Few roads better epitomize the frustrations of Peninsula’s bicycle advocates than El Camino Real, a critical north-south connector that offers both the most direct and, arguably, the most perilous route between Redwood City and Mountain View.
Living up to its moniker as “The King’s Highway,” the original connector between California’s network of Spanish missions is today dominated by cars in just about every Peninsula jurisdiction through which it passes, despite years of talk around the region about converting it into a multimodal “grand boulevard.”
And even as each city has been making its own bike-safety improvements (Palo Alto, for instance, is now completing construction of a bike bridge over U.S. Highway 101 as well as planning for further bike improvements along East Meadow Drive and on the Charleston-Arastradero corridor), these efforts have largely steered clear of El Camino.
A recent traffic analysis commissioned by city managers from Peninsula cities concluded that the 12.5-mile stretch of El Camino between Redwood City and Mountain View has a “high concentration of bicycle collisions” and virtually no bike infrastructure.
But even as it poses a steep challenge for city leaders across the Peninsula, El Camino also represents their greatest hope. During the pandemic, the cities of Redwood City, Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Mountain View collaborated on a Peninsula Bikeway study, a survey of bike amenities in each city with recommendations for further improvements to bike connections between the jurisdictions. The study, which was released in November, evaluates three different possibilities for separated bikeways that would stretch along the Peninsula. After considering other routes, including Alma Street and Middlefield Road, the study concluded that a bikeway on El Camino, despite the massive challenges it would entail, “represents the most viable opportunity to implement such a vision and help improve safety and connectivity for all bicycle users.”
The Peninsula Bikeway study is an outgrowth of a partnership that city managers from four cities formed in 2016 to discuss stronger connections between their jurisdictions. Known as the Managers’ Mobility Partnership, the effort initially focused on using existing bikeways and routes to design an interim “low-stress bicycle connection” between the north and sound ends of the segment.
The latest effort is far more ambitious. The new study bills itself as “the first phase of implementing a high-impact bicycle superhighway network in the Bay Area helping residents and workers increase connectivity and safety to jobs and activity centers.” Its goal is to offer a “long-term, high-quality, bikeway suitable for bicyclists of all ages and abilities.”
Unlike the interim route — a meandering path that forces riders to cross El Camino Real once and the railroad tracks twice to avoid hazardous road segments in the various cities — the new bikeway would be direct. All three of the study’s options feature a straighter path between Redwood City and Mountain View. One would rely predominantly on Middlefield Road; another would stay within El Camino Real; the third would run along the Caltrain right-of-way and rely on Alma Street in the
New research shows we have to start getting cars off the road—and fast—if we want to avoid cities being overrun by gridlock.
In the study published in the journal Open Science on Tuesday, researchers modeled city residents’ personal decisions of how to travel across a town. Understanding how cars affect cities and commute times is of vital importance, both for the sake of the climate—transportation is the biggest share of U.S. emissions and a growing chunk globally—and quality of life.
Right now, more than 80 million cars are produced worldwide each year. Absurdly, that means they’re increasing as fast as the global population. A bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden also just endorsed an infrastructure deal with $109 billion for roads and other auto-related infrastructure. While the U.S. admittedly needs some upgrades, doing so could perversely lock in more car use that the new study shows could be a catastrophe.
The researchers modeled the time car trips take, factoring in the baseline length of the trip on empty streets, the time added by other drivers who create traffic, and the time added by the designation of some street lanes for exclusive use by pedestrians, buses, and bikes. They also did the same for public transit, which in the study, includes biking and walking as well.
The model showed a phenomenon anyone who’s driven in a city is surely familiar with: This choice creates an inherent paradox. If more people decide that driving is quicker, there will be more traffic, clogging streets and making trips longer. The longest trips across town, the authors found, were the ones taken when every single resident tries to reduce their commute times by driving, thus creating the most traffic.
G/O Media may get a commission
The study admits that the models are in some ways reductive. For one, it assumes that city populations are homogeneous and that all residents have equal access to all modes of transport without factoring in things like cost or the inequitable distribution of bike lanes. It also lumps together walking, biking, and all forms of public transit.
“Of course in real life, cycling may take a different length of time than the monorail,” Rafael Prieto Curiel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford and the study’s lead author, said. “But also, let’s be honest, what happens today is that using public transport … can require a bit of other things, like usually a bit of walking or a bit of cycling to the bus.”
But despite its simplistic nature, the model is instructive, showing the logical fallacy of attempting to reduce drive times by increasing the use of cars.
The authors also discuss some ways to reduce the time it takes to get
As parts of Europe and the United States begin to lift coronavirus lockdown restrictions and allow people to go shopping, visit relatives and return to work, public officials are facing a new conundrum: How can people travel safely in crowded cities?
Italy is poised to serve as a major test case. On Sunday, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced that many restrictions on daily life will be eased starting next Monday, but he warned that people would still need to avoid large gatherings, maintain social distancing and wear masks in certain circumstances.
“If we do not respect the precautions, the curve will go up, the deaths will increase and we will have irreversible damage to our economy,” Conte said in a televised address to the nation. “If you love Italy, keep your distance.”
Some 2.7 million Italians are expected to return to work next week, with 15% of them anticipated to use public transportation, according to Italian authorities.
Thus, government officials and business leaders are scrambling to develop protocols to allow people to move about freely without triggering a surge in coronavirus infections.
Under new guidelines that are being considered, the number of people allowed on buses and trains is likely to be restricted. Markers will be placed on the ground in metro stations to enforce social distancing, and camera systems and personnel will be deployed to help count passengers and prevent overcrowding, according to HuffPost Italy.
Italy’s transport ministry has suggested that electronic ticket machines will likely become standard, with hand sanitizer dispensers installed nearby. Trains and buses will be disinfected regularly, and the way passengers board and exit vehicles and stations will be adjusted. Moreover, a key goal of any plan will be to spread out daily commuters in order to reduce congestion.
Already, new measures are being tested in Rome. During a three-hour testing period on Friday, only 30 passengers were allowed into stations every three minutes at two of the city’s metro lines, and the number of passengers on each train was capped at 150, HuffPost Italy reported. On the train platforms, blue stripes with small dots indicated how far apart passengers needed to stand. Passages connecting the two lines were closed to prevent people from crossing each other and creating crowds.
In addition, many cities are hoping to encourage people to use alternate forms of transportation. Bologna has requested support from the federal government for the purchase of e-bikes and electric scooters, for example, and Milan has unveiled an ambitious plan to remake
Digi now has routers that include 5Ge / Gigabit LTE (Cat 18) radios, Band 71 and CBRS connectivity, 5G readiness, and are FirstNet Ready™.
Digi has created its new cellular connectivity offerings to match the shifting needs of the IoT marketplace and revamped their features to align with customer needs: whether TX for transportation, IX for industrial, or EX for enterprise, Digi has the right routers for the market’s needs. On supported Digi devices, additional flexibility is available with the Digi CORE® plug-in module: no need to replace the whole unit, just swap the Digi CORE to the LTE standard needed.
While designed for different applications, Digi’s new TX54, TX64 and EX12 are built on a strong foundation that is shared by the rest of Digi’s routers, including:
Digi Accelerated Linux (DAL), Digi’s secure operating system for the most demanding business-critical and mission-critical applications. This release adds multicasting, expands routing protocols, and – critical for transportation applications – offers dual APN capabilities and supports dynamic DNS updates.
Edge Compute, as each new router comes with Python built-in, allowing users to add intelligence on the device – from simple scripts to full-fledged IoT applications.
Digi Remote Manager® for centralized device deployment, monitoring and control. With Digi Remote Manager, organizations can easily automate firmware, software and configuration updates of all units in the field – for complete asset tracking and compliance, including security protection. Also available as an Android or iPhone mobile app.
Digi TrustFence®, the built-in security framework, protects internal and external I/O ports to prevent unwanted local intrusion. Digi TrustFence also provides data authentication and device identity management options. Digi TrustFence utilizes the latest encryption protocols for data in motion and over-the-air (OTA) transmissions to ensure the integrity of data flowing across a network.
“We’re unveiling a number of new networking devices today and that will only continue throughout the year as we work to align with customer needs and the next generation of IoT applications in public safety, transportation, smart cities, retail, and beyond,” said Brian Kirkendall, Vice President, Product Management, Digi International. “The Digi TX54, TX64 and EX12 routers are ready to begin that process out of the box today, but also as we continue into the future. We intend to make Digi the IoT connectivity player of choice as the generation of IoT we’ve heard about for years becomes a reality.”
Designed for transportation, intelligent traffic system (ITS), and public safety applications, the Digi TX54 and Digi TX64 are built to make smart cities a reality. In traffic systems, these routers lay the connectivity groundwork needed for traffic monitoring and optimization for connected and even self-driving car capabilities in the future. Dual cellular and dual Wi-Fi makes them ideal for on-transit-vehicle connectivity by both eliminating network downtime with immediate cellular failover and providing simultaneous, firewalled passenger and administrator connectivity to meet the demands of modern riders without jeopardizing the transit organization’s operations.
Additionally, the Digi TX64 with its dual Gigabit LTE (Cat 18) radios is ready
In Chicago, the City Tech Collaborative launched a months-long project to collect data related to curb activity to help the city better manage how curb space is used, according to Government Technology.
The initiative is designed to create a “practical, usable, scalable analytics tool to better understand the curb,” which has been described as phase one, Jamie Ponce, director of strategic partnerships at City Tech Collaborative, tells Government Technology.
The publication reports:
The project will include private sector partners like Bosch and HERE Technologies to provide various levels of support and expertise. For example, HERE Technologies will analyze traffic movement, congestion and other data points to identify bottlenecks “and areas of friction,” Ponce explained. The data gathered will enable the researchers to take a closer look at what’s causing some of the curb space management problems, all part of Phase I, which will largely be a mapping exercise to digitize the curb.
The next phase of the project will analyze all of that data and help the city craft new approaches. Curbs are often used for parking in cities, but data analysis of curbside usage can help them determine how curbs are used and how to price access to them differently, Billy Riggs, a researcher and professor with expertise in transportation and smart mobility at the University of San Francisco, tells Government Technology.
“It’s also important to think about the curb as barrier but a continuum of the street,” Riggs says. “And given the trends in many locations to support car-free cities, many municipalities also need to take a hard look at what type of travel should be allowed on certain corridors — not just thinking about using the curb, but thinking about if it should even exist.”
MORE FROM STATETECH: Find out why connected intersections are the backbones of smart cities.
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, just seconds after a rider unlocks a dockless electric scooter with a smartphone app and starts motoring around, information about the trip is fed to a city-operated database, according to the New York Times.
Then, just after the trip ends, another alert updates the database, noting the location. A day later, the Times notes, the exact route the rider took is uploaded and logged for analysis.
As the Times reports, that kind of data is also a key to solving congestion in cities, since knowing “what route riders have used historically makes it possible for policymakers to plan infrastructure.”
“Cities have to assure that their resources are used efficiently, and that includes the shared spaces,” Stephen Zoepf, chief of policy development at Ellis & Associates, a consultancy that advises cities on the intersection between transportation and technology, tells the Times. “The effects of crowding, in noise and emissions, are a tragedy of the commons.”