- See more at: http://www.bloggerhow.com/2012/07/implement-twitter-cards-blogger-blogspot.html/#sthash.DO2JBejM.dpuf

Monday, March 31, 2014

A Meager Bus Stop

The Bedford Park Boulevard subway stop on the 4 train serves as a significant multimodal center, despite a complete lack of design or any attention to the comfort of the passengers. Looking at this site, three questions come to mind:
  1. Don't the passengers deserve to be treated better?
  2. Would better accommodations result in more ridership?
  3. Are there economic development opportunities at this hub?

The bus stop serves as a main transfer point for Bee-Line bus passengers from Westchester County connecting to the New York City subway system. There are also three New York City Transit Authority bus routes that connect here. Although it effectively operates as a terminal, it is configured as a few signed locations along the curb. The Bee-Line bus stops are located on the viaduct above the Concourse Yard for the subway cars, while the NYCTA stop is located next to a gas station.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Jobs to Junk

There may be no more depressing reminders of the structural imbalances in our economy than buildings like this:

This is a stark, physical reminder of the consumer economy run awry. Formerly an industrial building, it now houses a self-storage business. Instead of using our valuable urban real estate to employ residents to make the things we use, it is instead a repository for the over accumulation of a consumer economy that continues to buy things it rarely uses.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Conflicted Crosswalks: Washington St. and Columbus Dr. in Jersey City

This is the second in a series of posts about crosswalks with conflicts that threaten pedestrians. These are intersections located in neighborhoods that are not living up to their full potential, due in large part to traffic that is hostile to walking. As they exist today, these street corners are not neighborhood places; they are merely the residual space where flows of vehicular traffic collide. Each intersection has its own unique problems, but looking at several cases will help to identify some commonalities. This time we look at Washington Street and Columbus Drive in Jersey City.

One of my colleagues was complaining to me about drivers failing to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk near our office. He was particularly concerned that the traffic controls were giving left-turning drivers a left arrow at the same time pedestrians had a walk signal. This clearly creates a conflict (which concerns me even more for nighttime operations, given reduced visibility and the likelihood of impaired pedestrians leaving the bar on the corner crossing the street en route to the light-rail station or a bus stop).

My colleague and I both had an initial thought that this signal sequence would be prohibited by engineering standards. Yet when my colleague looked it up in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), it appears it is actually allowed:

Section 4D.04 Meaning of Vehicular Signal Indications

...1. Vehicular traffic facing a GREEN ARROW signal indication, displayed alone or in combination with another signal indication, is permitted to cautiously enter the intersection only to make the movement indicated by such arrow, or such other movement as is permitted by other signal indications displayed at the same time.Such vehicular traffic, including vehicles turning right or left or making a U-turn movement, shall yield the right-of-way to:
  1. Pedestrians lawfully within an associated crosswalk, and
  1. Other vehicles lawfully within the intersection...
...3. Pedestrians facing a GREEN ARROW signal indication, unless otherwise directed by a pedestrian signal indication or other traffic control device, shall not cross the roadway.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Driving Truck

This was my grandfather's truck.

I found this polaroid in a box of my grandmother's mementos after her funeral. It was included along with old letters, family photographs from 1905, snapshots of weddings and newborn great-grandchildren, my high school graduation announcement. 

My grandfather held many working-class jobs throughout his life. He worked primarily as a steamfitter, but he also spent his time as a truck driver. The truck took him away from home, and it took some of his hearing too. It paid the bills and put food on the table for his children back home. It was a way to earn a living, but in some ways it was more. In a way, it was a source of pride.

For a short man with little education, skilled labor was a way to stand out. It takes skill to become a steamfitter, and my grandfather stood out. Because of the quality of his work, he completed delicate projects like nuclear power plants. 

While it seems more mundane, more commonplace, driving truck requires skill too. Owners don't just entrust their investment in an expensive vehicle to anybody. Businesses that need their deliveries to arrive on-time and undamaged need some confidence in their transportation.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Work Below, Glide Above

Most people today have difficulty understanding the motivations behind elevated highways, especially along waterfronts. With luxury housing rising to take in the views, there is generally no hint left of the work that formerly dominated the waterfront, forming the demand and context for the highways. These unattractive structures, and the dark, foreboding spaces they seem to create below, can appear to be nothing other than wanton acts of brutality against the city. That is, unless there is some historical perspective.

The leisure spaces of the waterfront today bear no resemblance to the intense workspaces of the past. Docks with their stevedores and drayage once spilled out into wide, nondescript marginal streets. Vendors crowded along the street between the dock workers and the landlocked stretches of the city. It was an immense hustle and bustle out in the open air and the workers were all subject to the capriciousness of the sky.

The New York docks in the days of the square rigger.
New York Public Library