Archive for the ‘Traffic/Commuting’ Category

Atlanta Beltline: still 99% gravel paths

The latest installment in the ongoing saga of our beltline funding is that we are grasping at federal money, as surely they have plenty to spare. The Atlanta Beltline is applying for the TIGER II grant and wants us to help demonstrate that the people of the city back the project with an online petition. They’re hoping that a swell of popular excitement and support will help convince federal officials in charge of handing out free money that the Beltline’s the place to invest. The petition, making the rounds on twitter and FB, has had more than 1400 signatures at the time of this writing, which was within a day of posting.

Over at CL, Thomas Wheatley points out that this is the same funding for which the Atlanta streetcar project is applying – see the Saporta Report on their proposal here. Interesting. Can I sign something supporting both?

Read about and sign the petition here. I may bitch about it, but I’m a fan of the Atlanta Beltline (see? So much a fan that I even call it the Atlanta Beltline like they want us to, instead of just the Beltline!), and think that its development will be a large part of our city growing into its city-ness. Paved paths and rail will make a difference in my daily commutes, entertainment and exercise, and hopefully would encourage more people to take advantage of alternative options. This grant would mean 11 miles of multi-use trails within 3 years – 2013 is a LONG ways away, but I think we ought to take progress wherever we can get it.

wherein just enacting a law provides zero deterrent value.

in case you hadn’t hear, georgia’s new “no texting and driving” law took effect today. it just so happened that today was also one of the rare days where i actually pointed my car north and drove from grant park to alpharetta to go to work.

so my frontline report from ga 400 north is this; apparently no one really cares that texting, emailing and updating facebook and twitter from the highway are now against the law. if anything it seemed lilke MORE people were typing on their phones. of course that could just be me paying a little more attention.

of course, announcing you aren’t going to be enforcing the law probably doesn’t help either.

i can dream….not that it does any good.

i’ve been in europe for two weeks and while i was there i rode around and in general observed public transportation for a bit. one day i did nothing but ride around helsinki for a bus. and never, ever did i wait more than 5 minutes for one. in copenhagen, i was standing on a road waiting on someone and while standing there i watched more than 15 buses go by in a thirty minute period.

and how does it work in atlanta. my dog wouldn’t go to the bathroom this morning. i had to walk her around and around and arounnd. because of that i missed the one bus that goes by my house every 30 minutes. because of that, i had to drive to the train station. that train got me to five points a few minutes after the north springs train left, which meant i waited there for 10 minutes on the next one. then that train waited at lindberg for 7 minutes and this ulitmatly caused me to get to north springs 2 minutes after the bus that only goes by my office every 30 minutes left.

sigh. so now i get to sit at north springs for a good 25 minutes.

it’s a stark contrast. i dream of a day when buses and trains run every five minutes. i suspect it will never happen.

Beltline Progress … ever enough?

I admit, I have expressed extreme frustration with transit, transportation, and connectivity in Atlanta. Apparently the Beltline concept was conceived when I was finishing up high school, which was A PRETTY FRIGGING LONG TIME AGO, frankly. I remember seeing a Beltline advocacy booth at an outdoors event 5 years ago, and getting excited to talk to someone about it. I asked what, specifically, we could do to help, and at the time, all they had was “well, you can go to our website and register to get email updates.” A little disappointing.

But lately I’ve been getting excited about the Beltline. We’ve finally started seeing progress – there are actual trails you can walk (or mountainbike, but after my first experience with those stupid little rocks on a bike I’m going to wait for some pavement), there are gorgeous parks and a skatepark underway, there’s a mile paved in the Northwest bit, the art is making people talk, and this weekend Mayor Reed accepted some major checks from Kaiser Permanente and the PATH Foundation to create a bike trail from Dekalb Ave to Piedmont Park.


Dare I say it … Progress on the Transportation Front?

I sincerely hope that Metblogs isn’t your sole source for local news, but just to catch up any readers who may be a few days behind: last night the Georgia Legislature (on its third-to-last day of the 2010 session) passed the “Transportation Investment Act of 2010.”  Great news!

photo Vino Wong,

But first, a nod towards a little bit of background: On Tuesday MARTA staged a rally and “publicity campaign,” dramatically marking huge red X’s on a third of their fleet to represent the buses and trains that would be taken out of service later this year in order to help fill a $120 million budget hole.

The kicker (well, one of the kickers) is that MARTA has money – not a lot, but what they do have they weren’t allowed to use. By law, they can only spend 50% of their revenues from sales tax on operations. That’s why, I assume, we have all the brand-new fancypants black buses driving around in a time of rate hikes and service cuts.

There are obviously about 50 layers of issues here that I’m not going to pretend to know about and/or can’t get into, including the fact that MARTA is the only major transit system in the country without state funding, that leadership supposedly wants state funding but not state oversight, that the legislature has been debating a transportation funding bill for three years, and so on. (and on).

BUT! Last night we made progress! They’re going to let us tax ourselves! Hooray! A bill passed last night that will divide the state into 12 regions, and let each region vote in a referendum to thumbs up or thumbs down a list of transportation projects in the region, along with a 1% sales tax to fund them. Money has to come from somewhere, I suppose, and it’s better than nothing. HB277 also lifts that restriction on MARTA’s operations funding, though just for 3 years.

The bill just passed last night, and is on the Governor’s desk to be signed (he technically has 40 days past the end of session to sign it, I believe), so it’s not final yet. And nothing will actually happen for another couple of years (referendums would take place in 2012).  But I am allowing myself to hope, just a teeny bit, that Atlanta might eventually be, in my lifetime, a place where people ride a train or take a bus and it’s a quick, reasonably priced, perfectly normal means of getting from one place to another. Hoping this is a good step.

More info on the legislation – bill itself here, CL’s fresh loaf here, GPB Lawmakers here, AJC here .

Ride Bikes!!

I used to be embarrassed about my fair weather cycling proclivities. I ride a bike to work, but only when it’s fun. To me, this means the temperature is over 45 degrees, under 90, and nothing is falling from the sky. This knocks me down a rung on various extreme groups’ cool ladders, but I’ve come around to it, as it means that I arrive at work wearing a reasonable amount of mostly dry, semi-professional looking clothing.

Image from nobrakes atlanta. I, personally, opt for brakes on my bicycle, but to each his/her own

Now that I’ve established that I’m not one of those cooler than thou fixie kids, a militant anti-car type (do we even have those in Atlanta?) or one of the hard core spandex and clip-clop shoes cyclists, I would simply like to point out that springtime in Atlanta is a beautiful thing to experience.  I would also like to put forth that one of the best ways to see it is on a bike – you move more efficiently than on foot and, on occasion, you can move more quickly than by car. It’s certainly a great way to explore Atlanta – I think it heightens the sense of responsibility and appreciation for the city when you ride our streets.  James has pointed out (in several entries on metblogs and elsewhere around the web), that most forms of alternative transportation (walking, biking, taking the bus or MARTA), are great ways to challenge yourself and see the city differently.

On my way to work, I smell the mustiness and spray paint fumes of Krog tunnel, get a birdsong morning ride by of MLK’s house, wait for the little kids in the crosswalk walking to Hope Elementary, bump down the cobblestones to the cool quiet of the urine-smelling underpass, continue through the throngs of students walking to class at Georgia State, smell the oatmeal and ramen (? I swear something smells like ramen by Peachtree Center) of office workers’ breakfasts, and join the string of bikers riding up 5th street to work and school at Georgia Tech. If I have to go to work, I couldn’t come up with a much more pleasant way, unless they added bike lanes or gave out free snoballs or something on Peachtree.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition

But this is just to work! Have you considered the myriad of other perks for bike transportation? Sure, there’s exercise and enjoying the outdoors, but there’s also NO PAYING TO PARK.  No waiting for a valet guy. No circling the block to find a spot, no inching back to get less of your tire on the yellow curb. No problems getting dessert, as you’re going to burn it off on the way home.  No sitting in traffic on Marietta Street or Capitol Ave waiting to get to Phillips or Turner Stadium. The traffic cops will wave you through. And when you get there, you’ve got a free spot right by the entrance!

I love bikes in the springtime.  And would be remiss if I didn’t link to the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, which is working tirelessly to incorporate safe and enjoyable biking into more Atlantans’ lives. Though I bet most of them do ride when it’s under 45 degrees, they won’t judge me for not doing so.

Oh, and fair warning, stay tuned for more cycling-centric posts from me.

clayton county residents to be screwed by bad government yet again.

c-tran, the beleaguered bus system of clayton county will shut its doors wednesday. it’s sad because c-tran of course serves the people who often most need access to public transportation to get to and from work (thomas wheatley adds it up in the cl fresh loaf here.

there is lots of blame to go around, and a lot of it should be directed at the people who purport to “represent” clayton county. the governor and state leaders of course did their usual disappearing act when it comes to urban commuters who live within 20 miles of the urban core.

what it really speaks to of course is a lack of a central transportation vision for the region. a governor committed to the metro could probably do it if they had the stones to. a house speaker who cared more about the people he supposedly represents could do it. a strong dot with an interest in ALL modes of transportation could probably do it.

of course, Georgia has none of these. and so c-tran riders will be stranded come Wednesday.
11 alive has some good tips here for those c-tran riders screwed once again by their elected officials.

MARTA goes for “Gold”

Midtown Station

MARTA CEO Beverly Scott announced Thursday that the transit agency’s Yellow Line will be renamed the Gold Line. MARTA is making the switch in response to complaints from some Asian-American advocacy groups who said that the word “yellow” still carries the connotation of a racial epithet.

The route was known as the Doraville Line until October 2009, when MARTA changed its rail line names to colors to make them easier for riders to navigate. 2000 Census data put the percentage of residents of Doraville and neighboring Chamblee who identified themselves as “Asian” at 12.7 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

Scott told the AJC that the re-renaming will be phased in over an as-yet-unspecified time period. Electronic train arrival boards in stations already reflected the change Friday while the agency’s Web site still refers to the “Yellow Line.”

You can’t win ’em all

It may be the world’s busiest airport, but, in a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates (side rant: is there a study out there they don’t conduct?), Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked 10th out of 19 large airports in airport satisfaction. The airport has slipped 2 places since the last study was conducted in 2008.

The study was based on passenger surveys in six areas: airport accessibility, baggage claim, check-in and baggage check process, terminal facilities, security checkpoints and concessions. It appears, however, that the study failed to take into account that some of these areas are not maintained or controlled by airport administration but by the TSA and other agencies. Hartsfield’s main problem was in the area of airport accessibility which includes passenger pick-up/drop-off, traffic flow, and parking to name a few. Ya think?

I’ll admit that I probably spend as much, if not more, time shuttling people to and from the airport as I do flying in/out myself. But, I am by no means an expert on Hartsfield. I do agree that the area of accessibility does need some work but I don’t have any clear suggestions on how to fix the problem.

For those of you that travel on a regular basis, what do you think about Hartsfield and the problem areas the study points out?

MARTA Observations

When I can, I take MARTA a few days a week into work. It’s a fun ride. Here are a few observations I’d like to share.

1. MARTA is an art gallery for graffiti. East, west, north or south, you’ll see a collection of Atlanta’s finest taggings. It’s all on display for you. Enjoy.

2. MARTA time is faster than normal time. Today my commute took about an hour and it went by quickly. It didn’t feel like an hour. 20 minutes in my car can feel like an hour. An hour of MARTA time feels like 20 minutes in a car.

3. MARTA is good for you. Most, if not all, of the escalators are out of service forcing you to take the stairs. That is good for you. It’s good for your heart and body. Taking the stairs gets your blood pumping and energized as you start the day. Not only that, you have to walk to get where you’re going. MARTA is a good health alternative to driving.

4. MARTA gives perspective. You will see beautiful views of Atlanta you will never ever see driving.

5. MARTA saves money. Sure driving is way more convenient but it’s way more expensive. You can make a tank of gas last many days longer.

Try it out and see for yourself.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.