Today’s Headlines

  • Report: City and State Funding for MTA Has Declined Since 1990 (NYT, 2nd Ave Sagas)
  • Pregnant Traffic Agent Struck and Killed in the Bronx (News, NY1, NYT, AP, Post)
  • 41,000 Americans Died in Highway Crashes Last Year (AP)
  • VMT Declined in June, Too (Gristmill)
  • Council Member David Weprin Intros Bill to Ban Texting While Driving (NYT)
  • Bloomberg Backs Challenger Running Against Martin Connor for State Sen (Daily Politics)
  • New York Needs Grocery Stores You Can Walk To, Not Costco (Planetizen)
  • Electric Bike Sales on the Rise (AP)
  • No Traffic Controls for Beijing Once Olympics Leave Town (Reuters)
  • Larry Littlefield

    I could see electric bicycles as a big transportation mode, since they make bicycle transporation feasible for non-athletes in places with lots of hills. Perhaps mini-regenerative breaking modules will be created, to slow the bike going downhill while throwing power back into the battery.

    “Although regulations vary by state, federal law classifies electric bikes as bicycles, and no license or registration is required as long as they don’t go faster than 20 mph and their power doesn’t exceed 750 watts.”

    I think this policy provides an explanation of why bicycles don’t need to be licensed — lack of speed and power. Perhaps what is required is a 20 mph speed limit for unlicensed and unregistered bicycling, just as there is an age limit for bicycling on the sidewalk.

  • From the Times article:

    The report said that last year, city and state subsidies to the authority totaled $603 million. In 1990, the report said, the governments contributed $526 million. When the 1990 numbers are adjusted for inflation, the subsidies were equivalent to $862 million in 2007 dollars. Over the last five years, the subsidies have remained virtually flat.

    So the public contribution declined from 1990 to 2003, then remained flat? That’s a pretty misleading headline, William Neuman.

  • Declined by 39%, I should note, from 1990 to 2003.

  • Re: “Olympics: Beijing says no extension of car controls post Games”

    I find it fascinating (and depressing) that an authoritarian government like China is willing to limit its citizens’ political freedoms but not their automobile consumption, even though it is manifestly damaging to their environment and the greater social good. And what are they doing about it? According to the article,

    “Zhou said the government was committed to getting people to use public transport, backed by a further massive investment in subways and suburban railways in particular, and by keeping ticket prices low.

    “‘Our aim is the increase from 35 percent the proportion of people using public transport to 45 percent,’ he said. ‘Ticket prices are one part of the strategy, and is not just a short term plan for the Olympics.'”

    This used to be a bicycling utopia. I’m glad the government is investing in mass transit and committed to raising ridership, but why aren’t they encouraging bicycling? If China, the world’s most populous country, embraces a high-consumption, car-addicted lifestyle, this planet is finished.

    Give them bread and circuses, eh?

  • I’d really like to know what the ratio of pedal power to electrical power is on these electric bicycles. To me, the whole benefit of cycling is that the costs of ownership are minor, it’s entirely off the grid, and it promotes physical exercise and well-being. If an electric bicycle is simply a smaller car with a smaller carbon footprint with little to no human power, it has the virtue of taking up less road space and reducing environmental damage, but it wouldn’t contribute much from a health standpoint. Can anyone here who’s ridden an electric bicycle comment on this?

    Also, the article mentioned an electric folding bicycle. I wonder how much additional weight the motor would add to the bike. Generally, most affordable folding bikes are in the range of 25-30 pounds, which is the limit of portability in my opinion.

  • Larry Littlefield

    “I find it fascinating (and depressing) that an authoritarian government like China is willing to limit its citizens’ political freedoms but not their automobile consumption.”

    That’s pretty much the post-1989 deal. Give affluent urban people enough material goods and they’ll gladly give up anything social, spriritual, or political. It works in the U.S., doesn’t it?

  • One texting-while-driving behavior I’ve noticed a few times recently is drivers deliberately holding their texting device low, so as not to be seen. Even more dangerous! Eff them. Slap them with steep fines. (Yeah, like that’ll happen. Still, I support Weprin’s AND the State’s bills.)

    I support efforts to ban texting while driving, fake libertarianism and over-legislation arguments be damned.

  • ms nomer

    Cap’n Transit:

    If you consider inflation, plus ever-rising construction and labor costs, then the city’s financial contribution to transit hasn’t remained “flat” at all – the actual value has decreased every year.

  • rlb

    Regarding electric bicycles:

    750 watts is the same as 1 horsepower. Premier cyclists are capable of sustaining 500 watts. A reasonably sized person in a somewhat aerodynamic position could go about 40 mph with that size motor (which would be about a foot long and six inches in diameter).
    If “electric bicycles” with that kind of power ever catch on, be prepared for extreme reckless ‘cycling,’ considerably more ‘cyclist’ vs. anybody else conflict, bad press and a backlash.
    My personal belief is that once you put a motor onto a bicycle, it loses its soul, and becomes an electric scooter.

  • Veritas

    Another headline today: the Port Authority unveiled a design for a new Goethals Bridge.

  • lee

    if you can’t text without looking at your phone by now just give up

  • Re: #9 rlb: Eek! At 40 mph, those electric bicycles should definitely be on roads with the cars and *not* on bicycle paths, greenways, etc.

  • James

    re: electric bikes and speed limits: most E-bikes out there require that the cyclist be pedaling before the motor will add boost and the bikes are speed limited. That’s not to say that there aren’t ways around this. Once you start tinkering too much what you’ve got is really something like an electric motorcycle, rather than a bicycle.

    I think these E-bikes are a great alternative for those who are unable to utilize a standard bicycle due to disability or inability to ride hills. Check this out for a bike vs E-bike showdown that the WSJ did recently: