Monthly Archives: August 2013

Bike Share Review: Riding In The Nation’s Capitol

By Micheline Maynard

Capital Bikeshare

Curbing Cars backer Michael Leland is an avid cyclist who spends lots of time on the road in Wisconsin, where he is the news director for Wisconsin Public Radio.

In our inaugural Bike Share Review, Michael writes about his experience testing out Capital Bikeshare in Washington, D.C.

“A few years ago, I was staying in Crystal City, (Arlington), Virginia for a conference, and there was a Capital Bikeshare station in front of the hotel.  I bike a lot at home in Wisconsin and try to exercise when I’m on the road, so I thought it would be nice to use on of the bikes for early-morning rides along the Potomac.

The station instructions were straightforward and I was easily able to adjust the bike so that I fit on it comfortably.  Several mornings that week, I rode a 6-10 mile loop along the river, and crossed into D.C. to ride past the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Bike Share Review, bike sharing

Have You Tried Out Bike Sharing? Send Us Your Bike Share Review

Bay Area Bike Share kicked off this week.

Bay Area Bike Share kicked off this week.

By Micheline Maynard

It’s been the summer of bike sharing! This week, Bay Area Bike Share (or as we’re thinking of it, BABS) kicked off in the San Francisco area. Meanwhile, Chicago is getting to know Divvy Bikes, and New York has thrown its arms around Citi Bike.

They’re just part of the bike sharing movement that has literally swept the world, from Paris to Shanghai, Montreal to Chattanooga. College campuses have bike sharing, and so do many cities around North America.

Have you tried out one of these systems, either in your home town or as a visitor? If so, we’d like you to send us your Bike Share Review.

As we’re doing with My Transportation Diary, we’ll be running these regularly at Curbing Cars. Our first one is ready to go this weekend.

Here’s what we’d like to know: Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Bike Share Review, bike sharing

Driving Is Dropping In Almost Every State: Is It Down In Yours?

By Micheline Maynard

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group has been among those tracking the change in American driving habits. On Thursday, the group issued a new study showing that driving has dropped in almost every state.

What’s more, driving hasn’t rebounded along with the economy. The federal government recently released statistics for the first half of 2013 showing that people are spending less time on the road, even though unemployment is dropping and things are picking up.

According to the USPIRG study, driving is down in 46 states plus the District of Columbia since the driving peaks of 2004 and 2005.

Ten states showed double digit declines in driving: Alaska, Delaware, Oregon, Georgia, Florida, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, D.C., Indiana and South Carolina.

Driving is up in just four states — Nevada, Louisiana, North Dakota and Alabama, according to USPIRG. One of the reason for the increase is that those states have experienced a flurry of economic activity, although in the case of Nevada and Louisiana, some of it was because of bad news. Continue reading

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Filed under Driving

My Transportation Diary: A Convert From Cars

By Micheline Maynard

Rob Meyer is from Ann Arbor, Mich., where he didn’t think public transportation was extensive enough to be a full replacement for a car. (Editor’s note: some people might disagree.) And when he headed west after college, the first thing he did was buy one. But then he moved to the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, and a car became less important.

Here’s his Transportation Diary, in prose and data.

“I grew up in Michigan (Ann Arbor) where there was a big car culture and where public transit wasn’t extensive enough to be a full replacement for a car. When I moved to Bellevue, WA after college, it seemed like a no-brainer to get myself a car. The east side [of Lake Washington] is much more suburban and spread-out than Seattle proper, so having my own car was quite convenient, but not as necessary as it had been back in Michigan.

I later moved into Capitol Hill, Seattle, and fell in love its higher density of bars, restaurants, and entertainment options. Not only did Capitol Hill have more available within walking distance than Bellevue had in 20-minute driving distance, but plentiful bus routes made venturing to more distant parts of Seattle easy. Plus, you never have to worry about a parking or a designated driver when you’re walking/busing everywhere.

And if that weren’t enough, the 545 Metro bus would get me most of the way to work while Microsoft (my employer) also has a private bus system to help get employees to and from work.

It didn’t take long before I realized that my car wasn’t providing enough value to warrant the cost of the lease, insurance, gas, maintenance. I added up all my car-related expenses and realized that if I simply allocated some of that pile of money to cabs & rental cars, I would come out far ahead in the long term. Continue reading

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Filed under My Transportation Diary

City Planners, Take Note: The 4 Kinds Of Cyclists

954691_461012847330706_975817209_nBy Micheline Maynard

Urban planners all over the world are trying to figure out how to set aside space for bicyclists. Now, a study by McGill University researchers is dividing them into four types — and finding they don’t all have the same needs.

The study, which I wrote about for, measured responses from 2,000 cyclists around Montreal. It divides cyclists into four main types.

Path-using cyclists (36 percent) are motivated by convenience, the fun of riding, and the identity that cycling gives them. They would rather use bike paths than deal with traffic, and are the most likely to advocate for dedicated bike lanes. These are people whose parents actively encouraged them to cycle.  Continue reading

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Filed under Uncategorized, urban planning

A Top Technology Journalist Looks At The New Transportation World

By Claudia Payne

New York Times journalist Steve Lohr

Rethinking how we get around is, among other things, a commitment to sharing. Sharing vehicles, sharing space and, most critically, sharing information.

Sharing may seem natural if you are a digital native. But, it’s less so if you are among the generations that came of age when a personal office was a declaration of success, and an automobile a declaration of independence.

If sharing is intrinsic to rethinking the way we get around, how are the masters of the information world taking part?

For insight, we turned to a master of information-age journalism: Steve Lohr, the senior technology reporter at The New York Times and a long-time colleague of mine and Micki Maynard’s. He was part of the 2013 team that won the Pulitzer Prize for its look into Apple’s business practices.

As a reporter whose job it is to cast a skeptical eye on the frenzied start-up scene, Steve has always invoked a test of scalability: Does a project have what it takes to grow efficiently and exponentially?

We asked him how the tech world is viewing the new world of transportation. He told us:

“My technologically astute friends who spend a lot of time in cars are big fans of Waze, a crowd-sharing traffic and navigation app.

In case you haven’t heard of Waze, it is what is known as a social mapping service. The basic idea is that users voluntarily allow the GPS data from their smartphones to be gathered and shared, but stripped of personally identifying information. The result is a smartphone application that shows local traffic, congestion and suggests alternative routes. The Waze tagline is: “Outsmarting traffic, together.” Continue reading

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Filed under Driving, Technology

Elon Musk Dreams Of Building Teslas Everywhere

By Micheline Maynard

The Tesla Model S, image via Motor Trend.

Tesla Motors has become the darling of investors, and the buzz of the technology world. Everyone seems fascinated by the Model S, the $70,000 electric sedan that recently got the highest ratings ever from the federal government.

Teslas are built in Fremont, Calif., at the same factory that General Motors and Toyota once used for a joint venture. Before that, Fremont was a GM plant.

Fremont is capable of producing 500,000 cars a year, and Elon Musk, the billionaire who started Tesla, has vowed he’s going to fill the place up with electric sedans and a crossover vehicle that’s due next year.

But he also has bigger plans.

As I outline in Forbes, Musk is starting to look at factory locations in Europe, Asia and elsewhere in the United States. He told Bloomberg TV that he’s going to need more capacity when Tesla introduces a small luxury car later this decade.

That brings up some questions: how big can Tesla become? And what will that mean to the rest of the auto industry?

Read the story and let us know what you think about Tesla. Has it caused you to rethink the way you get around? We’d love to hear from any Model S owners in our audience.

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Filed under cars, Driving

My Transportation Diary: A Fitness Expert Tackles Seattle

By Micheline Maynard

Nancy Meier, one of the first backers of Curbing Cars, is known in Ann Arbor, Mich., as one of the city’s best Pilates teachers and personal trainers.* She’s a triathlete, an avid cyclist, someone who kayaks and canoes and loves the outdoors.

Earlier this month, she left her family’s island summer home and headed for Seattle to visit her daughter. Nancy tackled her Transportation Diary with her usual enthusiasm for getting around.

Here’s her report.

Sunday August 10 – motorboat from cottage on Georgian Bay to mainland, car for 450 mile drive back to Ann Arbor, MI. Continue reading

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Would You Like A Free Bike? There’s Only One Catch

Photo courtesy of The Hubway.

Photo courtesy of The Hubway.

By Micheline Maynard

Next week, 100 freshmen will show up at the University of Dayton, and will each get a new bike. There’s only one catch: they had to pledge to keep their cars off campus for two years.

That might be music to the ears of a lot of college students, who can’t afford cars any way. But at a lot of commuter schools, cars are a must. You can read more about the Dayton program in my story for Forbes.

Dayton is far from the first school to offer free bikes; this has been a trend on campuses for years. The offer is an off-shoot of Dayton’s bike-sharing program. It’s among more than 30 schools around the country that offer their students bike sharing.

Would a free bike keep you from bringing a car to school, or is it just a necessity where you are?

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Filed under bicycling, bike sharing

My Transportation Diary: Living Without A Car In Houston

By Micheline Maynard

How often do you see cows on your commute?

How often do you see cows on your commute?

When you think of Texas, you think of pickup trucks and Cadillacs, right? David Lippert doesn’t. He, his wife and his child are managing to get along without a car.

Dave is able to fill his transportation needs by walking and riding the bus. He goes to work, shops at Walmart, and handles everything else car free. He even gets to see livestock during his commute.

Here’s Dave’s diary.

“Monday – Friday.  7:30 am – walk to West Road and Greens Crossing, 66 bus south, transfer to 108 downtown at Shepherd Park and Ride.  Get off at Jefferson Street.  ~50 minutes. $1.25

 5:00 pm – 108 north to West Mt. Houston.  Fiesta grocery store, Walgreens and taco truck at transfer point and used occasionally as needed.  Bus 66 N to West Road and Greens Crossing.  1.5 hours $1.25

Cross busy street carefully.  Walk to apartments. Continue reading

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Filed under My Transportation Diary, public transportation, walking