Category Archives: student stories

A Personal View Of ‘Megalopolis’ Transportation

While going through the transportation options of the dozen U.S. “megalopolises” in Richard Florida’s article in the Atlantic’s City Lab, I realized how many of these various systems I’ve actually experienced myself.mega regions population

I’ve always felt that I’ve lacked experience when it comes to seeing much of the United States, but researching the transportation options in these mega-regions  jogged my memory quite a bit.

I grew up in southern California, where I can remember taking Metrolink’s $7 round-trip train ride to baseball games at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, and hopping between Metrolink and Amtrak trains in Los Angeles to get to my very first radio interview at Los Angeles’ KFI AM640.

When I lived in Seattle for a period between 2008 and 2009, I took a bus across the border into Canada to visit Vancouver. I also remember taking the BART to Oakland Coliseum to watch an A’s game.

Beside these places, I’ve ridden the subway and ferries of New York, and I also often take the light rail between Tempe, Ariz. and Phoenix.

When I lived in Seattle, or rode the BART in San Francisco, it had never crossed my mind that I would write transportation stories sometime in the future.

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Filed under cities, economy, public transportation, Rail, student stories

Welcome To Our New Intern, Mark Remillard

For the past year, Curbing Cars has been delighted to showcase the talents of young journalists, like Matt Varcak and Adam Rubenfire. Now, we welcome our first summer intern, Mark Remillard. mark-remillard

Mark isn’t your typical intern. He’s already a familiar voice in Phoenix, where he’s a full-time reporter at KTAR, the premier news radio station. Mark just graduated from Arizona State University, where he was a student in one of my business journalism classes.

Look for regular posts from Mark over the summer. But first, let’s hear from him.

“Hello everyone! My name is Mark Remillard and I’ll be this summer’s intern here at Curbing Cars and since I’ll be writing a lot of this website, I wanted to make a quick post to introduce myself. Continue reading

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Filed under Curbing Cars, student stories

A Stat To Ponder: Millennials And Driving

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

Central Michigan University is redesigning its campus, as millennials rethink their use of cars.

By Micheline Maynard

US PIRG, the advocacy group that has been studying the decline in driving, sent us a copy of their latest study. It looks at the role that universities are playing in creating more-walkable communities, and reducing their dependence on automobiles.

“Americans aged 16 to 34 years of age reduced their annual driving miles by 23 percent per person between 2001 and 2009, according to research based on the most recent data from the Federal Highway Administration that is included in the study.”

Granted, the numbers are a little old (2009 was five years ago, believe it or not) but that’s a pretty stunning figure. It’s the millennial generation that car companies are expecting to fill in behind the baby boomers in car purchases. And if millennials are driving less, it’s less likely that they’ll be interested in car ownership, or at least at the rate that their parents owned cars.

The report itself is worth a read. It looks at how universities are providing a wider range of transportation choices. These include buses, biking, various types of vehicle-sharing such as Zipcar, and apps that make it easier to navigate the options.

One of the benefits is that universities don’t have to invest in increasingly expensive parking facilities. In fact, a number of universities are finding ways to keep students from bringing cars to campus at all. Continue reading

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Filed under Driving, student stories

In Michigan, Redesigning A Campus For People, Bikes And Cars

In our latest student-written story, Curbing Cars intern Matthew Varcak at Central Michigan University looks at plans to redesign the campus for every kind of transportation use.

By Matthew Varcak

If you say Mount Pleasant to anyone in Michigan, the first thing they might name is Central Michigan University – a university that nearly doubles the city’s population from September through May.

CMU is a public school, whose campus covers 871 acres, and has 17,771 undergraduate students. This year, CMU had the NFL’s No. 1 draft pick, Eric Fisher.

Mount Pleasant also has a sprawling casino, resort and water park run by the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, an ample public transportation system, and a picturesque small town atmosphere.

The city and the university, however, aren’t known for being bicycle or pedestrian friendly. But some people are trying to change this. They are redesigning the campus with an emphasis on how it will be used by people, bicycles and cars.

CMU’s 2013 Campus Master Plan, which sets the direction of the university for the next century, features plans to make the campus more accessible for bikes and pedestrians. (See the master plan at the end of this article.) Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, cars, public transportation, student stories, walking

We Want To Hear Your Stories. Write For Curbing Cars

We've had student written stories from all over the country. Join our stable of writers,

We’ve had student written stories from all over the country. Join our stable of writers.

Curbing Cars is telling stories of how people are rethinking the way they get around. And who better to tell those stories than you?

We offer these opportunities for you to write for us. Send your ideas to curbingcars@gmail.com. All submissions should be 500 words or less. We welcome photos and video. Include a phone number in case we have questions.

Before you pitch us a story, read the Columbia Journalism Review cover story about us.  Also, take a look at our site so that you don’t duplicate a story we’ve already written. We also do not accept stories that you have written for other publications, except your own blog.

Here are the categories where you can write for us. (Note: we only pay for student-written stories.) Continue reading

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Filed under Bike Share Review, My Transportation Diary, student stories

Learning Lessons From A Car-Free Existence In Austin

In our latest student-written story, a chemistry major at the University of Texas talks about his car-free conversion.

Andrew Hartford with his bike.

Andrew Hartford with his bike

By Andrew Hartford

Before I came to Austin, Texas for college, I lived in a car-dependent suburb of San Antonio. During my high school years there, I bought a car, submitting to societal pressure and parental advice.

According to my dad, buying the car was an investment.  “You can’t get a job without a car,” he told me.  At job interviews, one of the recurring questions I was asked was, “Do you have a car?” lending to the notion that a car symbolized personal reliability and competence.  I was under the false pretense that cars meant freedom and that somehow without one, I’d be less attractive as an employee.

I worked long hours at a fast food restaurant, only to realize I was putting my paycheck directly back into the very thing that was supposed to help me earn money.  I began to grow disdainful about this costly thing that society seemed to be obsessed with.  I felt as though my car was a complete drag on my life; not only having to pay for it but having to maintain it as well.

In addition, I felt guilty  that it polluted the air and used up precious fossil fuels that take thousands of years to form.  This did not feel like “freedom” to me.

The final straw for my car ownership was when I got into an accident the summer of 2010.   Continue reading

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Filed under bicycling, Driving, student stories

In Columbia, Missouri, A Decision To Curb A Car

Lauren Steele on the bridge she crosses each day in Columbia, MO.

Lauren Steele on the bridge she crosses each day in Columbia, MO.

In our first story by a student writer, Curbing Cars presents this tale of trading driving for walking.

By Lauren Steele

Walking out of the Ragtag Cinema in downtown Columbia, Missouri with a friend last August, our conversation quickly went from Silver Linings Playbook to an Ashton Kutcher film from a few years back.

“Dude, where’s your car?”

My smug chuckle was quickly gagged with a lump in my throat and the realization that my friend was not quoting the movie.  My car was gone.

We interrogated some car-towing witnesses and took a cab to a sketchy gas station, where I was reunited with my Pontiac. After writing a $160 check to retrieve it, I made a resolution—my car was getting curbed.

I had a few transportation options, such as the free shuttles that ran from my apartment complex, riding a bike, or walking. As a small-town farm girl and a dedicated runner, I considered each choice with a certain dogged stubbornness.

The shuttle seemed like a lazy option and I didn’t want to wrap my schedule around its pick-up times. My bike was a rusted out piece of unreliability, and the hills of Columbia beat most cyclists, leaving them pushing their bikes and hoofing it.

If I was going to have to walk, I figured I might as well go all or nothing, and walk the whole way. Plus, Columbia caters to pedestrians with lots of trails, great sidewalks and crosswalks that don’t favor drivers. Continue reading

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Filed under cars, student stories, walking