Monday, March 23, 2009

Talk about your mixed blessings

In the Boston Globe Magazine, Newton's listed as tops for car commuters.

The city is nothing if not diverse. We were also a runner-up for public-transit fans. (And, for kids and schools.)


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

No-excuse zones

In Sidney Sydney, Australia, bike advocates have mapped no-excuse zones -- the areas around the city from which it is possible to commute to work in under 20 or 30 minutes. People who live within those zones are encouraged to bike to work a few days a week.

Newton's too far out to be within a no-excuse zone for Boston, but it is an intriguing concept.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Stop sign studies

Stop signs are not for slowing traffic. That's what the Manual Of Uniform Traffic Control Devices says. And, there are studies to back up the policy.

This review surveys over 70 technical papers on the use of stop signs to slow traffic and concludes, no surprise here, that stop signs are ineffective if the aim is slower cars.

  • Twenty-two papers found that multi-way stops do not control speeds.
  • Nineteen studies found that compliance is poor at unwarranted stops.
  • Thirteen studies found that unwarranted stop signs decrease pedestrian safety.
And, on and on.

Some more (possibly) counterintuitive findings:
  • Unwarranted stop signs create more noise in the vicinity of the intersection
  • Unwarranted multi-way stop signs create increase operating costs
Stop signs do make neighbors feel safer, though the evidence contradicts those feelings.

The city of Northampton has a good FAQ on stop signs.



We have a near crisis-level problem with traffic at all of our schools. It is critical that parents put bus-eligible children on the bus, rather than drive them to school. Yet, the city is considering an increase in bus fees.


Families that do the right thing have to pay. Parents who don't, pay nothing and impose the costs of their driving on all of this.

Here's a better suggestion: charge drivers to get within 1/4-mile of a school building during drop-off or pick-up. More money. Better policy.