: 

Above and below: Working in the rain last Friday on the initial stages of the future Wilshire/Fairfax Station for the Purple Line Extension. Photos: Metro.


Art of Transit 2: 



Does anyone walk to school anymore? Here’s a look at recent pickup/dropoff efforts at a school in North Carolina

According to this report by the National Center for Safe Routes to Schools, in 2009 about 51 percent of K to 8th grade students arrived to school by personal vehicle, 36 percent by school bus and 10 percent by walking. The percent who lived within a mile of their school was 22 percent.

The report also makes this point:

Personal vehicles taking K-12th grade students to school accounted for five to seven percent of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and 10 to 14 percent of all personal vehicle trips made during the morning peak period in 2009. – Among parents who drove their children to school, approximately 40% returned home immediately after dropping their children at school.

That’s a lot of traffic, folks, especially on top of commuter traffic. If, as the report suggests, more people are driving kids to school in the past, that’s one pretty good explanation for why traffic seems to be getting worse.

FWIW, here’s my walking route from Burkhart Avenue to the old Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Cincinnati, back in Days of Yore. The Losantaville Avenue route involved going past a car shop that smelled like French fries. But we had a variety of shortcuts, the best going cross-country through the woods and the country club. This was in the 1970s when the word ‘liability’ was used a lot less often, children were assigned some responsibility when it came to their own safety and parents weren’t scared of everything:

Extreme speeds of tomorrow: Japanese maglev (NHK World) 

SC Maglev Test Ride

Good video showing the testing of a maglev system that by the late 2020s promises 300 mph service between Tokyo and Nagoya.

Road blocks ahead for Mr. Trump’s infrastructure plans (Washington Post) 

President-elect Trump will likely push a $1-trillion infrastructure spending program over 10 years once he takes office next month. This editorial argues that any such efforts should probably be paired with efforts to cut bureaucratic red tape that means projects (well, according to a 2002 federal study) take nine to 19 years to go from concept to concrete.

I’m actually surprised it’s not longer.

Defying California, Uber continues to test self-driving cars in S.F. (USA Today)

Uber vs San Francisco pedestrians, cyclists (Streetsblog) 

The DMV says Uber needs a permit. Uber says it doesn’t. So the cars are still out there — with humans behind the wheel — and no one is writing them citations.

As for the Streetsblog post, a S.F. biking advocate went for a ride in one of the cars and wasn’t exactly thrilled with the way the cars cut across bike lanes when making right turns.

Why the hurry on self-driving cars? Uber apparently believes they’ll cut labor costs, meaning Uber gets to keep a bigger piece of the fare pie once human drivers are kicked to the curb. Others (meaning: me) believe that the costs of the technology, maintenance, insurance, etc.) of self-driving cars won’t make much difference when it comes to fares or profits for the cheap taxi companies.

Quasi-related: 17 dumb guy questions about self-driving cars.

Polar bears path to decline runs through Alaskan villages (NYT)

Polar bears sparring

Great article and photographs about the decline of sea ice that polar bears depend on for hunting seals. With global warming more pronounced in the Arctic, the ice is further from shore and more difficult for polar bears to reach.

And, thus, the polar bears are increasingly staying on the mainland in Alaskan and scavenging around villages. As the article makes clear, there are different populations of polar bears around the Arctic (in the U.S., Canada, Norway, Greenland and Russia) and some are having problems, while some don’t seem to be — and research is lacking on still others.

If climate change bothers you, we’ll repeat something we like say often: generally speaking, taking transit or walking or biking instead of driving alone is a good way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. So is going meatless, btw, and my colleague Anna Chen has some transit-friendly suggestions, here and here.

6 replies

  1. And apparently problems aren’t limited to the suburbs. I just read an article in the Santa Monica Daily Press that referenced an analysis by a personal injury law firm of the most dangerous elementary school zones in California. While there are a few SM schools on the list, there’s a high number of them in Los Angeles:

  2. Two huge problems for kids walking or biking to school, at least in the suburbs, are the lack of traffic signals at frequently used crosswalks and the lack of sidewalks or bike lanes on commonly traveled streets. Both were the case in the city where I grew up. Since then, they’ve installed a couple traffic lights and designated a school route along a road that does have a bike lane. It helped, but any progress seems to have taken many years and complaints from parents. Both school districts and cities really need to take a more proactive approach, and not wait until it becomes a problem.

    • Excellent points, Pat. One thing I should add: my .9-mile walking route didn’t include ANY street crossings — a quirk of that particular route. That said, my friends and I were routinely allowed to walk and ride our bikes around the neighborhood — street crossings included — because there was pedestrian infrastructure in place. As for biking, we just rode on sidewalks back then, which were often unoccupied.

      Different world we lived in.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. I remember a scene I saw. A few students were walking to school while along the same street, this other student on the backseat eating breakfast in his mom’s car that is on the way to the same school. Those few walking students looked a lot more energetic than the one in car. That scene says a lot about time management.