Posts about Video
While some of us can't imagine living without Metro, at one point in time not all that long ago it was brand new. This 1976 promotional video, via PlanItMetro, shows the system's earliest days:
Some areas have drastically changed since Metro arrived, like Rhode Island Avenue, which was surrpunded by parking lots and is now the site of mixed-use, transit-oriented development.
The video also features 2-car trains, which seems unimaginable in our era of 6- to 8-car trains.
What do you notice?
New technologies continue to make it possible to see things in creative, new ways. A group of people at Teehan+Lax created a program to allow users to create videos animating Google's Street View. This demo video shows an awesome "hyperlapse" across various settings.
You can make your own videos, too using their software. What areas would you be interested in animating to create an awesome video?
Right now the system doesn't let you link to an animation or export it to video, nor can you select a specific route, but if you could do these things then something like Hyperlapse could be a great way to graphically show people driving, biking, or walking directions, or create video tours, or otherwise show people about places online.
Starting at 12:06, Greater Greater Washington contributor Veronica Davis, WABA head Shane Farthing, and Arlington bike planner Chris Eatough will talk about bicycling in DC on the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Listen live or catch the archived audio once it's posted this afternoon.
They also posted this video which visualizes a few days of Capital Bikeshare trips:
This is yet another consequence of Capital Bikeshare's excellent decision to provide anonymous trip data. People have done all kinds of useful things with the data, like MV Jantzen's similar video and interactive visualization tool.
WMATA planners helped STLTransit create an animation of transit across the entire Washington region. That's possible because WMATA has a single data file with all regional agencies' schedules. They hope to make that file public; that would fuel even more tools that aid the entire region.
Click full screen and HD to see the most detail.
One of the obstacles for people who want to build trip planners, analyze what areas are accessible by transit, design visualizations, or create mobile apps is that our region has a great many transit agencies, each with their own separate data files.
Want to build a tool that integrates Metrobus, Fairfax Connector, and Ride On? You have to chase down a number of separate files from different agencies in a number of different places, and not all agencies offer open data at all.
The effect is that many tool builders, especially those outside the region, don't bother to include all of our regional systems. For example, the fun tool Mapnificent, which shows you everywhere you can reach in a set time from one point by transit, only includes WMATA, DC Circulator, and ART services. That means it just won't know about some places you can reach in Fairfax, Alexandria, Montgomery, or Prince George's.
Sites like this can show data for many cities all across the world without the site's author having to do a bunch of custom work in every city, because many transit agencies release their schedules in an open file format called the General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS). Software developer Matt Caywood has been maintaining a list of which local agencies offer GTFS files as well as open real-time data.
We've made some progress. Fairfax Connector, for example, recently started offering its own GTFS feed. But while DASH has one, you have to email them for it, and there's none for Prince George's The Bus.
The best way to foster more neat tools and apps would be to have a single GTFS file that includes all systems. As it turns out, there is such a beast. WMATA already has all of the schedules for all regional systems for its own trip planner. It even creates a single GTFS file now.
Michael Eichler wrote on PlanItMetro that they give this file to the regional Transportation Planning Board for its modeling, and offered it to STLTransit, who have been making animations showing all transit in a region across a single day.
This is one of many useful ways people could use the file. How about letting others get it? Eichler writes, "We are working to make this file publicly available."
Based on the STLTransit video, WMATA's file apparently includes 5 agencies that Caywood's list says have no public GTFS files: PG's TheBus, PRTC OmniLink and OmniRide, Fairfax CUE, Frederick TransIT, and Loudoun County Transit. It also covers Laurel Connect-a-Ride, Reston LINK, Howard Transit, the UM Shuttle, and Annapolis Transit, which aren't even on that list and which most software developers might not even think to look for even if they did have available files.
Last I heard, the obstacles to the file being public included WMATA getting permission from the regional transit agencies, and some trepidation by folks inside the agency about whether they should take on the extra work to do this or would get criticized if the file has any errors.
Let's hope they can make this file public as soon as possible. Since it already exists, it should be a no-brainer. If any regional agencies or folks at WMATA don't understand why this is good for transit, a look at this video should bring it into clear focus.
Thanks to video posted on YouTube, we can take a historic ride on the DC Transit 82 streetcar line from 5th & G (near what is now WMATA headquarters) all the way to the Branchville neighborhood of College Park.
Between downtown and the northern end of the line at Branchville, the streetcar passes through Eckington, Mount Rainier, Hyattsville, Riverdale, and College Park.
It's difficult to determine the exact date of this film because it was posted without a source cited. However, the streetcars are all sporting DC Transit livery. Before July 1956, the system was known as Capital Transit. It also has to be before January 1962, because that's when the streetcar system closed in DC.
We can actually narrow the dates a little more because the 80 (North Capitol Street) and 82 (Rhode Island Avenue) lines were discontinued on September 7, 1958.
Here is a map of the route the streetcar takes in this film:
There are a few interesting things along the route visible in the video.
At 0:48, the streetcar takes a "private right-of-way" between New York Avenue and Eckington Place. Today, this is the Wendy's in "Dave Thomas Circle," at New York and Florida Avenues.
A little farther up the route, at 1:58, you see the T Street "plow pit," where the car changed from using underground conduit to overhead wire. The bridge in the background is the T Street bridge over what is now the WMATA Brentwood Yard.
Starting at 10:18, the line begins to cross the Cafritz property in Riverdale Park. This section of the line will be converted into an extension of the College Park Trolley Trail whenever the site is developed.
At 11:20, the streetcar begins running on what is now the College Park Trolley Trail, and it continues on what is now the trail until the end of the film.
At 12:15, the trolley comes to a grade crossing of a spur of the B&O Railroad which was used to deliver coal to the University of Maryland. That right-of-way is now used for Paint Branch Parkway. Just north of that crossing (at 12:25), the streetcar crosses a tributary of Paint Branch Creek on a bridge that is is still used to carry the Trolley Trail.
At 14:18, the trolley arrives at the Branchville Loop, where Greenbelt Road, Rhode Island Avenue, and University Boulevard intersect. The narrator mentions that the line used to run further north along what is now Rhode Island Avenue. As late as 1948, the 82 line was still running as far north as Beltsville. However, the line used to run all the way to Main Street in Laurel, at the far northern end of Prince George's County.
What else do you notice in the film?
I'm on a panel at this morning's Washington Post "Conquering the Commute" symposium to talk about how people get around on foot and by bike, along with DC planning director Harriet Tregoning and chief DDOT bike planner Jim Sebastian.
You can watch the panel live here:
Immediately afterward, Stewart Schwartz from the Coalition for Smarter Growth, the most influential smart growth group in the Washington region and a small charity I hope you will support financially, will debate lifelong Outer Beltway booster Bob Chase on a panel with Transportation Planning Board head Ron Kirby. It should be exciting so stick around!
After the event, I will replace this live stream with embedded videos as soon as the Post gets them up.
This Australian video, which has gone viral worldwide, features a catchy tune and an amusing set of things not to do which can kill you. Get to the end and it takes on a decidedly transit-oriented bent.
As you discover, this is actually a PSA by Melbourne's Metro transit agency to convince people not to stand too close to train platforms or try to drive or walk across tracks.
Can you imagine a US transit agency, even one of the most clever like LA Metro, doing this? Wouldn't it be great if our US Metro agencies could be so clever?
Before cities engineered their roads and traffic patterns for the cars, many modes mixed together.
Ghosts of DC got a hold of a video of Pennsylvania Avenue in 1909, showing horses, bikes, pedestrians, automobiles, and streetcars all chaotically, but successfully, interacting.
Bruce DePuyt and I talked Tuesday about the Babe's project, a planned 55-65-unit apartment building one block from Tenleytown Metro which will not have underground parking and whose residents will not be able to get resident parking stickers.
A lot of people are nervous about this proposal, but it really should be a no-brainer. The Office of Planning report said that there are 560 parking spaces available for rent nearby. In just the garage at Cityline at Tenley (the building with the Container Store), there are 110-120 spaces going unused each night, and 50 during the day.
That means that even if almost everyone brought a car and just rented a space, everything would be fine. There's a strange legacy assumption that everyone who parks would need to either park in their own building or on the street, but there are actually a lot of garages in Tenleytown.
Plus, Douglas Development is explicitly planning to market the building to people who don't want to have cars. The Container Store at Cityline only sells containers. That doesn't make it a bad store because it doesn't also sell furniture or clothing. If you want containers, go there. If not, shop somewhere else. Likewise, there's nothing wrong with having a building for people mostly without cars, and other buildings and houses and neighborhoods can serve people with different needs.
Bruce was worried that someone with a car would want to buy a unit from an initial owner (actually, it's an apartment building, not condos, but I forgot to mention that on the segment). Regardless, I pointed out that some apartments in some buildings have decks, or more bathrooms, and others don't. People choose where to live based on the available amenities, and not every apartment, condo or house has to serve every need for every person.
This is a simple economic concept, but it seems to escape many people, like Councilmember Jack Evans (ward 2), who was on the show before me. Bruce asked Evans about the proposal. Evans made the odd argument that a building designed for people to ride transit one block from the Tenleytown Metro is a bad idea because there isn't a Metro station in his own neighborhood of Georgetown.
I think it's a major mistake to do that in the District of Columbia. The reason being that the Metro system, the bus system does not work well enough to get people around in the city. I live in Georgetown. There is no Metro. For me to get around I'm taking buses, transferring, it takes me a long time to get anywhere.This thinking reflects one of the most common cognitive errors we see in policy debates. People extrapolate their own experiences to everyone else. If I need to drive, everyone must. If I need a certain size apartment, everyone must. Therefore, the government must force the market to build those things.
We don't all need the same type of housing. Some people do need, or want, large suburban houses with big yards and 4 bedrooms and 2-car garages. We have a lot of those. Other people would rather save money and time and buy or rent a small unit without parking if it lets them live near the Metro.
Our zoning need not force everything into a single mold. That's what 1960s planners tried to do, and we know it was a failure. With the agreement to withhold residential parking permits to residents of this building, there's no way it can negatively effect anyone else. That means there's no reason to forbid Douglas from constructing the apartments they think the market demands.
An awful lot of stormwater just fell on the Washington area. DC Water shared this 2011 video about what happens to a raindrop after it falls in a storm until it gets to a river.
Stormwater has to pass through the Combined Sewer Overflow system, which mixes water and sewage. That is, unless and until DC Water digs new tunnels for stormwater (and, unfortunately, has to spend a very large amount of money to do it).
- Young kids try to assault me while biking
- Metro bag searches aren't always optional
- Focus transportation on downtown or neighborhoods?
- Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
- Redeveloping McMillan is the only way to save it
- DDOT agrees to repave 15th Street cycle track
- Vienna Metro town center won't have a town center