Tagmobility

The 3-way street

Update June 12, 2011: Added a link to and excerpt from commentary by David Hembrow, a British blogger in the Netherlands.

How does a 3-way street work? Easy, just watch the video.

I like the term “aggressive yield” to describe the situation when a motorist does yield to pedestrians crossing the street, but in a way where they inch forward continually, slowly pushing, with a buffer or air, the people out of the way.

I really like the comment from Tuesday by Anthony Ball:

those red markers are just showing the limits of tolerable risk as established by years of system development. If the collision speeds were higher, those red circles would be far few – it’s simply a system finding its own point of stability.

If you really want to wreak havoc – try to control that system without corrective feedback (eg more rules, lights, controls, etc) and you’ll see the system kill people while it tries to find new stable relationships.

don’t forget that rules, signs, lights, etc have no direct impact on the system – they only work through the interpretation of the users.

What did David Hembrow have to say? David lives in the Netherlands and disagrees with the common sentiment that these conflicts are caused by selfish users.

I don’t see the behaviour at this junction as being about “bad habits”. What I see is simply a very badly designed junction which almost invites people to behave in the way that they do.

Dutch road junctions don’t look like and work like this – they are different for a reason: it removes the conflicts and improves safety. A long-standing theme of Dutch road design is the concept of Sustainable Safety. The concept is to remove conflict so that collisions are rare and the consequences of those which remain are relatively small. Roads are made self-explanatory so that bad behaviour is reduced and the way people behave is changed.

Reading this reminds me of the work of the students in George Aye’s class at SAIC, “Living in a Smart City.” The students attempted, through an intersection redesign, to reduce the stresses that lead to crashes.

Where are the 3-way streets in your city? Grand/Halsted/Milwaukee in Chicago comes to my mind easily. Also a lot of streets in the Loop. Oh yeah, and The Crotch, at Milwaukee/North/Damen.

Curb connoisseur

My sometimes traveling companion Brandon makes fun of me thinking I only travel to check out the curbs in every city. It started when we visited Portland together and yes, my camera was often aimed towards the ground. Here is a roundup of what curbs look like in other cities – I could only find these five photos that really focus on the kerb. 🙂

Starting in Chicago, Illinois

A curb and ADA-accessible ramp in Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois. The City of Chicago, as part of a lawsuit, agreed to renovate thousands of curb cuts across town that did not meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1993. This particular location was more involved than others because of the real brick crosswalk. It had to be removed and then replaced after the level of the street was raised.

Moving west to Portland, Oregon

In a long walking tour of Portland, Oregon, with PBOT worker Greg Raisman, we came across my first ever mountable curb. It’s a raised part of the street and motorists in small vehicles will probably avoid driving on it. It was installed because this is part of a truck route and it’s easy for truck drivers to roll on top of it without driving on the sidewalk.

Jumping south to Tucson, Arizona

A typical bumpout or curb extension, as seen in Tucson, Arizona. This design is not unique to Tucson, but I point it out because this one comes with accompanying signage telling people bicycling and driving that they must stop when they see a person trying to cross the street.

Taking the train over to San Francisco, California

An atypical situation in San Francisco, California, (not the tracks, but the way the tracks terminate in a mound of danger) that I hope gets corrected right away. In downtown San Francisco, there are very wide crosswalks made with colored stone that sets it apart from the rest of the roadway. But the sidewalk ramps are still very narrow. Also, granite curbs are more slippery than concrete. This all just seems like a bad situation, but it looks pretty.

Flying the long way to Milan, Italy

I have it on good authority that Julius Caesar was at the curb dedication ceremony here in Milan, Italy, and saw far into the future people chatting about bicycles on the sidewalk.

Crawling a little north to Amsterdam, Netherlands

Curbs in Amsterdam, Netherlands, play a vital role in a calm and managed all-mode transportation system. Here the curb is a ramp up onto the sidewalk and separated bike lane that leads into a neighborhood street. Mounting the curb should signal to the driver that they are entering a different space that has different rules and responsibilities.

My cargo bike is my Social Network

Stefano and I are on our way to AMC East (Streeterville) from Pilsen to see the Japanese movie, “Sword of Desperation” (ask me about it).

As I silently predicted, Stefano’s bike got a flat, in Greektown, less than half of the way to the theater. (I predicted this based on my knowledge of how little he cares for his bicycle.)

Immediately, our plan was to fix the flat. I’m the only one anyone can trust to carry tools, but I forgot the wrench to remove the wheel* (actually, the Transportation Security Administration stole it from me at O’Hare airport). So, I proposed to Stefano two choices:

  1. Take two buses, 8 and 66, meet me there and be late for the movie
  2. Take a ride on the Yuba Mundo and we’ll arrive at the same time and probably be on time for the movie

Stefano chose option two and locked his bike to a bike rack. I gave him the rules and he hopped on.

The rules of Yubering are:

  • Sit as close to the operator as possible. This brings the center of gravity closer to where I’m used to it.
  • Try not to move – you can affect my balance.
  • Hold on to the passenger’s handlebar – this helps keep you from moving, and falling off.
  • Stay in constant communication with the operator – I like to know what’s going on. This is mainly just for the sake of conversing and to be lively, happy, and social.
  • Use your hand to signal turns on my behalf. I have a lot of weight to handle so it’s best if I keep both hands on the handlebar.

A ride like this doesn’t come without streetside commentary. (Read what people have said in the past.)

A slightly drunk woman in a taxicab at Lake Street and Canal Street said, “What happens if he [the operator] farts?” Uhh…

So we got to the movie theater at 9:59. Stefano ran in to buy tickets. As this movie was part of the Chicago International Film Festival, there were no previews. I locked up and went inside. We missed about four minutes of the movie.

Now, for the ride home.

Stefano’s bike is still locked up in Greektown and he lives in Pilsen. Knowing that the Yuba Mundo has no cargo limits, I propose we go pick up the bike and I take him and the bike home.

It was a rousing success!

And the commentary didn’t stop. After a two-hour visit to Timothy O’Toole’s, around 3 AM, a young man in a sports car on Adams Street slows down to match our speed and says, to Stefano, “So are you really riding his bike carrying a bike? Wow

YES! That’s exactly what’s happening. Not sure what he said after that. I had to concentrate on riding the bike. This was the highlight of my night.

It took a while to get home as I had to go slow, but it was fun. We were able to have uninterrupted conversations. Bicycling is The Real Social Network. Carrying a passenger makes it just a bit easier to communicate. The Yuba Mundo makes every ride a blast.

*I now realize that removing the wheel to fix a flat is unnecessary, but I didn’t think of this at the time. If we did repair the flat, this whole experience never would have happened.

More photos below the fold.

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Benefits of bike parking

I’m working on my master’s project about bike parking distribution and equity in Chicago and while working on a section in the paper, I decided to get some help from readers. Many transportation projects are measured on predicted changes like trip travel time savings or trip cost savings (I give two examples below the photo).

My question is this: What are a bike parking installation’s measurable benefits to a traveler or a community?

Photo: Portland has installed 40 on-street bike parking “corrals” since 2004. What does a traveler or community gain from this bike rack installation? Photo by Kyle Gradinger.

To figure equity (fairness) for these project types, you measure these impacts for different groups (often high, medium, and low income), either in the alternatives analysis, or project selection phases. So, converting a lane on a highway to charge tolls for the lane’s users will have a certain benefit for many trips: a lower trip time. A new bus route may be convenient enough for some travelers to switch from driving to taking the bus, possibly reducing their trip cost.

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