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Lunch links: Feel the power

Nice tram in Nice. Photo by From Sparkly to Single.
It runs on STEEM: Alstom has introduced yet another non-overhead-wire streetcar power system. STEEM uses large batteries inside vehicles, which charge when they brake (like a Prius) and when they're sitting in stations. Paris will be testing the system, which can also use regular catenary in some sections. It wouldn't work for long-distance light rail, but might be ideal for DC's streetcars, as long as the systems have enough juice to allow air conditioning, which Paris doesn't have. (The Transport Politic via City Block)

House not so into sharing: Almost nobody is using the US House of Representatives bike sharing system. Richard Layman says the stations aren't in the right places, like the Metro station, and that the House should instead join DC's bike sharing system. (RPUS)

Loudoun cyclists get lower fines: Some of the cyclists ticketed by Loudoun police for slowly running stop signs during a recent organized ride appeared in court yesterday. Local lawyer Doug Landau represented two of the cyclists pro bono, and worked out a deal where they pled guilty to not having sufficient reflectors on their bikes. They paid a smaller fine and got no points on their licenses. Unfortunately, another cyclist decided to represent himself (despite the offer from Landau), and got four points on his license and the larger fine. (TheAthletesLawyer)

Virginia's 15th Beltway, 2135?: Will Virginia remain stuck in a perpetual loop of raising taxes to expand roads, which expand sprawl, which means more roads and higher taxes? Or will Virginia wise up and start looking more at Smart Growth to stop the financial woes plaguing VDOT's current balance sheet? (Your Piece of the Planet, Joshua D)

Zero texting tolerance: After a Metrorail operator was caught texting while operating a train and officials called for Metro to fire the employees, Metro has instituted a new policy allowing them to do just that.

Barclays-Atlantic-Pacific: New York will rename the Atlantic-Pacific subway station to include the name of the Barclays Center, the new NBA area planned for the area. Barclays will pony up $200,000 a year for 20 years to rename the station, and the MTA is interested in renaming additional stations. Last year, Jim Graham insisted that DC would not be entertaining the same concept for the Navy Yard Metro. (CNN via Americablog, Steve)

And...: ReBurbia is a design competition to imagine the future of suburbs, as more limited natural resources make large-scale low-density living less practical (Jaime) ... Some Metro staff are still abusing parking privileges at Takoma Metro (Unsuck DC Metro) ... A CB2 store might join the burgeoning furniture district on 14th Street, at the former Central Union Mission site at 14th and R. (WBJ via Borderstan).

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David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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So a ticket while biking gets point on your "drivers" license... does that mean that drivers who get enough points to have their license suspended lose their biking rights too?

Do you need a drivers license to use a bicycle? Do you need to carry your license any time you ride a bike?

by Gavin Baker on Jul 9, 2009 1:17 pm • linkreport

There is no license to bike in VA; stupid system to penalize you on drivers license (and car insurance) for transgressions committed on a bike. And you can be arrested for DUI on a bike as well...5 days in jail for riding drunk. Nice.

The streetcar system looks nice; couldn't you just but in a secondary generator and run the AC off of that?

by charlie on Jul 9, 2009 1:25 pm • linkreport

So if you're biking in Virginia and don't have a driver's license, you can't get ticketed?

by Distantantennas on Jul 9, 2009 1:41 pm • linkreport

I see no reason not to penalize cyclists riding on roads for breaking the rules of the road. It seems that any moving vehicle in the public road needs to follow the rules of that road. I do believe that the rules could (and should in some instances) be different for cyclists than drivers, but as of now they are not for the most part. If a cyclist wants to be respected and treated as if they belong on the road (not withstanding the argument that bicycles should be completely separated from cars) they need to follow all the rules, as do drivers for the same respect.

The way I see it is when I'm on a trail I follow the rules of the trail (ie, signal audibly when passing, stop at stop signs, yield when appropriate, etc) and expect others to do the same. When I am riding on a public street I also follow the rules of the street (signal all movements, stop at stop signs and yellow or red lights, obey signs, etc) and, again, I expect others to do the same. This includes drivers, walkers, runners, bikers, and anyone else who might be using the space.

by Chris Seay on Jul 9, 2009 1:43 pm • linkreport

I would give my first and second born for the STEEM on 16th from downtown to Silver Spring.

by MarkM on Jul 9, 2009 2:07 pm • linkreport do drivers for the same respect.

You had me...then you spun off into pure fantasy.

Drivers don't stop at stop signs.

Drivers *always* exceed the speed limit.

So thanks for the trollery, but no one here is buying.

by ibc on Jul 9, 2009 2:20 pm • linkreport

For more on the Steem system check out the Overhead Wire, a transit geek blog.

by kenf on Jul 9, 2009 3:08 pm • linkreport

I don't think he's trolling; he has a valid point. I see bikers run stop signs right in front of me sometimes, and it's dangerous to both bikers and cars.

But I do think putting biking offenses on a drivers license is a ridiculous policy. Just determine an appropriate fine that will discourage bikers from doing it, and move on.

by Justin on Jul 9, 2009 3:10 pm • linkreport

I'm definitely not trolling. I've only said that when a driver follows the rules that are laid out for them I respect them (which often leads to me being an angry person, because many drivers do not follow the rules). I believe that cyclists and pedestrians must be held to the same standard. Hence when I walk I only cross streets where I am supposed to and if there is a pedestrian light I wait until it is my turn to go. When I cycle I stop at all the stop signs completely and signal all my turns. When I drive I stay at or under the speed limit. In order to make our streets a place that is inviting to everyone we have to all follow the rules that are before us all the time.

I don't imagine all drivers always exceed the speed limit, just as all bikers don't always not stop at stop signs. The key is that we should all follow the rules as they are currently written and if we think they need to be different, then work to change them. Ignoring the rules only makes for an unsafe and unpredictable cycling, driving, and walking environment. If the law is wrong lets work to change it rather than breaking it because we don't agree.

by Chris Seay on Jul 9, 2009 3:53 pm • linkreport

The next station stop is Ronald Wilson Reagan-Galaxo-Smith-Kline-Woodley Park-Zoo-Adams-Morgan.

by William on Jul 9, 2009 5:46 pm • linkreport

1. The STEEM system uses ultracapacitors, not batteries. It's most similar to the MITRAC system. The references do not cite its range. A feasible alternative now is heat-treated LiFePO4 batteries, which rapidly charge like ultracapacitors. Does STEEM permit replacement of ultracapacitors with newer energy storage? If the range is long enough, we can think of "wireless trolley buses" which use similar charging umbrellas at their stations.

2. What punishment do you receive for a bike violation when you don't have a driver's license? The two are clearly unrelated, using one to enforce the other is nonsensical and possibly unconstitutional (by state). "Let the punishment fit the crime." -The Mikado We need approrpriate rules for both modes, with proper enforcement.

by Chuck Coleman on Jul 9, 2009 8:07 pm • linkreport

One day on the D2 bus, the bus driver was reading the paper while driving. I was amazed and told him so. He couldn't care less what I thought. Should have reported it.

by lou DC on Jul 9, 2009 9:54 pm • linkreport

Penalizing a car registration for something you do on a bike is as nonsensical as revoking your license to practice medicine (or just increasing your malpractice insurance premium) on the basis of you building a garage that violates building codes.

I don't understand how he was even charged with an automotive moving violation. Does that mean cyclists can be charged with failing to signal for taking a left turn without blinking lights?


NY MTA gets $4 million, all WMATA got for changing their station names to a hundred letters or more was $50,000 to change signs and this lousy T-shirt.


The House car-sharing system? Seriously? Why not just create a House Bus Line and offer only 1 stop - the House. The value is in the size, coverage, and convenience of the network, not in having access to a particular vehicle.

by Squalish on Jul 9, 2009 10:17 pm • linkreport

Am I the only one who sees a "disconnect" here ?

If you do not have your driver's license, you cannot be ticketed for a bike infraction ?
If you're a driver and don't see a cyclist that you crash into, you will not be charged with homicide or manslaughter ?
If your dog bites some innocent person, they have no case (the "one free bite rule"), but if a cyclist misunderstands a police officer's signals and asks for a warning, "no dice" ?
If you see a child riding a bike, know they are crossing the street, and strike the back of their rear tire because you thought they "cleared" the intersection, you not only escape ticketing after breaking a little girl's pelvis, but SHE gets ticketed and will have to appear in a proceeding not open to the public (like the "MS-8" cases) and not available to be covered by the press...

I was asked to help at the last minute in a situation where I thought what had happened to these particular bicycle riders was unfair. All my other work on behalf of cyclists has been to help those who have been crushed or knocked off the road by careless and reckless motorists. Safety is paramount, but fairness and common sense are important too.

by Doug Landau, the bikers' lawyer on Jul 9, 2009 11:03 pm • linkreport

After watching a bicyclist do a slide along the asphalt into the bottom of my car a couple weeks ago at 11th & V, I do have a bit of appreciation for enforcing road rules w/ bicyclists, too... but I'm scratching my head over how points could be put on a bicyclist's driver's license. What if they don't have one? Or am I just misunderstanding something?

by Bossi on Jul 10, 2009 9:45 am • linkreport

What were the chances of catching a train operator texting? The operator's booths are too darkly tinted.
Un-tinting the windows would make the operators more likely to behave themselves.

by Turnip on Jul 10, 2009 11:31 pm • linkreport

Recently,I recently purchased directional turn signals for my bike and the 1st day I used them they saved my life at an intersection where a truck was making a right turn.
I purchased mine at
Why aren't more riders using them?

by Richard on Jul 12, 2009 9:59 am • linkreport

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