Category Archives: Commuting

Deabstracting Energy

I was thinking about this previous post about long-distance commuting and journey times and was reminded just how abstract a concept energy and energy use really is. I find it somewhat difficult to actually visualize the 167,656 Kilojoules (that’s over 167 million Joules) I use taking the train one way from Leipzig to Dresden. And that times two and almost every single day. It’s like trying to visualize the national debt. These staggering sums at some point just lose any sort of tangible meaning. All the more reason to cut up your credit cards and live close to where you work.

With these sums in mind I decided to take another look at my twice-daily energy consumed for transportation (which isn’t even really the total amount since it doesn’t account for the calories I burn riding my bike to the train station nor the energy used by the tram in Dresden) and see if there wasn’t a way to give it some sort of visual component. What I came up with were dark chocolate Easter bunnies. Continue reading

Journey Times

And no, I’m not talking about the band.

I’ve been wanting to do this comparison for a while, just to highlight some differences in transportation networks between a mid-sized U.S. city and mid-sized German cities. I’m not sure to what extent this comparison is applicable to other U.S. cities, but I’ll be comparing Cleveland and Leipzig/Dresden as regards my journey from home to university in each city. From 2002-2003 I took classes at Cleveland State University (CSU) while living in Mayfield, an eastern suburb of Cleveland. I took public transportation every day to get to and from school. I currently live in Leipzig and study in Dresden and likewise take public transportation, albeit the regional express, on a daily basis.

From a spatial perspective this is an interesting comparison. Mayfield and Cleveland are obviously Continue reading

Parking and the Public Service Employee

Übrigens: Nach einem Urteil des Landesar­beitsgerichts Schleswig-Holstein von 2001 (AZ 1 Sa 646 b/00) haben Arbeitnehmer im öffentlichen Dienst keinen Anspruch auf einen kostenlosen Parkplatz.

as per VCD Landesverband Nord (german)

Public service employees in the state of Schleswig-Hostein are not entitled to a free parking place.

I would love to see this policy instituted in NYC. It would go a long way to start changing a culture of expectancy and entitlement. Accompanying policies would promote use of public transit as well as bicycle commuting to get to work. Actions that employers could take, as suggested by the Transportation Club of Germany, an alternative to Germany’s equivalent of AAA, include:

the option to exchange a car parking spot for a bicycle provided by the employer

offering bicycle repair workshops at the workplace

sponsoring various bicycle events outside the workplace

a bicycle lottery – in which once a month or so a random name is drawn from a hat and if that person rode her bike to work she receives a related prize (users of public transit or those who walked are also eligible, only car-drivers are excluded)

providing showering and changing facilities as well as a place to hang wet clothing or rain gear

among other possibilities. For a comparison of the situation in NYC (and surroundings), here are just a few of the issues and the players involved:

NYPD here and here

Teachers Union here

Complaining residents who don’t want the laws to apply to them (and the City Council who supports them) here

MTA here

Mayor Bloomberg here

Chambors of Commerce/BIDs here, here and here

This theme deserves more research. A profile of the VCD (Transportation Club of Germany) is also forthcoming.

Why We’re Still Struggling

Two articles reporting on relatively similar things.  The first being the one from the Hamburger Abendblatt (in German,) reporting that a third of Germany”s automobile commuters could imagine that in the relatively near future they would get rid of their car, or at least leave it at home.  Then this article in the New York Times, reporting about how some people in the U.S. are willing to think about living without a car, but with more emphasis on what a difficult time car dealerships and manufacturers are having and how and when we’ll be back to record breaking numbers of car purchases.

First though, a bit of a run through on things I found interesting in the Hamburger Abendblatt article.  The statistics aren’t necessarily so indicative of the situation in Hamburg.  Continue reading