walk portland

Traffic engineering angst continues

These guys are still hard at work installing the new traffic signal at Piedmont and Linda. If you've ever wondered why traffic signals are so expensive, it's not just the cost of materials -- there is also an awful lot of tearing up concrete and digging required to mount and wire them.

One of them confirmed for me that the new signal is going to have pushbutton actuation for pedestrians. It's not their fault. They're just building what the specifications called for. There's probably no malice anywhere -- just someone at the Department of Public Works copying boilerplate specifications that were designed somewhere in the 99% of the area of the country where no one ever walks anywhere beyond the end of their driveway under any circumstances.
walk portland

Traffic engineering angst

These guys are getting ready to install traffic signals at the corner of Piedmont and Linda in Oakland.

From the positions and sizes of the pole mounts it seems clear that this is going to be a pedestrian-hating actuated signal that will be the ruin, from my perspective, of one of the few tolerable corners in the East Bay.

What the hell do you do? I don't think there's anything that makes it actually illegal for the Oakland Department of Public Works to do this (and apparently it's been budgeted since 2005, without any "beware the leopard" signs to have kept me from knowing about it), and it's not like I am going to be a very effective community organizer with my general despair about the place. I guess I will at least make some "call your city council member to tell them you hate this" signs to stick on the poles if my fears are realized.

The Geotaggers' World Atlas

About a year ago I posted some maps of North American cities ranked by the clusters of geotagged photos taken there.

Recently I redid the maps, with an additional year worth of data and this time for the whole world, and with the additional twist of trying to guess how the photographers moved from place to place based on the time it took them to move the distance between the pictures:

The Geotaggers' World Atlas #1: New York The Geotaggers' World Atlas #2: London The Geotaggers' World Atlas #3: Paris The Geotaggers' World Atlas #4: San Francisco The Geotaggers' World Atlas #5: Berlin The Geotaggers' World Atlas #6: Barcelona
The Geotaggers' World Atlas #7: Boston The Geotaggers' World Atlas #8: Washington, DC The Geotaggers' World Atlas #9: Rome The Geotaggers' World Atlas #10: Toronto The Geotaggers' World Atlas #11: Chicago The Geotaggers' World Atlas #12: Vancouver

Somehow this turns out to be about the most popular thing I have ever done. First it appeared on Burrito Justice and then on Austinist and Chicagoist, and then it hit the Flickr Blog and the clicks really started coming in. I also got a bunch of hits from a Chinese-language site that I had not previously been aware of, Jandan.net, from Londonist, Metafilter, and the Map Room, and from a bunch of Tumblr blogs. For extra excitement most of this was while I was out of town with only lousy network connectivity. The attention is falling off by now, but it's still nice to find out that other people are interested in something I put together.

Steepest street in the world?

keyne tipped me off recently that even though 22nd Street had lost its title, San Francisco had a new contender for the steepest street in the world, a newly paved block of Bradford Street in Bernal Heights.

I happened to walk by it today, and yep, it sure is steep.

Bradford: The steepest street in the world?

I didn't have any measuring implements with me, so I don't know if it really is the steepest in the world, but if my picture is accurate, that segment is about a 33.5% grade, which beats 22nd Street and is in the same ballpark as Baldwin Street in Dunedin.

It's also notable for being a two-way street, since it (currently) has a dead end at the top, so cars manage to get up it as well as down it.

Parking in front of driveways

I was wrong: California state law *does* allow local governments to issue permits to let residents park cars on the street in front of their own driveways. As far as I can tell neither Oakland nor San Francisco actually has a local ordinance to issue these permits.

Horrifyingly, a San Francisco supervisor in 1984 tried to amend this to also allow parking cars on the sidewalk. Fortunately the vehicle code continues to forbid parking cars on the sidewalk.

Update: I am wrong, and San Francisco does have an ordinance to allow parking in front of driveways:


The owner or lessee of property shall be permitted to Park the owner's or lessee's vehicle across the private driveway of said property, provided that such vehicle displays a valid license plate registered to the address of that property with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and provided that such driveway serves no more than two family dwelling units. This Section does not permit the Parking of vehicles across sidewalks or in red zones.

(SFMTA Bd. Res. No. 08-151, 8/19/2008)


My obsessions in the news

I have been doing a very poor job of systematically walking every street in San Francisco lately, but Octoferret has almost completed it. Google alerts tells me that someone named Allison is 100 miles in.

The Map Room reveals that soon Sony will be making GPS cameras too.

Steph got me a Samsung CL65 for Christmas and it is pretty amazing to have the combination of high quality pictures and automatic geotagging. The touch screen user interface also makes it a lot easier to turn features on and off instead of having to remember what combinations of buttons do what. The only two negatives about the GPS are (1) it takes a while to get a signal, especially the first time you use it in a while, and (2) for some reason it doesn't automatically set the clock to match the GPS time (even though it also records the GPS time stamp in the EXIF). The first problem is probably unfixable given the way the GPS system works, although it would help if they made the user interface show the progress toward acquiring a location fix, but Sony has latched onto setting the clock as a feature the competition doesn't have and will do that.