Sunday, May 14, 2023

College and Walnut survey responses.

The city is planning another study of College and Walnut streets. These are two streets through the middle of downtown Bloomington which were last redesigned in the car-drunk 60's or 70's, resulting in two three-lane, one-way, high-speed corridors slicing through the downtown and causing pollution, noise, and dangerous walking conditions. They desperately need to be redesigned to a more environmentally friendly standard. Our new city council will probably have the final say on any changes to be made as a result of this survey, which I think is an encouraging prospect - several members of the current council would be much more car-friendly. The study is discussed on the city's transportation plan web page here: at least as I write this. They ask for feedback through the traditional Google document, so I filled it out as follows:

Do you use College or Walnut regularly? If so, why? And what mode do you usually use (walking, strolling, bicycling, transit, driving, etc.)?

Yes, because it's unavoidable. Walk, bike, and drive

What do you think is currently working well on College or Walnut? What do you enjoy about the streets? 

Not much.

What do you think needs improving on College or Walnut? What situations do you find yourself in on those streets that are frustrating to you? 

The sidewalks should be much wider, there should be better bike support and fewer lanes for cars. Space reserved for car storage should have the prices adjusted dynamically based on demand, with the funds returned to the downtown area for improvements.

What is important to you about College or Walnut? What is important to you in regards to any changes proposed for the streets? 

Cars should be going much slower. There is no justification for cars going 40-50 miles an hour through an intersection where pedestrians are trying to get across. Note that this will not be solved by simply lowering the speed limits - the streets need to be designed such that driving at a killing speed is nearly impossible.

Any other comments you would like to share: 

Level of Service is not a relevant metric for these streets - only pedestrian safety should be considered.

Saturday, March 04, 2023

New "No Turn On Red" signs posted in downtown Bloomington

In 2021, Indiana University law school student Purva Sethi was attempting to cross a street in downtown Bloomington. A driver attempting to make a right turn on red, apparently didn't look right before making the turn, struck and killed Sethi. In response, the Bloomington City Council sensibly authorized the banning of right turns on red on that and many other intersections.

Over the last year, the city of Bloomington has installed nearly 80 new "No Turn On Red" signs in the downtown area. Congratulations to the city for making this excellent improvement for the pedestrian safety! Next, the Indiana Department of Transportation needs to make similar improvements on the roads they control in the city. Trying to cross the 45/46 bypass is a particularly dangerous proposition.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

New Leaf, New Life – Statement on a New Jail

 The Bloomingtonian published a press release from New Leaf, New Life on the new jail being planned in Monroe County.

Their comments:

  • A bigger jail is not required and will produce barriers to improving the criminal legal system.
  • Historically, whenever a criminal legal system has access to a bigger jail, it finds people to fill it.
  • Cheaper, immediately available solutions to jail overcrowding remain available by simply not incarcerating people for technical probation violations, low-level and non-violent crimes, and returning to use or substance use violations.
  • The $70M price tag for a new jail is both fiscally and socially irresponsible.

I like the comment that bigger jails find people to fill them. An instance of induced demand, clearly.

Read the full press release here:

Friday, December 09, 2022

Reporting bias against scooters

Here's what happened: On September 18, 2022, Madelyn Howard, heavily intoxicated, came cruising in her Mercedes northbound on Walnut Street at 12th Street, near Domino's Pizza, at a high rate of speed with the passenger-side wheels on the sidewalk. Two people were on the sidewalk at the time. The first managed to jump out of her way, but the second did not. Up on the sidewalk, Howard plowed into Nathaniel Stratton, 22, and he later died from his injuries.

A tragic incident, and a cautionary tale of why driving while intoxicated is a terrible crime. So why is it, that months later, the media fixates on the least important part of the incident - that is, that Stratton happened to be on an electric scooter at the time?  In story after story, reporters explain that it was an "e-scooter related death", and the city of Bloomington, apparently trying to make the streets safer for drunk drivers, banned e-scooter riding at night in response.

So here we are, two months later, and we find that scooter operating licenses are on hold, partly due to this incident, as reported in the screenshot above. I've heard that scooter operators are considering pulling out of smaller cities completely, and who can blame them with poor reporting like this? WFIU gets it completely wrong.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The High Cost of Free Black Friday Parking

On this Giving Tuesday, I heard a plug for a donation from my local public radio station, WFIU. As I was getting out my wallet to send something in, I heard an announcer say, offhandedly, "Sales may have also been helped by free parking downtown during the holiday weekend." So instead of a donation, I'm writing this note to help to set the station straight on this topic.

No, local public radio station, sales were almost definitely not helped by free parking downtown. Setting aside the attraction for drivers of cruising the streets to find that one perfect parking space, and whatever parking meter revenue was given up by the city, there's no telling how many people took advantage of the free parking to let their cars sit and take up space for several hours, blocking access for people who may have wanted to come in and shop. Retail sales depend on customers coming in and out of the stores, not people coming in and browsing for hours at a time. And anyway, people who are going to balk at spending a dollar or two on a parking space are hardly going to be the kind of free spenders that will seriously boost the sales numbers.

So overall, I'd have to say it's unfortunate that the city decided to subsidize drivers and Big Oil in this way. It's revenue that the city has lost, and left shouldering the burden for no benefit are (1) taxpayers who may happen to live downtown, (2) poor people who lack access to a vehicle at all, and (3) people who may choose to ride bicycles or take the bus downtown. Maybe for next Black Friday, the city could offer free bus transit rather than encouraging drivers to bring their personal vehicles downtown.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Limit CPU/Memory When using Docker

After having trouble with the Singularity Pull command on a computing cluster, I decided it might be easier to download the image via Docker to my home machine and upload it from there. I tried it, but Docker turned out to be such a huge resource hog that it rendered my computer unusable. Okay, the thing to do is to limit the resources Docker is allowed; but a quick search seemed to indicate that, while plenty of people had the problem, the only thing to do was to not use virtual machines. Now that is great advice and I wholeheartedly endorse it; but sometimes it's inevitable. Eventually I got to an obscure SuperUser post that had an answer with zero upvotes that pointed to a blog post that explained what to do:

Summary: Limit the CPU's and memory available to WSL2 (Docker's underlying mechanism) via a config file. I'll want to remove those limitations pretty quickly as I use WSL pretty heavily, but until I get these few tasks completed at least this will allow me to keep using my machine.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Including config.h in every file in Visual Studio

Rather than explicitly including a header file in every source file, I like to use gcc's -include flag to add a config.h file, a file holding global configuration options that every source file may or may not be using. For a long time I didn't think that Visual Studio had a similar option, but I finally dug it out here:

The flag is /FI and you can set it in Visual Studio by right-clicking the project, selecting Properties, then C/C++, Advanced, and setting the "Forced Include File" property. Convenient!