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#1 Cars / Gas / Energy » Vehicles left idling in Austin. » 2009-05-07 11:21:07

JW
Replies: 2

In my travels around town by bike, as opposed to my travels around town by car, I notice a large number of vehicles left idling. These are often, though certainly not always, vehicles belonging to public agencies and maintenance services. I think I notice this more on my bike because the bike is silent. Thus one rides up and hears what appears to be a parked car is in fact an idling car. Worse yet is an idling diesel truck. Newsflash to all and sundry: there is no longer any technical reason to leave a diesel powered truck idling for minutes on end. Certainly the diesel powered pickups that became so popular over the last twenty years start and stop as easily as my four cylinder car. 
      My guess is that vehicles are left idling out of laziness; a desire for a nice air conditioned "phone booth" for its operator, as well as out of old habbits dying hard, i.e; the belief that the engine might not restart if it were to be shut off, or the belief that it is necessary to idle the engine to keep the battery charged so that a two way radio inside can be left on, etc. All of these reasons seem weak at best, to me, and even if occaisionly necessary for a certain vehicle they seem to be overused a lot.  The worst, to my mind, is witnessing ordinary civilians doing so just because they can't stand to live in the air we are dealing with. If you can't sit in your car and make a phone call or wait on your children after school, etc, without idling your car there is something wrong and it is time to do something about it. 
      I wonder if there is any city, state, or other agency or utility company policy regarding their vehicles idling constantly while their workmen are out of their trucks?  There is a state law against excessive idling but I've never heard of it being enforced. Anyone know anything about this subject?

#2 Re: Justice Issues / Collisions » 5400 Burnet Rd: Bicyclist is clipped by passing motorist's mirror » 2009-03-19 12:15:38

JW
MichaelBluejay wrote:

JW, what exactly are you suggesting?  What do you want them to do, shoot the driver?

I agree that a traffic ticket isn't much, but it's more than we could have expected the driver to get in years past.  Sad as this may be, it's actually a step in the right direction.  I prefer to look at the trend, rather than focus on the spot we're at now.

I'm not sure I agree with you about geography.  I always tell my out-of-state friends, the only bad thing about Austin is that it's surrounded by Texas.

I didn't suggest a penalty. Is the only choice ticket or execution? How very Texan. Denying geography is absurd and a bit of a Texas thing, too, but my larger point was that Austin isn't so very different from the rest of this retrograde state when it comes to considering bicycles a form of legitimate transportation, or to considering bicylists fully human.

#3 Re: Justice Issues / Collisions » 5400 Burnet Rd: Bicyclist is clipped by passing motorist's mirror » 2009-03-18 12:11:47

JW

Wow, a person gets a serious head injury in a collision with a car, and the driver of the car gets a ticket?! What's the person with the head injury get, a lifetime of rehab and a change in career? When will this part of the world start valueing human life and treat those who injure or take it with the seriousness and condemnation that they deserve?  What about the bicyclist's "right to life?" Helmets and spandex won't fix this; in fact I think they mark you as an "other" not worthy of serious consideration in Texas traffic. And Austin IS in Texas; deep in the heart of, in fact.

#4 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » Mueller Redevelopment » 2009-02-06 15:08:10

JW

In this city, you take what you can get. Once again, with a clean sheet of paper they still can't get it right. With that said, I don't find bike lanes that are in parked car door opening zones to be much of a problem. The weird striping with shared use of the pavement adjacent to the parked cars seems to caution everybody to be a little more careful.  And if you are an urban bike rider you have to be pretty green behind the ears to get caught by a door in one of those zones. But the real benefit seems to come from the extra cautioning implied by the extra stripe alongside the parking area. I think it alerts drivers in the traffic lane and parkers to watch for bikes.  I can't prove it, though. Maybe the city can spend some more money on a study (to ignore).

#5 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » East Riverside Corridor Project News » 2009-01-12 10:50:10

JW

In my travels, I notice that E. Riverside between S. Congress and I-35 is being all torn up. What's the chance that when it is put back together it will have bike lanes or right hand lanes wide enough to accomodate cyclists?  As it stands now it is one of the most bicycle unfriendly streets in the central city.

#6 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » LOBV posts new Downtown Austin Plan documents » 2008-12-28 16:55:02

JW

My preferred route from 4th st. @ I-35 (crossing under I-35 on the LABW/hobo urinal) to UT: 4th to Red River, then Red River to 15th. 15th to Trinity, Trinity north to 18th, 18th to Brazos, then Brazos north onto UT campus, turning left before Jester dorm to access Speedway north.
   Southbound: Brazos at MLK, left to San Jacinto. San Jac. south to 15th, then left to Red River. Red River to 5th, then left to I-35 frontage road. From southbound I-35 frontage road, one can either duck under first left to 5th street on the east side of I-35, or stay in left lane to the LABW/hobo urinal, hope no one kills you as you slow down to go under 35 on the LABW/crushed glass repository. 
   
    My suggestion to the city: calm the traffic along this and other routes through downtown, lose the onstreet parking (it's about enough to accomodate all the Stubbs' patrons the night Liberace appears for a happy hour show) install bike boxes at the intersections and make the cops watch them for 60 days, writing everyone a ticket who asks what they're for.

#7 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects » 2008-12-13 14:17:32

JW

The fact that the Lance Armstrong bikeway has new paving dedicated to bikes (and pedestrians?) coming off the western end of 3rd street, downtown, and extending in a westerly direction, with many twists and turns to a terminus at Austin High School, doesn't excuse the city from renovating a six lane major crosstown thoroughfare like Cesar Chavez and leaving NO provision for bicycles, in this day and age.  When I cross town on my bike, I'm in as much a hurry as anyone in an automobile. I view twisty turny sidewalks, cinder paths, hike and bike trails, etc. as being for sports bicyclists at best. I don't see them as serious transportation if for no other reason than that they are hidden away, usually, and when I leave my house I am on a street and I intend to go to a place on a street, and I use the streets between the two to get there. I have a right to use the streets, and it is time that the city facilitate that right by leaving some room for bicycles, be it a wide shoulder, a clean breakdown lane, a dedicated and marked bike lane, whatever. They did none of that on the newly renovated Cesar Chavez, and yet they were able to leave at least one whole lane for left turn lanes onto north/south downtown streets. Why allow left turns from that street at all? Why make it easier for cars to pour into downtown at all? The days of driving downtown to run an errand or to work all day with your car parked nearby, are about over, or at least the city says they are.  And yet, when they renovate and redesign existing streets, they ignore their own statements and plans and consultants, and build a street just as if it were the Eisenhower era and we all drove big cars with tailfins. What WERE they thinking? 
    I refuse to compliment the city or its staff anymore for good plans or intentions. I will compliment any improvement to the transportation infrastructure that helps people get around by any other method than by car. And I eagerly await word from others to point out such recent improvements. We would all benefit from the debate, as long as it isn't just between us few bicycle and or public transportation afficianados.

#8 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » an article about the new CoA transportation leaders and city prospects » 2008-12-13 13:04:30

JW

The city just did a bunch of work on Cesar Chavez downtown: now two-way, in an effort to calm traffic; new dedicated turn lanes, to allow cars an easier time into downtown; new sidewalks with artistic panels in railings overlooking the river, and etc. But where are the bike lanes? The city staffers and planners say one thing, but when you look on the ground for what actually exists, it doesn't "walk the walk."                                                                                                                 I've been waiting over 30 years for some of these changes. I think many Austinites wants "other people" to use public transit, or to walk and bike, so that they can have free and clear traffic lanes for their cars once again, as it was in "the good old days."  We are in danger of becoming the largest city in America dependant almost entirely on cars for our transportation needs, sort of a giant Fresno (sorry if I slander Fresno). 
It's time to start calling bullshit on all these nice plans and statements, like the one that first got my attention, "all improvements in connection with the Lance Armstrong Bikeway, east of I-35, are complete." I read those words, or words to that effect in the newspaper last year. I ride all over east Austin daily and I asked, what are they talking about?  Turns out those lame little paintstripes alongside some onstreet parking slots on far east 5th street is what they were talking about. Must have taken a stripe painting crew all of an afternoon or two to do that, but to read the statement you would think the city had been hard at work for months making a serious effort for a bikeway worthy of Lance Armstrong's good name. I'm sure the city staffers who make those sort of statements would rather you didn't actually go and see what they were referring to. If I were Lance, I'd ask the city to stop using my name if they can't be bothered to do something worthy of it.  And I challenge any city employee to join me for a friendly little ride across town, east to west or vice versa, to look at this "bikeway" and other matters related to the streets used to cross the town. We can bring along a reporter, or leave him home, I don't care. But I do think the streets are in terrible shape, the bikelanes are incomplete, faded and crumbling, trash strewn and dangerous. The intersections have the sidewalks pruned back so far that cars routinely encroach on both cyclists and pedestrians, and the utility companies have put poles in the middle of sidewalks making them nearly useless for able bodied pedestrians, let alone for people with physical handicaps or for small children on bikes, etc. The constant butchering of the shade trees alongside many streets by the utility crews increases the lack of shade that is so necessary for pedestrians and bicyclists in a city with a six month long summer.

#9 Re: Commuting/Routes » Where to live in ATX that's bike friendly » 2008-11-15 11:26:13

JW

I guess what Mr. Assisted Bike is saying is, if you want to live in the suburbs and ride a gasoline powered half-assed motorcycle, you might want to try somewhere on out Burnet near 183 and Spicewood Springs road, or something.  But if you want to ride a BICYCLE (look it up, Mr. A.B.) on a daily basis, the previous posters are on target.
    Now, if you want to ride in a Chevy Suburban every day, try Pflugerville. But you didn't ask about that, did you?

#10 Bike Lanes / Facilities » European support for bicycles promotes sharing of the wheels-NYT » 2008-11-10 10:27:55

JW
Replies: 0

Just a reminder: YOU live in the best city in the best nation on the best planet. Still...

                                                                                        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/world … 0bike.html

#11 Re: Equipment (Discussion, For sale) » Gas & Electric Assisted Bicycles » 2008-10-28 20:48:05

JW

How is a cheap bike that was never intended to handle a motor, with a questionably legal, definitely non-emission controlled Chinese engine, in any way "green?"

#12 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » Marking Bike lanes and intersections » 2008-10-21 10:23:46

JW

I'm dreamin.'  A question for our city fathers:                                                                                                                                                                                                                         How much can this infrastructure cost for an entire city compared to, say, one mixmaster interchange?        http://vimeo.com/2018745?pg=embed&sec=2018745

         http://www.texasfreeway.com/Austin/cons … a_lres.jpg

#13 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting » 2008-10-09 12:53:01

JW

My experience with the bike lane on Chicon, which allows parking from 7 to 7, overnight: motorists, probably because they can use it for parking some of the time, seem to use it whenever they want to, and no, I don't have time to call 311 everytime I see a parked car or delivery truck in the bike lane. Also, because it is used for parking, no one seems to mind that is full of gravel and road debris; motorists see it as a parking area rather than a traffic lane for cars OR bikes.  Also, the white stripes are barely visible in many places. Of course, four lane streets seem to encourage higher car speeds, think of that before you say you'd rather not have any bike lane at all.
     Seems to me that the city needs to make a real commitment to bikes, with 24 hour dedicated bike lanes on some streets, and many other things besides before this city can claim to be bike friendly. I've never thought of it as such. Why should city officials care what anyone thinks of Austin's attitude towards bike use? Because as things get more and more expensive and frustrating for auto users, some of the very people Austin says it wants; educated, creative, center city dwelling people will attempt to use bikes more. And if those people don't feel accomodated in their wants, they are just the sort of people most able to vote with their feet. Feeling comfortable on a bike in town is the mark of a civilized town. We're not there yet, and people are noticing.

#14 Re: Bike Lanes / Facilities » Parking in Bike Lanes -- neighborhood meeting » 2008-10-07 09:35:37

JW

Was there a decision reached at last night's meeting? Looked like bike lanes were being thrown over for the ability to park on the street at any time convenient for the motorist.
    It has been my observation that part-time bike lanes get even less respect from motorists than dedicated lanes, and that's not saying much. I rarely get that far west on my bike, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to come up on the rear bumper of a parked SUV were I to be cycling along Exposition Blvd.

#15 Re: Helmet Laws/Other legislation » New bike regulations for the upcoming Texas Legislature » 2008-10-07 08:51:29

JW

A bicycle specific content SHOULD be instituted in defensive driving, for motorists. Retraining motorists to see and respect bicyclists is the way to use defensive driving courses to lower the incidence of bicycle/car collisions.

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