Friday, July 06, 2007

It's the Infrastructure...

by Ken Houghton

I'm finishing this post on the way to Boston/Burlington. The family drove up a few days ago, so I opted for mass transit—in this case, the LimoLiner (from NY Hilton to Boston Back Bay Hilton), complete with wireless access, food and drink service, comfortable leather seats with leg room, and electrical supplies.* All for effectively the same price as Amtrak.

Following up to my post below, the U.S. Food Policy blog goes on a slight tangent to consider cylcing in Europe:
Even real cities like Geneva (just over the border in Switzerland) or Annecy have bike lanes all over town. The automobile traffic is usually considerate of cyclists. The countryside is full of regular riders of all ages and shapes, and also world-class athletes. My family got to see the latter race in the Criterium Dauphine. I also get to see them in teams, from behind, as they pass me on the roads cruising along at perhaps double my pace. Sometimes, they have a cheery word of condolence for me -- pointing out in French as best I can tell that the headwind is strong, as if that would explain why I alone am affected.

Every type of public transportation seems to accept bicycles. The inter-city bus driver will stop and block traffic in order to open the cargo area for a bicycle. On Saturday, my family caught a special city bus from Annecy to the peak of a mountain called the Semnoz. Fully half of the interior of the public bus was dedicated to hooks for mountain bicycles, and every single hook was filled. The cyclists have what looked to be a glorious reckless path downhill back to Annecy. Then, a couple days later near the Mt. Blanc range, there were kids with mountain bikes on a cable car ride!

Contrast this with Ruth's comment at that post noting the logistical disasters surrounding even an attempt to commute by bicycle in New York City.

This comes up again, of course, in the context of congestion pricing. My initial objections to Mayor Bloomberg's proposal have been, to some extent, answered. The Mayor has acknowledged that trucks don't have an alternative, and has proposed tiered pricing related to the truck's actual resource consumption and TCO.**

The recent objections has been rather more mundane. For example, Fern Cohen at Metroblogging NYC takes the NYT at its word (rarely a good sign):
William Neuman reports that some major subway lines are "maxed out"to a point that the tracks can't take any more trains. Especially affected are the 1,2,3,4,5, and 6 lines, which are part of the old IRT system.

So there we have it -- nowhere to put anyone. If we manage to divert drivers onto the subways, there is no room for them.

This, not to put too fine a point on it, was bollocks. Mentioned only as a throwaway in the final paragraph is:
Other long-term solutions are also years away, including a new Second Avenue subway and expansion of a computerized signal system that would allow the trains to run closer together, increasing the number that could run on the tracks.[emphasis mine]

The Second Avenue Subway is an NYT obsesssion that makes little economic sense. The computerized signal system, on the other hand (as noted elsewhere, not in the NYT) can increase the capacity of each line by approximately 43%.

Let's assume that's optimistic, and that the real number will be closer to 25%. So the subways will be around capacity.

But the streets will be emptier.

Buses and bicycles become even more valuable and have the same transaction costs. Walking will be safer.

The plan is to increase the viable options, not just the current ones. And the original plan has been improved enough that it is worth support.

*The only disadvantage is that the film selection for the day is Dreamgirls; clearly, someone in management wants to put the passengers to sleep.

**The pricing will not, in itself, pay for replacing current trucks. However, it will be influential in a decision, and have, therefore, a marginal, positive effect. And the differences will have to be managed.

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I think Mayor Nanny Bloomie is a very arrogant man. I also highly doubt he rides the subway that much. He's the mayor, I want someone driving him around so he can work and make calls and stuff. New Yorkers shouldn't want him wasting all that time on the subway.

We all have to wonder what Bloomberg is really thinking of with this congestion pricing tax scheme. Maybe he mostly just wants a new tax. Just wrap it up in ‘concern for the environment’, and then people can just demonize those who oppose it.

If he cares so much about traffic jams, congestion and air pollution, why does he let Park Avenue be blocked off? Why doesn’t he do anything about that?

It's true, Pershing Square Restaurant blocks Park Avenue going South at 42nd St. for about 12 hours a day/5 months of the year! This Causes Massive Congestion and Air Pollution!

But apparently it does not bother NYC’s Nanny-in-Chief Mike “Congestion Pricing Tax” Bloomberg?

It certainly supports his claim that the city is hugely congested.

Check out the map! Tell your friends!

Check it out!


Little Blue PD

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