Monday, April 30, 2018
Having recently written about multimodal transportation in Washington, DC (here) and dockless bikes and scooters (here), I have to provide an update about where the Venn diagram overlaps!
On a recent walk through Georgetown, I noticed a large number of dockless bikes, scooters, and electric bikes, both in motion and parked (see photos below) in this popular shopping and tourist destination. The District government has just extended its trial “Dockless Demonstration Program” which permits 7 companies to provide limited service. The trial program was extended after the District and the providers were unable to reach an agreement about how a permanent program might be regulated (Washington Post story here, Greater Greater Washington here).
As suggested in my previous story, stay tuned for more developments!
I was saddened to learn of the passing of David Billington, engineering professor emeritus at Princeton (story here). David was an outstanding scholar and teacher and a real gentleman. He was best known for his efforts to encourage the infusion of aesthetic sensibility into structural engineering design, which derived from his work on Swiss designers. He hated what he called “GI bridges” and believed that a piece of long-lived infrastructure such as a bridge should reflect and enrich its natural environment and cultural context. If the subject sounds dry, note that David was one of the most popular lecturers at Princeton and presented his views with humor and grace. If you never thought you would enjoy a lecture on bridge design, please take a look at this lecture at MIT (here).
How much influence did David have? Hard to say. There is still a lot of ugly design out there. Thanks to Jack Lettiere, then president of AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), he gave a lecture at that organization’s 2005 convention, which hopefully started some ripples. And certainly there are some iconic new bridges such as the Swiss-designed Zakim Bridge in Boston, which David references in the MIT lecture. I believe his thinking is still very valuable and I think it will still have an impact well into the future. I know it has influenced me (see poster on my office wall).
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
On a recent visit to San Diego I was pleased to see the Trolley doing well – appearing to be well maintained, running smoothly, and clearly popular. It’s still only a small piece of the transportation picture in a very auto-dominated metro area, but it provides a key mobility alternative, especially for access to a vibrant, revitalized downtown. A ride to the ballpark on the Green Line was smooth, well-utilized (but not crowded), and delivered us to the heart of the entertainment district, a block from the stadium. (Quite a contrast to the ride to Fenway Park on that other Green Line, rocking and rolling along the old tracks in a jam-packed antique car!)
Happily, construction is underway on an 11-mile extension of the Trolley north to the University City area (San Diego’s “second downtown”) near the University of California at San Diego (project information here). Hopefully a connection to the airport will follow soon.
Also encouraging is a recent report (here) that notes the largely unexploited potential for transit-oriented development at current station sites. I hope that bears fruit!
Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Dockless bikes and scooters are now quite the rage – and stirring up some rage! – in various cities. They can be very convenient for the user, but maybe not so convenient for someone whose driveway or doorstep is blocked by a dropped bike. Cities where this phenomenon has exploded are awash with angry debates about how to manage it (see background piece in the New York Times here), although apparently Lime Bikes were not actually tossed into the Mississippi River in St. Louis (here). (FYI, Lime Bike is the best known and probably biggest provider at this time.)
On a recent visit to San Diego I was able to get an impression of how the issue is developing in that city (see below: Lime Bike at the beach, “no parking” at the ballpark).
How will this kerfuffle play out? Hard to say, but it’s exciting to see that the appetite for innovative mobility is strong!
Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I had a chance recently to visit Washington DC’s new “The Wharf” mixed use urban development on the city’s southwest waterfront – and was duly impressed! The designers have done a fine job of putting together a package of residences, shops, bars, restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues that work well together and fit the unusual (for DC) waterfront location. Almost the entire development is new, but they have kept the funky old fish market. The target demographic for the development is not too hard to figure out. “Portugal. The Man” was playing when I visited (note my careful use of punctuation).
Fuller reviews of the development can be found at Greater Greater Washington (here) and CityLab (here). The Wharf development’s own website is here.
Transportation access and circulation is appropriately multimodal and hip and urban. Note below the bikeway, water taxi, and woonerf! (If you don’t know the latter term, Google it and impress your friends.)
Looking forward to watching The Wharf develop!