New York Takes Steps to Divide Bike Lanes from Streets

Dr. Nicholas Lownes is the head of CTLS, but he is also a researcher himself. One of his recent projects, CTLS 11-05, is currently aiming to provide a model by which city planners can understand the interactions between freight vehicles and bicyclists in major urban areas.

During his research, he has found that one of the most effective ways in keeping violent collision rates low, was to have a parking area divider between cyclists and the actual street. This kept trucks from parking in illegal areas, and kept bikes in designated lanes.

In line with his tentative findings are New York City’s new bike corrals, which will provide parking for bike-share bikes, and divide the street from bike lanes.

See more about that project here http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2013/04/new-york-tries-out-bike-parking-corrals-protect-separated-bike-lanes/5331/

Fisker’s $103,000 Electric Vehicle cost $660,000 to Make

Fisker Automotive, an electric car company, paid $660,000 to produce each Karma-brand car which sold for $103,000, according to Bloomberg.com. That is to say the company lost $557,000 on each automobile the U.S.-backed Finnish company produced.

When the company halted production of the vehicle last year, they had to cancel plans to use a $500 million U.S. government loan to reopen an old GM factory in Deleware.

Privco, a business investigation company, reported that the loan was a huge mistake for the government. In documents attained through the Freedom of Information Act, it was shown that Fisker had violated its ‘terms-of-loan’ multiple times over its history.

According to the company, Fisker defaulted in December 2010 but continued to receive taxpayer money following that event.

However, the Department of Energy was quick to respond, calling the Privco findings ‘completely false.’

Bill Gibbons, a spokesperson for the department, said “PrivCo’s assertion that Fisker defaulted in December 2010 is simply false. The milestones that PrivCo includes in its report are also wrong. The fact is, the department stopped disbursements on the loan after the company stopped meeting its milestones.”

One way or another, the Fisker debacle is a simple example of the dangers in pursuing new technologies. Producing a sustainable transportation system (in which more sustainable cars are included) is not an easy project, and will lead to many more failures than successes.

The circumstance which surrounds the amount of U.S. taxpayer funding entering the Fisker company is terrible news. Not for the money wasted, but because their plan of creating a new class of electric vehicles did not pan out. We cannot look at the U.S. loans as a waste, but rather as a piece of important research.

To quote Thomas Edison:

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

Dr. Peng Zhang, a CTLS researcher, is currently working on a project regarding electric vehicle integration in the United States. His research, titled CTLS 11-01 – Critical Technologies for Grid Integration of Electric Vehicles – Moving Towards Sustainable Transportation and Smart Gridlooks at energy consumption and off-peak energy pricing as factors in EV integration.

 

CDC: 47,000 Pedestrians Killed By Vehicles from 2001-2010

Between the years of 2001, and 2010, 47,000 pedestrians were killed by moving automobiles, according to a safety study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention today.
The opening line of the document reads, “Motor vehicle traffic crashes are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in the United States, resulting in 33,687 deaths in 2010.”

An aging population, the report says, plays a large role in the high amount of pedestrian fatalities reported this year. Those over the age of 75 are especially susceptible to pedestrian on car fatality. With government stats projecting a doubling in the number of 75+ year old citizens in the upcoming years, the number of these deaths may continue to rise.
Surprisingly, young children aged 0-14 were the least likely to be struck and killed. The report hypothesizes that 2 factors are to thank for the relatively low number of youth deaths. First, young people are significantly less likely to die after being struck by an automobile, and second, young people generally cross the road at a faster rate than older men and women.
The data used in the report was accessed through CDC WONDER – a data center which provides “customized reports of mortality data,” for the disease center and general public.
Dr. Nicholas Lownes, and Dr. John Ivan, both of the Center for Transportation and Livable Systems, have produced research related to mitigating pedestrian fatalities.
Dr. Ivan’s research, CTLS 11-04 Evaluation of Surrogate Measures for Pedestrian Safety in Various Road and Roadside Environments, investigated the relationship between roadway, and roadside design elements and traffic incidents (non-fatal incidents) involving pedestrians.
Dr. Lownes’ research, CTLS 11-05 – Investigation of Curb Management Strategies to Minimize Freight/Cyclist Conflicts in the Urban Core, investigated violent interactions between bicyclists and vehicles in New York City in order to design a freight/bicycle interaction dataset.

Bike Walk Connecticut Ride to Work Day — May 14th

On May 17th cyclists from around the state will celebrate national bike month with Bike Walk Connecticut for ‘bike to work day.’ Throughout the day, the Bike Walk advocacy group encourages residents to get out on their 12-speeds, and pedal their way to work.

Groups of cyclists and walkers will be gathering in towns across the state; including Bethel,  Norwalk, West Hartford, and more.  Bike Walk will be releasing information on signing up for these gatherings soon.

For those not bike-inclined, the organization also offers resources for planning your ride-to-work day. You can find FAQs, Bike Buddies, and helpful tips on their website.

Bike Walk Connecticut is a pedestrian and cyclist advocacy group which supports legislative action in defense of pedestrian safety.  According to their website, they have previously advocated for “the passage of 2008 legislation requiring motorists to provide a safe distance of at least 3 feet when overtaking a cyclist,” and “the passage of Complete Streets legislation and the formation of a statewide Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Board.”

CTLS Undergraduate Research Fellow Kevin McKernan recently presented a report to faculty regarding complete streets and their implementation in Connecticut. More information regarding Mr. McKernan’s study and findings can be found here.

Complete streets are an integral part of a successful transportation system, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation now dedicates 1% of its annual budget to pedestrian and cyclist safety. This percentage is applied to projects which conform to complete street standards as defined by Smart Growth America.

According to Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition website: “Instituting a Complete Streets policy ensures that transportation planners and engineers consistently design and operate the entire roadway with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.”

For more information on the May 17th celebration, visit http://www.bikewalkct.org/

For more information on complete streets visit http://www.smartgrowthamerica.org/complete-streets

For more information on Kevin McKernan’s project visit the CTLS page for TURF presentations

Montreal’s Largest Airport was Larger than Montreal

When it was first opened in 1975, Montreal’s Mirabel Airport was intended to become the lone ‘major hub’ of Canadian air travel. For a time, the Canadian government required that all European airlines make Montreal-Mirabel their only Canadian destination, ensuring that the humongous airport was as well-used as possible.

The airport’s sheer size made it a dominating part of the Montreal area. Officially listed as encompassing an area which took up 150 square miles, it surpassed the size of Montreal proper by 9 square miles.

Canadian authorities had, in fact, created an airport which was literally larger than the area it was intended to serve. This fact, in addition to a myriad of other issues, resulted in a transportation project that ended as a total failure. By 1989 – 81,000 acres of the original development were deeded back to the original owners.

Located in Mirabel, Quebec, it is about 50 km away from Montreal’s city center and was meant to replace the older Dorval Airport. However, transportation to and from the airport was notoriously difficult, and a plan to connect the two areas with a high speed rail system never came to fruition. 100 mph trains which would have quickly connected the two areas were scrapped, and travelers were forced to become reliant on much slower road transit. Only two highways provided airport links, Autoroutes 15, and 50.

While these factors may have been survivable – Montreal experienced a large economic decline after the airport was finished, and air travel in the area decreased greatly. Passenger volume never reached the levels projected, and the airport was faltering.

Somewhat inevitably, Mirabel succumbed to its detracting factors. By late 2004, the airport began operating only as a cargo hub, with no passenger air traffic. At the same time, Dorval Airport – the transportation hub Mirabel was meant to replace – received improvements which allowed to receive the same number of passengers Mirabel had originally been meant to accommodate: 20 Million people per year.

In the end, the Mirabel project was seen as a large misappropriation of state funding. It now serves as a perfect example of what effect a lack of planning can have on transportation systems – especially those too overzealous to function as they were designed.