Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

Ever use Google Maps to get driving directions? Good news! Now you can get walking directions.

It’s Google’s world and we’re just living in it.


Great tips on how to avoid being sweaty at work.

I saw an article about farmers in the Mississippi delta in The New York Times, and I thought I’d share it so you can see how higher gas prices have affected them. Obviously higher gas prices have caused people to reconsider their daily car trips and how they are going to pay for gasoline. However, higher gas prices have affected people in a number of different ways.

  • Farmers are borrowing money from their bosses so they can fill their tanks and get to work.
  • Some are switching jobs for shorter commutes.
  • People are giving up meat so they can buy fuel.
  • Gasoline theft is rising.
  • Drivers are running out of gas more often, leaving their cars by the side of the road.

The higher gas prices are not only changing the way people travel, but also the way that they eat, work, and play.

Median annual income.

These maps were published yesterday on The New York Times website. These graphics show that gas prices are high throughout the country, but how hard they hit individual families depends on income levels, which vary widely.

Average Gasoline Price per Gallon.

Think we’ve got it bad in Virginia? Check out the West, especially California. I’ve heard that experts at Goldman and Sachs predict that gasoline prices will reach $6 before the end of the year. Time to dust off your bicycles and bus passes.

Percent of income spent on gasoline.

This map shows how the areas that have been hit the hardest by the rise in gasoline prices. Citizens in the South and Midwest are spending a large portion of their personal income on gasoline. My guess is that citizens in this region have to take the bus, carpool, or spend money on gasoline to get to work or run daily errands.

This past weekend presidential hopeful Barack Obama was seen riding his bicycle with his family in their neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois. Apparently the family was celebrating Hillary Clinton’s withdrawal and Obama’s officially nomination as the democratic candidate. The Associated Press published several pictures of Barack riding his bike with his daughters in tow.

The Associated Press’s pictures spurred several thoughts in my mind…

  • Physical Fitness: It’s no secret that Barack Obama lives a health lifestyle. He loves basketball and biking, and he’s committed to a healthy lifestyle (except for smoking cigarettes and eating big, juicy hamburgers). Obama’s take on personal fitness is important because the United States is experiencing an obesity epidemic. We need strong leadership and national programs to help us adopt healthier lifestyles and correct the problems that have largely been ignored over the past decade. Hopefully Barack’s views on physical fitness can help this country lose weight (and keep it off).
  • Alternative Transportation: Public and personal transportation is a growing concern in the U.S., and as gas prices continue to soar our country will need to make national transportation and energy reforms. Currently, there are several options being discussed like renewable energies, domestic oil exploration, cleaner fossil fuels, mass transit, and multi-modal transportation (just to name a few). I hope Barack is serious about changing how this country travels and uses energy. We need to wean ourselves off of non-renewable energy sources and explore alternative energy sources and more sustainable lifestyles and patterns of development. Maybe Barack can lead the way on his bicycle.
  • Urban Living: Since mankind has been on this planet, we have lived in cities. Cities have been the standard for hundreds of years and suburbs have been a small bleep on the radar screen. Cities are the solution as compact and walkable urban areas are the most sustainable forms of development. Barack Obama lives in an urban neighborhood in Chicago (as opposed to a multi-acre ranch in rural Texas). I hope that Obama’s urban experience will lead him to advocate for smarter growth and a return to urban living. We don’t necessarily need mega cities like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, but we need a network of smaller, compact cities that are sustainable, walkable, and linked together via mass transit.

And remember, not all of us have security guards watching over us as we bike around town. So, when you make transportation reforms please make an effort to make bicycle safety a high priority.

Be the change, Obama. Be the change.

One of the benefits of working in downtown Staunton this summer is that I get to take the trolley to work every day. The trolley is free and it is operated by the City of Staunton. The trolley has two routes: Green and Silver. The Green route loops around downtown, and the Silver Route runs a larger route around the entire City.

Unfortunately, the City of Staunton does not have accurate maps for its Silver Route. The City has a map for the Silver Route on its website, but this map is completely wrong. A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of discovering this inaccuracy first hand. When I was going downtown for my first day of work I missed my stop because I anticipated the trolley making a turn that was represented on the City’s inaaccurate map. Needless to say I was late and ticked off.

I confronted Staunton’s Visitor Center about the trolley issue and they laughed and told me that they didn’t have any maps displaying the trolley’s actual route. They told me to call the bus driver to learn the actual route.

No map! Are you serious? As a cartographer, urban planner, and long-term resident of Staunton, I am embarrassed for the City. Not only does the City not have an accurate map, but it continues to publish a map that is completely wrong!

How is the City of Staunton going to operate a first class transportation system if it cannot show the actual trolley routes?

I’m a big fan of the trolley, and I think it has the potential to be successful in the Queen City. Times are changing: gas prices are soaring, downtown Staunton is thriving, residents want to live in urban environments, and the public becoming more environmentally conscious. The City of Staunton must address its inefficiencies to ensure that it does not turn away potential transit users.

When the trolleys were first implemented several years ago there was a backlash because the general public did not see the need for a free public bus system in a small little mountain town. More specifically, residents didn’t want to see their tax money go to waste. Taxpayers will see their hard-earned money go down the drain if the City cannot clean up its act. People are not going to ride the trolleys if they don’t know where they’re going or if they have a bad experience.

First and foremost, the City must remove its outdated map (was that map ever accurate?) and replace it with an up-to-date version.

I will not rest until justice is served!

On January 22 I posted pictures of Charlottesville’s newest artistic bike racks. I was impressed with the City’s creativity in combining community art with practicality. The Japanese store bicycles in a completely different way. The Japanese have huge, computerized vaults that can store thousands of bikes.

These bike vaults are perfect for dense, urban areas with multi-modal transit. Imagine if bikes were treated with the same respect in America. Do you think we’ll ever “bike vaults” in the U.S.?

A few weeks ago I posted the State Farm commercial that made fun of people biking to work. The clip received a lot of criticism from environmentalists and bikers, and accordingly, State Farm removed the clip from its advertising campaign. Apparently, Farmers HelpPoint wasn’t paying attention to the situation as its newest advertisement also berates bikers.

Let’s examine the situation for a second. Why are these insurance companies trying to discourage people from biking? Is it because bikes are safer and if everyone bikes to work there will be little need for automobile insurance?

Maybe State Farm and Farmers HelpPoint should start something new and invest in bicycle insurance.

p.s. Don’t be surprised if Farmers HelpPoint withdraws this clip YouTube just as State Farm withdrew theirs.

1. West Edmonton Mall – 20,000 spaces
2. Seattle Sea-Tac Airport – 13,000 spaces
3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport, McNamara Terminal – 11,500 spaces
4. Universal Studios, South Facility – 10,200 spaces
5. Disney World, Magic Kingdom and Epcot Lots – 23,000 spaces combined
6. Disneyland’s Mickey and Friends Parking Structure – 10,000 spaces
7. Chicago O’Hare Airport, Main parking garage – 9,266 spaces
8. Toronto Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1 parking lot – 9,000 spaces
9. Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Daily Parking Garage – 8,400 spaces
10.Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal D Parking Garage – 8,100 spaces

This list was published in The list consists of parkings lots from shopping malls, airports, and theme parks. Click on the link to check out these ugly monstrosities.

What exactly are you trying to say here State Farm? What’s wrong with biking to work? What’s wrong with wearing red spandex?

—Added April 11th at 1:15 pm
This video is no longer available because State Farm has officially pulled the advertisement. They received so much negative feedback that they decided to stop airing the ad. That’s what you get for making fun of bikers.