Bad Choices, Part One

I always pick the best days to bike. Here’s the transcript of my IM with a cow orker this morning:

mdahmus: so today’s trip in was hellacious. first it starts drizzling hard RIGHT AFTER JEANNE LEAVES WITH MY CAR.
mdahmus: then I get to north loop and lamar and the bike won’t go.
mdahmus: I pull over and fuck with the brakes and make them very loose; still no go.
mdahmus: then I realized the back wheel had gone out of alignment and was rubbing on the bar.
mdahmus: so I try to fix the brakes back up and realize I can’t do it without pliers (can’t hold on to the little fuckity fuck fuck wire because too wet and greasy)
mdahmus: so I rode the rest of the way in with no back brakes; making the trip down far west JUST FANTABULOUS!
mdahmus: actually got passed by Guy on 2222 at 360; longest trip in ever. fuckin’ old brakes. AND YOU WONDER WHY MORE PEOPLE DON’T BIKE, MISTER SMARMY BIKE SHOP FUCKWAD.
mdahmus: that’s me angry.

The “smarmy bike shop fuckwad” refers to the helpful people at my no longer favorite bike shop (one I haven’t gone to in quite a while now) who failed to do anything about the “I can’t maintain my fuckin’ brakes because they’re such a pain in the ass; even though I’m already carrying around a wrench for the few brake things I can maintain” situation the last time I had the bike in because they couldn’t get the right parts, but “don’t worry, dude, they’re fine”.

How well do you think a car would sell if every time it got a flat tire and you put the doughnut on, you had to redo your brakes? NOT VERY FUCKING WELL I THINK!

Bad Neighborhoods, Part One

Austin’s neighborhood Nazis are at it again. In an article about the current activities of the Envision Central Texas project, an inoffensively driven planning exercise which seeks to lay out in broad brushes whether people all over the place are really against sprawl or not; the Statesman wrote:

Austin neighborhood leaders also are worried the scenarios could hurt the character of their neighborhoods. Bryan King, president of the Austin Council of Neighborhoods, said the type of density envisioned for neighborhoods in Scenario D could be disastrous. “Any scenario that is chosen must respond to neighborhood plans,” King said. “The neighborhood plans come first. Envision Central Texas comes second.”

Back when I worked on the Old West Austin neighborhood plan; it was understood that this exercise was fundamentally a way for central-city neighborhoods to show where additional density should occur; not whether it should occur. And we took that responsibility seriously; advocating additional development (both commercial and residential) on the edges and in a few places in the interior of the neighborhood. Since then, every neighborhood of note in the city, including my new neighborhood in North University, has used this process to try to push all densification out to commercial arterials; and even there in absurdly limited terms. The same people who fought the Villas, a reasonable apartment complex right next to Guadalupe Street within walking distance of UT, are fighting future similarly smart infill projects throughout Austin’s central city. And all of these wankers drive cars with SoS stickers on them. Oh, the irony.

Dilweed in Paradise

It’s ironic that this dilweed lives in Honolulu, one of a very small number of really effective city-bus-only transit systems in the United States. This presumably gives him the temerity to claim that the investment in public transit in this country, dwarfed by spending on highways, is a “waste” when most of it has, at the urging of schmucks like him, gone to those same city bus systems which are completely ineffective at removing suburban commuters from their single-occupant vehicles in almost every other city in the country. Yes, they provide mobility to some poor people who can’t afford cars; and for a trivially small number of people who don’t have parking at their destinations.

But the only thing that works for choice commuters (outside the oddball cities like Honolulu where parking is expensive enough to make a real difference) is prioritized transit, that being separate right-of-way such as rail, or buses running in exclusive lanes. Unfortunately, people on both sides of this debate continue to buy into the canard that cities should be required to show improvements in stuck-in-traffic only-poor-schmucks-use-them city bus systems before investing in any kind of rapid transit, be it light rail, BRT, monorail, subway, or whatever else. The most disappointing thing are the transit advocates who buy into this nonsense; not realizing that the true goal of most of the people diverting rapid transit investment into city bus systems is to kill those transit systems entirely (much harder to convert a light rail line back to single-occupant motor vehicle use, after all).

We went through this in Austin; with many road warriors hiding behind the idea that we should force Capital Metro to “run the bus system better” before investing in rapid transit, ignoring the fact that by any objective means, they’re already running the bus system about as well as it could possibly be run. That meaning that a city bus system alone will never, ever, EVER pull an additional non-trivial number of automobile commuters out of their cars; since almost all of those people who could possibly be practically served by the bus are already riding it. Most UT employees for whom the cost of parking is an issue are already riding the various 183-corridor and I35-corridor express buses. Most state employees who don’t get free parking are already riding various other express buses and flyers. And most private-sector employees get parking for free; so why on earth would they want to ride an ‘express’ bus whose guarantee is that if run perfectly in the absolutely best possible route circumstance (their driveway is at the last bus stop before the freeway; their office is at the first stop after the freeway exit), it could be almost as fast as their automobile, since it’s stuck in the same traffic?

It doesn’t matter how slow the traffic on Mopac gets; the bus will never be competitive with the private automobile for most people. The only way to compete is therefore to provide prioritized routing for transit – meaning rail, or as a poor second choice, HOV lanes for buses.

Period. There’s nothing more Capital Metro can do; you could run a city bus every ten seconds on every major arterial in the suburbs and not attract one more person to ride it to their job since their car will be substantially faster and they don’t have to pay for parking.