Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Crazy world

Lois Levin of Bike Newton reported that riders on last night's community ride were yelled at by someone who objected to the riders including children on the ride. Nutty? How about a driver in Asheville, North Carolina, shooting a father in the head because he was riding with his child on a busy road? Fortunately, the bullet lodged in the biker's helmet and caused no injury.

We're not in Copenhagen, Toto.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Today: Chestnut Hill Reservoir ride

Bike Newton is hosting another in its series of Monday evening rides. Tonight, the 7.4 mile route takes in the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Meet at City Hall at 5:45 for a 6:00 departure.

Here's the route.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Newton Centre Park(ing) Day?

The converted parking-to-bench space in Newton Centre would be perfect for a 1-day Park(ing) day makeover of this space with a lawn and flower pots, maybe some performance art or an unplugged band. Park(ing) day is a global event that began in NYC and SF, with the purpose of rethinking our use of public spaces. Interested? Sign on to the Newton Parking day group at parkingday.org.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Round and round we go -- safely

A recent post on the Project for Public Spaces blog touts the virtues of the modern roundabout for both improving traffic flow through an intersection, improving safety (39% fewer crashes, 76% fewer injury crashes, and 90% fewer fatalities) and improving conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. Improving traffic flow at in intersection has the nice collateral benefit of reducing the negative consequences of idling traffic: wasted gas, increased emissions, noise.

What improves traffic flow in a roundabout is the same thing that improves safety. Everybody goes and everybody goes slowly. At a traffic light, there is wide variance in speeds. Obviously, some cars are stopped. Others are traveling at or above the speed limit on the road. Others speed up to make it through the intersection. In the case of traffic trying to turn left, you can have a car or cars stopped and traffic speeding by in both directions.

The physical constraints of a roundabout -- center island and tight turning radii -- prevent cars from going above a design speed of 20 MPH or so. And, the absence of stop lights or signs means that nearly all cars can proceed through the intersection without stopping. When they do need to stop -- to allow a pedestrian to cross, for instance -- cars are going a speed that makes it safe and easy to do so. And, the few cars stopped at a roundabout are not stopped like cars at a light, for the entire period of a light cycle -- or multiple light cycles.

There is one other technical nicety. In a roundabout, cars never cross lanes of oncoming traffic. There is simply no opportunity for a head-to-head or t-bone crash. All potential conflict is at smaller angles -- sideswipes, not t-bones. And, at lower speeds.

Another way to think about roundabouts is that they reduce the range of behaviors in the intersection, simplifying decision-making and reducing the types of conflicts. All traffic joins from the right. The range of speeds is much narrower. No traffic crosses a lane.

Of course, in New England, we have rotaries, which are not universally viewed as safe and easy-to-use. But, rotaries, like the Horace James Circle near the Putterham Golf Course in Brookline, are not roundabouts in a very significant respect: they aren't designed to limit speeds. Horace James Circle can be navigated at very high speeds. Tighten it up (a lot) and it would be a very different beast.

Here's the Mayor of Carmel, Indiana, singing the praises of roundabouts. At 4:35, he discusses the difference between roundabouts and rotaries:


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Livable Streets event

Another interesting looking event from the Livable Streets Alliance ... with free beer and soda!

When: Wednesday, July 22, 7 - 9 pm
Where: 100 Sidney Street, Central Square, Cambridge

*This event is free and open to the public. donation suggested beer/sodas provided compliments of Harpoon Brewery!* What makes people shift out of their cars? Is it building more subways, bike lanes, and better sidewalks? Is it financial factors like a gas tax, congestion charges, and parking prices? Is it land use patterns like a mix of uses, local retail and where people live and work? Or how about the health and environmental benefits? Think about the factors that make you choose to walk, bike, drive or take transit. What would make you, or the people you know, take one mode of transportation over another?

Read more here.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Seating est arrive

Creative re-use of granite curbing, a few boulders, some trees and, voila, one Newton Centre Summer Seating plaza! Credit to DPW for doing all the heavy lifting.

The location is not ideal. It would be nice to have this kind of space without having to cross the street. But, son and daughter of NS&S had a ball running around, climbing and jumping, and enjoying their ice cream.

A quick reminder of what the space looked like before the transformation ...


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

On-street bike parking binge in Portland

A blogger in Portland, Oregon, describes how the city is putting up on-street bike racks as quick as they can.

One of the benefits he's noticed? The on-street bike parking provides another welcome buffer between people on the sidewalks and cars.