Slow down, you move too fast

A policy that encourages cars to keep moving privileges cars at the expense of pedestrians and bicyclists. Since drivers, for the most part, already believe that they have priority on the road, in places where there are many more walkers and bicyclists, drivers able to drive more quickly because of fewer impediments would likely feel more empowered to move more quickly and to drive faster, likely endangering non-drivers.

As long as roads are engineered to allow very high speeds, and cars are engineered to drive very fast (in the 1940s, the speed limit on residential streets in DC was 15 mph), reducing impediments on drivers is likely to be deleterious to pedestrians and bicyclists.

— From Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

$55 million Maplecrest extension approved

I honestly want to hear John Kalb‘s view on this project:

Less than a week after a majority of members expressed serious doubts about the project, Allen County Council on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the extension of Maplecrest Road from Lake Avenue south to Adams Center Road.

The 6-1 vote in favor of a $25 million construction bond should allow work on the 1.5-mile, $55 million project to begin next year, said County Commissioner Nelson Peters, acknowledging that “we worked hard to sell the project.”

By extending Maplecrest south over the Maumee River and often-congested railroad tracks, the project is expected to improve transportation and public safety and promote economic development, especially in southeast Allen County. But because the cost had doubled since 2002, some Council members had questioned whether the benefits were worth the expense.

I have my doubts that new roads actually create economic development; they seem to instead shuffle economic development from old roads to the new ones.

— Photo from the Allen County government Web site

Bacteria that eat waste and poop petroleum

What in the world? We’re talking about

the genetic alteration of bugs — very, very small ones — so that when they feed on agricultural waste such as woodchips or wheat straw, they do something extraordinary. They excrete crude oil.

Unbelievably, this is not science fiction. Mr Pal holds up a small beaker of bug excretion that could, theoretically, be poured into the tank of the giant Lexus SUV next to us. Not that Mr Pal is willing to risk it just yet. He gives it a month before the first vehicle is filled up on what he calls “renewable petroleum”. After that, he grins, “it’s a brave new world”.

The story in The Times of London is a great read and may challenge some of your assumptions — Is oil really a non-renewable fossil fuel, or is formed by abiogenic processes? Also, the story notes plenty of hurdles that need to be cleared before you can pour bug excrement into your gas tank, especially the problem of large-scale production:

However, to substitute America’s weekly oil consumption of 143 million barrels, you would need a facility that covered about 205 square miles, an area roughly the size of Chicago.

The best byproduct of high fuel prices has been the opportunity to discuss issues like New Urbanism, sprawl and our nation’s exclusively automotive transportation network. But what if oil supplies suddenly blossom? If peak oil is a myth, or if it can be averted, will our hopes for renewed cities be in vain?

I hope not. Although it seems some New Urbanists are almost happy that oil prices have gone through the roof, we should not place all of our bets on that happening. Our arguments in favor of true, good cities should be able to exist even with dollar-a-gallon gas.

— Hat Tip: Douglas Wilson

Better bike signs

If you drive by one of these “Share the Road” signs along a Fort Wayne street, do you in any way adjust your driving? What should you do when you see such a sign?

Do you even notice the signs?

I really appreciate the intention of the bicycle signs. But I’m not sure drivers get good, firm instruction from them.

Now, my dear wife tells me that the signs remind her to keep her eyes open for bicyclists. That’s great!

But it looks like Utah and other states have tweaked the idea and come up with something better. Check out the photo below that I discovered on Flickr:

Very nice! Now drivers and bicyclist have a shared understanding of their relationship on the road.

My only suggestion is to replace the “Share the Road” portion with something like “Allow 3 Feet.” The words would be easier for drivers to read and “Share the Road” doesn’t add any important information.

Such signs would help the relationship between motorist and cyclist be a little less rocky.

— Sign image is from the Manual of Traffic Signs, by Richard C. Moeur