Coastal Sense


Bikes Belong by drewwade
June 17, 2008, 1:20 pm
Filed under: Energy, National Politics, transportation

This post was written by Drew Wade.

We’ll see if this materializes, but the Senator from Illinois has been doing a lot of talking about bicycles. A far cry from what some in the other party have said in the last year, Obama seems to get it about bikes. In fact, he has already met with the board of Bikes Belong, the major industry group for bicycle promotion, promising increased funding for bike and pedestrian projects if elected. What’s more impressive, in the recent picture of him riding a bike with kids in tow, he wears a helmet despite knowing that it makes him look like Urkel.

These recent developments remind me of this May cartoon when the other candidates were talking about a gas tax holiday, which as I mentioned here before, every economist and most of America saw through as a foolish waste of money which would actually be counterproductive.

Not only that, but he has suggested making rail transportation a priority, suggesting a National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank and thus sounding like someone who understands that fixing our transportation issues is going to take a lot more than asphalt. Time will tell if America cares, and if so, if he can follow through.

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Loosen your belt, America! by drewwade
May 1, 2008, 10:55 am
Filed under: Energy, National Politics, transportation

This post was written by Drew Wade.

Well, it was inevitable. The campaign that would never end stretches on and politicians are eager to offer soundbite solutions. The topic du jour, of course, is the soaring price of oil and gas.

McCain and Clinton, of course, have it exactly wrong as also pointed out much more eloquently in this NY Times editorial. Our country is facing economically trying times, partly brought on by outrageous loan practices (followed by a corporate welfare style government bailout, likely with more to come) and partly by decades of woefully inept mismanagement of land use, transportation, and automobile production policies.

The solution should be long term — dropping the federal gas tax only increases the demand and puts money in Exxon’s pocket. Better funding for transit, improved MPG standards, and making roads safe for bicycles and pedestrians would make a real long term dent in the problem. Stopping the gas tax for the summer would increase the deficit, provide indirect corporate welfare, and give minimal if any real benefit to the consumer.

It’s all too telling of our current policies. When faced with adversity, we say, make it easier! Traffic got you down? Widen the road! Economy tanking? Lower interest rates! Getting fat? Loosen your belt! Trying to fix the economy and our current oil dependence in this way would be like handing out cocaine to fix the healthcare system.

UPDATE:  No credible economist thinks the gas tax holiday makes sense.  In fact,

Henry Aaron from Brookings, managed to very quickly whip up a list of 150 economists opposed to the gas tax holiday. And there are some pretty impressive folks on the list, from across the political spectrum.



We need justice by drewwade
January 11, 2008, 5:45 pm
Filed under: City Politics, County Politics, Crime, Energy, Life, Local Politics, transportation

This post by Drew Wade

Horrible.

The only way to describe what happened yesterday to a cyclist. A hit and run driver running a stop sign hit a cyclist at Wayne and Lincoln. According to the Savannah Morning News, the cyclist is in serious condition at Memorial. As noted in Sustainable Savannah,

Police are asking for help finding the driver, a white female in her 20s, who sped away in a white passenger car after hitting the cyclist. Anyone for more information should call 652-6650 or call CrimeStoppers at 234-2020.

It was not mentioned in the article, but of course the cyclist was doing everything right: riding north (the direction of traffic — it’s one way) in the bike lane on Lincoln in the middle of the day. Of course, a cyclist has every right to be on the roadway even without a bike lane. Though we expect drivers would be looking for cyclists when there is a bike lane in place, a painted stripe is false reassurance for a cyclist.

What should we do, then?

  1. Demand enforcement. Bring this person to justice. If you’re on your bike and an car runs you off the road, hold them accountable — get their tag, call the police, and demand action. Fortunately, it seems the police are responding appropriately to this incident.
  2. Advocate for better facilities. The Lincoln bike lane is all we have in that part of town, and it is often littered with debris or parked cars. Other bike lanes like the one on Habersham start and stop. Signage is inconsistent. No change will be made unless we make noise about it repeatedly.
  3. Keep riding. The more people are out on bikes, the safer they are. It is counterintuitive, I suppose, but we know this from German and Dutch data when compared to our own American experience as in this linked article. The German and Dutch cycling infrastructure is of course much more developed than ours, leading us back to #2.

The bottom line: we need justice. Not only justice for this crime, but just and equitable transportation and enforcement policies. Let’s start by getting one dangerous motorist off the road.



Growth can slow you down by drewwade

Now the single biggest threat to our economic livelihood is transportation, and we’ve got 20 years of catching up to do.

So said Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce President Sam Williams in this recent Georgia Trend article. The tremendous economic growth of Atlanta in the last 20 years has left it, in the absence of sound regional planning, with one of the worst records for traffic in America today (ranks fourth in annual traffic delays per commuter, averaging 60 hours of time and 44 gallons of fuel wasted).

Gridlock signMany of us here in the coast, including me, are here to avoid the headaches of that way of living. But with growth here in the coast, how can we prevent our own gridlock?

1. Do not follow their (i.e. Atlanta’s) lead. Building more lanes for growth invites congestion. Increasing capacity for more and more motorized vehicles is really operating in the absence of a plan.
2. Promote transit. Fund it well and patrol the system, make it efficient with express buses and ferries. Provided that they feel safe, people will use it because it saves them time, expense and effort.
3. Complete the streets. This strategy, codified in state law in Florida and South Carolina, requires pedestrian and bicycle facilities for all new road projects. The reason so few people use their own power on short trips in many cases is that they don’t feel safe doing it on our cars-only road designs.



What waits on the horizon? by clintmurphy
December 9, 2007, 2:59 pm
Filed under: Energy

This is an enlightening article.

Quickly, here are a few thoughts I have:

1. First and foremost, we need to follow Brazil’s lead and work to become energy independent.  Brazil did it using sugar cane.  We can do it too.  So too should we invest NOW in alternative energy forms such as solar, wind, etc… The investment now will pay dividends later and ease the crunch from the crisis on the horizon. 

2. It’s time for us to realize that this is an all encompassing issue – it’s not just a matter of energy.  It involves planning, design, etc… We must plan now to be sustainable

3. Transportation doesn’t mean just cars and roads.  If designed effectively and efficiently, transit works.  So too should there be more pedestrian and bike friendly ways to commute.  Living in a close proximity area, one could rarely have the need to actually drive.  Case in point: when I lived in Washington, DC I barely put 5,000 miles a year on my car. 

4. We shouldn’t wait for the price of oil to change public behavior, leaders should be setting examples now and driving and influencing public behavior. 

5. The new standard of construction should be the LEED standard. 

Change is on the horizon, it is up to us to decide if we are going to act now or wait and react later.