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TANK’s Failure of Communication

Fireworks are worth shutting down a major city.

Said no one ever, but for the dipshit who decided that’s what Cincinnati was going to do.

For the second year in a row, I have been confounded by a preposterous barrier: at 7pm today, all the bridges shut down. Every one of them. For everyone. For the second year in a row, this has disrupted well laid plans with my boyfriend in Kentucky. This year it was fireworks at a friend’s house. Last year it was an anniversary dinner already in the oven.

Now let’s be clear; disruptions are normal in some transportation systems and that’s why we have redundancies. Bus not working? Take a bike. No go there? Hail a cab. Still no? Walk!
What we’re dealing with here is a complete breakdown in the whole system for every mode. There is no tunnel under the river. Every crossing is shut. With the number of boats in the water, swimming isn’t even safe. I was lucky last year though: one of my redundancies worked. After trying to bike across literally every bridge, the fourth police officer I talked to told me TANK might be running. It was, and I caught the last one over with my bike, arriving very late to dinner, but still, arriving.

This time though, I didn’t make it. Seeing the bridges were closed, and remembering last year, I headed directly to the TANK stop on fourth. I got there and was relieved to see half a dozen people at the stop. Now normally, this is a good sign. It means that the bus is almost there, because people have had time to pile up.

But in this case, it was a sign of TANK’s complete failure to communicate the fact that they simply stopped operating the most critical link in their whole system.1

When SORTA shuts down a stop, or changes service on short notice, at least they post signs literally over top of the bus stop signs. “This stop is closed temporarily. Walk to …” Something like that. (Other agencies often go quite a bit beyond that.)

For TANK’s downtown stops tonight, there was absolutely nothing. And as I write this, I’m certain that there are people sitting on those dirty little benches in front of the Federal Reserve cursing a late bus that they don’t know will simply never come.

Now, without defending the logic of the shut-down decision, I presume that it goes something like this: People driving on bridges would get distracted and wreck their cars…yadda yadda yadda. Now let’s not even get into why humans on foot cant cross (I can feel my blood pressure really starting to rise at this point). Let’s assume that that’s the logic and point out that the only people who can and do drive TANK buses are professional drivers who presumably can’t be so easily distracted, and certainly not on an otherwise empty road. Why the flying fuck can’t TANK keep running normally through the fireworks??? I understand that some stupid car-blind engineer might think to shut down the bridges, but what really gets me is that no one at TANK had the balls or the ability or perhaps the desire to stand up for themselves and insist that they continue to operate a critical service through this silly spectacle.

That failure being swallowed of necessity, it’s even more galling that they didn’t think to post even one notice at their single most active stop2 where, as I say, people are almost certainly still waiting at this very moment for a bus that won’t ever come.

I’m properly pissed. I’m pissed at the City. I’m pissed at TANK for not standing up for themselves, and I’m pissed at TANK doubly for not telling it’s passengers that they won’t be coming. To my mind, this is as big a (short-term) failure as a transit system is capable of making.

TANK, you should be ashamed. Learn from it, but feel shame no less for that pragmatic consolation. TANK failed it’s riders tonight.

Show 2 footnotes

  1. I am prepared to back this up with data already provided by TANK.
  2. Again, I can prove this.
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Posted in: Talking about Transit
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Bike Map Update: August 14 2014

C’est fini!

The map will be on the presses shortly and should be ready for distribution by the end of August. I had actually finished just before I left for Europe a couple weeks ago, but there was a little trouble with the folding that delayed things. I had to wait until my new (European) phone plan kicked in to let me call my partner who is now working with the printer for me.

That link up there goes to the folder where I’m keeping the most recent raster version of the map for the printer. It may yet be updated a teeny bit. PLEASE NOTE that the color is not optimised for RGB yet. I designed this for a specific printer/paper and, trust me, the colors look better on paper. You can get a bit closer to seeing the actual color of the map by looking at this image. Once I get back home and back to my desktop computer, I’ll be able to work on an RGB color-corrected PDF version for the web. I thought y’all might like something to look at in the meantime though :-)

Also note that there is a 1/3″ bleed included in those images which will be trimmed off. That too will change in the PDF/web version.

I can’t wait to see these little buggers finished! ^-^

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Posted in: Bicycles | Maps
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Check Please!

Third day in England here. So far I’ve seen: Derby, Nottingham, Sheffield(just a little) and Manchester. Also, some the intercity trains, and various local transit.

The good news: Making a beautiful, functional, pleasurable city doesn’t seem all that hard. They’re doing everything planning theory says to do, and it seems like it works beautifully.

The bad news: Cincinnati doesn’t seem capable of doing nearly everything right. Rather, it insists on doing most of it wrong. Has done for a while now.

Evidence: There is much more going on in downtown Derby (pop=~300,000) than there is in Cincinnati (pop=~2,200,000). For real.

The upshot: I’ve decided to get the hell out after I graduate this time. This has been a dry tickle on the back of my throat for a while now, but I stopped short when I got to Manchester and it rolled to the tip of my tongue.


Two weeks left in the trip! Let’s see how this little nugget tastes by the end of the month.

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Posted in: Personal | Priorities

1/3 of Hamilton County streets are dead-ends

931 miles that go nowhere, versus 2,761 that offer escape from either end.

For bikes at least, not that routing for other modes would change the figure much. Fun/disturbing fact of the day! Impress your friends with your amazing and mathematically informed knowledge of Cincinnati geography!

I talked about this geography of connectivity thing a little bit already, but since that post, I’ve switched to a better dead-end-finding algorithm. Where before I was looking for tree-like structures by recursing on nodes with only one edge, I’m now able to detect all nodes which could be removed from the graph‘s largest biconnected subcomponent by the elimination of just one edge. Or those which are already detached, of course.

In layman’s terms, this answers the question: “Where should we put no-exit signs?” Or for the purpose of defending our titular statement: “what portion of streets, measured by their length, would be behind such signs?

Here is the PHP script I wrote to implement the algorithm. It connects to a PostgreSQL DB, and looks at a specified edge table with source and target fields. (These source and target fields are the IDs of the nodes on either end of the edges.) You can create an edge table, as I did, using OSM data processed with osm2po. Since I was routing for bikes, I excluded highways and most trunk roads. I also excluded dangling service roads from the measurement.

As the script runs through the graph, every time it isolates a subcomponent, it inserts the nodes of that subcomponent into a temporary table, along with a unique ID value for the component. Once all the nodes are in there(technically, they’re all part of some subcomponent), a GROUP BY statement gives us the ID of the biggest component. This component is the main street network itself. All edges that touch any node that is NOT part of this largest component are identified as dead-ending.

Before altogether too long, I’ll get around to doing some more interesting analysis and regional comparisons and mapping and stuff. But for now, I’m off to Europe with my little netbook, which is, to my honest delight, too puny for serious GIS.

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Posted in: Access | Bicycles | Math
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What is a bike friendly destination? At best, a bike tolerant destination in a sea of petrol-stinking crap. What is a transit friendly destination? A place with people inside its monstrous machinations.

We skip across the sea to the islands.

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Posted in: Aphorism

A preemptive contention

I hear through the grapevine that people are now collecting economic statistics on the recent development of Over-The-Rhine in an effort to demonstrate ‘the economic impact of the streetcar’. My contention with whatever they will is obvious enough that I feel silly making it but yet the folly goes forward rather oblivious to my mind.

The Streetcar doesn’t exist yet, people. Let’s cool down the propaganda machines.

What might be measured by and interesting in their report is the development of a neighborhood in rapid transition for any reason. What cannot be evident is the effect of a project not yet realized, unless we consider it only as a local, government outlay in which case we may as well have set to work digging ditches of a more ordinary sort. The effect they intend to measure, though they won’t put it in these words, is the effect of their own boosterism, a fully psychological impact. They want to show us how big their bubble is.

Please, all of you, do the spirit of rationality a favour: if you hear someone saying the streetcar is already, clearly, making OTR better, point out that the streetcar has never yet been seen to function. Demand serious analysis for claims that any one thing has dramatically effected something so complex as a whole, urban neighborhood.

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Posted in: Politics
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