Monday, March 24, 2008

We can do better than this

This is what ought to be the prime pedestrian crossing along Needham Street.

Marshall Plaza and Fresh City Wraps to the left. Starbucks, two restaurants, and more stores to the left.

Not to repeat what your eyes already tell you, but the crosswalk has been completely rubbed off and the pedestrian crossing sign is down (for the second time in less then a year). Click for the larger picture. The empty signpost is just to the left of the fire hydrant.

I know that DPW is stretched with winter business, but why isn't this a priority?


May 18, it's a date!

The event of the spring season is on May 18: Bike Newton, an afternoon of bike fun capped off by a 2.5 mile ride from Newton City Hall and back, all to encourage a grass-roots effort to make biking safer in Newton.

I'll have more later. In the meantime, Bike Newton's web site is chock-a-block full of information. Check out the list of supporters, which includes hizzoner.


Obstacle Course

Friend of NS&S Molly alerts us to this sign that hangs over the striped shoulder on Beacon Street near Hammond Street waiting to decapitate a rider or, more likely, send her into traffic.

Here's Molly in her own words:

This sign sticks out into Beacon Street and is exactly at the head height of a bicyclist. Last week I was nearly decapitated/hit by a car (not sure which is worse) due to the this sign. Not only does it overhang the roadway, it is also at the point where Beacon Street narrows and the striped shoulder disappears forcing cyclists into the flow of traffic.

Yes, the little things matter.


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Time to talk gas tax

The governor's angry response to casino opponents: okay, so what's your big idea?

Governor Patrick, listen up.

Roadway infrastructure in disrepair. (Parker Street bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down.) Massively debt-ridden Turnpike Authority. Even more massively debt-ridden MBTA.

Oh, yeah. There's also a little public policy imperative: global warming.

It's high time we raise the gas tax.

According to a two-year-old editorial by the president of the Conservation Law Foundation, every additional penny of a gas tax would raise $34 million. Fifteen cents would bring us $510 million at current demand. One hopes that the increase might decrease demand. Even so, we're talking hundreds of millions.

The total Massachusetts gas tax is now $.21. Add fifteen cents and it would be $.36, not out-of-line with our neighbors Rhode Island ($.31), New York ($.303), or Connecticut ($.297). For reference: Maine ($.23), New Hampshire ($.206), and Vermont ($.20). (Recycled this from a comment I made on the TAB blog.)

Wait, you say, how can I propose raising the price of gas when prices are at an all-time high? Because they really aren't. Inflation-adjusted, prices are not out-of-line with the early 80s. And, cars are more efficient, so we're actually spending less on gas.

One way or the other, we're going to have to foot the bill to keep our roadways in decent condition. Let's charge the users.