Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Milwaukee county executive race and transit

See "ON THE ISSUES: County exec race/transit," from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and also check out the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Inspiration, or Why Writing About Transit Experiences Is Important

Happy New Year, everyone! May your trains never break down and your buses always arrive on time... except for when you're running late yourself.

I was prompted (can't remember why) to think about why I love thinking about transit and writing about transit. I had an influence, one that doesn't even know the effect she had on me.

I am speaking of one Kate Lopresti.

I'm not surprised that you've never heard her name. Most people haven't. She's a Portland, Oregon gal whose claim to fame, at least in my book, is that she wrote a series of zines called The Constant Rider.

Yes, Ms. Lopresti is a transit geek like me, like us. Also like me, she prefers to write about her experiences on transit rather than do academic analysis. She writes of her journey across Canada on the train, of passing out on the light rail train The MAX, and of her experiences on her beloved TriMET bus, the 47 Hawthorne. She's a consummate observer of humanity, writing with an eye for that which we call the human drama. From people who won't pay to keep riding at the end of the Fareless Square to passengers with unfortunate food choices (sardines on a cramped train? I don't think so!) to gulping down one's produce before customs, no detail of existence misses Kate's eye.

And it's experiences like this that show the importance of transit. I'm guessing that when the experts sit down to lay out new transit, or to change routes, or to mess with the budget, they deal with numbers and cold hard facts. They don't think of the experiences they'll be removing or changing. The leisurely Metro ride turned cramped and crowded. The late night bus trip back from one's lover now impossible because the bus doesn't run that late. The missed connections with passengers, the lost conversations with drivers. Of course, new experiences will replace the old, but what do we lose?

Transit isn't just a way to get around. It's an experience, it's a part of our lives. Kate's work makes this abundantly clear.

I've owned The Constant Rider Omnibus for years now. My copy is battered and beaten, bent from making its way to the bottom of my bag, stained from spilled liquids. In other words, well loved. After I read it, I'm always inspired to write about my own experiences on transit, wishing that I had more exciting ones to share and write about. (Edit: After reading the website, I'm realizing that I have the 1st edition, which only has zines 1-3 in it. The 2nd edition has additional zines 4-7. Perhaps it's time to replace my old worn out copy with the new one with more content.)

But perhaps that's the point. It doesn't always have to be exciting. Sometimes it's just the grateful look a mother with a little one gives you when you give up your seat so that her and her child may sit. Sometimes it's a bus driver who's unusually pleasant after a long day or who lets you on the bus, despite the fact you're 10 cents short on fare.

Thank you, Kate, for reminding us of the important things in life. Thank you, Kate, for sharing your slice of the world of transit. And thank you, Ms. Kate Lopresti, for inspiring me to write about my transit experiences.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Amtrak sees ridership rise

There is a nice piece on Amtrak in the AP story, "Riding high? Amtrak sees ridership rise," which starts with a focus on railroad travel in the midwest.


Friday, October 19, 2007

How's This For Transit Oriented Development?

Here is a video of a marketplace at the railroad:

From Salon and
The Overhead Wire.

More information in this article
from Salon.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Car Free Day #2

In honor of C's post about Car Free Day tomorrow, here is a reprint of a blog entry from Councilmember Tommy Wells:

Car Free DC: Cool Free Things
Written by Neha Bhatt

Stepping up to the plate. That’s exactly what these groups have done to help commemorate Car Free Day. In case anyone missed it, the city is doing it’s first one on Tuesday the 18th. What else is there to do other than take the personal car free pledge? Plenty! Take advantage of the following events sponsored by great organizations who make our City a better, nicer, hipper place to live. Snap a picture of your favorite Car Free Day moment and upload it on Flickr (be sure to tag the photo with "DC Car Free Day") or send them to Neha Bhatt at nbhatt@dccouncil.us.This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Best image wins a commemorative T-shirt signed by the Mayor and Councilmembers.

Walk This Way
Cultural Tourism DC, City By Foot Tour Company, and Washington Walks welcome everyone to enjoy the landscape and architecture of the City through special Car Free Day walking tours. Tours are free and open to the public. Happy Car Free Day!

More than Monuments: 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm and 8:00 pm – 9:15 pm
Meet at the base of the Washington Monument on the east side (facing the Capitol and 15th Street). End at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Through little-known anecdotes and quirky facts, this tour brings to life the events and people who inspired the monuments. Part performers and part professors, the licensed guides are recent college graduates who are passionate about American history. Their sometimes irreverent and always interesting romp holds the attention of even the squirmiest toddler. The perfect solution for anyone who slept through eighth grade history class! Led by professional guide Ben Hindman and presented by City By Foot Tour Company.

Walk Logan Circle: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Meet outside the McPherson Square Metro station (14th Street exit).
Few Washington neighborhoods have witnessed such a breathtaking renaissance as Logan Circle, the city’s only unaltered Victorian residential district. It evolved from rural obscurity to an enclave of architectural splendor, home first to affluent whites and later to African American residents. A growing number of restaurants and shops make it one of Washington’s most fashionable addresses. Led by professional tour guide Carolyn Crouch and presented by Washington Walks.

Take Your iPod for a Walk through History!
Download a free MP3 audio tour to your iPod or MP3 player and surround yourself with sound as you walk the Civil War to Civil Rights: Downtown Heritage Trail through historic Penn Quarter. Walk in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Walt Whitman, and other great Americans whose lives were intertwined with the history of the nation and its capital city. The trail focuses on Washington's experiences during the Civil War as well as the continuing challenge to realize the American dream of equal rights for all its citizens. Relive dramatic events, including:

  • - The night President Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theater
  • - The hustle and bustle of the old Center Market
  • - A riot following the attempted escape of 77 enslaved people
  • - Clara Barton's search for thousands of missing Union soldiers
  • - Thurgood Marshall's fight to desegregate American Institutions

Roll Around the City
Washington Area Roadskaters invite Washingtonians to a free one-hour training session in basic inline skating technique from 6:00-7:00pm on Tuesday, September 18. The session will take place in front of the White House on the north (Pennsylvania Ave) side. It will be taught by certified instructors from the DC chapter of the National Skate Patrol, which offers a free skate clinic at Rock Creek Park every Saturday at noon April through October. The training session will be followed by a scenic cityskate through downtown Washington, a fun way to end the day for all levels of skaters.

Rent Wheels
Need a bike for Car Free day? Bike the Sites is offering special discounted bike rentals during September 16-22. Day rentals will be $15 in honor of Car Free Day. C’mon, how can you beat that?

Get There Without A Car Days!

So a number of car free days are coming up.

Car Free DC day is tomorrow, September 18th. Check out their website which encourages transit use, biking and walking to your destinations. http://www.carfreedc.info/

And Tommy Wells, representative for Ward 6 on the DC Council, challenges people to go car free not just on Car Free DC day, but also on World Car Free Day (more about that next), the whole Car Free Week of Sept 16-22nd, and, for a true challenge, an entire month! Check out his Car Free Challenge on his blog.

World Car Free Day is Saturday, September 22nd. http://www.worldcarfree.net/wcfd/

Wednesday, October 3rd is International Walk to School Day. If you have kids or if you attend school, consider walking or biking or taking transit if it's too far to do either of those. http://www.walktoschool.org/ has information and information on Safe Routes for kids to take to school alone can be found here: http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Seniors and Complete Streets

As you may or may not know, as we get older driving becomes more difficult and dangerous. There comes a point where we can't, or shouldn't get behind the wheel of an automobile.

The AARP recently had an article in their bulletin called Street Smart about complete streets. Complete streets are designed to accommodate many modes of transportation: walking, biking, wheelchairs, transit, and oh yes automobiles in a way that is safe for all. This opens transportation options to the young, the old, the disabled, and those who just don't want to deal with single occupancy motorized transportation.

The article uses Kirkland, Washington as an example, and discusses what some other places have done to implement complete streets. It also includes a nice illustration of a complete street and 2 videos by Bob Chauncey, director for policy analysis for the National Center for Bicycling & Walking. One video shows a complete street, the other an incomplete street.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Transit Oriented Politics

From the Overhead Wire comes word that Democratic presidential candidate and Senator Hillary Clinton (D. NY) has pledged to raise Federal funding for local and intercity rail. She also is calling for linking federal public transit funds to land use policy. Sounds like Transit Oriented Development.

And the Washcycle makes note of a Des Moines (Iowa) Register story about Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards getting on a bicycle to ride a portion of the RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) route champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Who's next?

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