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    Your comment is long and says nothing.



    Trump’s actual real-life experience with transit is basically a limo and a driver.


    Ziggy Tomcich

    I get that, but that doesn’t excuse the fact that they bought lemons in the first place, and it certainly doesn’t excuse Muni’s double lemon purchase. Remember the Boeing subway cars? Bart trains have their problems, but given that some those cars are three times the age of Muni and the Acela fleet, they were a pretty damn good investment.



    The idea is to AVOID crashes in the first place. A few casualties is TOO MANY CASUALTIES. Europe/Asia/The Developed world excepting the US have strategies to minimize crashes, rather than try to reduce low of life in the event of one. And yes, there are still crashes sometimes. But very rarely. The US is a different story in that regard.



    The Japan model is…build railways such that trains don’t crash. Their trains are VERY light. To the point that in a crash, they would not offer much protection at all. But they design the railways, signals, crossovers, etc….so that crashes don’t happen. The shinkansen is the safest high speed train in the world.



    Where is the discussion of congestion-based road pricing? The only way to the address the failure of the transportation system is recognize the our road networks have a tremendous value and should be priced accordingly. Once we remove congestion from the roadways, we will then see equity with the shared-ride modes of transportation. And our shared-ride modes will have the much greater value they deserve. Currently public agencies are rightly losing even their low-income riders to Uber because of the value equation. Single rider Uber is a great value only because the road network is basically free. And it’s also false to believe that congestion-based road pricing can only be allowed where a huge rail network is already in place. The public and private sector is ready to provide the shared-ride vehicles that the system will need once the value equation is shifted to shared-ride services.



    That bit about a higher risk of death from getting hit from behind or by buses and trucks is kind of obvious, of course, but I’m curious if the data also shows a greater risk of death for cyclists when hit by larger private vehicles (e.g. pickup trucks and SUVs)? Does the risk of serious injury or death correlate with the attacking vehicle’s GVWR? I’ve been hit by smaller, sporty vehicles a couple of times and I slide up and over the hood with little injury to myself. I’d hate to think what would have resulted if I was slammed by the larger and flatter front grill of a Cadillac Escalade.


    Joe R.

    No, we wouldn’t be grade separating all intersections. It just gives us another tool which we might use to get across particularly busy intersections where cyclists also incur long delays. The protected intersection you mention is yet another tool. There’s no one-size-fits all bike infrastructure. We need to do what each situation demands. In some cases it could be just traffic calming. In others you might use protected lanes. You can also make bike boulevards. And where none of these things might work well you can consider grade-separated intersections, or even bike viaducts if you have frequent busy intersections and lots of traffic signals (this is mostly applicable in places like NYC arterials).



    But some of these reservations apply to the existing conditions. You *already* have narrower DZBLs on Hampshire St. That’s not a new problem that would result from the proposed peanut-about. And Cambridge’s density and street network — while wonderful for urban design, walkability, and visual friction — does constrain cross-section flexibility. Regarding salmoning, per Streetview, the lane configurations *already* prohibit sharp lefts. To the extent that there is demand for that turning movement, the would-be salmon is probably already cutting corners today, zigzagging via crosswalks and sidewalks. Meanwhile, the frequent cyclist would likely learn to turn left upstream to get to any destination otherwise accessed by a sharp left at the square itself. And, if my scan of the City’s traffic regulations isn’t remiss, I don’t see why more experienced cyclists couldn’t legally just choose to take the lane for quicker passage. The one concern I do have, though, is that the design doesn’t appear to designate two-stage left-turn storage areas. That said, this design is conceptual, so there’s no reason that those storage areas couldn’t be addressed at the detailed design phase.


    Chicago Cyclist

    You’ve gone WAY too far off topic for me with your digression into helicoptering parents (how many decades has this been going on?!) and U.S. folks upbringing / irredeemability / incorrigibility as thinking homo sapiens. As for your very last point, grade-separating ALL intersections is MUCH more unfeasible than making drivers licensing more rigorous or omnipresent photo traffic enforcement… Anywhoo, here, FYI, is another design option, representing a sort of compromise:


    Marven Norman

    This isn’t just about HSR, it’s also about allowing smaller equipment to be used that was up until now, banned without going through a lengthy and expensive waiver process. Now, agencies should be able to just order a product like the Siemens Desiro and put it into service in mixed traffic without having to jump through hoops to do so. That has immense benefits for operations since many lines don’t have the ridership to justify a six-car locomotive-hauled train, but end up running half-empty trains with high operating costs because it’s cheaper to pick up an F40 and some cars than it is to get a waiver for a DMU.


    Marven Norman

    Clearly you missed the Metrolink Chatsworth crash and several others where the locomotive telescoped through the cars.


    Marven Norman

    No, most of it lacks the signalling that allows speeds of 80+ MPH, the freight railroads don’t want to pay for it since they don’t run that fast, and Amtrak is perpetually starved for funding to implement such an improvement.


    Joe R.

    No argument that cars going in and out of parking spots is down on the list of things making cycling unpleasant but it’s still an issue, especially if you’ve managed to mitigate the other factors you mention. If you look at what’s done overseas, yes, they mix cars and bikes on many streets, but these tend to be designed to be non-through streets where vehicles will hardly ever be parking or unparking. In major shopping areas which have curbside parking, they’ll have parking protected bike lanes to keep the chaos from parking on the motor vehicle side, as it should be.

    However, to say that people CANNOT learn to look before they open a door or look before pulling out of parking spot — let alone, refrain from speeding, not text while driving, not run red lights, etc. (i.e. not break the law) — is, in my opinion, wildly cynical and indicates that you have a very low opinion of adult human beings.

    That only works in places where children are allowed to make mistakes as children, even if it gets them hurt, in order to grow into adults capable of making rational decisions. Decades of helicopter parenting and shielding children from the consequences of their actions has resulted in people who are adults in name only. It also caused them to have a far too high opinion of themselves and their abilities, with the result of having no consideration for others. So no, I don’t feel the majority of adults are capable of learning the things you mentioned. They were damaged in their formative years. It’s hard to undo that.

    To imply that bicyclists and motorists can’t share the roads (which even with protected bike lanes occurs at all intersections, driveways, etc.) because a driver might be irresponsible, is like saying, “well, an airline pilot could crash into a house, therefore no plane should ever fly where that is a possibility.” or “because a large semi truck could smash a small car or motorcycle, we should not allow cars or motorcycles to share the road with trucks.”

    We have much higher standards for pilots and locomotive engineers than we do for drivers. Given what I mentioned above about the dumbing down of adults, the only real solutions are either autonomous cars or making driver licensing as difficult as getting a pilot’s license to weed out those who inherently just can’t drive safely (that’s upwards of 75% of the population). There’s zero political support for stricter licensing in this country. Autonomous cars are still perhaps a decade away, with banning of human driving on public roads further away still. The only midterm solution then is to separate bikes and motor vehicles as much as practical.

    To make cycling safer we need better infrastructure (including separated bikeways on some streets), better education of all roadway users (but especially of the ones that are operating the most dangerous, potentially life-threatening machines), better stricter enforcement, and better policies and programs to create “Complete Streets” — i.e. streets and public ROWs that are planned, funded, built, operated, and maintained for ALL USERS OF THE ROAD (not just or primarily for motorists). Right?

    No argument with any of that. I would like to see a lot of bikeways which are also separated at intersections. Intersections are the most dangerous points but protected bike lanes fail to address this. Grade separating intersections via overpasses or underpasses, perhaps even grade-separating the entire bikeway if intersections are very frequent, is one thing which should be in our toolbox. Yes, it’s expensive but given the hopeless situation at present to make drivers behave better it seems the only viable answer in many situations. It also has the benefit of letting cyclists avoid delays from traffic signals or stop signs at intersections. It’s worthwhile just for that reason alone.


    Stephen Karlson

    Agreed. But let’s get the Regional Rail model right, and let’s consider the possibility of upgrading existing rail lines in such a way as to mix 125-140 mph diesel trains with 90-100 mph intermodal and automobile trains. Contrary to the Popular Perspective, there’s a lot of very good, investor-owned rail infrastructure in the USA. But I encounter too many Passenger Rail advocates who treat the freight railroads as the enemy.



    Is there a link to the EPA emissions rule? Didn’t see one in the LATimes article, having a hard time finding it online.



    Will this have any impact on light rail trains?



    But if this helps bring down costs significantly then that can only help the rail industry in the US.


    Chicago Cyclist

    My point about speed differential pertains to SAFETY not ‘pleasantness’ or ‘unpleasantness.’ Safety is a matter of life and death, therefore of much more importance than anything else. However, I bicycle everyday in a congested city along streets with high turn-over parallel parking (Chicago) and I do not feel that the cars going in and out of parking is what makes bicycling here ‘unpleasant,’ nor is parking turnover the most dangerous aspect of bicycling here. It is: 1) cars speeding, 2) cars running through red lights, and 3) drivers using their phones while driving! I do not ride in the “door zone.” That said, I also do not ride in the door zone. However, to say that people CANNOT learn to look before they open a door or look before pulling out of parking spot — let alone, refrain from speeding, not text while driving, not run red lights, etc. (i.e. not break the law) — is, in my opinion, wildly cynical and indicates that you have a very low opinion of adult human beings. If drivers cannot be safe and obey the laws, then they should not be given drivers’ licenses! Other countries have instilled safe, rational behavior in those operating large dangerous machines (that is, automobiles). We can too — it depends on education and very good enforcement (i.e. ticketing, high fines, prison for egregiously dangerous drivers, red light cameras, speed cameras, anti-speeding and distracted-driving technology in the cars and in our phones). Here in Chicago, as bicycling has increased, drivers are learning to be BETTER drivers — more cautious, more careful, more attentive, etc. Yes, it takes time, but it can happen.

    My point about trains, or planes, or boats — and of course above all cars — is that they are DANGEROUS. Especially, in the case of cars, to pedestrians and to bicyclists, who also are users of the roads. If the operator of any such vehicle (car, train, bus, airplane, boat, etc.) is, say, drunk or sleeping or texting, or speeding or misbehaving in some manner — basically, not taking their responsibility as an operator of a potentially dangerous machine seriously — then they it is driver error that must be addressed, since that is the “cause” of the danger. To imply that bicyclists and motorists can’t share the roads (which even with protected bike lanes occurs at all intersections, driveways, etc.) because a driver might be irresponsible, is like saying, “well, an airline pilot could crash into a house, therefore no plane should ever fly where that is a possibility.” or “because a large semi truck could smash a small car or motorcycle, we should not allow cars or motorcycles to share the road with trucks.” To make cycling safer we need better infrastructure (including separated bikeways on some streets), better education of all roadway users (but especially of the ones that are operating the most dangerous, potentially life-threatening machines), better stricter enforcement, and better policies and programs to create “Complete Streets” — i.e. streets and public ROWs that are planned, funded, built, operated, and maintained for ALL USERS OF THE ROAD (not just or primarily for motorists). Right?


    Stephen Karlson

    Meanwhile the Nebraska Zephyr is still going strong after nearly eighty years. And there’s plenty of railroad infrastructure in the United States capable of handling diesel trains cruising at 110 – 125, or, with proper gearing and crossing protection, 140 mph. The Euro-envy is misplaced, and it’s interfering with the development of the next generation of regional trains capable of higher speeds.


    Lynne Tessin-Sanders

    The US can’t even get the safety stop switches installed.


    Lynne Tessin-Sanders

    What’s the Japan Model?



    Sarcasm or a Poe?

    Germany, head on collision. That’s impossible on yoor-oh-peeuun tracks, right?

    How to count cars in these trains? Hint: use an excavator to pile up the pieces and weight them. Euro lightweight technology wins again!
    …. by contrast, when the overweight FRA trains crash at speed, the result is usually an accordion-like mess. Fatalities are (usually) limited to the first car.



    But states who have voted traditionally BLUE in Presidential elections. Michigan was definitely a surprise. Again, people are fed up with what the Democrats have promised. Bye-bye Obama and Hillary!



    The car that pretzeled hit a solidly anchored object broadside at 100mph, with the following train cars still coupled. That is not a survivable impact.
    PTC is not magic; it’s going to prevent some crashes, it’s also likely to cause issues of its own, perhaps over-reliance on the automation.
    Frankford curve had a control system in one direction and was scheduled to get it in the accident direction. Just a bit too late.



    Great. Should have been done a while ago. About time the infrastructure of U.S. trains put standards on same level as in Europe and East Asia. Wouldn’t see so many derailment incidents



    And Trump won in Michigan and Missouri where Detroit and St Louis are – states run by Repblican governors and legislatures



    Oh yes he does. It’s Democratic policies that have stunted economic opportunities for the lower and middle classes. Why mention SF or Wrigleyville when you have far worse inner city areas like St. Louis and Detroit.

    If a lot of “rural” areas are far worse then you’ve proven the point that Obama’s Democratic policies are a failure. The rural folks have spoken and that’s why Trump won.


    Elizabeth F

    > Wickedly good biking ideas

    I think you meant to say “Wicked good biking ideas…”

    Overall, it looks like a decent idea. Almost certainly a result of the bicycle death this summer in Inman Square; although it’s still not clear to me how that happened.

    Is anyone on this blog actually familiar with Inman Square? I used to bike through it every day. If you’re not familiar, please avail yourself to Google StreetView. From that, it should be clear that two-abreast-wide bike lanes are a total non-starter here.


    Marven Norman

    Not many people are going on the detour. What will happen is that there will be lots of salmoning, especially on the short ends. That’s all the more reason to make the bikeways wider to deal with that inevitability.


    Marven Norman

    They are fixable, but are they willing to actually fix them?



    Amtrak had envisioned the Avelia to be a better and faster TGV derivative than the Acela, and what it means practically is that instead of following the “bank vault” FRA Tier II (<150 MPH) regulations, which made the Acela be infamously outfitted with concrete weights, Amtrak chose to use the ambitious FRA Tier III (<220 MPH), introduced a few years ago and is the main subject of this most recent reform, which formally clarifies that Tier III is exempt from most of the egregious Tier II requirements. By adhering to a strict European model and not broadening it to include Japanese equivalents, the FRA is essentially paving the way for Alstom to get the deal through ahead of competitors and continue to employ the Hornell plant in some fashion.


    Nathan Rosenquist

    I have similar reservations. It’s the classic ‘better than nothing’, for sure, but this design might as well have been the product of an algorithm that simply lines the edges of every motor lane with bike lanes. The scenario of trying to turn left onto one of the side streets looks like it would be a potentially minutes-long endevour similar to 4-stoplights in a row traversals of Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza.,-73.969657,163m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e3



    The mangled Amfleet II was designed outside FRA auspices, derived from a high-speed EMU prototype, and is not significantly heavier than modern European coaches today. No railcar that hits a catenary pole broadside at 50+ MPH is ever going to be “survivable”.



    But was the original plan to have Alstom build the trainsets in France, but to American “rolling bankvault” standards? Or did the waiver also let them buy normal European trainsets?



    This doesn’t really mean much at all for the majority of diesel rail operators, because the Metra-derived locomotive + bilevel coach paradigm has been copied for decades now and is unlikely to be replaced with a cost-effective equivalent anytime soon. Similarly, the electric operators already have sufficient performance standards comparable to international examples; the main barrier to reducing weight, aside from an unwillingness to modernize maintenance shops, is infrastructure: dual-collection equipment in the case of Metro-North and outdated 25Hz transformers for SEPTA/NJT. The only way I could see them buying off-the shelf European equipment on some short lines is to segregate the line somehow, like Montreal is doing with the RER, and change electrification.


    Jonathan Monti

    Viale Edison near Viale Rimembranze, 10, 20099 Sesto San Giovanni Italy In fact this context does not have a significant bike traffic, since the crossing roads make part of interzonal network streets. However, if we may plan in the future a bike passing-through we would find some extra difficulties rather than a double roundabout scheme. We adopted this solution substantially due to space constraints.


    Marven Norman

    The 90-degree bends aren’t a recipe for disaster as long as the bikeway doesn’t have priority. But it sounds like the intent is to “copy Dutch convention” without completely understanding how exactly Dutch convention works or the safety concerns that come with the decision.


    Clive Sawers

    This is a scissors intersection. I have installed mini-roundabouts at these, but the peanut is not the correct way. The scheme needs two mini-roundabouts, one for each half of the intersection. In effect two 3-arm mini-roundabouts with a short link road between them.
    Clive Sawers (UK)



    Yeah I agree, the company Alstom is HQ in France. With the regions better infrastructure for high speed rails, the design reflects that. I was wrong it is apparently called the “Avelia Liberty” and will set a new precedence as a (Europe derived) very high speed train car in America. Serial production for us starts around 2018, 2017 first prototype.

    Here’s an article on it with video included:



    Also Alstom’s facility in Upstate NY that will build Amtrak’s new Acela trains.



    Republicans tend to hate Buy America requirements more than Democrats, and this is sort of similar to that issue in the sense that it will make vehicle procurement cheaper by changing US standards. Trump is of course different than the standard Republican in that he’s more skeptical of international trade, to say the least.

    But since the railcars will still have to be (largely) manufactured in the United States, I don’t see why the new administration would object to it.


    Joe R.

    Alternative 2 is really the only viable one if the street in question has automobiles frequently entering and leaving parking spots. It’s very stressful to bike on such a street. And invariably people double park on streets where there is heavy demand for parking, making it even more dangerous for cyclists.


    Joe R.

    You’re missing my point. Whether or not car speeds are reduced enough to make it safe to ride in traffic is only part of the equation here. If you have parallel parking where people frequently enter or leave spots, this disrupts traffic flow, making it highly unpleasant to bike. Also, it’s nice to say in theory drivers should look before leaving their spot or opening a door but in practice they won’t.

    Not sure how roads crossing train tracks are relevant here. Trains are heavy, can’t stop quickly, and move fast. By definition they invariably have the right-of-way at railroad crossings. There’s no such thing as “driving a train in an unsafe manner” through a railroad crossing, at least as far a motor vehicles are concerned. It’s 100% incumbent upon motor vehicles to stop when the signals or gates say a train is coming. Same thing with large ships compared to smaller ones. They invariably get the right-of-way simply because they can’t change speed or direction quickly enough to avoid smaller vessels.


    Daniel Howard

    Ziggy, as this article suggests, Acela and Muni will be able to buy “off the shelf” trainsets with a demonstrated track record on European rails, rather than taking their chances with custom-made, overpriced, bespoke lemons.



    As a parent of a ‘darter’ and someone dealing with the consequences, I think this conversation is missing the point. When we have streets with land uses that encourage crossings and roads that don’t allow it to happen safely, conflicts are created and the pedestrians are put at a disadvantage. Streets designed properly and slower speeds would help a great deal.



    Thisis interesting, but the way it’s currently presented has some serious flaws. Multiple 90 degree bike turns across traffic, for instance, are a recipe for disaster. Roundabouts are typically designed so that the natural flow is to continue along the roundabout in a circle, and cars expect cyclists and pedestrians to cross their path as they do so. The natural flow here, however, is away from the roundabout, and drivers will assume cyclists and pedestrians to NOT cross their path, and it will be hard to tell until the last minute without vigorous signaling. I think the idea is in the right place, but we need to think through the details of how it would actually be used to get it right.


    Ziggy Tomcich

    Both the Acela and Muni trainsets that cost billions are being prematurely retired because they were lemon trains! These trains were supposed to last 30 years! I’m really bothered by the fact that nobody is asking the obvious questions; Why were inferior, inefficient and expensive to maintain trainsets purchase in the first place? Moving forward, what changes can be made sure we don’t waste any more money on lemon trains? How do we know that the next generation of trains aren’t going to have to be similarly retired early due to poor designs?



    These seem like fixable details though, not inherent in the basic design. I mean, they probably won’t fix them before implementation, but I’m just sayin’


    Marven Norman

    Sorry, no. This looks like it is shaping up to be a horrendous design for bicyclists. For starters, the depicted bikeways look incredibly narrow. That is unacceptable. They should be wide enough for side-by-side riding everywhere, which means at absolute least six feet, but seven or eight would be preferable. Furthermore, the priority for bikes might be Dutch, but it is not the safest or best roundabout design, and that’s when used in The NLs on more-or-less normal-shaped roundabouts with bikeways of adequate width. This design ticks neither of those boxes. As a result, I have low expectations of this one and I can only hope that I’m proved wrong.