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Putting Our Roads on a Diet (Video)

Michael Graham Richard, Treehugger

Moving Beyond the Automobile: Road Diets from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Making Cities Safer, More Efficient
Sometimes, less is more. Removing lanes from certain roads can – counter-intuitively – help traffic flow more smoothly while making the street safer for cyclists and pedestrians. It can also encourage more people to explore the neighborhood and be beneficial for local businesses. Even drivers can benefit: “Less speeding improves safety for motorists and passengers, and providing left-turn pockets allows through traffic to proceed without shifting lanes or waiting behind turning vehicles.” Via our friend Clarence at Streetfilms.
(18 April 2011)
Part of a series of videos Moving Beyond the Automobile.

China’s high-speed trains to slow down

China’s new railway minister says the country’s much-acclaimed high-speed trains will run a little slower to help reduce costs for passengers…

The minister said only the four east-west and four north-south artery lines of the high-speed rail network would run trains at 186 mph, while inter-city lines would operate at speeds between 200 kmph (124 mph) and 250 kmph (155 mph). In other changes, most trains in central and western China would run slower than 124 mph.

Sheng said passengers had complained about high fares and said they were being forced to ride high-speed trains, as the ministry had canceled slower trains. As part of the changes, rail lines designed for 186 mph trains would also permit slower bullet trains…

(14 April 2011)

An interview with Portland Mayor Sam Adams

Jonathan Maus,
Adams and I sat down in a diner in Old Town. We were joined by his spokesperson Amy Ruiz and his transportation policy advisor Catherine Ciarlo (last time it was just him and I, which I prefer). Read the interview below…

“… active transportation is still an issue that has a lot of work left to do — even in bike-friendly, progressive Portland — for it to be fully respected and for its costs and benefits to be fully understood.”

2010 was a tough year for bikes [I shared a list of negative bike PR examples for him]. There was a lot of negative media attention and several PR crises around bike policies and projects. What do you think caused all that negative attention around bicycling?

The last time we did a public opinion poll and we asked people what do they want to spend their money on, the bottom of the list were bikes and freight. One of their top concerns was conflict between cars and bikes. So, active transportation is still an issue that has a lot of work left to do — even in bike-friendly, progressive Portland — for it to be fully respected and for its costs and benefits to be fully understood. To go from one level of effort to the next is always fraught with controversy.

Are we at that point now, going from one level to the next?

If you look at the last 18 months or so, it’s also been arguably the best year for bikes in Portland. Ever. 69 miles of bikeways either done or funded, going from 26 to 80 elementary schools in the Safe Routes to Schools program, going from 20-some thousand to 90-some thousand attending Sunday Parkways, and the list goes on. By the end of the year, we’ll have an estimated 85 bike corrals on commercial streets. All these things happened in that same time period. When you make change, and it’s significant change, you always get push-back. And maybe that’s what happened in 2010. Is that there was actualy push-back, push-back in a city that is known for being a bike city.

Toward the end of last year, following all those PR problems, you stopped talking about bicycling in public. Do you think it’s fair to say all that negative attention caused you to shy away from being a spokesperson for bicycling?

Not consciously. I think that until we… [Adams trailed off momentarily and then gathered himself]… One of the reasons I campaigned to be transportation commissioner was I saw a lack of focus on basic safety that was holding back a higher utilization of biking and walking. That safety was a result of too slow-going on infrastructure, an outdated bike plan, and a lot of self-congratulatory back-slapping. So, in the past two years since the Bike Master Plan was put through Council and there was a lot of push-back, I just put my head down and got stuff done…
(13 April 2011)