Monthly Archives: July 2009

Roundup from around the ‘net

Make Up a Fake Parking Permit, Park Wherever You Want!

Last year the Bloomberg administration made a big deal about reducing the number of parking placards issued to city employees, slashing them by over 25,000. At the time, the cutback on permits, which allow cops, civil servants, and other lucky bureaucrats to park almost anywhere, was heralded by Paul Steely White of Transportation Alternatives as “a good first step. But the final analysis will be weeks and months from now, when we see how actively these plaques are enforced.”

So last week the group decided to test enforcement themselves, creating a bogus parking placard with the name of a non-existent city agency, the “Citizen Protection Administration.” Spokesman Wiley Norvell spent six hours parking a Mazda Miata at various illegal spots around Manhattan,

Could BRT replace the Second Ave. Subway?

As this week of bad news for the Second Ave. Subway draws to a close, we return again to a question of transit on the Upper East Side? As they do every time another SAS delay is announced, Streetsblog advocated for a BRT solution to the Second Ave. problem. But is that a realistic replacement for a full Second Ave. subway?

In rehashing their BRT argument for Second Ave. — one they explored in February — Ben Fried and Streetsblog made a rather bold claim. “On the east side of Manhattan,” Fried writes, “the right BRT configuration would carry almost as many commuters as the Second Avenue Subway, for a fraction of the cost.”

The Importance of Employment Centers

Jarrett has an interesting post on how LA is more like Paris with their polycentric form than a more monocentric place like New York City. I’ve been looking all week at LEHD data, mapping out job clusters and have noticed that many places in the United States are polycentric. This is also something Richard Layman talks about a lot as well, but in a slightly different way.

And a cool cartoon…

lucilegomez01_650

"A long time ago, human beings were devoting such a strong cult to these things, that they offered the lungs of their children as a sacrifice."© Lucile Gomez Here is a beautiful carfree drawing from Lucile Gomez. You can follow her work in French on her website: http://www.lucilegomez.fr/ (Source: CARFREE BLOGOSPHERE)

Transit Conflicts in Harlem

As promised, I got a few photos of transit conflicts in Harlem. (Update: I define conflicts as either structural or aestethic issues and pedestrian-bicyclist-motorized vehicle conflicts.), I will be going out again this week to take more photos. I think this set is very representative of the types of transit issues that happen in Harlem on a daily basis.

Transit Conflicts

Let me know if there’s a particular thing you’d like to see or whether you agree or disagree on some of these conflicts.

10 Tips to Getting Started Living Car Free

Gingerbread Man Rides the Subway
Image by Seth W.

So, you’ve made the decision – or seriously considering Living Car Free. It can be liberating and feel like imprisonment at the same time. These 10 tips will help you get started. If you think of more things, let us know in the comments!

  1. Commit to being car free. If you aren’t ready to give up your car, try being car free once a week. Then every few weeks add another day. Use transit for pleasure trips or commuting. Have reasons for becoming car free – are you conscious about the costs of car ownership, the environment or just want to try something new? Knowing why you are doing something makes it easier to commit.
  2. Get some maps and schedules. Find transit maps, websites that can help you build transit directions and ask car free friends for suggestions on the best ways to travel in your area. Make up schedules for going to work, play, entertainment, school, etc. Print these directions, schedules and information out, or keep in a Moleskine or other notebook.
  3. Remember the weekends and holidays. Most transit operators change the schedules on the weekends and holidays, so make sure to make travel schedules around these anticipated changes to the schedule. There’s NOTHING like showing up for your bus on a Saturday or holiday and waiting for an hour because you forgot to take into account weekend or holiday schedules!
  4. Buy a monthly transit pass. Make the investment in a monthly transit pass. It is a discounted pass that typically allows you unlimited transit trips on your preferred method. Check your transit agency’s website for information on costs, when and where to buy and how to purchase. No one likes to give away money, so this will be an additional incentive to make trips on transit.
  5. Pack your bags carefully. Being car free, you can’t drag along everything you had in your car with you on your daily transit trips. Even if you have a backpack, you will find the heavier it is, the less motivated you are to walk up two flights of stairs out of a subway station or ride your bike 5 miles to work. Get rid of the things you really don’t need – just stick to the basics.
  6. Consider your social life. In some cities, transit stops running at late night hours, which can put a damper on your social life. Make sure you have contingency plans for when you go out on the town with your friends. Also consider how you will get to a friend’s home for Superbowl Sunday or just to hang out after work.
  7. Come up with a contingency plan. In case of emergency, how will you get home? I was unprepared for having to find an alternative way home from work when the 2004 Northeast blackout happened. The subways weren’t running and no one had cars. What would you do? Sleep in the park? Walk home? Wait at a transit terminal? Hitchhike?
  8. Be flexible. Sometimes, the bus will be late. Or a sick passenger will be on the train. Plan for minor delays and have plans in place at work or school for days when you are late. Leave extra early if you have a major meeting or test. Learn alternate routes to/from your destination – if the trains are down, what buses could you use? Or vice versa.
  9. Learn transit etiquette. How do other riders behave? What are your transit system’s rules of conduct for passengers? Check out my post “Stop being a JERK on Public Transit!” for more dos and don’ts for transit. Some of the major don’ts are preventing passengers from getting off before you get on, eating or drinking, or smoking.
  10. Prepare for the weather. Now that you are no longer protected by two tons of steel, you will need to be prepared for the weather. Keep an extra change of clothes at work, think about wearing sneakers instead of nice dress shoes on your commute, always carry an umbrella, think about buying some rainboots or a raincoat – you get the hint.

Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments!

Send me Transit Maps

Sleeping on the Subway
Photo by giopuo

Since I’m still on the job hunt, I can’t visit cities across the US (and world) to get my own transit maps. So, I am asking you, dear readers, to send me transit maps from the cities where you live. Yeah, I know I can look up maps online, but I want to stick them up on my walls in my lovely 7 1/2 by 11 bedroom here in NYC.

Send transit maps to me:

E. Jemison
P.O. Box 2098
New York, NY 10027

If you want me to send you a NYC Subway map or bus map, include a note on whether you want either map or both, and a self addressed, pre-stamped envelope. You’ll need to send one of those large brown envelopes since the maps are large. I’ll mail out maps upon request. Priority mail is $4.95.

I’ll also take a photo of the transit map and give you a special shout-out here on Living Car Free!

PS: I’m still trying to figure out how to get a full size map of the NJ Transit system map. Any geeks who know, please reply in the comments!