In the first few days of the new year, while the cfa2 editorial board was loafing on the sunny beaches of a tropical island, a few noteworthy news items surfaced in the local rag.
Cagers will be issued brand new tracking identifiers this year. They'll be trading in the blue license plates for plates that are more visible at night. This would have been a perfect time to include a cycling & pedestrian awareness requirement for renewal. The we would know which drivers have at least some education on sharing the road, and by the end of the year, all car owners might be enlightened. Sadly, there is no mention of including such a program (which should probably be linked to driver's licenses anyway).
Amtrak reports some happier news in the new year. Michigan, and Ann Arbor in particular, had record Amtrak ridership this year. Ann Arbor was up 22% from last year! Amtrak confesses that they have no explanation for the jump other than the assumed reaction to rising fuel costs. In addition, SEMCOG continues talks with Amtrak about a demonstration commuter rail to Detroit. Given the glacial progress of SEMCOGs Ann Arbor Detroit Transit Study, we're not holding our breath. We'll report more when something definitive comes out. With or without the commuter rail, we hope Amtrak will consider the increase a good omen and make a resolution to get more people on more trains (is asking for a lower ticket price going too far?) this year.
There were also a number of car crashes reported over the holidays. While our sympathy goes out to anyone who suffered at a time we should all be celebrating, we were happy to note that none of the crashes included pedestrians and cyclists. But one odd event is worth mentioning. Apparently, some pervert tried to break into the bathroom stalls of a couple young girls, failed, and escaped. The interesting point for us is that he was spotted by the father later that day in the parking lot, where the father reportedly hit him with his car, repeatedly.
The father drove toward the man and tried to block him in, striking him twice and sending him onto the hood of the car, reports said.
The suspected pervert escaped again. Police continue the search for the pervert, but there is no mention of pressing charges on the father for assault with a deadly weapon. We are in no way condoning the bathroom incident, but we wonder how the police's response to the father's vehicular attack reflect authority's view of vehicles as potential weapons. When, exactly, is it acceptable to intentionally run someone over with your car?
Finally, in this season of resolutions, we encourage you to add a carfree component to the list of commitments. A great one for people who are already carlite is to try winter cycling. It will add a little exercise to your January hibernation and hopefully winter will fade before your resolve does, meaning you don't have to feel guilty about another resolution failed come July. Since much of our carfree lifestyle is heavily impacted by municipal policy, committing to contribute to a bike, ped, or transit issue would be great. WBWC has lots of ideas and is only lacking the people power to move them forward. Attend a meeting and see for yourself. For inspiration on what kind of carfree communities are possible, see this article on a carfree neighborhood in Germany.
And of course you could finally muster up the courage to post an ad on craiglist and sell your car...