Friday, July 10, 2009

Bicycling at Night? Make Your Own Lane!

Friday Bonus: Not a completed product but not a Photoshop creation either. To be effective, the biker must be a steady one. More info here:

BRT and Undergrounding for Speedy, Upgraded and Prettier Honolulu

Several people sent me the same article from the NY Times today. The article is extolling the virtues of Bus Rapid Transit. Here is a sample send from a friend.

Buses May Aid Climate Battle in Poor Cities, Elizabeth Rosenthal, NYTimes, 7.09.09 [ ]

Bogota removed 7000 small private buses to reduce bus fuel by more than 59 percent. Government owned TransMilenio opened first line in 2001 and now averages 1.6 million trips daily. Versions of BRT concept to be copied by Mexico City, Cape Town, Jakarta and Ahmedabad. TransMilenio BRT system is the only large transportation project approved by UN to generate and sell carbon credits of $100- to $300-million.

Another friend sent me this commentary:

"This seems like a sensible, low cost solution. I find it odd that we lack the political will to commandeer two lanes of Kam Hwy, Farrington, Kalanianaole, Nimitz, Vineyard, Kapiolani, King, Beretania, Kalakaua, and other major arteries.

But that Hizzoner is more than willing to tax us into the dark ages to pay for a heavy rail system that: is not affordable, does not decrease traffic congestion, will ruin Oahu's sight lines, create horrible noise and other impacts, etc.

This is not to mention the no/low-cost mitigation that should be implemented right now such as: shifting operating hours of UH to off peak (10am-8pm), better traffic signal coordination, intelligent flow design, afternoon zipper lane heading west, etc.

But do we do these things? Of course not! Because that would alleviate traffic and the false sense of urgency for the heavy rail system that no one wants. Why look at alternatives like at grade light rail or BRT when the Mayor wants a multi-billion dollar legacy project."

To which I replied with this:

The King-Beretania BRT is really a no brainer and can be installed in less than two years for a speedy connection of UH, Manoa and Moiliili with downtown Honolulu and Chinatown. This link dates back to 2002:

Taking two traffic lanes away from other streets would be more problematic... and let's not forget transit stations. It is hard to develop ADA stations on surface given Honolulu's density and property values.

I'd prefer double decking the corridor you describe but underground. Not with tunnels but with cut and cover trenches. This plan can provide speedy mass transit and solve Honolulu's rotting utility problem in one shot. The lower deck will be for light rail or electric buses, water, sewer, gas and electric in neatly arranged and accessible lengthwise compartments.

Then a 100 year slab on top will be used for the surface road and
provides the opportunity to develop a modern arterial street with smart sensors and traffic signals. An added bonus is that all overhead wires can be neatly undergrounded. This is not only a permanent improvement in aesthetics but improves infrastructure resilience in case of a hurricane or major storm along the corridor.

In this way, we can bring a whole corridor of Honolulu to 21st century standard in one shot. I believe that this is a worthwhile expenditure of $10 to 15 billion over 20 years, instead of spending the same amount for piecemeal, ineffective, less durable and ugly components.