Today’s Headlines

  • World Bank Report: Biofuel Subsidies Mostly to Blame for Spike in Food Prices (Gristmill)
  • Krugman: Drilling Debate Signals Start of a Bigger Fight (NYT)
  • The Saga of Queens Boulevard and Why It Needs to Be a Complete Street (Queens Central)
  • Memoir of a Hit-and-Run Victim (NYT)
  • LI Man Dead After Wife Backs Over Him In SUV (Post)
  • Quiet Hybrid Cars May Pose Safety Threat to Pedestrians (Sci Am)
  • New Study Counts 5,700 Chain Stores in Five Boroughs (News)
  • East Side Residents Concerned About Midblock Second Ave Subway Entrances (Post, NY1)
  • ConnDOT Engineers Don’t Want to Hear About Complete Streets for New Haven (NH Indepedent)
  • Mag Rates Copenhagen World’s Most Livable City (City Fix)
  • Larry Littlefield

    How did they define chain stores? I looked at the list, and saw a couple of “chains” with two stores in the city.

    On the other hand, local chains with dozens of outlets were NOT counted.

    If the actual objection is companies that operate both inside and outside the city, or to corporate entities, or were they just the easiest to count?

    Note that Modells and Duane Reade are on the list. They started here and expanded elsewhere, and are now listed companies. Is that a bad thing?

  • I love the debate over the ‘quietness’ of hybrids. Maybe we can put open pipes on them so people know they are coming. A loud bike is a safe bike. Seems like it would work for hybrids. We need more noise in our lives. (as the landscaper for our townhouse development fires up the leaf blower outside my window)

    While I’m very much in favor of pedestrian safety – what about bikes? Cyclists aren’t all that loud as they cruise down the road… baseball cards mandatory on all front wheels? Maybe pedestrian whistles?

    What happened to ‘Stop Look and Listen, before you cross the street. Use your eyes use your ears, before you move your feet.”?

  • Mike, I have LOUD squeaky breaks. I fixed them and end up startling a lot more people when I came to a stop at crosswalks. I feel bad when I scare people, so now that they have started squeaking again I have no intention of fixing them.

    It always amazes me how a bike stopping at a crosswalk can make people jump a little– Yeah, let’s make all bike breaks squeak to improve bike-ped relations.

  • Air horns & squeaky brakes!!!
    Got to get over the volume of the iPods!

  • gecko

    Since quiet hybrids are running on electric speed governors could kick in at intersections or when pedestrians are around.

    Probably better to cut the speed limits especially at intersections.

    In the worst situation when there’s the possibility of a pedestrian inadvertently stepping in front of a car, the car should be able to stop immediately; automatically would be even better; i.e., in those countries where life is not considered cheap.

  • From Dvice.com, why hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are a fraud:

    http://dvice.com/archives/2008/07/shift_hydrogen.php

  • Geck

    Truth is that hybrids are only really quiet at very slow speeds.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You missed a good article:

    Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121755531308403265.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_page_one

    “The city is notoriously short on bike lanes, bike paths and bike racks. Bicycles are illegal on the freeways, and city streets are packed with motorists who seem increasingly cranky about the swelling ranks of cyclists.”

    An important point. In a car, I have the limited access highway network, built and maintained at great expense. As a pedestrian, I have the sidewalk, which the City of New York doesn’t pay to maintain. On a bicycle, a share of the street is the only option.

    “The freeways have been invaded repeatedly by renegade cyclists calling themselves Crimanimal Mass, an offshoot of Critical Mass, a national cycling enthusiasts’ group. About 30 cyclists performed the illegal stunt in rush-hour traffic on a recent Friday to demonstrate how much faster commuters can zip through gridlock on a bicycle than in a car stuck in traffic.”

    I don’t think that’s a good idea — except to say drivers have their space, and so should everyone else.

  • I don’t see it in the Scientific American article, but I have heard that blind people are endangered by hybrids. They used to step off the curb to cross when they didn’t hear any engine noise, but now they may ve stepping right into the path of a hybrid.

    I think it is inevitable that some sound will be added to protect this group. The danger is that is will be some obtrusive sound, like the beeping sound that trucks make when they back up, and there will be constant annoying noise everywhere.

    The right approach is to have them make some gentle noise, like the sound that tires make when cars drive at 25 mph or so, or like a quite gasoline engine driving at 5 mph or so. That is enough for the blind to know they are there, but not annoying like a constant beeping.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Back on the front page article in the Wall Street Journal, you can to here

    http://forums.wsj.com/viewtopic.php?t=3527

    to vote on whether bicycle commuting is realistic, and make a comment.

  • momos

    Re: Queens Boulevard

    Imagine a completely redesigned boulevard with a sleek, high-capacity, low-floor electric tram line down the middle. Stations would be spaced far apart to speed the Queens-Manhattan trip. Bike shelters would be adjacent to tram stops to facilitate bike-‘n-ride. A swath of parkland on either side of the tracks, comprised of trees, protected bike lane, pedestrian path and benches. Then two traffic lanes in each direction, and then at the outer edge another green swath with trees and sidewalk. Major intersections would be marked with bollards and pedestrian islands, and trams would have signal priority.

    This would simultaneously improve safety, enhance the commuter corridor, facilitate bicycling and walking, and beautify the area (god knows it could use it).

    Why merely put a painted line on the road for bikes when a wholesale redesign could accomplish so much more?

  • Ian Turner

    Queens Boulevard already has a sleek, high-capacity, electric rapid transit line. We call it the Subway 7 Train, and some of the stations even have the sheltered bike parking that you suggest.

  • momos

    @ Ian

    Actually the 7 train runs along Queens Blvd only briefly before veering off at Roosevelt Ave. From there east there’s basically no rail option until Queens Blvd passes under the LIE.

    This corridor badly needs more high quality transit capacity, even (as I’m sure anyone commuting on the 7 would agree) along the short segment where the 7 runs. And in the low-rise context of eastern Queens an at-grade transit option is by far the best.

  • Momos, it’s only two miles (49th Street to Broadway) out of its seven-mile length that Queens Boulevard doesn’t have either an el above it or a subway below it. The stops are relatively far apart, about six blocks. In those sections, what’s needed is something in between the bus and subway spacing, for short trips within the neighborhood.

    I’m glad you agree that Queens Boulevard could use a new trolley line. At the western end, there are many complaints by people who live in Sunnyside and LIC that the #7 train is very crowded by the time it gets to them. A trolley could relieve that congestion by offering people from Sunnyside and Woodside another option for getting to Manhattan.