Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Civil engineers in the US have a blind spot for any work done in foreign countries (especially non-English speaking ones). One example comes from a recent bike safety study done by Georgia Tech.

Researchers in the Ga Tech Civil Engineering Dept. tried to analyze which bike facility provides the most effective safety benefit:

Shared lane markings. Bike lanes painted a bright color. Bike boxes at intersections. Cycle tracks that provide physical barriers between bikes and cars.

Communities have built these and other flavors of infrastructure to try to make it safer for people to ride their bikes along roadways or through neighborhoods. But which ones work best?

The short answer is, we really aren’t sure yet.

That conclusion comes from a group of School of Civil and Environmental Engineering transportation researchers who analyzed studies on the effectiveness of bicycle safety infrastructure. Their work appears in the June issue of the Journal of Safety Research.

“There’s just so little research that we really have no idea how well most of these pieces of infrastructure are working in terms of keeping people safer,” said Kari Watkins, Frederick Law Olmsted associate professor and one of the study’s co-authors.

In fact, we have very good data as to what kind of bike infrastructure works because the Dutch (and Germans and Danes) figured this stuff out decades ago. They have published numerous papers, not to mention design manuals.

So why don’t researchers look at any of the results from Netherlands? Because…

Watkins said researchers may have missed relevant and insightful studies from other countries where much more bicycling infrastructure exists, like Germany and the Netherlands, simply because the work has not been translated into English.

 

As a bicyclist, this makes me extremely nervous. The Tesla Model X has a convenience “feature” whereby the car door opens itself. It is very gee whiz, until this happens:

cardoor

And here is a video taken by a Tesla enthusiast as he discovers this feature:

Slide-BIKE-SHARE_t180The timing is hilarious.

On June 1st, Baltimore Mayor Pugh announced that the Potomic street cycletrack would be ripped out, and downgraded to a dysfunctional and unprotected bike lane. This was done to placate residents upset over the loss of a couple parking spaces.  The Mayor also wants to “evaluate” other bike projects, which means this could be a precursor to other removals.

A mere 48 hours later, Mayor Pugh released a statement expressing support for the Paris climate accords:

My endorsement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including goal thirteen which specifically addresses climate action related to greenhouse gas reduction, recognizes the complexity of these challenges. As a city we cannot ignore the urgency of these issues.

It is true we have grown accustomed to politicians who lie and say one thing but do another. But even so, you have to wonder what the Mayor and her staff were thinking when they drafted this statement while working to remove a major bike project.

After Trump pulled out of the Paris climate accords, some 150 mayors throughout the US denounced Trump, and pledged to implement the accords anyway. But really, how serious are they on this?

dingbat

Berkeley Mayor Arreguin

In Berkeley, Mayor Jesse Arreguin spewed out 8 tweets criticizing Trump. This would be the same Arreguin who canceled Berkeley’s participation in AC Transit BRT — a project that removes 19,000 tons of CO2. Arreguin is also notorious for opposing any and all infill development projects.

San Jose has also pledged to abide by the accords. Meanwhile, the city is carving out an enormous parking crater around Diridon station.

The solution to climate emissions is largely achieved through changes in zoning and transportation. This is the one area where Mayors and city councils have more power than the President. But will they use that power to change autocentric policies, or just sit back and score political points?

nrel

Our transportation system is this country’s biggest energy hog. You might think that the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) would know that better than anyone. But look where the lab is situated, way out on the Denver ex-urbs. This mammoth 1,800-car parking garage was built to accommodate all the employees driving. And boy the NREL is sure proud of their ‘energy-efficient” parking garage. Without a hint of irony they write:

It’s no secret that researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) do cool things — including finding new ways to capture energy from the sun and wind. But there’s nothing cooler than working on a parking garage, right?

The garage generates so much traffic that an entirely new access road had to be constructed to connect it with the I70 highway.

This would be another “stand your ground” type law, only with cars instead of guns:

The North Carolina House of Representatives approved legislation in a lopsided 67-48 vote Thursday that would shield drivers from civil liability if they collide with protesters.

Opponents say the legislation is unnecessary and may give drivers the false impression they can maliciously run over activists. One Democrat warned it would make the state the butt of jokes about being full of “dumb rednecks.”

But Republican proponents, who sent the measure to the state Senate by a veto-proof margin, say recent encounters between activists and drivers makes the reform both sensible and necessary.

Today marks the anniversary of Italy’s liberation from Nazi occupation. There were many heroes in the resistance. One you may not have heard of is Gino Bartali, two-time winner of the Tour de France:

Twice winner of the Tour de France and three times champion of the Giro d’Italia, the Italian cyclist’s greatest achievement was the part he played in the resistance. In fact, he used his skills on two wheels to save the lives of Jews, by transporting false identity papers between cities – hidden in the seat of his bicycle.

Later, Bartali moved on to physically transporting Jewish people to the safety of the Swiss Alps in a wagon pulled along by the bike. His fame proved to be a valuable asset, as he was able to tell patrols that his various journeys were simply part of his training – though he aroused suspicion, as a national hero, police likely didn’t want to risk upset by arresting the cyclist.

It is unknown exactly how many people Bartali saved, as the humble cyclist refused to be interviewed about his rescue activities.

Bartali was featured in the 2014 documentary My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes: