Friday, August 12, 2011

Transportation: A Leaf, Europe and Smarttrips All in One Post!

All-electric Nissan Leaf, Knoxville

Nissan Leaf parked on Walnut Street
Downtown Knoxville has its first Nissan Leaf. I'm pretty sure Mr. John Craig, local developer and Knox Heritage board member is parking the first of these all-electric cars on our city streets. Guilty before of a little Prius envy (resolved), I'm feeling a little stir for a Leaf. Given my current level of funding, I'll just have to enjoy seeing John's on the  street.

Motorcycles in London
Also, I'm posting a few pictures of various kinds of transportation in Paris and London. Motorcycles and bicycles were, of course, much more prominent in each of these cities than in our own. In Paris the motorcycles had to be watched carefully because they felt very comfortable weaving in and out of traffic and then jumping onto the sidewalk to pop into a cycle parking place. I saw quite a few bicyclists riding in heavy London traffic and talking on a cell phone, which seems like not such a good idea. We loved riding the Tube in London and the Metro in Paris and found them both very easy to use, though sometimes very crowded.

Gloucester Subway station in London (our stop)
Walking was much easier for these Americans in Paris than in London. In London with the difference in sides of the road for travel we had to be very careful whenever crossing the road because traffic sometimes turned from places we didn't expect. In Paris crossing the road was much easier for three reasons: Most of the streets were one-way (one direction to worry about), the ones which were two way used the same side of the road we use in America and the cross walks were off-set from the corners enough that turning traffic was not a concern.

Double Decker Bus in Trafalgar Square, London
Meanwhile back at home we don't have subways and our bus system never seems to be as heavily used as some of us might wish. I do continue to wonder if a rail system east-west given our existing tracks might not work if we really tried to make it happen. We really need to do something if we want our air to be breathable and to avoid air-quality alert days all summer (No thanks, Joe Hultquist.)

It turns out there is a great group of people trying to make a difference in just this area. Smarttrips will help you find a car pool and give you rewards for biking, walking or car-pooling to work. I'd encourage you to join if you aren't already a member. Many downtown businesses participate. A while back they held a very fun event on Market Square (I had to work :-() in which they used large balloons they had been carrying around town all week to demonstrate the carbon pollution saved by their efforts. I'll leave you with the video.

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At August 12, 2011 at 8:22 AM , Anonymous Greg said...

Knoxville's density is far too low to make transit work. Homes and businesses are spread thinly over the entire region, and buses/trains require dense clusters to work.

At August 12, 2011 at 10:17 AM , Blogger Andrea said...

I am wanting a Chevy Volt in the worst way. Unfortunately we don't live in a place with outlets readily available, so we'll have to wait and keep driving a Civic Hybrid a little longer.

At August 12, 2011 at 11:19 AM , Blogger Knoxville Urban Guy said...

I'm sure you know more about the density required for public transportation than I do Greg, so you are probably right. I still think we need to keep trying everything that might work because the alternative is furthter deterioration to our already bad air. Andrea, I'm looking at the same dilema which is why I'm sticking to the Prius.

At August 13, 2011 at 5:37 PM , Anonymous Greg said...

Sorry for being negative. The Smarttrips folks are offering sensible alternative transportation ideas that work around the regions' difficulties for bus/train transit. Kudos.


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