Friday, April 20, 2007

huron river drive carfree for 3 hours

From GetDowntown, among others announcing this unique opportunity:

Have you ever wondered what it be like if Huron River Drive were closed
to cars? Well, tomorrow is your chance to check it out and voice your
comments to the City. The City of Ann Arbor is closing Huron River
Drive from Bird Rd. to Main to motorized traffic from 9-12 on Saturday,
April 21st.
Whether or not the road should be closed permanently to motorized traffic, we should definitely take the opportunity for a bike ride or walk along the river when the opportunity presents itself. The road is closed while the city removes low-hanging branches, not specifically for bikes and pedestrians.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

speed traps on sidewalks?

A link from Ed's blog pointed us to a list of speed traps in Ann Arbor.

The interesting point, from a carfree perspective, is that some of the traps include police vehicles parked on the sidewalk and in bus loading zones.

Huron Parkway Ravine. They sit on the sidewalk along the concrete tieback walls.
Fuller near Mitchell Field. They do it Cali style and sit in the bus loading zone.

While cycling on the multi-use path on the north side of Fuller, our path has occasionally been blocked by a police car sitting in the driveway of the community pool.

Has anyone else run into a situation like this? Is it necessary for police to block NMT facilities in order to enforce speed limits?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

aadts and the tommorow that never comes

You're never going to believe this, but the Ann Arbor to Detroit rail project opening has been put off until at least 2008. Yes, over the last ten years you've been let-down repeatedly over the possibility of a decent mass transit connection to the airport and the city. Yes, it seemed like something might have come of it this time. No, it probably won't ever be completed if this uninspired group of foot-dragging bureaucrats continues to hold the reins.

"Amtrak officials are seeking meetings with officials of three freight railroads"
"A lot will depend on what the freight companies are willing to allow and how much it will cost to use their tracks"
"SEMCOG is trying to find out if some federal money for studying transit between Ann Arbor and Detroit can be used to help pay for the proposed contract service"
The AADTS website hasn't been updated since December 06. Until somebody at SEMCOG grows a real set of ovaries and starts MAKING this happen, we can look forward to sitting on the edge of our seats and biting our nails while waiting for the next announcement of delay on this project.
"We've identified a model that we would like to see," Palombo said. "Now we have to see what the reality is."
Never a truer word spoken.

Please contribute more optomistic perspectives in the comments.

what to do with huron river drive?

It appears that the miserable condition of Huron River Drive has reached some invisible but verifiable level of crapitude. For years the only thing cyclists and motorists using this stretch of road could agree on was the miserable state of the too-narrow road surface. The city has now deemed the bumpy patch-jobs, potholes, and cracks on HRD worthy of repair. However, knowing they will have to deal with the huggable bunch of community-minded citizens that is Ann Arbor, they are setting up a bitchfest public workshop first.

The workshop will be held Wednesday, April 4, though the News article fails to mention time or location.

The options are:
-repave as is
-widen the road for bike lanes or at least a paved shoulder
-close the section from Main to Bird Rd. to automotive traffic

While the carfree option obviously has some allure with us, we are not quick to jump on the bandwagon here. No doubt that HRD makes for a scenic bike ride. But it is not a major connection for getting around town. Also, access to this section of road is not great from downtown. North Main would need some work to provide a bike and pedestrian friendly connection. Closing off this section of road without other major improvements would result in a giant sidewalk (bike lane, multiuse path, whatever) to nowhere.

If we build it and they don't come, due to poor planning and integration with existing facilities, we'll be dealing with the collective memory of how much money was wasted providing a highway for cyclists that don't exist. This could turn the general population away from future bike/ped projects.

Closing the Drive to cars (not "vehicles", AANews. Bikes ARE vehicles) should be part of a larger plan for improved access to the river and connecting a carfree-friendly downtown with the river and Dexter. If not, the money may be better spent on realizing the "carfree-friendly" downtown.

Monday, April 02, 2007

blue bus etiquette

Laura sent us a link to some advice on being a good rider at the Ann Arbor Crier.

Above all else, follow two simple rules: Do not be in the way, and pretend everyone on the bus is your grandma. Use these as your rubric for courtesy and you’ll notice fewer Death Stares in your direction.
Students are one of the more neglected carfree groups (along with disasbled folks, homeless people, and the elderly population) on our site. While we are trying to correct this oversight, it is nice to see others picking up our slack, helping to define a local bus culture.

The list of tips focuses on being a polite rider. Among the 13 suggestions, this is our favorite:
When it’s 4:30 and the older University employees are leaving their jobs, laden with briefcases and coats, give them your seat. They need it more than you do. The same goes, of course, for pregnant women, kids and the elderly. Relevant stops: the entire medical campus.
Good manners start on the bus.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

carfree queries: diy traffic light changer

[One of our guilty pleasures in keeping house at cfa2 is browsing the site statistics. The idea is that by reviewing referrers and search terms, we can reach our target audience more effectively while, at the same time, expand that audience. That hasn't really panned out so far, but we still enjoy the harmless voyuerisn of finding out where visitors come from and what kinds of search terms bring them here. You'd be surprised how many posts come from following a Google lead recent keyword activity. We're trying out this new, semi-regular "column" to share the inspiration, confusion, and belly laughs that some of these referring search terms bring us.

A curious Googler inquires: "diy traffic light changer"

Our post on triggering traffic signals on a bike must have led you here. We haven't yet received any success stories based on our advice, but the info may be helpful if you're on a bike and getting impatient in the left turn lane.

If you are a cager looking to beat the system and shave 15 seconds off of your commute, we discovered that there is a whole industry providing infra-red signal that will turn a red light green. But don't get your hopes up. These devices are intended only for authorized vehicles; whether on foot, a bike, or a car, using a traffic signal preemption transmitter breaks Federal and State laws.

This may be of interest to Ann Arbor transit geeks, since the AATA has previously considered implementing a signal preemtion system to help keep buses on schedule. The impact would probably be slight (and thus not worth the hefty price tag), but combined with express service from Park & Ride lots, it may attract a following. Hopefully that following consists of more Park & Ride bus passengers and not just automobiles that follow express buses to make the lights.