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vacation from transit? no way!


They say true love knows no bounds. During last week’s trip to see my wife in Istanbul, I had to test this theory.

The city has many things to see. Hundreds of historic mosques, the breathtaking Hagia Sophia cathedral/mosque/museum, which was built exactly 1,400 years before the Golden Gate Bridge, and Topkapi Palace that served as home for generations of Ottoman sultans and their concubines. 

We saw those things, but then I had to see the world’s oldest subway, which opened in 1875.

At 1,180 feet, it may be the world’s shortest subway system, but I found out later that despite all the hype, it’s not as Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008
Under: Golden Gate Bridge, other, rail | 2 Comments »

now that you mention it, there IS a law


Many thanks to the AAA of Northern California for sending me a concise roundup of all the driving-related state laws kicking in in 2008.

First and foremost is the one that has probably led to more confusion than the last 100 California ballot measures. I confess that just prior to July 1 of this year, I thought we were supposed to go hands-free with the mobile phone or face the consequences (Those would be $20 for the first offense, $50 thereafter, which I suspect for many will considered the cost of doing business).

But, as AAA’s Sean Comey notes, that particular law, along with its no-cell-no-text-no-anything-while-driving-under-18 counterpart passed this year, don’t actually kick in until July 1, 2008. So Californians, gab away, but try to practice with the earpiece occasionally so it won’t be such a shock this summer.

If it helps, I recently got to know a Caltrans road crew that lost one of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, December 27th, 2007
Under: Bicycling, driving, Environment, ferries, Freeway collapse, Freeways, fuel, other, Safety, technology, traffic signals, trucks | 2 Comments »

that’s one small carbon footprint for a man…

i-5-grapevine.jpgThis Christmas, my son decided that the best way to see his grandfather and aunt in San Diego would be to drive. This decision, which I reluctantly seconded after thinking we might take a train/bus combination, had everything to do with the fact that he (along with his parents) wants to get a driver’s license before he reaches the age of 19.

On the way down Saturday, we got as far as Bakersfield before we started talking about why I believed we would  not experience ideal conditions for driving practice that day.

Part of it was the fact that it was a day when the freeways were swollen with holiday traffic, the kind that is light enough to stay moving most of the time, but heavy enough so that backups appear suddenly and often force inattentive motorists to swerve off  the road to avoid rear-end collisions. Most of it was that we weren’t in a very large parking lot with no other cars or lamposts to run into.

“It’s a Catch-22 situation,” he said more than once. I was very impressed with the fact that he had actually Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, December 26th, 2007
Under: driving, Environment, Freeways, other, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

park! the herald angels sing.


As I drove around collecting pie, wine and flowers to bring to someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, I happened to cross over Interstate 80 and witness the endless stream of humanity stuck in stop-and-go holiday traffic.

It reminded me that I’d chanced upon a news release from Metro Networks, a traffic reporting company, on the top 10 worst holiday traffic nightmares.

Believe it or not, it actually elicited warm fuzzies as it conjured up some ghosts-of-Christmases-past spent on more than one of the freeways on the list.

Like eggnog or jelly donuts, it seems that holiday traffic jams have become such traditions that the thought of them can actually elicit joy.

My special memory is bumping though the industrial wasteland of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, November 23rd, 2007
Under: Amtrak, Buses, Capitol Corridor (Amtrak), connectivity, driving, Freeways, other, rail, Transit vs. driving | No Comments »

long commutes bad for your healthcare


First, let me say that I didn’t choose to commute nearly 150 miles each day. It was a byproduct of my being a trailing spouse that over time became a monster I couldn’t control.

I make the best of it. I take the train when I can. I leave the necessary work vehicle in Oakland, pedal to the Coliseum Amtrak station and pay $11.75 to get home to the Central Valley.

Sure, I must be crazy. But so must Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Under: driving, other, Transit vs. driving | 6 Comments »

just turn left at the airport

oak-terminal.jpgThis morning I received one of the biggest responses ever to any story I’ve written in the Bay Area. Unfortunately, the story had little to do with transportation and nothing to do with commuting.

A half-dozen vitriolic e-mails from readers from Virginia to Washington State, one electronic query from a staffer of one member of Congress and a phone call from another representative’s representative.

Still, journalists like to know that their “content,” as I now like to call it (because most people get it for free. Some day, I will be standing at an intersection with a cardboard sign saying, “will provide content for food.”), is being read by the widest audience possible.

The story, in cased you missed it, was about a planeload of troops fresh from Iraq on their way to Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007
Under: air travel, other | 4 Comments »