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    the sweet TRANSPORTATION thread


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    Join date : 2010-08-12
    Age : 33
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    the sweet TRANSPORTATION thread

    Post  KCLU on Tue Aug 17, 2010 8:41 pm

    lets talk here about developments domestic or foreign, cycling, high-speed rail, whatever.

    to kick off, a Wired piece on Hans Monderman, a Dutch traffic engineer:

    Monderman considers most signs to be not only annoying but downright dangerous. To him, they are an admission of failure, a sign - literally - that a road designer somewhere hasn't done his job. "The trouble with traffic engineers is that when there's a problem with a road, they always try to add something," Monderman says. "To my mind, it's much better to remove things."

    Monderman is one of the leaders of a new breed of traffic engineer - equal parts urban designer, social scientist, civil engineer, and psychologist. The approach is radically counterintuitive: Build roads that seem dangerous, and they'll be safer.
    Riding in his green Saab, we glide into Drachten, a 17th-century village that has grown into a bustling town of more than 40,000. We pass by the performing arts center, and suddenly, there it is: the Intersection. It's the confluence of two busy two-lane roads that handle 20,000 cars a day, plus thousands of bicyclists and pedestrians. Several years ago, Monderman ripped out all the traditional instruments used by traffic engineers to influence driver behavior - traffic lights, road markings, and some pedestrian crossings - and in their place created a roundabout, or traffic circle. The circle is remarkable for what it doesn't contain: signs or signals telling drivers how fast to go, who has the right-of-way, or how to behave. There are no lane markers or curbs separating street and sidewalk, so it's unclear exactly where the car zone ends and the pedestrian zone begins. To an approaching driver, the intersection is utterly ambiguous - and that's the point.

    Monderman and I stand in silence by the side of the road a few minutes, watching the stream of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians make their way through the circle, a giant concrete mixing bowl of transport. Somehow it all works. The drivers slow to gauge the intentions of crossing bicyclists and walkers. Negotiations over right-of-way are made through fleeting eye contact. Remarkably, traffic moves smoothly around the circle with hardly a brake screeching, horn honking, or obscene gesture.
    implementation in the UK:


    so if that's the micro aspect of transportation, here's the NYT on the Obama admin's plans for our country's macro:
    The government has identified 10 corridors, each from 100 to 600 miles long, with greatest promise for high-speed development.

    They are: a northern New England line; an Empire line running east to west in New York State; a Keystone corridor running laterally through Pennsylvania; a major Chicago hub network; a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast; a Gulf Coast line extending from eastern Texas to western Alabama; a corridor in central and southern Florida; a Texas-to-Oklahoma line; a California corridor where voters have already approved a line that will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours; and a corridor in the Pacific Northwest.

    Only one high-speed line is now operating, on the Northeast corridor between Washington and Boston, and it will be eligible to compete for money to make improvements.


    “Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination,” Mr. Obama said. “It is happening right now; it’s been happening for decades. The problem is, it’s been happening elsewhere, not here.”

    The Federal Railroad Administration defines high-speed rail as any train traveling 90 m.p.h. or faster. In Japan, the Shinkansen trains average about 180 m.p.h. The TGV train in France uses special tracks to sustain speeds of 133 m.p.h. on the Paris-Lyon route.

    The Acela Express operated by Amtrak is capable of a speed of 150 m.p.h., but track conditions and other rail traffic bring its average speed to just over half that.
    the DoT site has a great visual (..which is enormous and won't auto-scale to my post, grr) of the proposed corridors.

    needless to say I really love the non-partisan side of politics too; the hard, technical okay-how-do-we-do-this side. I've thought about a master's program in city planning, urban design or public transit - something that isn't typically thought of as 'political' in nature and ACTUALLY EFFECTS PEOPLE ON THE GROUND, EVERY DAY, unlike your typical faux-conversation de jour, gay marriage or some such 'culture war' nonsense.

    p.s. Jeff and Cody, please share thoughts on Madison and Chicago transit when you can!

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