Subway System – 25 Years in the Making

Recently, I visited my Mother in Isfahan, Iran.  Isfahan, my hometown, is a metropolitan city in the center of Iran with a regional population of 3.5 million.

The day before I was scheduled to return to the US, I decided to walk downtown and observe the changes that had occurred since I immigrated to the West 22 years ago.  I really wanted to check out the city’s subway system.

From 1982-1992, I was the Deputy Director of the State Transportation Department and Chairman of the Board of Isfahan Traffic Organization.  I was part of the team that worked on the feasibility study for the subway system.

It started with a group of volunteer professionals, including myself, willing to devote our personal time to the dream of a modern transportation system in our town.  We compiled data which documented the urgent need for a subway to supplement the existing but inadequate public transit system, the limited capacity of city streets, and increasing traffic congestion.  With enthusiastic community support, we believed it could happen.  In fact, the National Traffic Council and the Congress supported the project and allocated funding for its construction.

But then, the geopolitical landscape changed.  There was no money to move forward.

I had heard that the subway had finally been completed and opened in October 2015.  The subway system stretches along 7.5 miles of track with 10 stations.  Currently, there is a plan to add about 25 miles and 3 more lines.  Now, I was ready to see it for myself.

The train was on time, and the ride was so quiet and comfortable. The stations look clean and pleasant with beautiful designs of cultural artworks, escalators running to and from the street, good signage and guide maps, and other amenities for riders.  With a feeling of great accomplishment and a little pride, I bought a ticket and took a ride on the subway I never thought would be constructed.

As I rode, I thought of my colleagues, our work, our vision, and our determination all those years ago.  And, I remembered an old saying “Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try.”

 

Written by Morteza Ansari, KMM Transportation Planner

Sharing the Road ~Together

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians – We all use the roads and we’d each prefer to do so without the other in the way.

Sometimes our own actions or the actions of others around us can put us in danger, especially when it comes to sharing the road. Although it is often unintentional, forgetting basic road etiquette can cause yourself or another harm and injury. Here are some safety tips that every motorist should know about sharing the roads:

  1. Drivers look for pedestrians when making turns, right? So why not take a couple extra seconds to look for a cyclist? The cyclist has the right of way if they are going straight and the driver is turning right.
  2. Pedestrians have responsibilities too. They should always avoid walking distracted.  Keep earbud volume low enough to hear oncoming traffic and do not text and walk.
  3. If you are a driver approaching pedestrians and/or cyclists, wait to pass them until you have a clear view ahead and are sure there’s no oncoming traffic. A little bit of patience could save your life.
  4. Signal your turns and do it in plenty of time. Using turn signals is not only a law for drivers but for cyclists as well. By using hand signals to determine which way you are turning, this can alert drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians when they see you coming.

When you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, riding a bike or motorcycle, driving safely should always be your top concern. It’s crucial to know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time you’re on the road.  This will ensure that everyone can travel and stay safe together.

Stop! Before you go!

Doesn’t it seem that everyone on the road is in a rush to get somewhere?  Some are in such a hurry that they even disobey stop sign laws!

Recently, we have been noticing (and commuters have shared with us) that drivers are not completing full stops when approaching stop signs.  Many drivers tend to approach a stop sign, slow down, and then round off the turn without completely stopping. This is illegal and extremely dangerous!   Stop signs are put in place for everyone’s safety. Not only for the safety of the driver but for the safety of pedestrians, cyclist, and all others as well. Driving or rolling through a stop sign endangers everyone at the intersection.

Need to brush-up on stop sign laws?  Here is what you need to know:

  1. Come to a complete stop at a stop sign. The law specifies drivers need to stop “within five feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line marked upon the pavement at the near side of the intersecting street.”
  2. Yield to the person on the right if you both arrive at the intersection at the same time.

It is everyone’s duty at the stop sign to follow the laws set in place.  Reaching your destination, despite how late you are, is not worth an accident.  Come to a complete stop at a stop sign.  For your safety and the safety of others!

Happy National Selfie Day!

June 21st is National Selfie Day! It’s a cinch to participate in this holiday. Just pose, snap, and post.

But most importantly, take that selfie safely.  Here’s how:

If you take a trip to the beach, getting the waves crashing behind you is a great way to show how you are spending your summer day.   Be sure to scan the area for any riptides and heed any lifeguard warnings.  Hold on tight to your phone too.  That wave crashing behind you can be far stronger than you think!

If you are going for a bike ride, the possibilities are endless of what you can share – action shots, landscapes, and your very cool bike gear.  While all these shots can be epic, it’s smarter to pull over and snap that picture than to take the picture while biking.

Spending the day walking with co-workers for lunch or dinner alfresco with friends? There is plenty to capture and share too.  Just remember to not snap and post that perfect selfie while walking.

Most importantly be aware of your surroundings.  That big smile you’ll post on social media for all to see should be fun and worry-free.   So snap that pic, and Get your Selfie on!

Summer Pet Safety

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you just spent part of your day tossing tennis balls to your furry friend at the park. Heading home, you realize you need to pick up a few things from the supermarket; it should only take about five minutes. Sure, the sun is shining and it is about 80 degrees, but it will only be a few minutes, so there is no harm in leaving your friend in the car, right?

WRONG. You never leave your pet in a car on a warm day.

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion as a result of being left in parked cars on warm days.  On a 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can climb to 110 degrees in only minutes. In 20 minutes on a 90-degree day, the same car can get up to 130 degrees inside which is unsafe for humans and animals. You may think cracking the windows will help your pet, but the truth is that opened windows make very little difference to the inside temperature of your car.

Heatstroke is the main danger for pets in hot cars. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting. If they are stuck in a hot car, the cool air they receive is little to none and makes cooling down much harder.

Like most busy pet parents, you may be pressed for time and think that surely it’s okay to leave your pet for just a few minutes. The excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes while I go into the store,” or “But I cracked the windows…” do not amount to much if your pet becomes seriously ill or dies from being left in a car.

If you love your furry friend as much as they love you, rethink leaving them in the car the next time you are out on a warm, sunny day.

Memorial Day & Summer Kick-Off Driving Tips

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Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service and over the course of the years has been considered the unofficial  “kick-off” of the Summer season.  The day and long weekend are often marked by family gatherings, parades, barbecues, and road trips.  As a result, highways and local roads alike, see high volume of cars on the road along with traffic and impatient drivers. According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 people will be killed during their Memorial Day weekend travels.

When driving to your destination this weekend, here are a few tips to help insure you have a fun and safe travel weekend:

 

  1. Buckle Up  Always wear your seat belt on every trip and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs. If you are traveling with children, make sure they are restrained in safety seat that is appropriate for their height, age and weight.
  2. Don’t get Distracted  Never use your cell phone while driving, even if your hands are free. Avoid listening to loud music and eating during your drive, these can be more distracting than you think.
  3. Take Breaks  Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue while on the road. If you know you have a long trip ahead of you, plan to have another driver to switch off with or plan to make a few rest stops during your travels.
  4. Plan Ahead  Don’t be in a rush to get to your destination. There will be plenty of cars on the road so it is important to keep a safe distance and go the speed limit while driving.  If you know you will be going to a party or gathering, always assign an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation. Impairment begins with the first drink you have and its not worth getting behind the wheel afterwards.

Make sure you have fun by planning ahead so you, your family, and friends are sure to have a great time!

 

 

My Subway Experience

http://www.empiricalstyle.com/products-page/c-subway-signs/downtown-and-brooklyn-n-q-r/
http://www.empiricalstyle.com/products-page/c-subway-signs/downtown-and-brooklyn-n-q-r/

Besides being cram packed with people, New York is also known for it’s many Broadway theatres, cinemas and shops. All of which makes New York a city that never sleeps. Literally.

So far throughout my first semester of college, I have experienced A LOT being in the city. Attending school in the middle of Brooklyn is pretty much the equivalent of being in lower Manhattan. It’s packed, noisy and there’s never a dull moment. I take one step off of campus and there are crowds of people. As you can imagine, getting around the city isn’t always easy. Since I go to school in Brooklyn, we aren’t allowed to have a car on campus… that’s including all four years, leaving me with limited transportation options such as taking a taxi, a bus, the subway or walking. Although my roommate and I tend to walk everywhere we go, it doesn’t always get us where we need to be. With that being said, the subway is the next best thing. I can honestly say that the subway isn’t as bad as people make it seem. Besides it being crowed, hot and smelly, it’s really very simple to use once you get used to it.

When I go home from school I always take a train from Penn Station, it’s only 45 minutes tops. However, Penn Station isn’t walking distance from my school so I always take the subway to get me there. There are multiple subway stops near my school which gives me several train options to use. I have gotten used to the trains by now so I know what lines will be crowded during what times of the day. I also determine what subway I will use based on the weather. If the weather is bad outside I can either take the 2 express or the 3 local, each bringing me right into Penn Station. From there I just walk up a few flights of steps and I’m right smack in the middle of Penn Station. If the weather is nice and I feel like walking some, then I can take the express Q train which drops me off at 34th Street Harold Square. It only a few blocks from Penn I am able to get some fresh air and walk around the little shops in that area. If I’m ever in a rush,  the express trains can get me to Penn a little faster than the locals, but in the end they all get me to where I need to be which is the main reason why I love using the subway as my way of transportation.

The first few times taking the subway by myself I was a ball of nerves, but as time went on I learned and I now love taking the subway everywhere I go. I thought long and hard about my decision of where I would like to attend school, and I can honestly say that I wouldn’t change anything about it. Learning how to get around the city by walking and taking the subway has definitely benefitted me. Without learning on my own how to use the subway I would probably get lost and never be able to make it home.

Now that I will be going back to school for my second semester, I  think my next mission is to learn how to use the buses!

 

Guest post by KMM Intern 2017

Winter is Here!

Car tires on winter road covered with snow

The winter is upon us and sooner or later, New Jersey will see itself covered in a freezing blanket of billowy snow. But as New Jersians, life doesn’t just stop because of a few flakes (or feet) of the white stuff. Getting your car “winter ready” before the first snow will ensure you’re ready to face the road ahead. Ensure vehicle fluids are changed, tires are checked or replaced, and ensure all exterior lights are in proper working order. Then follow these driving tips if you need to travel in the cold and snow:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Most vehicles keep the tire pressure information on the driver side door panel.
  • Check and replace (if necessary) windshield wipers.
  • Top off wiper fluid.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Do not use cruise control in wet, wintery, icy weather.
  • Avoid hard breaking in wet weather as this can make your vehicle spin out of control.
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds.
  • Keep non-clumping kitty litter or wood chips in the trunk of your vehicle. This will help your tires gain traction if you become stuck in snow.
  • When traveling long distances, make sure to keep a blanket, flash light, water, and snacks in your vehicle in case you become stranded.
  • When in doubt, stay home. If driving conditions make it extremely difficult to travel, please do not attempt to go out.

For more information on winter driving visit http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/#.WG0-FxsrJPY

Riding in the Road: 8 Tips for Safe Cycling

Andrew_Peter_May07-001As a bike rider, it can be challenging to feel comfortable riding in the road with motor vehicles, but roads are often the best way to get from A to B whether for shopping, commuting or enjoying a ride. Learning to ride defensively can increase your comfort and safety, and expand the number of roads where you can ride. Here are some tips for defensive bicycling.

  • Choose your route 
    • Before your ride, select a route with the lightest or slowest traffic or the widest shoulder that gets you where you want to go. Select a route where you’re comfortable riding.
  • Ride predictably
    • Ride in a straight line, in the direction of traffic on the right side of the road. However, don’t hug the curb. Leave room to safely navigate issues such as pot holes, debris, sewer grates and other obstacles.
    • Obey traffic signs and signals, they’re for both bicyclists and motor vehicles.
    • Use extra caution around turning vehicles and at intersections. Avoid passing stopped vehicles on the right.
    • Use extra caution around large vehicle like trucks and buses, which have a larger blind spot and make wider turns.
    • When there is a short gap between parked cars, ride in a straight line rather than weaving in and out. This way, drivers see where you want to go and you can avoid merging back into the travel lane when you have to pass the next parked car.
    • Don’t swerve at the last second to avoid potholes or debris. Instead, move over early when you notice an obstacle up ahead.
  •  Be visible
    • When a travel lane is too narrow for both a bike and motor vehicle to share, move towards the center of the lane to make yourself more visible to motorists.
    • Use a front white light and red rear light in low-light conditions and at night. It’s New Jersey law.
    • Wear bright, highly visible clothing, preferably with reflective tape or patches.
  • Avoid distractions and hazards
    • Keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
    • Ride four feet from parked cars to stay out of the “door zone,” where you could collide with an opening car door.
    • Avoid drinking, eating, using your phone, or anything that requires your hands while bicycling.
    • At large, complicated or busy intersections, consider getting off your bike and walking across.
  • Communicate
    • Look behind you and scan for oncoming vehicles before making all turns.
    • Signal your turns, especially in mixed traffic and around other cyclists.
    • Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.
  • On the trail or sidewalk
    • When riding near pedestrians, let them know you’re there using a bell or your voice.
    • Reduce speed when passing pedestrians and other cyclists.
    • Slow down and use extra care at intersections and blind corners.
  • Have the right equipment
    • Wear a helmet every time you ride.
    • Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
    • Keep your bike in good working order. Check tire pressure, brakes, and chain regularly.
  • Ride more and learn more!
    • When driving look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.
    • Consider taking a Smart Cycling class from the League of American Bicyclists.