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Breakfast links: Students getting around


Photo by Steven Vance.
Elementary public works: A Montana third grader organized a petition for a sidewalk and bike path in her town, so kids could "viset friends and go to school." Missoula County officials, eager to find a good stimulus project, quickly approved the plan. (The Missoulian)

Fairfax teens can use the bus: Vienna mom (and Fairfax Transportation Advisory Commission member) Jenifer Joy Madden recently taught her teenage son to ride the bus, along with his friend. The experiment worked, and now they have more independence and their moms don't have to drive so much. It's too bad, though, that after they missed a bus, they had to wait 30 minutes for the next one. Also, Madden spends about half the article explaining the steps they took to get bus information on the wmata.com trip planner. Sounds like that was the toughest part of the project. (Post)

Even underground isn't good enough: Purple Line designers are now looking into burying Purple Line wires through the University of Maryland to reduce electromagnetic interference that could affect delicate instruments. But the university administration still opposes running the train through campus, saying trains can't drive through without running over students. Do they not realize that buses and cars drive on the same road today? Have they seen light rail before? (Diamondback Online)

Mean streets and tracks: A woman learning to drive in a parking lot drove over an embankment and killed a pedestrian in Arlington on Saturday (Post) ... A 13-year-old crossing the Amtrak tracks in Elkton was stuck and killed by an Acela train (WTOP) ... At least two drivers hit and killed a man crossing the BW Parkway on the New York Avenue exit ramp, making this the third fatality in the area. Time to redesign the ramp to facilitate pedestrians crossing? (Post)

Is congestion pricing bad for the environment?: Green Metropolis author David Owen argues that traffic jams are good and congestion pricing bad, because traffic drives people to transit. It does, but he misses the important point that pricing also does, by creating an economic incentive to try alternatives. Traffic imposes a cost on commuters; congestion pricing just imposes that cost more directly and efficiently and, if designed right, steers the cost directly into funding transit alternatives. (WSJ, merarch)

New MDOT chief more focused on transit?: Is new MDOT chief Beverley Swaim-Staley less enthusiastic about widening I-270 than her predecessors? In a recent interview with the Baltimore Sun, she said MDOT was mainly focused on transit in that corridor, and when listing her and Governor O'Malley's priorities, she included the Purple Line, Corridor Cities Transitway, and Baltimore Red Line, but not I-270. (Getting There)

Register your car already: The Post looks at the phenomenon of drivers that don't register their cars in DC even after living here for years. Commenters on the Post's site are unsympathetic to those who don't switch registrations. (Michael P, Joey)

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David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. 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 loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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Re: congestion pricing:

I think if things like HOT lanes are any indication, people who have the economic means to pay to drive are more than willing to do so. Whenever a toll goes up or HOT plans are discussed, the media outlets always interview commuters, and overwhelmingly, the commuters say they would pay to avoid the far slower alternative routes or transit. Yes, a few drivers see the economic incentive, but the anecdotal evidence overwhelmingly shows that people in this area have the economic means to pay, and will do so.

Hell, look at HOV violations. In the most recent Post story a few months ago, I was shocked to see how many people are willing to pay the fines just to get to work quickly.

So yes, I would have to agree with Owen. People prefer coughing up money to waiting in traffic.

by Tim on Oct 12, 2009 9:31 am • linkreport

Re: purple route at U. Md.

If the students are that dumb then running them over would probably in the long run improve the academic standing of the university...

by armchairquarterback on Oct 12, 2009 9:38 am • linkreport

If you ever travel on the UMD campus between classes students pretty much take over the crosswalks. Getting hit by a car is never an issue because cars can never find an opening to cross. This would not be the case for a light rail. So either the light rail would be late waiting for students, or there would have to be gates to block students from crossing.

by Matt R on Oct 12, 2009 9:49 am • linkreport

Re: Acela train . . . you've fallen into the trap you decry. The conductor, not the train, hit him. ;)

by ah on Oct 12, 2009 10:13 am • linkreport

Re Missoula: Good for the town, but perhaps the stimulus would better spent on a spelling teacher. 3d grade? Viset?

by ah on Oct 12, 2009 10:14 am • linkreport

Traffic is bad. It is a waste of time, the environment and money.

The problem with congestion pricing is that leads to an economic incentive for a government to suck even more at its job. The government has a job to make sure there is a decent infrastructure. That means that folks can get where they need to go in an appropriate time and way. The insanity becomes clear if you translate it to traffic. Would it make sense to increase the price of heavily used buslines,without adding extra capacity? It is as silly as rush hour fares in metro. It is punishing people for using a popular infrastructural feature.

by Jasper on Oct 12, 2009 10:46 am • linkreport

you'd think it'd be a university's wetdream to have a rail coming through it.

by surprised on Oct 12, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

With a train it is the person who hits the train. A train can't turn away or stop on a dime. I know you winkied your post but still had to comment.

by NikolasM on Oct 12, 2009 11:50 am • linkreport

so, the place where that guy was hit crossing NY ave...is it really NY ave at that point, or is that outside the city in maryland?

because, by the description, where NY ave hits the BW parkway is just outside the city limits. honestly, there shouldn't be an issue with pedestrians there, because it's a freeway-to-freeway interchange. if you're walking there, you're taking your life in your hands.

by IMGoph on Oct 12, 2009 1:04 pm • linkreport

@ IMGoph: So walking on a ramp give other people the right to run over you?

by Jasper on Oct 12, 2009 1:13 pm • linkreport

i think the point is the dude got hit twice and both times the people kept going.

but also, if there is demand for ped activity, shouldn't it be accommodated?

by dc on Oct 12, 2009 1:17 pm • linkreport

jasper: c'mon, man, get a grip. did i say that precisely? no, but if that's how you want to read it, be my guest.

point is, you're not supposed to walk on a freeway. if this was a non-limited access street, then by all means, we should be making sure that pedestrians get paid attention to first.

but there are certain situations where common sense takes hold, and this is one of them. if you think i'm being cold, you're entitled to your opinion.

by IMGoph on Oct 12, 2009 1:46 pm • linkreport

My god, don't let UMD ever become like the Urban Center at Portland State, with a streetcar running RIGHT THROUGH the plaza and light-rail and buses on the periphery. Mote might have a coronary. Yet somehow students and mass transit manage to co-exist.


by Reza on Oct 12, 2009 2:39 pm • linkreport

Powered vehicles and people on the same grade of surface do not mix. That is the point of all these stories. If you want people to walk ( even on campus) you must provide them with a different grade from cars and trains. At grade pedestrian crossings are disasters waiting to happen. let's look at pedestrian bridges and tunnels

by telecommute now on Oct 12, 2009 3:01 pm • linkreport

tele - So you recommend that motor vehicles should be banned from downtown Washington. Surely there is much more mixing there than on the Maryland campus.

by tt on Oct 12, 2009 3:34 pm • linkreport

@ IMGoph: jasper: c'mon, man, get a grip. did i say that precisely?

Yes, you did.

if you're walking there, you're taking your life in your hands. by IMGoph on Oct 12, 2009 1:04 pm

by Jasper on Oct 12, 2009 3:52 pm • linkreport

@ telecommunte (and others) Zurich, a big busy city, manages to have at-grade trams all over the city co-existing with cars and pedestrians. A whole big city! One campus with one train couldn't handle it? Why, because the Swiss are so much more competent?

by Bianchi on Oct 12, 2009 4:12 pm • linkreport

jasper: i said you'd be taking your life in your hands. it's risky. i did not say that drivers should have the right to do so. neither of us are going to convince each other that the other is right.

by IMGoph on Oct 12, 2009 4:21 pm • linkreport

I'm with IMGoph: If you're stupid enough to be crossing that section of the BW Pkway/NY Avenue in the dark, then you're taking your life into your hands. Depending on the light, I can see how cars hit the guy without realizing it was a person (lots of deer and other wildlife always in that area). Simply because a person was stupid enough to risk their lives crossing a freeway in poor light does not mean that the big, bad, evil automobile is at fault for hitting the person.

And DC used to have at-grade railroads along the Mall. It resulted in a sizeable number of pedestrian, horse, and cart crashes, injuries and deaths. Fun fact.

by Fritz on Oct 12, 2009 6:21 pm • linkreport

The Fairfax teen story is such a farce. I swear I don't understand parents nowadays. As a teen, I regularly used public transportation to travel around New Castle County, Delaware to the library, to summer jobs, and to night classes. At the time, DART barely covered the section of the county where I lived, and it frankly hasn't improved its service since then either.

And I did this a quarter century ago, without the benefit of the Internet and without mommy and daddy holding my hand working out every last detail for me.

by Craig on Oct 13, 2009 2:04 am • linkreport

Fairfax teens can use the bus - yeah I tought myself all, yesl all the bus routes in Baltimore when I was like what - 8 or 9 years old. I just asked people at the bust stop. Give me a break.

Even underground isn't good enough - you know another "delicate instrument" that gets screwed up by electromagnetic interference - it's your brain! If you put metal screens in the wall it will block the EMF waves. Dirt doesn't block EMFs. Oh and you'd think direct rail access to a major university would be a dream come true. WTF??? My college didn't even allow cars on campus. They would have killed for a light rail stop.

Is congestion pricing bad for the environment? - pricing drives choices. If cars cost twice as much, and bicycles cost 1/2 as much, and roads and gas are more expensive, but there are protected bike tracks everywhere for free, people will bike more and drive less. And if transit was free people would use that a lot more too. And that would be a good thing for the environment.

Register your car already - who wants to pay 6% of fair market value on a their car - especially if it's fairly new? and then there are all the other Vehicle Registration Fees, which are unusually high in DC. unless you're getting tickets on the street all the time, it's cheaper to keep out-of-state tags, no? Here's an idea - make parking way more expensive for out-of-state tags and include the dimensions of the car as part of the price (a size code sticker?)... that would put a dent in all the out-of-state SUVs.

by Lee on Oct 13, 2009 6:55 am • linkreport

Purple Line: the Univeristy of Minnesota, while supporting the proposed Central LRT line in Minneapolis/St. Paul, has similar concerns about electromagnetic interference on delicate equipment along the line through campus, and has gone so far as to start a lawsuit on the issue.

Pedestrian death: I concur with IMGoph. Considering that this particular death happened between two routes where pedestrians are prohibited (both BW Parkway and that stretch of New York Ave/Route 50 prohibit pedestrians), I don't see how redesigning the ramp will help.

by Froggie on Oct 13, 2009 7:05 am • linkreport

Thanks for sharing the story of how my boys learned to use transit. The reason I spent so much time in the article on trip planning via wmata.com is because I was trying to show how easy it is! It takes a long time in print to describe the instant act of pressing buttons on a computer. My point was to encourage people to do the planning in the comfort of their homes, rather than schlepping out to get a printed map, which is a major deterrent, as we all know. Folks might not understand that the bus system has entered the digital age and is much more accessible in that regard.

by Jenifer Joy Madden on Oct 20, 2009 9:05 am • linkreport

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