Peter McFerrin, a research analyst for Brookings Institute that published the now (in)famous Missed Opportunities study about transit in US , writes at length about the opportunity for private transit in suburban areas in this article published on The New Republic.
And to an extent I do agree with Mr. McFerrin –private transit initiatives can provide a sound alternative to public transportation. The organization I belong to, ACTC, agreed that to allow a private local provider Lenzner Coaches to replace the service lost as a consequence of Port Authority ‘s recent cuts. The reason why we voted for this alternative service was that since as long as we represent the riders’ interest and we consider the typical rider on those routes a private alternative will be better than none]. And, it is my guess that, unlike the New York pilot program quoted by Mr. McFerrin, Lenzner is running a profitable service.
A recent article on Grist explainin “Why are we (Americans) so angry at the gas pump “– Because we have no choices- notes that suburban sprawl makes impossible (or at best impracticable) other transportation means such as walking, biking or taking public transit. We do have to drive to work, shopping, doctor, the kids soccer games ,family events, church and so on… So even with a gas efficient vehicle at $3 /gallon we’ve already spent a big chunk of our budget at the pump, if gas were $8.50/gallon as I understand it is now in UK , we’d probably had to stop eating because we would either be unable to afford a trip to the store, or if we put the gas in the car there will be nothing left to purchase groceries.
the first phase of several projects planned to improve the Route 65 Marshall Avenue Interchange
One of the solutions pointed in the Grist article mentioned above: limit sprawl from now own, rebuild within urban boundaries with higher population densities. Shorter distances will make all these options such as walking possible again. Agreed! But we need to do better, and there is something else we need to do first: we need to revise our outlook on accessibility. In many cases it is not distance, but lack of access for cyclists and pedestrians turning away most Americans living in suburban areas who may consider walking instead of driving.
And our priorities are so skewed that , even in the old city neighborhoods where pedestrian pathways survived the last six decades, we tend to ignore the fact that their role is not ornamental but quite pragmatic. Yes, people do walk on those sidewalks –especially when they are the pedestrian path to a bus route. So really, what were they thinking when they put up this sign?
I am unable to tell you what exactly where they thinking, but I can tell you how to fix it. You can file a complaint with Penn DOT here: http://www.dot.state.pa.us/penndot/districts/district11/d11ccc.nsf
Why file a complaint?
- Because Penn DOT through their local district is actually required to supervise and in certain cases approve every step of the project in order to comply with FHWA Work Zone Safety & Mobility Rule (23 CFR Subpart J)
- Because Penn DOT’s specifies in its Publication 46 that, when designing even a temporary traffic control plan, a contractor is required to provide bicyclist and pedestrian accommodations:
“Para 18.104.22.168 (c) Do not expose bicycle and pedestrian pathways to unsafe conditions…”, and obviously if your pathway is blocked therefore forces you to step out in traffic you are exposed to an unsafe condition.
- Because we need to remind Penn DOT that their pedestrian friendly policies are nothing if they are just ink on paper.
WE have the same rights as Pedestrians as we do as drivers!
This year I won’t be writing more about hiking and green space when what I wish is to be able to get out in organized outdoor trips more often. This year I get a chance to paddle, hike and bike as a member of Venture Outdoors. First trip: this Saturday on an exciting “Easter Egg Tyke Hike” through Schenley Park with my preschoolers.
And what is cooler –both the membership and the first trip are free. I won them fair and square by leading one of the teams during CORO Solutions Festival on April 9th. A prize I deserved I think for doing the “stay on the topic” drill with my team members. The topic –funding public transportation –was a controversial one and some participants have a tendency to take the longest possible path to the given issue.
Did we find a solution to the transportation funding issue? Not really, but we got some points covered.
Considering the complexity of issues and solutions, my team almost agreed that it will be a good idea to build first a small group of people and organizations with a direct interest in the matter. This group would look to discover resources, convene the stakeholders, identify the root issues and generate a first set of solutions to be brought in front of the stakeholders.
However , if we ask me, the problem lays somewhere beyond “the funding issue” and we were all aware of the fact that we did not address Port Authority’s “Legacy Costs”** at all. But more about it , in another post.
*VMT =Vehicle Mileage Tax
** Legagy Costs – Bad financial decisions of previous Port Authotrity management and union contracts closed before 2007.