Mobility Lab https://mobilitylab.org Moving People... Instead of Just Cars Fri, 26 May 2017 19:04:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 For safe, separated bikeways, look to… 1930s Britain? https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/26/separated-bikeways-1930s-britain/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/26/separated-bikeways-1930s-britain/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 18:58:50 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22458 Hidden alongside some otherwise unremarkable roadways across the United Kingdom are bicycle highways that today’s riders would envy. At CityLab, Feargus O’Sullivan reveals the research currently being conducted into these separate bike highways, all of which were built in the 1930s. As historian Carlton Reid conducted research for a new book, he realized that a... Read more »

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Hidden alongside some otherwise unremarkable roadways across the United Kingdom are bicycle highways that today’s riders would envy. At CityLab, Feargus O’Sullivan reveals the research currently being conducted into these separate bike highways, all of which were built in the 1930s.

As historian Carlton Reid conducted research for a new book, he realized that a network of decades-old bicycle lanes existed along streets of many UK cities, many of which having since been adapted to parking, ignored, or left to be reclaimed by nature.

“In fact, as Reid discovered, Britain went through something of a cycle lane boom in the late 1930s. Between 1937 and 1940, Britain’s government demanded that any state-funded scheme to build an arterial road must also include a 9-foot-wide cycle track running the length of the road.

“… This enlightened official approach chimed with the times. Cycling was still a vital means of transit in a country where car ownership only became common in the late 1950s. Many of the new, broader roads that would ultimately take the burden of Britain’s car boom were still being planned and constructed between the wars. The cycle network grew up as part of this new road network, rather than by scraping existing lane space away from motor vehicles.”

The eventual loss of the lanes to time and memory, explains O’Sullivan, likely came about due to a lack of use, as the bike lanes had to compete with the adjacent traffic lanes, and due to Britain’s recovery in the postwar era. (See Reid’s Kickstarter video for images of some of the current conditions of the lanes.)

Though the shift from transit, walking, and bicycling toward personal automobiles happened differently in the United States and the United Kingdom, historic bike infrastructure shows how bicycling investments are far from a new idea for cities and towns. In the late 1880s, the Good Roads Movement in the U.S. was a key proponent for paving and expanding country road infrastructure to support the spread of bicycling.

And other cities had expanded dedicated bicycling infrastructure around that time, too, to support the mode. In Southern California, for example, a turn-of-the-century “California Cycleway” connected Los Angeles to the city of Pasadena, nine miles away.

As historian Peter Norton has explained on the Mobility Lab blog before, a return to “understanding our multimodal past” can play a key role in reshaping our transportation choices of today.

Photo: A modern “cycle super highway” in London, not dissimilar to the ones discovered by Reid (J Mark Dodds, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Switching to off-peak deliveries reduced traffic – Science Daily https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/26/switching-to-off-peak-deliveries-reduced-traffic/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/26/switching-to-off-peak-deliveries-reduced-traffic/#respond Fri, 26 May 2017 15:02:59 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22453 A study in Stockholm sought to determine how deliveries could be made more efficient – and have a lesser impact on disrupting traffic – if they were made in offpeak hours. Currently, the city restricts nighttime deliveries over noise concerns, so the trucks used in the study operated under noise-reducing conditions. Though it was a... Read more »

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A study in Stockholm sought to determine how deliveries could be made more efficient – and have a lesser impact on disrupting traffic – if they were made in offpeak hours. Currently, the city restricts nighttime deliveries over noise concerns, so the trucks used in the study operated under noise-reducing conditions.

Though it was a small scale study, Pernestål Brenden says there are strong indications that scaling up off-peak deliveries could increase business efficiency for suppliers and retailers, reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions and perhaps make a positive impact on traffic volume during peak morning hours.

But part of the study was also to assess whether deliveries at night bothered neighbors. The drivers had to follow some rules: for example, no using reverse signals or talking on cell phones outside the vehicle. Also, two trucks equipped with low noise technology were used.

Read the complete article at sciencedaily.com

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Better real-time information allows riders to make better transit choices https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/25/better-real-time-information-allows-riders-to-make-better-transit-choices/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/25/better-real-time-information-allows-riders-to-make-better-transit-choices/#respond Thu, 25 May 2017 18:13:55 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22448 A report from Conduent, based on surveys from 23 cities in multiple countries, offers some broad insight into why commuters choose certain modes over others. Despite drivers citing the reliability of cars, for example, they also report experiencing the most delays (70 percent of the time). Transit riders, on the other hand, are more open... Read more »

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A report from Conduent, based on surveys from 23 cities in multiple countries, offers some broad insight into why commuters choose certain modes over others. Despite drivers citing the reliability of cars, for example, they also report experiencing the most delays (70 percent of the time). Transit riders, on the other hand, are more open to building in expectations for delays by using the transit information available to them.

Alissa Walker at Curbed LA explains that expectations play a role in satisfaction and choices:

So why do drivers believe they’re more delayed than bus riders? It’s because of situational thinking, the difference between our expectations and reality, says Scott Silence, chief innovation officer at Conduent. When you choose to drive you expect to have total control, but when you ride the bus you’ve factored in the potential for disruptions. The disparity between what you expect and what you experience is what ultimately causes stress and frustration.

Transit riders with accurate information have a closer conception of what their travel time should look like, meaning they are more likely to be satisfied with their trip. Cities who have not yet made available open, real-time transit data, then, should consider the role of information within travel decisions.

Read the complete article at Curbed

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People who work near Seattle’s protected bike lanes ride to work more often https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/23/employers-near-bike-lanes-seattle/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/23/employers-near-bike-lanes-seattle/#comments Tue, 23 May 2017 19:40:41 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22438 There’s no question about it: comfortable, safe bicycle infrastructure plays a significant role in encouraging people to ride. In Seattle, an analysis from nonprofit Commute Seattle recently demonstrated how that pays off for commuters: the seven employers with the highest rates of bike commuting are all within one block of a protected bike lane. Zooming... Read more »

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There’s no question about it: comfortable, safe bicycle infrastructure plays a significant role in encouraging people to ride. In Seattle, an analysis from nonprofit Commute Seattle recently demonstrated how that pays off for commuters: the seven employers with the highest rates of bike commuting are all within one block of a protected bike lane.

Zooming out some, of the companies with the 15 highest biking rates, all are within five blocks of a protected bike lane or trail, writes David Gutman of the Seattle Times.

Of course, a number of other transportation demand management practices play a role in helping employees decide to choose biking. Seattle’s commute trip reduction program mandates employers take steps to reduce employee drive-alone commutes, and offers a number of resources for bike-friendly workplaces, such as adding bike parking spaces and showers. The Seattle Times explains how these work together with lanes to support biking:

Jonathan Hopkins, executive director of Commute Seattle, said that a company’s culture in encouraging bike commuting makes a big difference. He noted that for the price of building one underground parking spot, a company can usually supply sheltered, secure bike storage for all its employees.

Transit and TDM investments have helped Seattle reach an impressive mode split, boasting a drive-alone rate of 30 percent for commutes downtown. And the employee biking rates, which run up to a high of 20 percent, are well above the broader downtown average of 3 percent. That protected bike lanes can bolster biking in specific areas supports Seattle Bike Blog’s Tom Fucoloro’s point that the city could encourage more riders by connecting its currently-disconnected array of cycle tracks.

In reverse, the proximity of safe bike infrastructure to residences can work the same way, too. Last year, Mobility Lab’s former research director Stephen Crim looked at the rates at which certain Arlington neighborhoods biked to work. Mapping bike commute rates to census tracts revealed neighborhoods near Arlington’s trail network biking at higher rates than the county average.

Photo: Seattle’s 2nd Avenue protected bike lane (SDOT, Flickr, Creative Commons).

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Bike to Work Day 2017 sets new records for the D.C. region https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/19/bike-to-work-day-2017-dc-arlington/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/19/bike-to-work-day-2017-dc-arlington/#respond Fri, 19 May 2017 19:08:55 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22427 When hundreds of people and their bikes appear bright and early at Rosslyn, Arlington’s Gateway Park, it can only mean one thing: Bike to Work Day. The biggest stop by far in Arlington, pictured below, was part of the 85 pit stops offering coffee, T-shirts, and good vibes to bike commuters in the broader D.C.... Read more »

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When hundreds of people and their bikes appear bright and early at Rosslyn, Arlington’s Gateway Park, it can only mean one thing: Bike to Work Day. The biggest stop by far in Arlington, pictured below, was part of the 85 pit stops offering coffee, T-shirts, and good vibes to bike commuters in the broader D.C. region during Bike Month’s main event. (See more photos here.)

According to BikeArlington, this year more than 2,900 people registered for pit stops in Arlington, a new record for the county’s commuters. Rosslyn, where several key trails join together at the Key Bridge path into the District, drew more than a third of those participants. Across the entire D.C. area, 18,700 commuters registered, making it the largest in its 16-year history.

Broadly, Bike to Work Day is an important reminder of the inclusivity of biking. Stop by any pit stop, and you’ll see every kind of bike, ridden by riders both new and veteran. Several of us at Mobility Lab and our sister programs had the pleasure of joining BikeArlington, a sponsor and organizer of Bike to Work Day in Arlington, at the Rosslyn and Columbia Pike pit stops this morning, and got to take in the crowds. Whether someone rides every day, or just once a year, the pit stops create a place for riders to share tips, learn new things, and be part of a community that supports sustainable – and fun – transportation choices.

https://twitter.com/WalkArlington/status/865584915223412737

And Bike to Work Day isn’t over yet. There are still afternoon stops in Rosslyn and Shirlington in Arlington, and in Southwest, Columbia Heights, West End, and Riggs Park in the District.

Did you participate in Bike to Work Day for your commute today? How did your ride go? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter at @MobilityLabTeam.

Photo at top: Sam Kittner for BikeArlington; www.kittner.com

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Boston advocacy group looks to reshape how people see the humble bus https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/18/boston-advocacy-group-looks-to-reshape-how-people-see-the-humble-bus/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/18/boston-advocacy-group-looks-to-reshape-how-people-see-the-humble-bus/#respond Thu, 18 May 2017 14:47:19 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22417 Transit advocacy campaign BostonBRT isn’t just looking to add dedicated lanes and true BRT to Boston’s streets, it’s also looking to reshape how people consider buses. As part of their initiative, the alliance is launching a two-month “Beauty and the Bus” campaign, encouraging riders to capture beautiful bus-related moments they see in their everyday lives. Like... Read more »

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Transit advocacy campaign BostonBRT isn’t just looking to add dedicated lanes and true BRT to Boston’s streets, it’s also looking to reshape how people consider buses. As part of their initiative, the alliance is launching a two-month “Beauty and the Bus” campaign, encouraging riders to capture beautiful bus-related moments they see in their everyday lives.

Like many cities around the U.S., Boston is currently looking into with how to draw more people back to buses, especially after its ridership has dropped within recent years. Data compiled by Transport Politic shows a sharp decline since June 2015. A bus rapid transit system, with the frequency and fast travel times it would bring over conventional buses, would offer reliability to riders.

Not that buses are necessarily the “beast” as the campaign’s name implies, they might often be overlooked as a background piece of the urban landscape. In reality, they are micrososms of daily social interactions and an essential service for thousands of commuters, residents, and visitors. Drawing riders attention to buses, and encouraging people to look at them in a different light, is one step in encouraging greater prioritization of and investment in transit systems.

To see what participants have been submitting to the contest thus far, check out the collected Instagram posts here.

Read the complete article at BostInno

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San Francisco could ban sidewalk delivery robots – San Francisco Chronicle https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/san-francisco-could-ban-sidewalk-delivery-robots-san-francisco-chronicle/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/san-francisco-could-ban-sidewalk-delivery-robots-san-francisco-chronicle/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 18:22:02 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22412 San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee is calling to ban delivery robots on the city’s sidewalks. But Mobility Lab’s Paul Mackie disagrees and thinks that traffic could worsen if steps aren’t taken to find space-saving options for the ever-growing number of delivery vehicles. San Francisco startup Marble has a handful of robots delivering hot meals ordered on... Read more »

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San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee is calling to ban delivery robots on the city’s sidewalks. But Mobility Lab’s Paul Mackie disagrees and thinks that traffic could worsen if steps aren’t taken to find space-saving options for the ever-growing number of delivery vehicles.

San Francisco startup Marble has a handful of robots delivering hot meals ordered on the Yelp Eat24 app in the Mission District and Potrero Hill. Estonia’s Starship Technologies is testing its automated couriers with DoorDash meals in Redwood City, and with Postmates deliveries in Washington. Last year it did a one-day test of its six-wheel robots in San Francisco. South San Francisco’s Dispatch is also developing and testing robots.

A San Francisco ban is a bad idea, said Paul Mackie, a spokesman for Virginia’s Mobility Lab, which researches advanced transportation.

“The space-saving R2D2s could fix a lot of our traffic headaches caused by the ever-growing number of delivery vans and trucks that have to park illegally and dangerously to make their dropoffs,” he said in an email. “It doesn’t make any sense for San Francisco leaders to be going backwards like this.”

So far, three cities — San Carlos, Redwood City and Washington — have approved robot deliveries, Mackie said. Virginia and Idaho also allow them, and Wisconsin has passed legislation now awaiting the governor’s signature to allow delivery robots to use sidewalks and crosswalks.

Read the complete article at SFGate

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Low-stress streets mean more biking, greater transit access https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/low-stress-streets-biking-transit-access/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/low-stress-streets-biking-transit-access/#comments Wed, 17 May 2017 15:46:22 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22384 New study examines how bus and bicycling travel times interact in stressful street networks As cities move forward with ambitious plans to revamp bus services and add dedicated bike infrastructure, which in turn will help draw riders and bicyclists, the level of comfort in nearby streets still play a large role. Streets free of the... Read more »

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New study examines how bus and bicycling travel times interact in stressful street networks

As cities move forward with ambitious plans to revamp bus services and add dedicated bike infrastructure, which in turn will help draw riders and bicyclists, the level of comfort in nearby streets still play a large role. Streets free of the stress from dangerous, fast-moving traffic can not only support bicycling, but also expand the accessibility of nearby transit stops.

For planners, the solution is to create a network of roads with moderate traffic, fast enough for buses but comfortable enough to encourage bikes and pedestrians. So concludes a new report, “Improving Livability Using Green and Active Modes,” from the Mineta Transportation Institute. “Our study looks at a classic trade-off between livability and mobility as it relates to green and active modes, specifically between bicycling and transit service,” explains Dr. Bruce Appleyard of the San Diego State University School of Public Affairs, one of the report’s authors.

The research relied on detailed information about specific cities, neighborhoods, and streets, including their “transit travel times, frequency of service, and access networks.” The authors used a 2012 model, “Low Stress Bicycle Network Modeling,” also developed by the Mineta Institute, to compute the study areas’ Level of Traffic Stress, or LTS.

The scale of levels begins with LTS 1, which is generally too slow for bus and other traffic, and goes as high as 4, with crowded, speeding traffic in multiple lanes, which only a few fanatical bicyclists will brave. LTS 2 proves ideal for modes that mix biking or walking with buses, as well as for entirely non-motorized trips. The main conclusion is that a street network should maintain a LTS 2 to encourage bicycling and walking in a mixed-mode environment.

Levels of stressful streets mapped in Denver, Colo. Source: MTI.

Levels of street stress mapped in Denver, Colo., show low-stress neighborhoods separated by thoroughfares. Source: MTI.

Importantly, the report shows how high-stress streets make it hard to access transit, while low-stress streets create larger catchment areas for pedestrians and bicyclists. In other words, networks of LTS 2 or LTS 1 streets support higher bus ridership, because they allow people to bike or walk to stops. Of course, LTS 1 is too slow for most bus service, making LTS 2 ideal for all modes.

While less appropriate for children on bikes, LTS 2 appeals to the majority of bicyclists and potential bicyclists while creating a safe, pleasant walking environment. An LTS 2 road is one where “cyclists are either physically separated from traffic or are in an exclusive bicycling zone next to a well-confined traffic stream … or are on a shared road where they interact with only occasional motor vehicles with a low-speed differential.” Turn lanes are configured to give bicycles priority, and safe street crossing are available for pedestrians. Depending on conditions, car speeds should top out at around 30 mph – which, in practice, means a posted speed of 20 or 25 mph – and street width should be limited to two or three lanes.

Along with achieving LTS 2, the report suggests other enhancements to encourage walking and biking, including connectivity, effective transit, and accessible stations. Specifically, the report recommends “transit-only lanes, transit priority lanes at the intersections, transit-stop bulb-outs, and integrated networks of pedestrian and bicycle routes.”

The idea is to create a network that will appeal to “interested but concerned” bicyclists, that large group who would bike to work if only it weren’t so difficult and dangerous. As the report puts it, “The single most important factor for bicycle travel is safety.” Creating a safe and comfortable biking environment would draw out more women riders, as well as younger and older people, conditions that currently exist in Denmark and the Netherlands. In the United States, by contrast, the much smaller number of bicyclists consists largely of young men.

Separated bike lanes are an additional improvement, one strongly encouraged by bicycle advocacy groups, that can help create safe, bikeable networks. Explains Appleyard, “Creating separated bike paths that would increase comfort for cyclists through greater separation from traffic, would be an effective solution for improving Level of Traffic Stress.”

The caveat to such improvements is that making a street network safe and inviting for bicycles means some ridership competition with buses, as it will often be as fast simply to bike. Since buses and bikes both maintain a speed of around 12 mph, she who begins a trip on a bike might choose to stay on a bike, if conditions permit.

As Appleyard puts it, “lower levels of traffic stress (LTS 1 or 2) make the choice between a bicycling/bus transit and bicycle-only modes become equally attractive and substitutable.” He adds that, “There are health benefits to consider, as well as a bicyclist’s sense of independence.” (It is, however, important to maintain bus service as an alternative mode when bad weather makes bicycling difficult or impossible.)

LTS3 service denver

The street network along a bus route in Denver, if one considers all streets up to LTS 3. The report explains that differing colors near bus stops mean either the “stop may not be used because it is not connected at that level, or its travel time is more than another accessible stop at that access speed.” Source: MTI.

The report examines the cities of Denver, Colorado and Oakland, Calif., in detail. It finds a majority of streets to be LTS 1 or 2 in both cities, with Denver particularly navigable by bike, possessing a whopping 81 percent of LTS 1 roads. The problem comes with main thoroughfares at LTS 3 and 4, which block access to other streets, fragmenting networks.

While the report concentrates on buses as a public transit mode, higher speed transit is available, including rail and bus rapid transit. In such cases, people are willing to travel a greater distance to access transit, greatly increasing coverage area. Future research is needed for such situations, but this report lays the foundation.

As Appleyard puts it, “policymakers can make choices that work for all modes. It is important, however, that they consider the needs of these modes comprehensively.” “Improving Livability Using Green and Active Modes” offers an important lesson for decisionmakers wishing to design a pleasant, multimodal city in which low-stress streets support multiple non-driving options comfortably.

Photo, top: An ART bus and a bicyclist share the street in Arlington County, Va. (Sam Kittner for Mobility Lab, www.kittner.com).

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Ridehailing collides with urban wellbeing – San Francisco Chronicle https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/ridehailing-collides-with-urban-wellbeing/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/17/ridehailing-collides-with-urban-wellbeing/#respond Wed, 17 May 2017 15:05:23 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22392 Ubers and Lyfts appear to be taking over the streets of San Francisco. And city leaders and the public are beginning to grow pretty frustrated with the tech-based taxis. In San Francisco, the traffic tensions are soaring. And nobody is more upset about the arrogance of the ride-hailing companies than Ed Reiskin, director of the... Read more »

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Ubers and Lyfts appear to be taking over the streets of San Francisco. And city leaders and the public are beginning to grow pretty frustrated with the tech-based taxis.

In San Francisco, the traffic tensions are soaring. And nobody is more upset about the arrogance of the ride-hailing companies than Ed Reiskin, director of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, whose buses and trains must jostle every day with the thousands of cars working for TNCs — “transportation network companies,” as the state PUC designates them.

“Our charge at MTA is to maintain an efficient, safe, equitable and environmentally sound transit system for the people of San Francisco — and as I see it, the TNCs fail on every one of those levels,” he said. “There is no telling exactly how many of these ride-hailing vehicles are now operating on the streets of San Francisco, because these so-called sharing companies refuse to share their data with us. But we know there’s been a huge infusion of vehicles. I can see the traffic impact on Muni with my own eyes. I ride the trains or buses every day. And riding on a full, rush-hour N-Judah train, it will suddenly come to a dead stop because an Uber car has pulled in front of the train to pick up a passenger.

“It’s horribly frustrating for commuters. I hear complaints from passengers all the time and from small-business owners. They ask, ‘Why can’t you do something about this?’”

The reason is simple, Reiskin said. The state Public Utilities Commission routinely ignores San Francisco’s pleas to regulate Uber and Lyft, Reiskin said. “It’s obvious that these companies have well-funded lobbies in Sacramento.”

Read the complete article at San Francisco Chronicle

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Storyteller-in-chief: Get on the bus! – Oregon Business https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/16/storyteller-in-chief-get-on-the-bus/ https://mobilitylab.org/2017/05/16/storyteller-in-chief-get-on-the-bus/#respond Tue, 16 May 2017 15:30:52 +0000 https://mobilitylab.org/?p=22374 The new head of moovel North America recalls growing up in Arlington, Va., and learning as a kid how to get around comfortably with transit. He offers a touching story of missing his bus stop because he was too busy being fascinated by the wild diversity of people getting on and off the bus. Now... Read more »

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The new head of moovel North America recalls growing up in Arlington, Va., and learning as a kid how to get around comfortably with transit. He offers a touching story of missing his bus stop because he was too busy being fascinated by the wild diversity of people getting on and off the bus. Now as a grown up, he is still mesmerized by the ways people can efficiently get around places with transit and other sustainable forms of transportation, leaving time to think about and absorb life while commuting.

My dad would probably get in big trouble for this today, but he decided I could get to more lessons by teaching me how to ride public transportation by myself.

He mapped out the route from my house to the martial arts studio. He made a lanyard with instructions on how to ride Metro, the D.C. area public transit service, where to transfer to the correct line and how much to pay.

Arlington, Virginia is a fairly diverse place, and I was fascinated by all the different characters who got on, got off, read the paper, or fell asleep. Moms with kids, old people, teenagers, businessmen, and a few “crazy people” — all in the same spot.

As I sat mesmerized, I suddenly realized I had missed my stop.

Panic filled me. I looked at my lanyard but there were no instructions on what to do if things went wrong. So I carefully tapped the driver on his shoulder, told him what happened and listened to him tell me that I could just walk across the street and simply hop on the same bus going in the opposite direction.

Confidence renewed, I realized I could do this: I could get around on my own.

Since my early days as a young child riding the bus on his way to Tae Kwon Do class in Arlington, I have remained delighted with public transit.

That fascination has now extended to other mobility options, like ridesharing and autonomous vehicles. Whatever way you like to get around, it should enrich your life with humanity and efficiency.

Read the complete article at Oregon Business

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