A Close Call Close to Work ~ Part 1

They say your life passes before your eyes just before you die.  I don’t know if that’s true but a close call on May 27 made me realize I‘m not eager to find out.

Walking back from lunch, I stopped at a 3 way intersection about a block from KMM.  There are 3 stop signs and a speed limit of 25 MPH.  Signage reminds drivers to stop for pedestrians who are crossing the one way street.  On this bright, sunny day, there were no vehicles in the intersection and none approaching. I looked left then right, and feeling it was  safe, I stepped off of the curb and began to cross.

Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a SUV barreling toward me.  Speeding closer and closer, the vehicle showed no signs of slowing down let alone stopping.  It was going to hit me. With seconds to spare, I rushed back to the sidewalk. I focused my eyes on the driver, a well-dressed 60-ish man.  A woman was in the passenger seat.  The couple appeared to be arguing and looking at each other, not the street.

In the panic stricken moments that followed, I realized I was lucky to be alive, but was too stunned to scream, “you almost killed me!”  Bill Neary, my colleague, witnessed the incident, and did the yelling for me. But, it didn’t matter.  The SUV was long gone and the driver totally unaware of the near miss.

Back in my office, I sat silently, taking deep breaths, and replaying the entire incident in my mind.  I asked myself, “how did this happen?”

As a transportation specialist involved with traffic safety issues, I mentally reviewed the 3 Es of traffic management — Engineering, Enforcement and Education.  The engineering and enforcement aspects including road design, pavement markings, speed limit and stop signs to control traffic were all present.  The missing element was education.

Anyone who sits behind the wheel must respect the rules of the road and understand the risks and dangers of driving.  Drivers must stay ALERT and pay attention to roadway conditions, speed limits and traffic signs. A driver under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or who is experiencing rage, anger, or other distractions should not drive until he or she is back to normal, especially in a downtown setting with many pedestrians walking around during the lunch hour.

This incident made me I realize that I am not only responsible for my own behavior and safety but, I must also be mindful of the improper driving behaviors of others. It reminded me that life is so unpredictable and that we should never take it for granted.  You never know if you can go back home.pedSlide1

The World Gathers to Demand Climate Change Action Plan

mombabyclimatemarchUN Secretary General Ban K-Moon was there.  So were NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Leonardo DeCaprio.  So was an unnamed baby resting on his Mother’s chest.   My wife and I were there, too.  We were among the 310,000 marchers who gathered in Central Park on Sunday for the People’s Climate March just 2 days before the UN Climate Conference on September 23.

New York City was not alone.  Hundreds of thousands like-minded people came together in cities around the world to support climate change action now.

The purpose of the UN Conference is to catalyze “action by governments, business, finance, industry, and civil society … for new commitments and substantial, scalable and replicable contributions …that will help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy.”  The Secretary General called for UN members to “innovate, scale-up, cooperate and deliver concrete action that will close the emissions gap.”

March organizers said it was time to “demand action not words.”  Yet, it was through the words in chants and on banners that participants got their message across.

“There is no planet B”

“Don’t nuke the climate”

“Don’t frack with us”

Fracking= Climate change

“Treat your mama (Earth) with respect.”

 climatemarchkmmMy wife and I were fascinated that people of all ages, nationalities, religions and political perspectives marched peacefully and energetically united in a common cause.  As concerned citizens who worry about the future of our planet for our grandchildren and yours, we were proud to be part of the Climate March and left NYC feeling hopeful about the “day after tomorrow. “

 

The Art of Bike Racks

“The Acorn City” – Raleigh, NC

“The Acorn City” – Raleigh, NC

Some have said that Da Vinci’s sketch books contain drawings of a bicycle.  This may or may not be true but we do know that a bicycle without pedal appeared in 1817.  It enjoyed limited popularity.  In 1870, the first all metal High Wheel Bicycle was introduced and named.   Bicycles have evolved considerably since those days and so have bike racks.

Right from the start, trees, signs, benches, and just about any other immobile objects have been used to secure bicycles.    U racks, wave racks, and bollards remain popular, but many cities are opting for more sophisticated designs.

The Bison in Norman, OK

The Bison in Norman, OK

The “bike station,” is an indoor or outdoor area that houses hundreds of bicycle.  It may also offer lockers, changing rooms, and rental, repair, and sales facilities, such as the one in WashingtonDC. (home.bikestation.com/bikestation-​washingtondc)

The Tomato outside a market Rock Hill, SC

The Tomato outside a market Rock Hill, SC

The Japanese have taken bike storage to a whole other level – below ground.  The bicycle is rolled onto a street level platform that whisks it away until retrieved by its owner. http://youtu.be/yIHrmN_ptJc

Some towns have re-invented the bike rack as street art.  Recently, we learned of the City Center Bike Rack Design competition in which the winning bike rack designs will be placed in City Center Philadelphia.  Other communities have launched or completed similar projects, with some interesting results.

A Transportation Planner Visits Barcelona – Changes in Latitude

“I, therefore, openly repaired to Barcelona, that repository of politeness…that agreeable scene of unshaken friendship, unparalleled both in beauty and situation!” Don Quixote

It was a beautiful and sunny day as my wife, daughters, and I left our cruise ship to enjoy the beauty of Barcelona.  No tour bus for us.  We wanted to experience this Mediterranean jewel on foot.

We weren’t the only ones.

photo credit: IES Abroad

photo credit: IES Abroad

Everywhere, the streets were filled with tourists, students, businessmen and women, even the elderly walking, bicycling or zipping around on Vespa scooters.  Walking through town, we experienced the history and culture of Spain’s most cosmopolitan city.  The excitement and energy pulsed around us in this city so ancient yet so modern. For me, it was a transportation professional’s dream.

I was fascinated by the mixed land use, marriage of old and new.  Likewise, the commitment to a balanced transportation system proved that a “streets that work for all” approach can work in a large city.  The streets were shared by motor vehicles, pedestrians, bicyclists, and public transit services.  Barcelona’s population exceeds 1.5 million.  With considerable distance between tourist areas and monuments, the best way to get around is by using the underground subway.  It is clean, on time, and efficient.

The bus system is enhanced with beautifully designed shelters that attracted passengers of all ages.  I noticed city maps, route maps, stop signs, benches and other amenities at all stops along the main routes.

Overall, it appeared that transportation and transportation planning seem to be high priorities for Barcelona’s city officials, professionals, and decision makers.  It works well, and was well appreciated by this tourist.

-MA

SummerBlogPhoto

Each Wednesday, KMM’s staff members share stories and anecdotes about their
memorable vacations, recent and past.  These will be personal
recollections about trips to our beloved Jersey shore, across America,
and around the world.  Changes in Latitude………..