Posts Tagged ‘bicycle’

Transit on Google Maps comes to a Town Near You (Kelso)

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

[Editor's note: When I've traveled to Paris or Beijing I like to take public transit both below and above ground. It gives me a good sense of the people and the place. And it reduces my carbon footprint. But sometimes figuring out transit systems can be irksome. I've got a great pocket atlas of Beijing that shows major bus lines and their stops which is helpful. And Paris offers some good printed material. But figuring out which station or stop is closest to the start and end of the trip is just the beginning. Which route is best? And when will I get there are two important questions. If you've missed it, Google Transit solves many of these challenges. New transit systems are being added monthly, check to see if your city participates.]

I live in metro Washington DC and our transit agency finally released their network topology, routing, scheduling in Google Transit format after a long petition drive. Now 3rd party developers, including Google, can use this to build out web apps or even mobile phone apps like iBART. DCist has coverage of both the recalcitrance of this public agency in giving out data we’ve already paid for as tax payers (sound familiar). Cartographers should use the station and bus stop locations included in these transit feeds to locate these features on their city maps.

Cartographers need to get on the mobile app development bandwagon and provide customers with tools that leverage these types of datasets. Imagine an app that has a proximity sensor / alert for nearby bus or transit stops or tells you the bus you want is coming in 5 minutes, time to pack up. And can do all the routing for you. And can be leveraged to provide the customer with, say, trail routing in the backcountry, too.

Why is transit on Google Maps a big deal? From WorldChanging:

[Including transit on maps and routing] make public transit more accessible and easier for everyone to understand; and in doing so, it will certainly increase transit ridership and reduce driving.

One of the big barriers to public transit use is the knowledge required to use the system: where to wait, when to wait, where to transfer, how much to pay, etc. Some readers may remember that two years ago we helped cause Google Transit to happen, but it’s taken off far beyond what we had suggested, and they keep getting better. What’s more, they’re doing it at no charge to the transit agencies (a perpetually under-funded sector of local governments). More cities are coming on board, as well; if you live in one of the eleven cities now participating, enjoy! If you live elsewhere, consider writing to your local transit agency and telling them to join the 21st century. (ahem… San Francisco, right in Google’s back yard, no excuse… ahem.)

What are these tools? In addition to being able to type in your route and get comprehensive directions (including walking to stations, showing the bus or train route, walking directions between stations, how much it costs, etc.), you can plan trips by departure or arrival time and see when the next couple buses come if you miss the one you’re aiming for. Now, if you zoom in enough on any Google map in the right city, all the transit stops appear, with different icons for bus, light rail, etc.; click on a bus stop and up pops a list of the buses or trains that stop there; click on the bus number, and up pops the timetable for the next several buses stopping there.

Want to get your transit data on the map? Aaron Antrim, who heads Trillium Transit Internet Solutions helps smaller agencies get online with Google Transit, in particular, those small-to-midsized transit agencies that don’t have dedicated IT staffs (ref). Aaron went to the same university as me and is quite active in transit circles.

There’s a petition to add “By bike” like there is “Walking” and “Transit” to Google Maps (ref). See this in action at byCycle.org as seen at Treehugger.

Geography Is For Real: Oil Costs Up (Sundry)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Omnibus of a weeks’ newspaper coverage (reprints):

Are Oil Costs Creating a ‘Made Here’ Movement?
NY Times’ Andrew C. Revkin on August 2, 2008

Referencing:
Shipping Costs Start to Crimp Globalization
NY Times’ Larry Rohter on August 3, 2008

Larry Rohter, who recently returned to the United States after many years covering Brazil, has a fascinating story in the Sunday paper examining how high oil prices may be blunting the globalization of manufacturing. Concerns over carbon dioxide emissions may be playing a role, as well. He starts out with an anecdote about Tesla Motors, which planned to build its batteries in Thailand, assemble most of the components of its electric sports cars in Britain, and then sell them in the United States.

But high shipping costs have changed that company’s plans, and those of many others, Larry writes. Here’s the “nut graf”:

Cheap oil, the lubricant of quick, inexpensive transportation links across the world, may not return anytime soon, upsetting the logic of diffuse global supply chains that treat geography as a footnote in the pursuit of lower wages. Rising concern about global warming, the reaction against lost jobs in rich countries, worries about food safety and security, and the collapse of world trade talks in Geneva last week also signal that political and environmental concerns may make the calculus of globalization far more complex.

Maybe the world is not as flat, or small, as it once seemed. The breakdown of trade talks also implies more countries are thinking local. I’m not sure this bodes well for the global thinking, and interaction, that’d have to take place if the world were to get serious about curbing the growth of greenhouse gas emissions. What’s your take?

Continue reading at New York Times . . . 

Cycling Back Around: Bike Safety Hits Close to Home (WaPo, WSJ)

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

[Editor's note: My mother was hit by a driver while riding her bike today and broke 2 fingers. Share the road and look for bikes! Cars and bikes both need to obey normal traffic laws! And let's get some more bike lanes striped.]

Continuing “Geography Matters” series . . .

Risking Life and Limb, Riding a Bike to Work in L.A.
(Most emailed article of the day on Friday)
Cyclists, Banned on Freeways and Reviled By Drivers, Save a Buck and Make a Point

By RHONDA L. RUNDLE
Wall Street Journal
August 1, 2008; Page A1
LOS ANGELES — Paula Rodriguez, who lives in the San Fernando Valley, got so disgusted with soaring fuel prices last spring that she stopped driving, sold her SUV and bought a bike.

But pedaling the 15 miles home from her job, the 30-year-old Ms. Rodriquez has encountered something more frightening than $4.50-a-gallon gasoline: the mean streets of L.A., home of the nation’s most entrenched car culture.

“Drivers scream at me to get off the road,” says the medical-billing clerk. The main commuting route near her home is so terrifying, she says, that she usually takes an alternative route that adds four miles to her trip.

Even then, it’s not an easy ride. On one stretch, splintered glass in the street could puncture her tires, she says. On Wednesdays, she has to dodge garbage cans blocking the bike lane. On Friday evenings, as the sun sets, she feels menaced by drunk drivers. Such threats compel her to sometimes swing onto the sidewalk, even though that could get her a ticket. “I go slow, ring my little bell and stop sometimes to say ‘hi’ to pedestrians,” she says.

Commuters across the U.S. are responding to high gasoline prices by finding alternatives to driving. But in Los Angeles, it takes a special kind of road warrior to hop on a bike in the name of saving the planet and a little money.

Continue reading at the Wall Street Journal . . .

bike dc girlCycling Back Around
Four Wheels Good, Two Wheels Better. In the City, an Old-Fashioned Conveyance Returns

By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 2, 2008; Page C01

This is the summer you realize you need it again.

This is the summer of women on bicycles riding around town free as anything, wearing long dresses or skirts, sandals or even high heels, hair flowing helmet-free, pedaling not-too-hard and sitting upright on their old-school bikes, the kind with front baskets where they put their laptops, and handlebars that curve gently back in a bow shaped like the upper line of someone’s perfectly drawn red lipstick.

… The machine of the moment is the 1969 Schwinn Deluxe Racer, picked up on Craigslist for $75, with lightly rusted metal fenders and a three-speed Sturmey-Archer shifter on the upright handlebars. Or it’s a new Jamis Commuter, or a Breezer Villager, this year’s models that aren’t ashamed of the primitive, durable genius of an old Schwinn.

“Somewhere along the line, we made biking a hobby and a sport instead of a way to get around,” says Alexandra Dickson, an architect who commutes from Southwest Washington to her downtown office on a blue Breezer Villager that she calls Babe, after Babe the Blue Ox. “I’d like to see it get back to being a way of getting around.”

… What’s happening is, the American conception of the bicycle-as-toy and the bicycle-as-sports-equipment is being infiltrated by the European notion of the bicycle-as-transportation and the Asian notion of the bicycle-as-cargo-hauler.

The idea has dawned that, guess what, contrary to biker dogma of the 1970s and 1980s, you don’t have to break your back with drop-down handlebars and obsess over ever-lighter space-age frames. The totemic two-wheeler is no longer the Specialized Roubaix Elite Triple with the carbon frame and the 30-speed Shimano drivetrain for $1,949.99, last seen tearing down Beach Drive on weekends, bearing lawyers and lobbyists in full spandex peloton plumage. And good riddance to the 1980s’ and 1990s’ craze for tank-treaded, double-suspension mountain bikes. The only time you ever found yourself “off-road,” dude, was on the C&O Canal towpath.

Hybrids came along, of course, a compromise between road bikes and mountain bikes. Now hybrids have been refined and gussied into “commuter bikes,” made by such companies as Jamis, Breezer and others, costing a few hundred bucks up to $1,000.

The handlebars are set higher than the seats, so you sit upright and comfortable. What a concept. The reign of the purists is over, and all the accessories they forbade are permitted again. There are baskets in front and racks in back. There are chain guards so you don’t get grease on your slacks, and skirt guards so you don’t catch your dress. Kickstands are no longer a heresy punishable by sneering. Fenders are back, along with mudflaps, so you don’t get a splatter trail up your back on rainy days. On some of the models, front and rear lights come installed.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

bike safetyAs More Cyclists Take to The Streets, Dangers Persist

By Moira E. McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2008; Page HE01

I am waiting for my husband to ask me quietly whether I might reconsider biking to work, something I have been doing for about three years. After the July 8 death of a 22-year-old cyclist in our Dupont Circle neighborhood, I wonder when his “Be careful getting to work this morning” will turn into “Think you should find another way to get to work this morning?”

I don’t mind public transportation, but I like the flexibility afforded by a bike. Walking is all right, too, but I’d take my eight-minute morning bike ride over a 20-minute trek.

And I am clearly not alone. On one recent morning, I counted 10 bikers waiting for the light at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. The Whole Foods Market on P Street in that area has two big bike racks, yet finding a space on them can be almost as hard as finding a space to park your car.

Continue reading at Washington Post . . .

The 21 Stages of the Tour de France (NY Times)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

[Editor's note: We're half way thru the Tour de France bicycle race. Catch up the latest news with this New York Times interactive that aggregates Times stories and multimedia about the event by stage (day).Thanks Curt!]

The 95th Tour de France features 180 riders racing 2,212 miles over 23 days. It is a grueling test of endurance and strategy that includes nine mountain stages, two time trials and, undoubtedly, numerous surprises.

Follow the New York Times’s coverage of the race on this map, updated during the Tour with articles, photos and multimedia by clicking on the icons below.

View original interactive here.


ny times tour de france 2008

Interactive by: Jeffrey Marcus, Justin Sablich, Baden Copeland, Jon Huang, Tom Jackson/The New York Times