Monday, June 19, 2017

It's already mid June and I can't do anything about it

It's almost summer. Pollen season has pretty much ended and I could open all windows at home again. Not for long. Those hot humid summer days have just arrived and I don't even feel like riding my bike anymore. Unless my destination comes with a shower.

I've been pretty busy recently with some house projects. Meanwhile, a number of things happened in the outside world.

SRAM showed their budget 1x12 drivetrain offering - GX Eagle. With its arrival, SRAM claims front derailleurs are finally dead. I wouldn't be so quick to call that. While Eagle offers a very wide range of gearing, it still suffers from the same problem (albeit less so) as the previous 1x11 system - large jumps between gears. SRAM Eagle would be interesting if it came with a few different cassettes, not just the 10-50T but also something tightly-spaced such as 10-44T. By my calculations, a 1x13 system could be a true replacement for 2x10 so Eagle still falls short of that.

Apart the pond, London has been hit twice with terror attacks recently, one of them involved running people over with a car - you know, kind of like the things we see pretty much everyday here in America. The answer was to quickly set up some protective barriers to prevent cars from entering sidewalks. Unfortunately, they were placed in the bike lane doing potentially more harm on daily basis than preventing occasional terror attacks.

It would be much better to place them between the traffic lane and the bike lane. At least that way they would provide protection for not only pedestrians but also cyclists. But I'm guessing that would be too close to comfort for many drivers. They would rather drive fast next to a soft, squishy cyclist than a rigid, concrete wall.

Bike lanes have tough life anyway. They often face strong NIMBYsm, the extreme case of which happened in Baltimore when residents were willing to remove a newly-built protected bike lane because it "made the street less scenic". As a result, the city was blocked from removing the lane by a restraining order. At least temporarily.

On the other side of the continent, Elon Musk pushes his idea of building underground tunnels as the ultimate solution to traffic problems. He had some early discussion with Mayor of LA:

I wrote earlier what I think about his idea but now I'm thinking we should let him do it. Seriously, let him build tunnels and put cars underground but under one condition - when you drive your car into the tunnel somewhere in Pomona, you won't be allowed to resurface in the downtown of LA. Your car will have to stay there in an underground parking lot and you can take an elevator to the surface. This could be revolutionary - creating more space for people, bicycles, public transport by eliminating private vehicles from city streets. Although, I doubt that's what Musk had on mind.

Local news. My town of Arlington is considering implementing Bus Rapid Transit along Massachusetts Ave. because "Arlington officials think more people would take the bus if they could speed up commute times." Duh! It doesn't take a college degree to figure out that the only public transport - buses, get completely stuck in all car traffic especially during the morning and evening rush hours. In fact, this was the reason why my wife quickly gave up the idea of commuting by bus to Harvard Square and decided to drive instead, just like many other people on the same route. Buses have to share lanes with cars on Mass Ave. but also have to stop at bus stops frequently. Hence, they are far slower than cars.

This brings me to the point - the idea of rapid transit is sound, but would only make sense if Cambridge does the same on their section of Mass Ave. The rapid transit should extend on the full route length of bus 77 and that means dedicating one lane to buses only (at least during the morning/evening rush). Something tells me hundreds of drivers would be pissed about that.

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