Friday, September 26, 2008

Stop the presses!

Commuters don't want toll hikes on the Turnpike!

In other earth-shattering news, children don't like vegetables, men don't think there's enough football on Sundays, and Sarah Palin actually likes earmarks.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Heading in the right direction

The Pike is considering stupendously large toll hikes, maybe close to doubling the tolls near us (Allston-Brighton, Weston) or adding $5 (not a misprint) to the tunnel tolls or re-instating the western tolls or some combination or blend.

Good: the Pike is looking to tap drivers for upkeep of state highways instead of a subsidy from the general fund.

Bad: there still seems to be no momentum for ending the subsidy to north/south traffic on I-93.

Worrisome: a big toll hike is going to send toll avoiders onto Newton streets; we'll need mitigation

Of course, this would all be less of an issue if we'd get around to stemming the erosion of the gas tax. But, Bernard Cohen and the rest of the Pike board considering such drastic action suggests that maybe a responsible gas tax hike is in our future.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Faster than a Speeding D-Line Trolley!

Alright, maybe only faster if you count the 1/2 mile walk on each end of my D-Line commute. On Friday, I biked from my abode near Weeks Park to Northeastern University (via Beacon Street) in a little over 40 minutes, and back in a little over 45, for a total of 15 miles. And two days later I can say (smugly!) that I'm not sore. Alright, my neck's a little stiff. And I was a little wobbly when I got home, and was snoozing by 9:30pm. But I'm all set to do it again!


If I'm going to keep this up, I need some higher gears than my old mountain bike provides: pedaling like a madman on gentle downhill slopes in my highest gear. Or I need to relax and coast.

Stopped at a light in Brookline, eastbound, 8:20 am. A red Lamborghini revs next to me, its roar mocking my puny attempt to save the planet. In a few moments, the car is a red speck in the distance, which, relative to the planet, so am I in my red jacket. We're all puny. But the driver of the Lamborghini is puny and probably a jerk.

Beacon Street westbound at 4:00pm: sun in my eyes, an easy pace behind another commuter uphill towards Coolidge Corner, a 20-something in spandex on a single-speed passing me, no cars (other than parked ones) in sight. Nirvana! More cycles than cars. At least for a minute or two.

Just past Coolidge Corner, one car is backing into a parallel spot, blocking traffic, and the door of another car opens. As if arranged by a cosmic bike-commuting professor: Hazards 101.

Further west on Beacon, stopped at another light. The driver in the car next to me starts dialing his cellphone. The light turns green. He keeps dialing. I yell (cheerfully, I hope) "Beep! Beep!" It works!

The hills are alive... with the sound of my huffing and puffing. Between Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the Mary Baker Eddy house, I just about got off and walked. I cursed the 15 pounds of notebooks and textbooks in my pannier, and I cursed the road for getting so damn narrow near the the top of the hill. But, ah! The coast down the other side on those broad new shoulders!

There are a lot of cyclists out there. It's a thrill to be part of this growing tribe.

Why don't we in the bike-tribe talk to each other? Are we lost in thought? Overly acclimatized to the isolation of 2-ton steel cages? Coming and going, a good dozen cyclists passed me without warning: no bell, no "passing on the left," nothing. If we aren't civil with our own tribe, are we a we?


Monday, September 15, 2008

Now's the time

With gas prices likely to fall (as oil fell to $93-a-barrel), it's time to really think hard about a higher gas tax. Let's add a dime to the gas tax every two years for the next ten years. We will:

  • Survive the up-tick. We survived $4.00-a-gallon gas.
  • Continue the virtuous cycle that higher gas prices created in terms of less driving and more transit use.
  • Have revenue to help pay for the increased demand on the transit system.
  • Have revenue to help pay down the bridge bonds
Oh, and a higher gas tax will reduce the amount of money that oil companies can collect as profit.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

What's in the bag?

Find out tomorrow (Monday, September 8) at 8:45. The mayor will remove the bag and reveal a historical first (sort of) for Newton.

The bagged sign is on the southbound side of Chestnut Street Walnut Street, just south of Homer. Please show your support for bicycle improvements and attend the ceremony. Bring your helmet and bike, if you can.

If you drive, probably easiest to park at the library.