John Brennan, a frequent-flying businessman from Portland, set off an explosives wand in April and stripped naked to show Transportation Security Administration screeners he was not carrying a bomb. […]
A judge found Brennan not guilty of public indecency on the grounds that he stripped naked as a form of protest, which is protected speech.
I wrote to Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown regarding Representative Steve Chabot’s attempt to overturn the will of Cincinnati voters and insert an anti-earmark against bus and rail transit into a federal transportation funding bill.
Fortunately, Senator Brown sees the danger of the amendment, and replied:
I appreciate hearing your views on how important it is to fund transportation initiatives in Cincinnati. Recently an amendment was offered to the House appropriations bill that would restrict funding for light rail or “fixed guideway” systems in the City of Cincinnati. I share your concerns about this potentially overbroad language.
Should relevant legislation come before the Senate, you can be sure I will keep your concerns in mind.
On the latest episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, we discuss Rep. Chabot’s amendment, which would ban future federal funding for any sort of light rail, commuter rail, streetcar, freight rail, bus rapid transit (BRT), or other “fixed guideway” system in Cincinnati.
We also discuss how the extreme politicization of transportation issues results in politicians “selling out” their own constituants and costs taxpayers much more in the long run.
A recent survey of 1,300 Americans—including people of all political persuasions living in cities, suburbs, and small towns—had some interesting results.
Respondents were also asked to rank the top five factors that make up an “ideal community.” The results:
- Locally owned businesses nearby
- Being able to stay in the same neighborhood while aging
- Availability of sidewalks
- Energy-efficient homes
- Availability of transit
More people are realizing that shopping at big box stores and having to drive everywhere is not what they want out of life.
Virtually every person in charge of planning our transportation system and developing our land owns a car. They don’t live the reality of long tortuous 3 hour bus commutes, walking through broken glass on crumbling highway shoulders (there are no sidewalks) or getting bottles thrown out of car windows at them by angry motorists [while riding a bike].
It’s been nearly two decades since Congress last increased the federal gas and diesel taxes that have historically paid for highways. Meanwhile, the cost of road and bridge construction has gone up and the purchasing power of fuel taxes has declined by more than a third. Revenue is also down because people have been driving less due to the uncertain economy and because cars are becoming more fuel-efficient.
Robert Krulwich for NPR:
Until cars became the dominant mode of personal transport, there was no architectural reason to take your hat off between home and office. With Dwight Eisenhower’s interstate highway system came cars, and cars made hats inconvenient, and for the first time men, crunched by the low ceilings in their automobiles, experimented with hat-removal, and got to like it.
Last week, Duke Energy announced that they were pulling out of negotiations with the City of Cincinnati to relocate utilities in the path of the Cincinnati Streetcar. They also claimed that for “safety reasons”, all utilities must be moved 8 feet away from the streetcar’s path, so that utility work could be performed while the streetcar is operating. Duke is insisting that the city pay the full cost of utility relocation.
But where did Duke Energy get this “8 foot” figure? The city planned on a 3-foot separation, which is the standard in other U.S. cities that operate streetcar and light rail systems—including Charlotte, where Duke is headquartered. Jake Mecklenborg has even put together a collection of 20 photos (like the one above) showing manhole covers directly adjacent to, and in some cases, in between streetcar or light rail tracks.
The real reason Duke is taking this position is that the gas lines under Downtown Cincinnati are decades old. Within the next 15 years, Duke will have to spend millions of dollars to replace these lines anyway, regardless of whether or not a streetcar is built. They are trying to take advantage of the situation and have the city pay this cost for them.
The city should pay a portion of the cost—after all, Duke now has to replace the lines a few years earlier than they otherwise would have needed to. But remember that Duke’s business model involves building infrastructure and charging customers to connect to it. The city should not pay the full cost and subsidize Duke’s profit.
Even with this minor setback, the official groundbreaking of the Cincinnati Streetcar will occur February 17.
Update (2/17): The Cincinnati Business Courier — apparently, our only local paper interested in doing investigative journalism — researched Duke’s claims, and found that an 8 foot separation is unnecessary. CBC reviewed practices in other cities and interviewed transit experts, and found that the city is right and Duke is wrong on the matter.
Yesterday, The Atlantic Cities shed light on Chinatown buses, the intercity curbside bus services that gave rise to competitors such as MegaBus and BoltBus.
According to the map, there is direct Chinatown bus service between Cincinnati and New York — something that MegaBus doesn’t offer.
It turns out that two Chinatown bus services offer daily routes. Both pick up passengers in the northern suburb of Springdale, near the Tri-County Mall.
But I’m not convinced the bans will work, particularly among young people. Why? Because texting is rapidly becoming their default means of connecting with one another, on a constant, pinging basis. From 2003 to 2008, the number of texts sent monthly by Americans surged from 2 billion to 110 billion. The urge to connect is primal, and even if you ban texting in the car, teens will try to get away with it.
So what can we do? We should change our focus to the other side of the equation and curtail not the texting but the driving. This may sound a bit facetious, but I’m serious. When we worry about driving and texting, we assume that the most important thing the person is doing is piloting the car. But what if the most important thing they’re doing is texting? How do we free them up so they can text without needing to worry about driving?
At some point, we will have to face the facts and realize that we’ve been making a huge mistake for the past 70 years by building for cars first and humans second.
- The bridge is “functionally obsolete” — that means it’s over capacity, not that it’s in danger of falling into the river.
- The bridge is being augmented, not replaced. Media should not be calling this the “Brent Spense Bridge replacement”. We will likely have the existing bridge for another 50 years.
- The bridge is congested during rush hour, but is it so bad that we can justify spending over $3 billion to fix it?
- Other ways to reduce traffic on the bridge include:
- Encourage Downtown-to-Covington traffic to use the Clay Wade Bailey bridge instead of the Brent Spence Bridge.
- Encourage/force non-local semi trucks to use I-275 to bypass the city.
- Encourage carpooling and build better mass transit.