Today’s Headlines

  • Jay Walder Wants to Improve "Customer Experience" at the MTA. (News)
  • Walder Could Start by Opening Data so NY’ers Can Catch the Bus With a Blackberry (Governing)
  • Transit Workers Emerge From Station Booth Stupor to Rally Against Bloomberg (NYT)
  • License Plate Readers to be Deployed in Midtown but Not for Congestion Pricing (NYT)
  • A Technology Solution to the Distracted Driving Problem or Tougher Laws?
  • David Byrne’s Wild Wild Biking Biking Life (NPR Weekend Edition)
  • Hey, Look, a Times Columnist Complaining About a Parking Ticket! (NYT)
  • Taxi Medallion Value Has Appreciated 245% Since 2000 (News)
  • Copenhagenize Identifies the World’s Worst Bike Share System
  • Saratoga Springs Considers Lifting Ban on Walking and Biking to School (Planetizen)
  • Bronx Homeowners Losing Insurance Over Climate Change Risk (News)
  • There’s Not Enough "Lively Debate" in the New Times Square (Faster Times)

Sorry for the late start this morning, folks. Elana has more headlines at Streetsblog Capitol Hill.

  • re:A Technology Solution to the Distracted Driving Problem? http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/opinion/05silberschatz.html

    Good NYT article describing a path to solutions to cell-distracted driving but, it is highly impractical in many instances:

    “There is nothing unreasonable in expecting drivers to park before making calls.”

    Of course, this is much more easily achieved on bicycles and similiarly-scaled mobile technology.

  • Glenn

    I actually liked the NYT article. Notice what he’s NOT complaining about? Price

    From his report, his problem was that he didn’t have a quarter, not that he thought the price of the parking spot was too high. All he wants is a more convenient way to avoid the indignity of getting a ticket with all the associated feelings of guilt, rage and inconvience at fighting it. All he wants is an easier way to pay more money to the city more conveniently with a Muni-Meter.

    This is a classic win-win. Get rid of all the old quarter meters and bring in a higher revenue producing, state of the art Muni-Meter that can charge more market rate for parking without the hassle.

  • Ian Turner

    The Distracted Driving Times article represents a classic windshield perspective. Such an approach will primarily serve to discourage the use of carpools, vanpools, buses, and trains, by eliminating one of their primary advantages, that you can get work done while in transit. The idea that the only reason you would be moving fast is because you are driving a car is absurd.

  • from the Times op-ed “Cellphone towers could be engineered to not transmit while a phone is traveling. After a phone had stopped moving for a certain amount of time — three minutes, maybe — it would be able to transmit again.”

    Ian, you are right that this is pure windshield perspective, that they are not even thinking about people on trains.

    But I would be glad to get rid of the cell-phone yappers on the train. That would make it easier for me to concentrate on my work.

  • Doug

    Instead of engineering cellphone towers to not relay signals from moving phones, which as others have pointed out, would make it difficult for carriers to distinguish between those on trains, those in passenger seats, or on buses, there could be another solution.

    Why not have a connection in a car whereby a phone must be hooked into it for the car to start? It could then disable the phone but enable the ignition. Some cars are fitted with brethalyzers and won’t start if they detect alcohol. In principle, this could be the same.

    Obviously, there would have to be some work-arounds, such as in situations when someone who normally carries a phone doesn’t have it but still needs to start a car. Just a thought, but it would be one way to stop phone/text use while driving while not punishing those who are using their devices responsbily.

  • Car Free Nation

    Distracted driving is a classic case where you have something that is very dangerous to society, but which is difficult to catch people in the act. In those cases (such as illegal dumping) the typical approach is to make the fine really really high – say $2,000 – so that even with the risk of getting caught is small, the ultimate penalty is stiff enough that you wouldn’t chance it.

    It’s much cheaper than a technology solution…

  • RE: Midtown cameras.

    While they cite terrorism as the reason, I do wonder if Bloomberg and crew is secretly hoping to try congestion pricing again, with the argument that “all the technology is in place already”

  • How about simply prosecuting people for manslaughter or property damage caused by negligent operation of a motor vehicle, and laying off the precrime prosecutions of people who’re just being idiots but haven’t yet hurt others?

    I think mine is the last outlandish proposal in all the distracted driving threads.

  • last, least. I’m trying to get at deterrence, which the cops seem to have forgotten is the primary reason they’re paid.

  • Ian Turner

    Charles, solution to that is quiet cars, already available on civilized train services elsewhere. Typically quiet cars prohibit not only cell phone calls, but also loud conversation and small children. In my opinion at least, cell phones are too valuable a productivity tool to ban them systemwide.