Archive for the ‘Public transport’ Category
The growing realization that cars are just one part of traffic – and the least space efficient one to boot
Here is a slick documentary about biking in Brussels that gives a good portrait of traffic in many places. It shows how cities are approaching a tipping point where cars will no longer be all that matters. After decades of car-crazy urban planning, the mounting immobility problems are demanding a solution at the same time as a burgeoning movement of ordinary people take to biking because they are tired of sitting in unproductive traffic and prefer a green, swift and flexible way of getting around. A switch that makes them realize that the city isn’t built for bikes. But while they realize it, the promising part is that they refuse to accept it. That our walkable cities have been readapted for cars means that they can be readapted again, and it’s happening, in Brussels and elsewhere (thank’s to the people behind The Atlantic’s excellent tumblr for posting).
So simple but so effective (found this thanks to Candy Chang).
This map from the Dutch site TIMEMAP is incredible, it reconfigures the map of the Netherlands based on how long it takes to get to a place from any starting point based on what time of the day it is (thanks to Greater Greater Washington for posting about this). The map is larger if you are in a remote place or if it’s an inconvenient time, say 2 am when transit options are few. It thus neatly illustrates where in the country you will be the most and least connected at any given point.
I’ve found myself in Bratislava twice; both times I thoroughly enjoyed the Slovakian capital. It’s an interesting mix of quaint, cute and communist with a city center dominated by quintessentially Central European 19th century buildings surrounded by lackluster tower blocks and some really odd designs such as a UFO-looking bridge and an upside down steel pyramid that is completely covered in rust.
On top of that there are also great grocery stores that were a real boon after a few weeks in Vienna, but a major complain of mine was the main bus station.
This, since it’s not so much a bus station as an empty, gritty urban space beneath a bridge that makes you question why you haven’t been stabbed yet? And it’s a shame that a generally inviting city forces its residents and visitors to pass through such a thoroughly unpleasant location on their way around Bratislava.
Which is obviously what a group of Bratislavans thought as well, so they decided to paint the entire area green. And what a difference a little paint and civic activism can do!
The Atlantic Cities has a slide show of “The World’s Best Subway Maps” that is worth checking out. Though I question that some of their picks’ belong on this list. Sometimes iconic transit map designs can make a real dent in popular culture (enough for the New Yorker to lament its disappearance 30 years later). But two things are sure, and that is that neither the Buffalo nor the Atlanta transport map will find its way onto a t-shirt worth buying anytime soon:
This classic Seoul subway map though, I have as a poster:
There are a lot of weird and interesting things out there, one of them being the conductor Alexander Chen’s “interactive string instrument”.
Subways are great for reading, since there is litterally nothing else to do when stuck underground with no view other than your own reflection. So even if you didn’t intend to read, it’s hard not to go through every single word of dull ads for business school evening classes and the latest 17th century hat exhibition at the ethnographic museum. Which is why Librerías Gandhi, one of Mexico’s largest book retailers, has teamed up with the transit authority to boost tube-riders’ interest in literature by displaying excerpts from Franz Kafka’s short story “The Bridge” in the metro, as reported by Good Education.
At every station along the 13 stop Politécnico to Pantitlán line, it’s possible to read one of the world’s greatest writers. And if you miss parts of it, or feel inclined to read more, you can always buy it or look out for a library to get it for free. This makes use of unused urban space, improves the transport experience and may even get a few Mexicans to read more, without costing much at all. Good public-private partnership Mexico City!
Xiaoji Chen of MIT has created some really interesting isochronic maps over Paris and Singapore where the city “size” varies depending on your mode of transportation (which I found thanks to The City Fix). Chen rightly points out that “the distance between a spot and the city center is not proportional to their geographical distance, but the cost taken to get there”. Here is the travel cost map over Paris:
For more maps and info see Xiaoji Chen’s blog.
First, kudos to Dallas for deciding to invest in public transportation and submitting plans to build a 1,6-mile (2,6 km) streetcar. The US needs more public transportation and you have to start somewhere – but why here, Dallas? Quoting Yonah Freemark over at the Transport Politic:
“Though the $23 million the Dallas Oak Cliff streetcar will cost to construct is truly tiny compared to the investments other cities are making in light rail or subways, the characteristics of this project make one wonder if it is worth spending any money at all on it … The project violates almost all the basics of transit project delivery. Worst is its proposed single-track construction … which will limit service to 20-minute maximum frequencies … To put it another way, 20-minute frequencies mean ten minute average waiting times; combined with the seven minutes it will take trains to journey the 1.6 miles from origin to destination, this means that on average, walking will be just as fast as taking the train.”
If no one will use it, why build it? That would be a pertinent question in a modern market economy, but maybe usage is not Dallas’ goal?
Many other cities (mainly situated on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain) have undertaken large infrastructure projects without any potential ridership in mind in order to showcase the strength and power of its local government or national leadership. Though, I can be wrong here as well. Maybe the Dallas streetcar is not about municipal grandeur at all, but just another dreamy rail project from the inefficiency guru Congressman Mica’s drawing board.