Category Archives: humor

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…


"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: (Source: CARFREE BLOGOSPHERE)


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!

The Curse of the High Line (aka Why I haven’t taken photos yet)

It’s not really fun to open new public spaces without an interesting story to “sell” the park or sculpture. The High Line – a former elevated railroad track, now park – comes complete with its own ghost and haunted designers/supporters. The High Line runs from Gansevoort Street to West 20th; the next phase will extend it to West 30th. Pedestrians can enter at Gansevoort and Washington Streets (link).

Jump ahead, oh, a half-century or so, and plans for a refurbished, publicly accessed High Line are but a glimmer in Joshua David’s and Robert Hammond’s eyes. A writer, David was researching a magazine story on the changing face of Chelsea when he says he was visited by an apparition [Ezekiel Marcus] in the tiny alcove in his Chelsea apartment where he did his writing.

“He had a long brown beard and wild brown eyes, and he wore a suede cap and black corduroy pants,” David told Beyond Investigation Magazine in 2002. “He told me in a gravelly voice to ‘leave well enough alone.’ I thought he was talking about my magazine article, but I think he realized the seeds for a bigger project were just beginning to sow in my mind.”

Read more at Trainjotting.

Seriously, it has been raining since they cut the ribbon on the High Line, and it seems to be rain in the forecast for the next 10 days.I won’t be making it to the High Line in the rain, nor can I get out and take decent photos of pedestrian conflicts in Manhattanville! *shakes fist at developers who have caused the curse*

Stop being a JERK on Public Transit!

I love using public transit, but some of my fellow passengers just don’t understand that public transit is not a private vehicle just for your enjoyment – but instead a shared experience for all of us. So, as a public service, I am going to give a few tips about how to be more polite on transit – and ensure you never get the evil eye from your fellow passengers.

Made It
Creative Commons License photo credit: Seabamirum

Please, leave the heavy perfume and cologne at home. There is no reason in the world that I should smell you from half a train car away. Or half a block away, while I wait at the bus stop. A little dab here and there, and you are fine! I promise! Since we are on the subject of smells, don’t bring smelly food on the bus and devour it like it is your last meal. Seriously, the germs alone will ensure it is your last meal. Also, keep your shoes on your feet – and off of the seats! No one wants dirt and who knows what else on their clothes and/or hands.

Personal hygiene is personal for a reason. Trust me, no one wants to hear you clipping your fingernails or smell your nail polish.  I’ll never forget the day last summer when the lady sitting next to me was clipping her fingernails and the nail landed in my lap. Seriously, what do you do in that situation? Let’s help avoid awkward moments for everyone, and take care of these things at home.

Give up your seat to the elderly, handicapped, pregnant women and people with small children. There’s nothing more coldhearted than seeing an able-bodied teenager or young adult sitting and jamming to their iPod, while someone’s grandma struggles to hold on to the subway pole. In the words of Mays Gilliam, “That ain’t right!”

Move over and let someone sit next to you, rather than letting your bag (or hips) have a seat on the train. As my favorite conductor on NJTransit says, “Did this bag buy a ticket? No? Alright, then move it or pay for the bag to ride, too.” I know it’s hard if you are overweight or tall to get comfortable, but don’t take up 2 or 3 seats. It’s just plain rude.

Click, click.. stupified.
Creative Commons License photo credit: juicyrai

Is it that hard to exit out of the back of the bus? If riders exit from the back, this gives passengers a chance to load at the front quickly and efficiently, keeping the bus’ idle time down, and keeping the bus on schedule! On that note, don’t block the back doors just because you are getting off 5 stops from now. Move into a place where you are not blocking the exit, so other people can get off quickly!

Do the right thing and allow people to exit the train/subway car before entering. Pushing and shoving never gets much accomplished, and commuting is not supposed to be a contact sport. Waiting 5 seconds for people to exit will probably mean you can snag a seat or at least a comfortable standing position! Also, don’t block the doors. I know it is tempting to hold the doors open because you are only 2/3 the way into the crowded train car, but be a pal – let the doors go and wait on the next train. At rush hour, most subway trains come every 5-10 minutes – which is not long at all.

Take your trash with you! Did you know that most subway fires in the NYC Subway are because of trash like newspapers and food wrappers? I have yet to be to a subway station that doesn’t have trash cans – so find one and deposit your trash there, instead of on the tracks, platform or under your seat. Try to keep your coffee in its mug, versus on the floor of the bus or train. If you do make a spill, let someone know at the next stop, so it can be cleaned up before someone hurts themselves.

Don’t block the aisles with your luggage or strollers. This can be tough if you are short and unable to reach the luggage rack, or it is too difficult to close the stroller, but scout out places on the train or bus where you can be out of the way as much as possible. Or, try to travel at off peak times to reduce the likelihood of annoying other passengers.

Asleep in the bus
Creative Commons License photo credit: jepoirrier

Avoid personal (or confidential) conversations while riding. No one wants to hear about your date last night, who is getting laid off at your job or what the doctor said about that strange rash you have. If you really have to talk to someone, try keeping your voice down, mindful that other passengers might be napping, reading or working. Additionally, keep the profanity to a minimum. Some of us have sensitive dispositions, and cursing makes us very upset.

Be kind to your driver/operator/conductor. Like you, the driver/operator/conductor is a human. Unbelievable, right? Well, being that they are in fact human, we should try to be kind to him or her. Say “Thank you,” or “Good morning”. Let them know you appreciate their being there to serve you. A simple “thank you” goes a long way to brightening someone’s day.

It is so tempting to start singing and/or dancing when your favorite song starts playing on your iPod, but remember, a bus or train is not the place to perfect your American Idol performance. Be mindful that others may not want to hear your (off-key) singing or see your (really lame) dancing.

007 - Febrero 5 de 2009 - Lovely work, nice man, dredfull singing...
Creative Commons License photo credit: kmilamartinezcalle

Do you have a tip you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments!

Why being car free rocks

I love being car free. Yeah, there are those times when I wish for a car, especially when I want to go places and do things in places without public transit. The weirdest thing is that I live in one of the most transit oriented places in America, but there are still dozens of places I cannot go without a car or the trip taking 3-4 hours!

Despite the difficulties of getting places on occasion, I can generally enjoy a pretty good life. I can get to meetings, restaurants, school, work, to visit friends, shopping, etc. without much difficulty.

With that being said, these are my top 5 reasons why being car free rocks!

1. I never have to look for parking. On any given weekday in my neighborhood, people circle the block time and time again to look for parking. Finding parking on the first try is rare, and the time wasted looking for a parking spot is astronomical.

2. I have more money! I do not pay for a car note, insurance, maintenance, parking, car washes and gas! When I had a car, I spent most of my time working to pay for my car. Now, I work to be able to enjoy social activities, traveling and just hanging out. My train pass and MetroCard are less than what I paid just for my car note. Amazing.

3. I have read more books in the last year than I read in the 2 years I had a car. Seriously! I have read an average of 4 books a week in the last year, compared to 3 books a month during the last year I had a car. That’s a huge difference. The knowledge I’ve acquired has made me a better student and person.

4. I get more “me time”. I actually have time to exercise and relax on a regular basis. I walk to the train, versus walking out of my door and getting right into a car. I walk up and down stairs, versus walking from my car right into a store or restaurant. I can nap on the train or bus – you definitely cannot nap while you are driving!

5. I can more carefully observe the change of the seasons and the development of the neighborhoods I travel through. Because I don’t have to keep my eyes on the road, so I can see and enjoy the snow, check out the construction of a new residential tower or mixed use development.

I enjoy being car free. For those times when I start thinking, “Oh, I’ll get another car one day,” I remember that I’m making an active choice to participate in an alternative lifestyle that provides many more benefits to myself AND society than we can probably count.

Top ten signs you are a mass-transit geek

From Seacoast NRG:

Top ten signs you are a mass-transit geek

You know you are a mass transit geek if…

10. You get almost giddy at the idea of a compressed-natural-gas-hyrbrid-electric-powered city bus.

9. The number of transit maps you own exceeds the number of cities you’ve actually visited.

8. When visiting a new city, you make a point to ride its light rail, subway, bus, or ferry system. Even if–especially if–you have no where to go, because, well, duh.

7. You know that intra-city buses are not much better than cars in terms of per-passenger-mile fuel efficiency, but still love them anyway.

6. You used subway tiling in your latest home renovation project. In the living room.

5. You keep a running list of the transit systems you’ve ridden. With pictures.

4. You know what a PCC car is, and where you can still ride one.

3. You’ve had the yes, but the highway system was subsidized, too argument more times than you can count.

2. Your entire knowledge of the Spanish language consists of: No se apoye contra la puerta (Do not lean against the doors.)

1. You are convinced that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but wholeheartedly believe in the National City Lines conspiracy.