Home » Transportation » Recent Articles:

The Things You Hear & See In An Urban Environment (w/Video)

When you have your windows open in an urban environment you hear all sorts of strange sounds. Two weeks ago we heard a diesel engine plus something odd enough that we paused what we were watching to have a look.

Thursday May 19, 2016, 7:13pm
Thursday May 19, 2016, 7:13pm

A tow truck was into a corner after having pulled the Chrysler 200 from the other side of the drive. Curious how this would play out I switched to video.

The Chrysler 200 is a front wheel-drive car — which should be towed from the front.  You always want the drive wheels off the ground — except, manual transmission vehicles in neutral can be towed with all four on the ground.

If the car was being towed to a mechanic for repairs, the owner would’ve given the operator the key so it could’ve been pushed away from the wall and towed from the front. The most obvious answer is the car was being repossessed, though parked illegally in someone’s reserved spot is a remote possibility.

The tow truck is from St. Louis Metropolitan Towing, center of the 2010 towing scandal.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers: Driverless Cars Safe For Occupants & Others

June 1, 2016 Transportation 2 Comments

I’m very open to the idea of driverless/autonomous vehicles, but as a pedestrian in a wheelchair a recent patent gave me pause:

Google has patented what is essentially a flypaper that sticks pedestrians to a vehicle should they be hit by an autonomous car. The tech giant sees the solution as a way to minimize crash injuries, which it says aren’t caused by the initial collision with the vehicle but when the pedestrian is thrown to the ground after the impact.

The patent describes the solution as a layer of adhesive on the front of a vehicle that pedestrians will stick to in the event of a collision with a vehicle. To prevent other objects from sticking to the adhesive in everyday driving, Google has placed a covering over it that will break in a crash to reveal the adhesive layer that sticks to pedestrians.

Google is the latest to develop a system aimed at reducing pedestrian injuries if a vehicle hits them and is doing so with self-driving cars in mind. Volvo developed a pedestrian airbag, which deploys out of the hood while Jaguar created a system that raises the car’s hood after a collision so that the pedestrian that is hit gets redirected to a softer crumple zone. Neither system, however, addresses the issue of pedestrians experiencing more serious injuries by being thrown off the car. (Motor Trend)

So glad engineers are working on ways to minimize injuries after hitting a pedestrian. Seriously, many new cars sold the last few years have self-stopping technology. This car wasn’t so equipped — though they thought it was.

Ouch!

A couple of guys tested two Volvos that were equipped, but it didn’t always work

Here’s a promotional video from Volvo talking about 100 self-driving vehicles they’ll have on the roads in Gothenburg next year:

Volvo isn’t the only manufacturer working on self-driving technology, Tesla introduced Autopilot in October 2015.

 

Here’s a young driver who finds it hard getting used to the car driving itself.

The following video went viral  — a guy’s mom behind the wheel. She was a bit more freaked out than the guy above.

Below she says she’s been driving for 50 years.

Generally younger drivers are more open to autonomous features than..uh…more seasoned drivers. But even the young can get freaked out:

Funny videos, but one Tesla owner posted an informative video of his 35-mile commute showing Autopilot in use for 37+ minutes, with just 6+ minutes driven manually.

From 2014:

The poll of 1,033 vehicle owners found 65% of vehicle owners think self-driving cars are a dangerous idea. Yet 61% say they are likely to consider a model with autonomous safety features like park assist and collision avoidance on their next purchase. And by a wide margin, 84% those participating in the survey said safety features take precedence over infotainment. (USA Today)

From 2015:

Self-driving cars may be cool and the wave of the future, and if you believe Elon Musk, human-driven cars could one day be illegal. But many Americans aren’t convinced, with a third of saying they would never buy a self-driving vehicle. That’s among the findings of a new Harris poll on Americans’ attitudes toward autonomous vehicles. The poll surveyed 2,276 adults online and found that, for the most part, we can’t agree on the good and the bad when it comes to self-driving vehicles. More than a third of respondents say these vehicles are the future of driving, while almost one quarter believe the vehicles are something out of a ‘Jetsons’ cartoon. (NBC News)

Which brings me to the results of Sunday Poll:

Q: Do you think driverless cares are safe? For whom?

  • Safe for occupants/safe for others 20 [51.28%]
  • Safe for occupants/dangerous for others 4 [10.26%]
  • Dangerous for occupants/safe for others 0 [0%]
  • Dangerous for occupants/dangerous for others 11 [28.21%]
  • Unsure/no opinion 4 [10.26%]

I think occupants are pretty safe, but I still worry about pedestrian safety. But it won’t take much to be better than human drivers.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Do You Think Driverless Cars Are Safe?

Please vote below
Please vote below

Self-driving autonomous driverless cars are quickly becoming a reality. New Tesla’s have autopilot and Uber is testing in Pittsburgh:

The first Uber car that doesn’t need a driver has hit the streets.

The ride-hailing behemoth announced in a blog post Thursday that it has begun testing a self-driving car in Pittsburgh, home of the company’s nascent Advanced Technologies Center.

The car, a Ford Fusion Hybrid with a roof-full of radar, lasers and cameras, will be collecting road-mapping data as well as testing its real-world traffic reactions. Uber’s interest in autonomous car technology dates to a year ago, when the $60 billion start-up began hiring Carnegie Mellon University robotics experts to staff its new center not far from the Pittsburgh-based school.

As with all self-driving cars that are approved for testing on public roads, Uber’s vehicle will have a safety driver who can take over the controls should the situation demand it. (USA Today)

I’m curious to experience the technology, but I’d be nervous. So this is the subject of today’s poll:

This is based on today’s technology — not five years in the future. The poll closes as 8pm tonight. No new post tomorrow, have a happy Memorial Day!

— Steve Patterson

 

Old Sidewalk-Blocking Bike Racks Finally Removed

When Culinaria opened it was a relief having a decent-sized grocery store downtown. A problem was trying to get to the entrance at 9th & Olive. The public sidewalk along 9th was so full it was basically single file for many years.

I got the number of tables reduced — and pushed back out of the way. But the four original “dish drainer” style bike racks remained.

Bike racks that place bikes perpendicular to the building/curb lines never should've been allowed by the city
Bike racks that place bikes perpendicular to the building/curb lines never should’ve been allowed by the city
May 26th 2015 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook of the new rack being installed on 9th Street
May 26th 2015 I posted this image to Twitter & Facebook of the new rack being installed on 9th Street

Nearly a year later those old racks that place bikes so they narrow the sidewalk remained in place, getting used at times. On May 10th of this year I asked the manager, Adam, when the old racks would be removed. He wasn’t sure how to get them removed — they were anchored pretty well. So that day I emailed photos to people at Streets Dept and Great Rivers Greenway (did the new rack) to inquire, copying Adam so he’d be in the loop.

The old races the next day, May 11, 2016
The old races the next day, May 11, 2016
They were removed on May 16, 2016, the cones are gone now.
They were removed on May 16, 2016, the cones are gone now.
Cyclists now have a much better rack right in front of the entrance and pedestrians have full use of the sidewalk.
Cyclists now have a much better rack right in front of the entrance and pedestrians have full use of the sidewalk.

It’s all about how we share the public right-of-way (PROW).

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis’ Last Streetcar Line Ended 50 Years Ago Tomorrow

May 20, 2016 Featured, History/Preservation, Public Transit, Transportation Comments Off on St. Louis’ Last Streetcar Line Ended 50 Years Ago Tomorrow

The last streetcar in St. Louis made its final run fifty years ago tomorrow.

Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Heinz stepped aboard clad in the same tuxedo and beaded dress they had worn to a New Year’s Eve party 36 years before. Railroad enthusiasts took pictures at every stop. A young man brought a case of beer.

Such was the clientele on Car No. 1628 on May 21, 1966, the last day of streetcar service in St. Louis. It ended an unbroken run of 107 years of public transportation on rails, sundered by family sedans and cul-de-sacs.

In the 1920s, about 1,650 streetcars rumbled along 485 miles of tracks in and near the city. Other lines ran to Florissant, Creve Coeur, Alton and Belleville. They ran across the Eads and McKinley bridges and down most every major street. Whole neighborhoods were built to be near them, and large apartment buildings sprouted at junctions and loops (turnarounds).

Then came buses and, fatally, automobiles. St. Louis Public Service Co., forerunner of the Bi-State Transit Authority (now Metro), bought a last fleet of streamlined streetcars shortly after World War II. But ridership continued to plunge while complaints rose from motorists about streetcars. Only three lines were left in April 1964, when the new Bi-State agency winnowed the system to the Hodiamont line, which ran from downtown to the Wellston Loop. Along the way through north St. Louis, the Hodiamont had its own right-of-way, like a railroad. (Post-Dispatch — with great images)

The Hodiamont line ran in exclusive right-of-way between Vandeventer to near the Western city limits, otherwise it ran on rail imbedded in the streets.

Looking East on the last eastern section of the Hodiamont Right-of-Way, 2012
Looking East on the last eastern section of the Hodiamont Right-of-Way, 2012
1966 photo of the Hodiamont streetcar at the Wellston Loop. Source: Ancestry.com -- click image to view
1966 photo of the Hodiamont streetcar at the Wellston Loop. Source: Ancestry.com — click image to view

Other cities ended their streetcar lines prior to St. Louis.  For example, Kansas City replaced their last streetcar lime(s) with buses in 1957 (Source). Two week ago today a new modern streetcar line opened in Kansas City — an absence of 59 years. We’ll be in Kansas City for Memorial weekend to ride their new line.

Many incorrectly think streetcars are just about nostalgia. Not true.

Streetcars bring people right to their destination, in a way out light rail in old freight right-of-way can’t. A half century ago the bus was quieter & smoother to the dated streetcar. Today, however, the modern 100% low-floor streetcar is the quieter & smoother choice. Streets with streetcars, trams across the pond, look & function differently. For me it is about how well the public right-of-way functions for all users.

— Steve Patterson

 

Advertisement



[custom-facebook-feed]

Archives

Categories

Advertisement


Subscribe