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Report: Is Grandma hitchhiking again?

This is a big year for the nation’s Baby Boomers. It’s the year they begin turning 65.

A new report, “Aging in Place, Stuck Without Options,” out from Transportation for America, a group that advocates for improved public transportation, says the country’s boomers are going to have a hard time getting around as they get older, if their kids take away the keys, that is.

“By 2015,” according to the report, “more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older will live in communities where public transportation service is poor or nonexistent. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation ‘ages in place’ in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.”

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Dangerous by design

A new study conducted by the transportation advocacy group, Transportation for America, finds that crossing the road in many parts of the country can be, well, deadly. Between 2002 and 2009, more than 47,000 people were killed and 688,000 were injured while walking on American roads. Children, the elderly and the poor are more likely to be killed than other groups, the study said.

To see what they’re talking about, take a look at this Blueprint America report (and below) showing just how dangerous it is to cross the Buford Highway, a major thoroughfare outside of Atlanta, Ga. Buford is the poster child for the kind of multilane highway, lined with stripmalls and suburban housing tracts, originally built with cars — not pedestrians — in mind. It’s frightening to see how risky it is for pedestrians to get from one side of it to the other.
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New study shows disconnect between mass transit and jobs

A new study out from the Brookings Institute found that nearly 70 percent of people living in or around America’s cities (“metro residents” is what Brookings calls them) live in neighborhoods with access to transit services like buses and trains.  Yet only about 30 percent of the jobs in America’s metro regions can be gotten to by hopping on one of those buses or trains.  This disconnect is described in “Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America.” Brookings ranks the best and worst cities for getting to work without a car (see how your city ranks here. Contrary to what you might think, New York doesn’t even rank among the top 10 best commuting cities. It’s 13th, lagging behind some transit-friendly surprises like Las Vegas (#8) and Fresno, Calif. (#5). Honolulu comes out on top, with 60 percent of metro residents within a 90-minute transit ride from their jobs.
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Brits weigh in on America’s transportation network

This just in from across the pond: “America, despite its wealth and strength, often seems to be falling apart.” Not news really. But somehow it’s seems more pathetic when written by people who take high speed rail service for granted.

In a long take-out, The Economist details just how far behind the United States is when it comes to infrastructure investment, describing in great detail our debilitating traffic congestion, dysfunctional rail service, and antiquated air traffic control system.  Turns out that a recent World Economic Forum study found the United States now ranks 23rd in the world  for overall infrastructure quality.
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‘Mad’ for trains

Celebrities take up causes so we know what’s what.

At the annual “I care, I’m a celebrity”* event in Burbank, California, big names from around the globe show up to stake a claim to causes equivalent to their star power.

Example: When U2 sold out years ago,** lead man Bono (embracing a new family-friendly image as a result of a turn to mediocre, safe rock) was awarded the cause of Africa. With his newfound everyman/woman appeal, he was the perfect spokesman to get the word out about the war-torn continent. In the time since, that cause has been ceded to the lovable George Clooney, and Bono has been elevated to the cause of General Global Misery and Despair. Interestingly, with that cause comes an op-ed position with The New York Times.

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Rail politics: The choice for voters — spend or save our way out of the recession

NJ Governor Chris Christie holds a Town Hall Meeting on his Reform Agenda for the state in Moorestown, NJ. Photo: NJ Governor's Office/Tim Larsen

After making headlines for weeks, yesterday New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made it official: He’s killing the commuter rail tunnel between Manhattan and New Jersey. The project is too expensive, he says, and his state doesn’t have the money to cover its share of the costs. The demise of the largest public works project in decades illustrates the stark political choice many voters will make next week: either spend our way out of the recession with big projects like high-speed trains and tunnels or save our way out with good old fashioned belt-tightening.

Christie made his choice clear last week with a childhood story: “In our house, when I used to go to my mother and say, ‘I’d like something new, I’d like to buy something.’ My mother would look at me and say, ‘Well, of course, Christopher, you can have that, just go in the back yard and take the money off the money tree. You know where that is, right?’”
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Hard times then, hard times now

Much has been made of the similarities between today’s economic downturn and The Great Depression. Pundits have, for example, labeled the current era “The Great Recession.” And the facts seem to bear that out. Fifty-five percent of Americans in the workforce have lost their jobs, suffered a pay cut or seen their hours reduced since 2007. By comparison, unemployment alone reached 25 percent in the 1930s. There is, no doubt, a relationship between the two. TIME magazine illustrated that relationship when, just after the 2008 election, the publication put Barack Obama on its cover in a classic Franklin Delano Roosevelt pose, right down to the cigarette holder. The title crystallized the message: “The New New Deal: What Barack Obama can learn from FDR, and what Democrats need to do.”

There are other similarities, too. The hard-luck stories from then and now are more or less the same. And the pictures tell the story.

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Not just for Europeans anymore

You can “Take the ‘A’ train” in New York City, but in Denver, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Des Moines and a handful of other communities, you can hop on the ‘B’for bicycle  (note: the ‘B’ remains a viable subway line in New York, but a bike-share program is in the works there, too).

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Canada’s latest stunt in its long history of scaring us safe

Photo: Handout/

In this week’s news of, “That sounds crazy … are you sure that’s a good idea, Canada? What the hell, do it anyway,” CTV reports, “A 3-D image of a young girl chasing a ball into the street is the newest effort to prevent pedestrian accidents in West Vancouver.”

You might be thinking, ‘3-D — sounds bad-ass.’ And so was I.
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