Park St. Bike

I currently live in Boston and when I first got here I was discouraged by the meandering streets and their incredible lack of logic.  Streets truly do go the path of the cows as one may start going east-west and end up traveling north-south.  This lack of thoroughfares and streets with rational routes makes bicycling challenging, on top of the heavy traffic and frequently narrow streets.  The New York Times points out today that Boston is trying to make its streets more bicycle friendly and create a bicycle sharing program.  The Boston Globe ran a similar article last week.

While getting people to ride bikes in theory gets cars off the road there are many challenges with trying to get more people to ride bicycles in an older city without roads designed for bikes.

  • bike lanes are meant for one bike at a time and do not accomodate riders going at different speeds
  • many streets simply cannot accommodate a bike lane
  • bicycle parking downtown or in other areas

However, I adore the idea of bike sharing, especially if they come equipped with a basket to carry small items like groceries or a purse.  Bicycle sharing occurs at unattended stations where people can rent bicycles for a period of time.  It works much in the same way car sharing programs like Zipcar and PhillyCarShare do.

The other way of making bicycles more integrated into city life is making transit hubs like subway stops and commuter rail lines equipped to be bicycle commuter friendly.  That is shelters or simple racks must be around for commuters to park their bikes at alewife bike parkingbefore hopping on other forms of public transit.

Overall, I applaud Boston’s efforts and hope to see many more riders cruising down Commonwealth Avenue in the none-too-distant future.

MagLev

Welcome back to Part 2 of our trip through the highlights of state transportation websites.  Today we’ll go alphabetically from Illinois to Missouri.

Illinois: Ever care to know how bridges are kept free of ice?  Me neither.  But this video of a salt spray truck is wonderfully esoteric.

Indiana: INDOT is full of great information, such as the benefits of rail (e.g. Railroads are a vital component in the nation’s economy. Railroads move over 40 percent of all tonmiles of intercity freight, nearly as much as trucks, barges, and airlines combined)!  However, the coolest part of the site in my opinion is the link to multiple GIS maps of Indiana.

Iowa: I’m a sucker for good maps.  This one of the bike trails of Iowa is full of detail.  I’m tempted to buy a roof rack (and a car) to go riding in Iowa.

Kansas:  The DOT links to the Kansas Transportation Online Community, which has another video, called Behind the Vest, on the lives of highway workers.

Kentucky: A state without much in the way of mass transit — despite two large urban centers — is promoting cleaner air via common sense activities like carpooling and bicycling.

Louisiana: The Department of Transportation and Development has a glossary of terms, including the appropriate alligator cracking.  Other intriguing terms include raveling and California profilograph.

Maine: Ever since I read Travels with Charley Maine has a rustic allure.  However, Maine apparently also has a long railroad history, and it makes you appreciate how old this technology is and what a shame it is that we’ve so underutilized it over the past century.

Maryland:   The region is exploring the possibility of a maglev link between Baltimore and D.C.  Also, the state is giving away free calculators in an effort to get people to calculate the saving in better transportation methods.

Massachusetts: In shocking news, the state reported that public transportation save money, fuel and time for the people and the state.  What do you know?

Michigan: I cannot resist posting these pictures of the famous Mackinac,mackinac dividing the Yoopers from the Trolls.

Minnesota: This will appeal to a small segment of the population, but here is the Duluth public transportation service map.

Mississippi: I am all for anti-litter campaigns, such as the famous “Don’t Mess with Texas.”  However, Myrtle the Turtle?  I’m not so sure about this one.

Missouri: I’m from New Jersey.  Maybe that’s why highway beautification via junkyard concealment seems a tad bit ridiculous.

As airlines seek to combat growing fuel prices by charging passengers for everything from sodas to luggage, Boeing (in what is slightly old news) tested the first hydrogen fuel cell powered aircraft in April. Given how much fuel the industry uses, this could be a significant development. Even if commercial airplanes cannot operate on fuel cells alone, the fuel cells could perform important auxiliary functions or help with smaller planes. For those of you like me who barely understand internal combustion, here is the Dept. of Energy’s explanation of fuel cells. (more…)

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