Archive | February, 2012

Idea of the Day: Pre-walking

28 Feb

For all of its advantages, transit doesn’t offer much in the way of shortcuts. A missed train is a missed train and there’s no shortening the time that you’ll spend watching the arrival board cycle through the Zipcar and Picadilly ads until the next one pulls in. But after taking the same trains at the same stations for a while,  some riders develop a menu of minute-shaving strategies known as pre-walking.


Pre-walking involves standing at a certain place on the platform in order to board a specific car through a specific door when the train arrives. The chosen boarding point is usually one that puts the rider as close as possible to a preferred exit at the destination. These strategies aren’t always about finding the exit closest to the street or building you want. Sometimes it’s faster to go out of  your way so fewer people are in your way.


Some examples:

  • The last door of the last car on a southbound train puts you closest to the less-crowded escalator at the north end of the platform (or maybe it just seems less crowded when you’re the first person to get to it) when arriving at Five Points.
  •  The last door of the last car on a North Springs train puts you right at the exit at the south end of the platform at Buckhead Station – especially important since it’s still the only exit. Also, if you’re running late for the 110 bus, not having to walk the entire length of the station to get out can easily make the difference between catching it and either having to wait for the next one or walk to your destination.
  • The back of the first car or the front of the last car on a train in either direction is closest to to an exit at Civic Center Station.
  • The middle or last door of the last car of a Indian Creek train puts you right at the stairs on the west end of the platform at Inman Park-Reynoldstown Station. Oddly, that set of stairs is much less popular than the set at the east end of the platform, which is farther away from the exit.

To read about it, you might get the idea that pre-walking is some esoteric, expert-level transit users’ skill. Phrases like “super-secret” and “something only New Yorkers know” crop up a lot.  A bit of impatience or a tendency toward tardiness are really the only requirements, though. Besides, nothing’s a secret any more once there are apps and charts for it.

 H/T to The Atlantic Cities


The things you see…

23 Feb

When you’re crossing Piedmont Road.

Slow Going: Congestion stats from ARC

21 Feb

Image: ARC

The latest Atlanta Regional Commission’s “Regional Snapshot” shows how Atlanta’s traffic congestion stats stacks up against 14 other major metros. The ARC analyzed data from the American Community Survey, the American Transportation Research Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute and found Atlanta ranked:

  • 11th for total hours of congestion-related delays
  • 9th for the total number of jobs
  • 4th for the total number of hours that commuters spend traveling to their jobs each year. The Atlanta metro average was 126 hours per year, which equals about three weeks of workdays.
  • 4th for the percentage of workers who have at least a 45-minute commute to work
  • 1st in the Southeast for congestion cost per commuter. Here’s how the congestion cost was calculated

Metro Atlanta’s I-285 and 1-85 North interchange also ranked ninth among the 250 most congested bottlenecks in the country, according to American Transportation Research Institute data.

A possible upside to those numbers: “Areas with the most jobs tend to also have the most congestion,” the ARC report said. So, Atlanta’s status as a major job center is still intact, but that might soon be overshadowed by its reputation as a place to sit in traffic on the way to those jobs.

Pruitt-Igoe, “Going Solo” and going with the flow

14 Feb

There’s no direct reference during the film to a specific myth, but when it comes to public housing, there are plenty to choose from: Who lives there and why, what it’s like to live there, what the residents need, how much design matters, what the role of public housing is in cities, whether its failures are built in, whether it can ever be done right.

Something that immediately stands out in aerial photos and site models of Pruitt-Igoe is the degree of “overdimensioning”. Everything is so big and so far apart that it’s out of scale with what humans can see and interact with, which contributes to a sense of isolation, even with thousands of other people around.

  • One of the demographic trends to surface in the 2010 census was the historic increase in the number of people living alone, especially in major cities. According to census data, 44  percent of households in the city of Atlanta now consist of someone living alone. That’s well above the national rate of 28 percent, which is seven times what it was 60 years ago. Eric Klinenberg, an NYU sociologist took a look at the causes and effects of living in a country where more and more people are – by choice or circumstance – living on their own. He talked about his book “Going Solo” on last Monday’s Diane Rheme show. If you don’t have time to listen to the whole show, Klinenberg has also written for  and been written about in the New York Times in the last couple of weeks.  His opinion piece has some infographics and an interactive map for demographic and geographic comparisons of who’s living alone and where.
  • The words “traffic planning” probably bring to mind a preoccupation with quick, efficient movement of cars, but as more people move into cities, and car use in cities declines, the science of managing pedestrian traffic is becoming more important. Two Zurich-based physicists are working on models to help architects and planners predict and guide pedestrian traffic in the most crowded places.
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