Monday, December 21, 2009

Highway barriers and good intentions gone awry (parking dep't)

Two interesting items in's Starts and Stops column. Highway sound barriers not only keep sound on one side of the barrier, they keep pollutants out of highway-abutting neighborhoods. And, a report of the debate about whether Boston's free holiday parking initiative helps or hurts merchants.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gonzo Newton Volunteer Corps

Not sure if this guy is legit or not, but he cleared the Woodland St. bridge over the Mass Pike. That bridge, connecting northern neighborhoods in Auburndale to Williams Elementary School and Lasell Neighborhood, is under state management and so not Newton's responsibility. Icy bridge sidewalks here, developing from lack of timely shoveling, effectively bar kids from walking to school.

To go from gonzo to legit, Neighborhood councils could organize volunteers to fill these gaps in public sidewalk coverage.


Riverside Roundabouts II

Here, on the other hand, are two views (looking north, top, and south, bottom) of a horribly unsafe roundabout, from outside Sydney, Australia. Just think how you would navigate this if on foot or bike. If Riverside Development installs anything like this, it could create a pedestrian and bike-hostile barrier even worse than the current Grove Street bridge over I-95.

(On the lower view, that white car is about to enter an on-ramp to the Great Western Highway toward Sydney, an interstate similar to I-95. Southbound cars like that, in a hurry to get to the city, hardly need to slow down at all because the central island is so small and hardly represents an obstacle. The big trucks barrel northbound or southbound with little slowing.)


Riverside Roundabouts

Roundabouts can be safe or dangerous; inclusive or exclusive of bikes and pedestrians. In Enschede, Netherlands, we experienced the gold standard in safe multimodal roundabouts, consisting of concentric lanes, inner for cars, outer for bikes/peds, separated by island arcs. Bikes/peds have right of way and are easy to spot by motorists looking to enter/exit the roundabout. Traffic moves efficiently and safely.

Riverside roundabouts should be carefully designed after studying innovative examples like these.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Driving like Grandma II

I've joined Sean in the driving-like-grandma club.

The numbers are dramatic:

1 in 5: your chances of being killed in a 30mph accident.

1 in 40: your chances of being killed in a 20mph accident.

40%: reduction in deaths in areas with 20mph limits.

More info? Read this article on the BBC website.

If you read it and you don't embrace roadway changes that induce lower speeds, then I don't know what to say.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Narrowing sidewalks

Walking back from dropping my daughter off this morning, it occurred to me that fences and walls hard up against the sidewalk effectively narrow the sidewalk. There's probably a good foot to eighteen inches of sidewalk that becomes unusable.

Time to adjust the fence/wall rule. Nothing taller than a foot within two feet of the sidewalk. Anything more constructively encroaches on the sidewalk.


Driving like Grandma

Driving at or just below the speed limit (30 MPH) on Parker from Roosevelt to Newton Centre (over Boylston/Rte. 9) this evening, the car behind me sat right on my bumper. At a red light at Beacon, I invited the driver to roll down his window and I explained (nicely, I think) that tailgating wasn't going to make me drive any faster. He yelled at me that I drive like his grandmother and should stay off the road if I am going to drive 20 MPH. (Pointing out to him that I had been driving at the speed limit didn't seem to affect his mood or argument.)

The light turned green. He roared off. I got to read his license plate.


I bet!