European Vacation

weinshall.jpgDOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall’s two week European vacation has gotten off to a lousy start. NPR is reporting that Weinshall, her husband, Senator Chuck Schumer, and their two daughters were stuck in Heathrow Airport for hours after yesterday’s terrorism arrests. The Commissioner and her family were planning on visiting Amsterdam and Paris but have decided to stay put in London and then go to Paris, a DOT spokesperson says.

While it is a shame that New York City’s Transportation Commissioner will not have the opportunity to enjoy Amsterdam’s phenomenal urban bicycling facilities, in London she has the chance to see how Trafalgar Square has been vastly improved as a public space by closing half of it to automobiles. Perhaps this will inspire some ideas for Times Square. In Paris, of course, Weinshall and family will have the opportunity to ride Le Mobilien, the city’s new Bus Rapid Transit system, and visit a riverfront expressway that has been ridden of cars and transformed into a public beach. Just remember, as the New York Times reported a couple of weeks ago, no topless bathing or thongs allowed at Paris-Plage (that’s right, the only recent coverage the Times has given to Paris’s transpo reforms focused on… thongs).

Finally, a tip of the hat to Chuck Schumer who managed to use his airport layover to drum up some national press attention for himself — while on vacation, no less. The old joke is that the most dangerous place in Washington is the space between Senator Schumer and a microphone. They’re going to have to change it to the "most dangerous place in the airport during a terrorist threat…"

most of street bus_1.jpg
Bring us back one of these, Iris: Many Parisian avenues now have two lanes
set aside with low curb barriers for the exclusive use of buses and bicycles.

  • One thing I love about a street designed like this is that it really discourages double parking or pick-ups and drop offs. See how on the far right lane, there is room for a car, but certainly not two. It does encourage cars to pick-up and drop off passengers or trucks to make deliveries on side streets which get less through traffic.

  • MCG

    Note that in central Paris traffic is smaller as well as lighter than here. I have never seen an 18-wheeler in central Paris. Nor, for that matter, have I seen an SUV. There are buses, garbage trucks, and police vans, but even they look smaller than ours, and they are the exceptions. The widest streets have signs on the traffic-light standards saying: Cross in two stages. Taken all together, these facts mean that crossing the street in Paris is not a death-defying dash.

  • They don’t have huge trucks in Euro central cities because they aren’t allowed, at least during the day and evening, and they enforce the laws there. Stuff coming into the center has to be off-loaded to smaller trucks. Rational management on behalf of quality of life and safety — imagine that!

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