Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

First Avenue Gets The Shaft.

The strib reports it’s now First Ave (the club) vs. 1st Avenue (the street)

In their efforts to make more downtown commuters stop, shop and roll out their dollar bills, city leaders have created a major speed bump for Minneapolis’ best known and most bustling nightlife landmark.

The new and inarguably confusing street layout — with bike lanes nearest the curb, and parking spaces nearer the middle of the street — wipes out First Ave’s load-in area. Bands will have to park their buses and trailers a block away and around the corner on 8th Street. So will all the beer trucks and other suppliers. In the new configuration, they would be blocking a bike lane, metered spaces and probably some of that one new lane of traffic going north.

A block might not sound like that far of a jaunt. But can you imagine lugging 10 cases of Summit beer, a $10,000 soundboard, a $15,000 case of guitars or the entire Wu-Tang Clan herbal supply that far through the snow and ice in February?

A couple of things,
1) Bike lanes along the curb between the curb and car parking sounds pretty dangerous.
2) “Wu-Tang Clan herbal supply ” – Is this a weed reference? Does the Clan have so much weed it can’t be carried a block?
3) Is there anything Lisa Goodman can’t mess up?
4) This is an attempt to “be more European”, but how European can we really be? The set up of this country is really different than Europe.

Thoughts?

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Giant Vines Take Over The IDS

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3cYjgR8ZMw [/youtube]

I have no idea what to think of this video sent to me by PR flak Jay Lemke.

He also says

In addition, there is a cool billboard going up near the Mall of America that is linked…
Over the next few weeks Minneapolis will be inundated with vines and growing great stuff in a teaser campaign
•a 3-D billboard with giant vines that just went up near the MOA that will keep “growing”.
•There are 140 feet of vines
•The leaves on the vine are 8 feet tall by 4 feet wide

A fallen biker and a Ride of Silence

from DangerJosh

Today I bore witness to what is probably the most beautiful and poetic event that I have been to in a very long time. Unfortunately a man named Dennis who loved cycling as much as I do lost his life just 12 hours before.

We pulled up to the intersection of Park and 14th and there was already a small gathering there. I assumed that it was a bunch of people from the event as there were support persons all around all the time. But then a woman that I can only assume to be Dennis’ mother walked off crying after seeing so many cyclists show up to his memorial and it hit me: This was his family. Instantly

I got choked up a bit, we heard from Dennis’s girlfriend and a representative from his family. Someone placed flowers at the sign that was at the intersection and it was very touching. A little boy approached me, I assume he was related to Dennis. We talked a little bit after he got permission from his mother and I gave him one of my cycling pins and his family thanked us for being there. Choking back tears from such a beautiful moment, I realized that we were celebrating Dennis much the way that he lived, and what I heard about him I think he would have done the same for me had the roles been reversed.

A photostream from rycera’s Flickr 2009 Minneapolis Ride of Silence

You Have To Emit, Change Is Coming To ‘Minnesota Motors’

A lot of news about vehicles and the emissions they put into our air has been rolling out lately. Here’s a summary, and what it means to Minnesota. This week the White House announced it’s plan for fast-tracking higher vehicle fuel efficiency standards and, for the first time, introduce a national program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The announcement has (for the moment) the support of most major automakers and environmental groups. More Minnestoa dealers may be closing soon, a move that will have ripple effects across the state.  A group of partners (including the American Lung Association in Minnesota) is looking to bring electric vehicles to the Twin Cities. The airport has already got one.  Don Shelby at WCCO-TV gets all excited about the idea, and also gets fired up about a student biodiesel project

Bottom line: things are changing fast — fewer dealerships are a certainty, new types of vehicles (and fuels) are coming, and for once, most of the major players are moving in the same direction.

When Nanny State meets Police State – Minnesota State Patrol Gets Sued

Have you heard about the latest lawsuit against the Minnesota State Patrol? It’s based on a checklist they created to determine if a Commercial Driver is fatigued and should be taken off the road.

On the surface this seems like a good idea, but there are some problems.

One problem is, The Department of Transportation already has rules and guidlines for determining what constitutes driver fatigue.

A second problem is The Mn State Patrol created their own criteria and then attempted to keep it a secret.
As reported by Landlinenow

Now, a memo has been sent from the e-mail account of an officer in the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division of the Minnesota State Patrol. In the memo, other enforcement officers are told to keep quiet about the checklist, even when they’re using it, even to the trucker they’re using it on.

Here’s the memo:

“Due to much publicity, both on a local and national level, several inquiries are being made about our fatigue report by the State Legislature, news media, etc.

“We as an organization do not want to damage what we have worked so hard to accomplish. Please use your interviewing skills to determine if the driver is fatigued.

“I ask that you do not tell the drivers that you need to fill out a checklist (worksheet), that you are taking a survey or any other statements that you use to reference the report.

“The report is for you to use to document what you observed; statements made by the driver; notes for you to reference to about the event; and as a guide to gather the various indicators from different areas on the report.”

As if that isn’t disturbing enough you really must see the checklist. I obtained a hardcopy and then called upon some sources to get a digital version for you.

Here it is. (a special thanks to Neb Trucking)

Here’s how it works. They take their arbitrary list and for each item that applies the driver get’s a check. After a certain number of checks it’s determined that the driver is fatigued and can’t drive.

Let’s address some of the more ridiculous questions: “Pets in Vehicle”, “Cell Phone”, “Computer”.

 That’s right, if the driver has any of the above they are on the path to being considered fatigued.

How about this one “Driver II” – Yup, if there’s a second driver,as is common safety measure to avoid fatigue, the driver gets a check towards being fatigued.

Let’s take a look at few more “Unshaven”, “Use of prescription meds”, “allergies”, “Money concerns”, “Job/Home stress”, “Driver neck size”.

Setting aside the very illegal act of requiring someone to disclose personal medical information, neck size, really?

So now we have a lawsuit (view in it’s entirety)

It appears that law enforcement is now not only in the act of saying what should be a law, but also making up their own laws as they go along.

What do you think?

 

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Biofuels: Boom or Bust?

It all depends on who you ask, it seems. Yesterday’s announcement from the EPA on how greenhouse gas targets will be set for biofuels had some saying it was bad for ethanol, some saying it was good, and still others spliting the difference. The bottom line is that the EPA says that future ethanol producers will need to make some changes to reach the Fed’s target of 20% reduction (compared to gasoline) in greenhouse gas emissions, they currently are at 16%, which seems like a reachable goal. Minnesota’s ethanol industry has the capacity to produce more than a billion gallons of fuel annually, it leads the nation in E85 stations (360+) and on May 1 became the first state to require all diesel fuel contain a five percent blend of biodiesel.

Tony Hawk Easter Egg Hunt Comes to the Twin Cities

picture-1

That Tony Hawk guy still knows how to have a good time. He said something about an Easter Egg hunt, but his idea of something is on a huge scale, and the Easter Eggs were signed boards. Their kinda exact locations were posted to Twitter on Sunday, including two around the Cities. So, in other words, scenes like this were happening all over the country (and Australia, and…?) on Sunday morning. (more…)

Southwest comes to MSP

According to this video of the first flight, free smiles come with every ticket.
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxCxXuKRj3w[/youtube]

I’ve never flown Southwest. What do you guys think?

how’s your commute?

the national traffic scorecard ranks minneapolis/st. paul as the 10th worst metro for  traffic congestion for 2008, up three spots from the previous year.  i have a hard time believing that our traffic is worse than, say, the traffic in phoenix (number 13), but the data says otherwise.

according to this study, thursdays from 5-6 p.m. is the metro area’s worst time for congestion and bottleneck traffic.  december is the worst month for traffic; june is the second worst month.

traffic in 2008 was down 20.5% from the previous year.  it was down in all ranked cities.  if only it were because americans everywhere were commuting by bike instead.

Confessions of a Minnesota air polluter

When I heard that much of Minnesota was under an air pollution advisory today, it came as no surprise. You see, I’m responsible for it happening.  The pollution in our air, which can be harmful to hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans with asthma or other lung diseases, is primarily caused by vehicle exhaust. While my car is small and fuel-efficient, it still pumps a witches brew of CO2 and toxic gases and particles into our air, everytime I turn the key.

Of course, I’m not alone on the highways, nor am I solely to blame for today’s air quality alert. But as a spokesperson for the American Lung Association of Minnesota, I know that my decisions contribute to the health of our air.  Could I have taken a bus to work today? Caught a ride with a co-worker? Bought a vehicle that has a less polluting hybrid-electric engine, or could run on less polluting E85 or biodiesel? These thoughts were on my mind today, as I drove into work.

I know that just thinking about the problems isn’t enough. Our world is divided into two different groups: those who talk about problems, and those who act to solve them. So if I really want to make a difference, I have to make some changes. How about you?

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