Monday, December 25, 2006

platewire: reporting bad (and good) drivers

Our holiday web surfing introduced us to a new site called platewire. This blog allows road users to post complaints and praise of other drivers by posting a license plate number and brief message. Platewire describes itself as a place where "commuters can communicate their thoughts and feelings in regards to driving on today's roadways."

Naturally, our thoughts drifted to the potential for carfree commuters to express their many gripes about drivers. We could report cars parked in bikelanes, drivers who block the crosswalk while waiting to make a right turn, vehicles that don't yield enough space to cyclists on the road, and other various complaints. The site sort of assumes that drivers will be reporting other drivers.

We see two potential benefits to Ann Arbor pedestrians and cyclists posting here. First, it would generally raise awareness that roads are not reserved for automobiles and that cagers behavior on the road has an impact extending beyond other drivers. Secondly, lots of reports from Ann Arbor would help build our fair city's image as supporting and consisting of a carfree community. One might argue that a third benefit is that this is a good forum to make direct appeals to the driving community. But the level of discourse on the threads we've read suggests that advocating the non-motorized position is just troll bait. Don't expect to teach many lessons.

There are only a few posts about pedestrians and cycling so far. As you might imagine, those threads don't offer much intelligent discussion on sharing the road. Here is an example. The question is whether an increase in bike/ped posts would indicate the dangers that automobiles pose to other road users, or jsut come accross as whining from people who don't pay gas tax.

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