Encourage, Don't Hamper, Green Solutions
It's Green! It's Electric! Part of an Active Lifestyle.
But San Francisco is basically banning E-Scooters after complaints by some pedestrians who think the riders are "very rude." With all the transportation challenges SF has, does this seem like the right focus?? It is more or less being shut down because SF is impounding most of these scooters.
This has already been tried in China with varying success, but bad actor renters among the many who have rented are causing some grief, where those riders leave the scooter in the wrong places after using it. If that could be solved... but this is like trying to solve bad human behavior by going after a company who can't control the behavior of the users/renters. It would be akin to going after AVIS car rentals when their customers park in the wrong places, speed, or block a bike lane, etc. We have a law enforcement solution for that: called getting a ticket. Scooter riders could get a ticket. It could be part of the rental agreement too.
The SOLUTION seems easy enough:
Many cities are impatiently shutting down bike sharing companies, confiscating their bikes and impounding them, because of bike or scooter clutter after some users leave them in undesirable areas. And some residents have an aversion to something new that is left around like clutter.
The solution seems easy. The Bike Rental Companies can have these renters return the bikes to an appropriate area or face a steep surcharge (like 50 bucks on their credit card). Then the company can have their staff come pick up the rental bike immediately after the $50 charge, and get it relocated to an appropriate parking area. EASY!
UBER Autonomous Car FAILED in 2018, but...given ANY other car, the same accident would have happened.
Yes, this UBER car completely FAILED to even slow down, BUT... a human would have failed to slow down too, in fact, by the time a human could have possibly even seen this pedestrian, they could not get their foot on the brake in time, or swerve the wheel in time. Read on...
Bloomberg Forensic crash analysts who reviewed the video said a human driver could have responded more quickly to the situation. Really?
Bloomberg Analyst states that UBER car should have detected pedestrian in median, and BRAKED. Really?
There is a lot of LIABILITY to go around here, in Road Design, in Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety too.
Maybe it is just me, but this median is attractive. It actually looks like a park.
It looks like park with trees and pathways and rocks.
It looks inviting. But its in the wrong location. And at night, there is a serious problem with lighting in the wrong places, and pathways leading to a JWALK situation without a crosswalk or warning signs. At the ground level, it is confusing for both pedestrians and drivers who may see a ped crossing in a strange place, unexpected.
A Dead-End sidewalk, with no safe way out, and no warnings for peds already in the median.
Sure, there is a sign there that says NO PEDESTRIANS and USE CROSSWALK (see photo below), but look at what direction it is facing. It is facing west, perpindicular to the sidewalk, to warn pedestrians on the other sidewalk to not come over into the median. In other words, if you are a pedestrian from the bridge on that side of this one way segment of road, you will not see this sign. You have no warnings on the bridge. In fact, if a pedestrian tried to view this sign they might interpret it to mean, "continue forward to the crosswalk" (in the direction of the arrow) rather than cross to leave the median. Then the pedestrian has this beautiful paved brick pathway that leads them, not to a crosswalk, but to a curb, faced with a decision to cross four lanes of high speed traffic without a crosswalk, without a warning, without a street light.
I can see many pedestrians making a serious mistake with this kind of design and lack of guidance. I believe there is serious liability here.
Architects, Planners and Engineers in their quest to make beautiful transportation facilities need to also think about safety in design and how the user will use the feature or facility. They must also think about if the transportation "art" is confusing, especially from a safety standpoint. This particular design should have had fences, no paved pathways to confuse, and certainly some guidance to peds. The pathways in no case should have connected directly to the curbs of the roadway as if to lead a pedestrian there. The bridge should not have encouraged pedestrians to use the median side of the bridges, as this can only lead to this dead end, on both bridges!
Also, a pedestrian seeing a paved pathway, a short cut, and a sign that says in effect "don't use me" is a very mixed message.
Grant Johnson, TE
Sources: All street view and aerial photos from Google Maps. Illustrations by Grant Johnson, TE
Often depicted in way over simplified conceptual drawings, the Autonomous Vehicle is consistently misunderstood.
Autonomous Vehicles: In order for there to be compelling reason to incur the impact and expense of potentially retooling the entire vehicle industry, there would need to be compelling improvements to safety, capacity / efficiency, as well as the environment. The autonomous vehicle has in principle, the capacity to improve all three, but the conceptual illustrations one can find today on the internet when searching for "autonomous vehicles" leave much to be desired... they generate more questions than answers in one's mind. They are confusing. Such as why does a picture show all this "connectivity and sensors" from each vehicle, but the traffic pattern on the freeway is identical to existing conditions? Where is the benefit? Capacity increase? Or why would one think that it would be a good idea to show vehicles criss-crossing past each other at right angles in an uncontrolled intersection, narrowly missing bumpers, as if that is a safe idea or design? Logically, it's not. A roundabout would be a much better idea, lower speeds, and significantly reduced conflict points (goes from 9 potential conflicts down to just 1). In fact, it doesn't make any sense to introduce such a fallible and dangerous situation where serious injury can take place if technology fails in any way. Also, what about bikes and pedestrians in such a situation? Its as if there were no serious thought put into these concepts when it comes to having Complete Streets.
UBER Autonomous car hits pedestrian. news makes it look like autonomous is not safe
what components are in an autonomous car ?
Stopping Sight Distance = PERCEPTION TIME + REACTION TIME + BRAKING TIME
Autonomous vehicles theoretically change this equation to: SuperFast PERCEPTION TIME + SuperFast REACTION TIME + BRAKING TIME where the braking time remains the same because it is a function of tires, speed, friction, etc., but the Perception Time is a fraction of what humans need to make a decision that they need to brake...theoretically, and the Reaction Time is greatly shortened because no human foot has to move from the floor to get above the pedal to push it.
Any Autonomous Vehicle solution MUST also take into consideration the entire body of transportation modes, especially pedestrians and bikes. A pedestrian or cyclist will never be in the autonomous category, so these are mixed transportation use situations.
Good examples of extreme traffic situations can be found in China where density is consistently very high throughout urban cities. n Chongqing China there are residential and business skyscrapers that go on and on for miles and miles, averaging 30 stories tall.
THIS is a compelling reason to implement such an expensive change for the benefit of all, including drivers of vehicles. 90% of residents in Chongqing do NOT own or drive a car. As one watches the video of regular drivers on these massive 9-lane roadways, one can think of what benefit would come to the system if all vehicles were autonomous. In my view, safety would not only improve, but efficiency as well and capacity could be tripled as vehicles perfectly coordinate the merging, with tighter headways, and regulated speeds.
So What will an Autonomous Vehicle transportation system look like? What must it look like?
First of all, it must be safe for pedestrians. In the China video above, the pedestrians are completely separated from the vehicle traffic, because it is not safe or practical to ever have these meet in such high numbers. So there must be separation. There must be grade separation (or in the case of the China video above, a complete separation of vehicle traffic by tunnel if necessary). Grade separations are expensive, but to have a truly autonomous system and remove the human error factor that introduces accidents, often fatal accidents, a separation is needed. If a car is going 60 mph autonomously, and a child runs in front of it, the car no matter how automated, cannot stop in time, and fatality may occur, traffic will come to standstill, etc. We grade separate freeways, and now all roads with autonomous vehicles will need some method of separation in order to achieve the desired levels of safety, of capacity, of efficiency, even the environment and air quality. Fences. Ped and Bike bridges. Even signal systems tied in to the autonomous computer system, coordinated and optimized for safety of peds and bikes.
The future of traffic engineering will be to develop solutions that actually make sense, are safe and efficient, and which can take existing right-of way and turn it into a system where cars are separated from the pedestrians and bikes to improve safety, capacity, efficiency and air quality.
From LA TIMES: The bullet train will require about 20 miles of tunnels under the San Gabriel Mountains between Burbank and Palmdale, involving either a single tunnel of 13.8 miles or a series of shorter tunnels. As many as 16 additional miles of tunnels would stretch under the Tehachapi Mountains from Palmdale to Bakersfield. The state will probably opt for twin bores — one for each of two parallel tracks. That means as many as 72 miles of tunneling before 2022.
Can it meet that schedule?
"No way," said Leon Silver, a Caltech geologist and a leading expert on the San Gabriel Mountains. "The range is far more complex than anything those people know."
Cycling is Eco-Friendly, and so is this solar powered Bike Trail
PRISM Engineering thinks this is pretty cool and a great way to encourage more recreational biking without the need for expensive lighting. This glow in the dark bike trail is found near Lidzbark Warminski in northern Poland, and sets a standard for what is possible now with long lasting glow in the dark materials. It was the creation of TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o. who specialize in making the synthetic materials (see below)
The bike trail is made from a synthetic material that glows in the dark for up to ten hours, depending on sunlight during the day. This technology is entirely dependent upon and utilizing solar power. More info at: http://www.tpaqi.com/
photo sources: TPA Instytut Badań Technicznych Sp. z o.o.
Solar Roads is an idea whose time has come
So I give this idea a hearty thumbs up. Instead of the petroleum-based asphalt as an overlay, use these. Then it may even be possible to run the electric vehicles we all dream of using someday, and put the gasoline engine to rest. If the sun can power all this, why not?
Federal Government gives them $750,000:
Indiegogo raises over $2.2 M for their Idaho company: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/solar-roadways#/
The STRADDLING BUS extends just outside the box space of two lanes, and does not impact those two lanes, keep as is, but this special bus travels overhead. WATCH
I think the idea has legs (pun intended). However, if we are going to avoid all of the at-grade traffic problems that will inevitably occur with this new device, it would be necessary to build a more separated facility. In my opinion, this thing FAILS on the corners, on the turns. It seems like a perfect idea for any straight corridor. So maybe the train could just operate on straight paths ONLY, and transfers could take place at perpendicular locations. This would avoid the conflicts of curves mixed with at-grade traffic, which I think is a critical fail. Its kind of like LRT, but elevated, but unlike LRT it has a much much bigger footprint that has to be accommodated. This means loss of capacity for at-grade traffic, to stop nearly all traffic at intersections while this thing navigates a turn.
More newspaper articles on this development, click READ MORE
The USA is once again Leading the World on the forefront of auto-technology!
It is possible, NOW, to have a car get around without any lights and so the cameras on board are not really cameras at all. They are LIDAR devices, a kind of radar that many engineering firms use to survey terrain, buildings, and all conditions of the environment.
It's not just Google doing this stuff.
Ford is testing dozens of these vehicles all over. So are other car companies. This phenomenon is happening all over the world. The auto makers know it is coming, and being pushed by Google they are moving quick to implement.
Google is also expanding its self-driving car test program, but Google lacks the car manufacturing capability, for now.
FORD / GOOGLE ALLIANCE last week
a week ago... Ford and Google Teamed Up (alliance) to Support Driverless Cars!
The nation’s top auto safety regulator, Mark Rosekind, said the federal government wants to reduce the death toll in auto accidents, and thinks driverless technology could help reduce the annual death toll from traffic accidents: 32,675 people died in auto accidents in 2014! He said 90 percent of vehicle accidents are human error.
It seems like a no-brainer that computers can do a better job at reducing these mistakes, many of which are from distracted driving, something a computer has no problem with.
Self driving cars will change everything, for the better. They will increase capacity of the roadways by three times minimum, and that means more room for bike lanes, ped lanes, and medians and rail. It means a lot of good things. Its not just Google pioneering on this, far from it. Giant Tech companies are way ahead in my opinion, because they actually BUILD cars, and Google is making things from scratch, hence the little bug like cars. Recently, Google announced that it would be testing its prototype of a driverless car on roads in the summer of 2016 inside of California. Many still think that Self-driving cars are a futuristic idea, decades out. This simply is not true. Numerous car companies are ALL working on it, all independently. Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla, etc. all have self-driving features in the works.
I believe we should be embracing this technology because it is going to vastly improve the quality of life and help lower vehicle miles traveled, lower or eliminate congestion, eliminate accidents, reduce the death rate of 30,000 dead each year by significant margins. They will also enable the idea of shared vehicles with businesses like UBER leading the way in changing the culture of vehicle ownership vs. shared vehicles.
But Bullet Trains are still the rage in some countries, like China where I lived for 2.5 years. I rode these fantastic trains. They are awesome and useful and BEAT the car ride HANDS DOWN because you go much faster and also don't have to have the stress of driving.
But let's bring that to the USA and see how it fits here. First of all, 100% of the people here have a car, or two, or more. In China, only 10% have cars and in very poor cities, even less. This is such a huge and significant cultural difference in how we move about. So the transportation market to choose to ride a train is much much higher in China than in the USA because of this little talked about demographic: Car ownership. If those people without a car in China want to travel to a nearby city they have to take a train, or for more money, a bus. If they can afford a Bullet Train ticket, they will take a Bullet Train and get there 4 or 5 times faster, but for a corresponding increase in price. Most ride the cheap trains out of necessity.
Once a bullet train gets installed in California, China will be another decade ahead of us in terms of infrastructure installed and possibly technological advances in HSR. They already have, right now, these trains connecting at high speeds between ALL major cities in that country, and we have nothing like that. In fact, we have nothing even similar because the antiquated AMTRAK train is just that. The Bullet Train in California when finally fully constructed in 20 years will be a start but it will serve a very small demographic of people who live here, and it may be less than state of the art in the world.
How Googles Self Driving Car WORKS--
TWO YEARS AGO: One of Google's safety drivers takes a ride in their second generation vehicle, the Lexus, to understand how Google's self-driving technology works on the road.
Now they feel they are READY FOR THE ROAD!
Traffic Engineering and analysis in California has been evolving with the advent of SB 743. Safety has always been the primary focus of true Traffic Engineering, creating safe travel conditions for all modes of travel. SB 743 in California has specific elements within this law that place more focus on traffic safety including:
source: New Section 15064.3(b)(3) (preliminary OPR guidance for SB 743)
Staff at PRISM Engineering have decades of experience in preparing traffic and transportation plans with emphasis on traffic safety, utilizing guidance found in AASHTO publications, Highway Design Manual, MUTCD publications, etc., which focus on time-tested methods of design and implementation that enhance and improve safety.
Grant Johnson, registered Traffic Engineer, shares insights and experiences from around the world.