Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

May is Curb your Car Month

1. May 2006 • Juliew
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During the month of May, getDowntown Ann Arbor is challenging you to curb your car and drive less. Curb Your Car Month offers over 20 fun and educational events that are sure to inspire and motivate you to drive less during the month of May and, hopefully, throughout the entire year. While the events are focused on raising awareness about transit, walking, biking and sharing a ride, there’s no shortage of ways to get around town. Be creative and have fun with your daily commute and errands. Rollerblade to work. Bike to the gym. You just might be surprised at how much you enjoy leaving your car at home.

Already walking the walk? May is the time to share your enthusiasm & get your friends, neighbors, & colleagues pumped up too! Sign-up your workplace for the Commuter Challenge. Rally your co-workers to participate in Bike to Work Day!

As the t-shirt says: Save Money, Protect the Environment, Get Fit. Oh, and you can win prizes too.

  1. In my response to such nonsense I have stopped ridding the bus and will drive to work for the month of May.

       —Scott    May. 2 '06 - 11:17PM    #
  2. I for one predict that Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice will once again win the commuter challenge.

    (Of course, when you only have 2 staff people, it’s not hard to get 100% participation).

    Now we’ll just have to steal the shoes of the folks at 4th Ave. Birkenstock so they don’t tie with us again.

       —Chuck Warpehoski    May. 3 '06 - 12:15AM    #
  3. Not to dampen Chuck’s bold prediction, but I believe he shared the victory last year with at least three other organizations in the 1-10 employees category. There are lots of other size categories for the competition, and it appears that last year’s winner of the 100+ category (Zingerman’s) has dropped out of the race this year leaving a big opening for a new champion.

    Since there are so many winners in the 1-10 group, maybe there should be some sort of “sudden death”, finals round. Perhaps something akin to Stephen King’s “The Long Walk”? We would certainly reach the 225,000 mile goal that way!

    Humbuggers like the undistinguished Scott should keep in mind that mode shift recorded during this week can be used to promote improvements to “alternative” transport like the bus. So by taking your scoffing too far you may be cutting of your nose to spite your face.

    However, I’d be interested to hear more specifically what it is that puts “Scott, just Scott” or others off about the month.

       —Scott TenBrink    May. 3 '06 - 06:48AM    #
  4. I hate everything.

       —Scott "don't call me TehPrick" just Scott    May. 3 '06 - 07:37AM    #
  5. Ouch!
    Just a small typo away from being quite stinging.

    I didn’t mean to come off as tehprickish. Sorry to have caused offense. Hopefully this will make amends and remove me from SJS’s apparently long list of objects of hatred.

    I don’t like to support hatred as a solution. But perhaps, if broad hatred is one’s only motovation, it could be focused on single-occupancy-automobile commuting for the rest of the month. Or split it 50-50 with SOV commuting and the speed bumps on Broadway. I hate those things!

       —Scott TenBrink    May. 3 '06 - 09:03AM    #
  6. Is it just me, or does this month seem to be the worst to choose to do this? the students just left and you can finally park downtown!

       —Just a Voice    May. 3 '06 - 04:01PM    #
  7. Also lots of places free to conveniently lock a bike up.

       —jcp2    May. 3 '06 - 07:47PM    #
  8. I’ve noticed that the traffic is just as bad as during the school year…and that they’re just as zealous about ticketing on empty streets.

       —ann arbor is overrated    May. 3 '06 - 07:52PM    #
  9. Yeah, it’s the first month, weather-wise, that we can expect people to bike or walk rather than drive, and build upon the “yaayyy, it’s sunny!” feelings we all have.

    Much as students are disparaged in anecdotes for owning SUVs and driving 4 blocks to school, these are not the people we need to reform. They live near where they work and go to school so, much like the small population of full-timers and homeowners on the OWS and in the OFW, they generally walk or bike.

       —Dale    May. 3 '06 - 07:54PM    #
  10. I think this Curb your Car Month is a good idea. It gives people some incentive to think about how they are using their cars and try some other options. Not a bad thing. My only problem with the challenge is that it rewards people for having long commutes. If you have already made the decision to live close enough to walk or bike, you don’t add much to the total, so your group doesn’t win. But, then, my car has been curbed for a long time now so I’m not really the target market.

    AAiO, you bring up a good point that was also raised by Mary Campbell from Everyday Wines the other day at a Council Working Group meeting: If the point of ticketing cars is to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to park, why do we ticket cars when there is a lot of parking open around them? I don’t know what the actual stated purpose of ticketing is for the city now—is it punitive, money-making, or is there still the idea that they are doing it to make it fair for everyone. If it is the latter, then the City needs to change how and why they ticket.

       —Juliew    May. 3 '06 - 08:02PM    #
  11. Juliew,

    Actually, the Commuter Challenge doesn’t benefit folks with long commutes, it measures participation levels, not total miles driven.

    So, if you can get your whole office to bus/bike/walk/carpool/roller skate just once, you win. (which is why there are so many winners in the 1-9 employee category, there are a number of small shops that can get everyone to bike just once).

    It’s not the perfect system, but to be honest, I haven’t figured out a better one (by a better one, I don’t mean one that’s more fair, I mean one that would leave ICPJ as the only winner in the 1-9 category. We peaceniks can be quite competative—cutthroat even)

       —Chuck Warpehoski    May. 3 '06 - 08:47PM    #
  12. Actually, the Commuter Challenge doesn’t benefit folks with long commutes, it measures participation levels, not total miles driven.

    OK, that is good, but if that is true, why does the stats site rank teams in order by miles? So my group is ”#2 of 13” in the 25-99 group even though our participation percentage is much higher than the #1 team (but our miles are way lower).

       —Juliew    May. 3 '06 - 09:08PM    #
  13. That’s a good question. I’ve asked Erica Briggs, the Get Downtown coordinator, to comment. We’ll see if that clears things up.

    Until then, all I know is what the website tells me, “organizations compete to get the highest percentage of employees to try a sustainable mode.” Which, as you point out, doesn’t quite add up with your ranking.

    The other thing that doesn’t seem to add up to me is how they compute CO2 savings. Here at ICPJ, they report:

    Miles Logged to Date: 12.0 miles
    CO2 Emissions Avoided: 11.53 pounds

    Is it really almost a pound of CO2 for every mile a car drives?

       —Chuck Warpehoski    May. 3 '06 - 09:51PM    #
  14. Yep, Chuck is right. Organization’s “win” the challenge by having the greatest percentage of employees participating. We recently redesigned our website & not all the kinks are worked out, soon the Stats page will be ordered by % of employees participating, not by the number of miles logged. Sorry about the confusion.

    As Scott TenBrink mentioned, we have also set a very high mileage goal this year & we’re trying to log 225,000 sustainable transportation miles this May. This goal is just a fun way to raise awareness about the collective impact we can have. We need lots of people participating in the Challenge to meet this goal, so please spread the word and get all your friends to sign-up their workplaces too.

    And yes, the CO2 figures are staggering, which is really the key reason we report these. There are many other nasty emissions, some much worse that CO2. They just don’t seem some scary on paper.

    I’m happy to answer any other questions you may have, just send me an e-mail

       —Erica Briggs    May. 3 '06 - 11:36PM    #
  15. Shit, shit, shit I was trying to spoof Scott just Scott with a little bit of satirical hyperbole … I’m sure he doesn’t hate everything ... and caught Scott TenBrink a-broadside. I obviously can’t meet master debater muster like Scott just Scott or Dave Cahill or that Planet dude. And now, oh Katzenjammer, my veil of deception is quickly pierced and made as Sir Walter Raleigh’s gutter garment.

    My new rhetorical technique is apparently not unstoppable after all.

       —Lying Dog    May. 4 '06 - 02:22AM    #
  16. “If the point of ticketing cars is to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to park, why do we ticket cars when there is a lot of parking open around them?”

    I’m also not sure what the stated goal of parking fines is, but I’d assume that to some extent they are to encourage compliance with regulations. I’d further assume that the people issuing the tickets are not basing their decision on whether the street requires ticketing, but whether the vehicle is in violation of the rule.

    The necessity of ticketing probably should not be a decision left to the ticketing officer, but should instead be a written policy that both the ticketer and parkers can rely on. So the “empty street” provision, would have to apply to a specific time of day, day of the week (already exists on Sunday), or time of year.

    Perhaps the regulation could be lifted during summer months to focus enforcement on the period when extra student traffic increases parking demand. However, this comes across as dangerously close to pinning the parking blame, and general fund revenue, specifically on students. It also overlooks the large number of lulls and floods of parking demand throughout the year. We have many events throughout the summer that stress local parking supply, many of which happen after enforcement hours.

    Overall, I think the practicality of enforcing such a policy fairly prohibits consideration of demand-sensitive fines. But I’d be interested to hear a proposal that could work around the fair enforcement glitch.

       —Scott TenBrink    May. 4 '06 - 06:56AM    #
  17. Addendum:

    A daily opinion article ( suggests that the goal of parking fines may be more geared to generating revenue than to managing the parking supply.

    While I disagree with the conclusions of the article, I would prefer that parking fees and fines were designed to better manage parking and promote alternatives to driving instead of as a way to boost the general fund.

    I’m having trouble finding any reference to the costs associated with parking tickets. I’ve seen reference to the fact that fines do not cover costs, but I haven’t seen any clear evidence either way. It’s not clear if the $1.6 million additional revenue sited in the Daily article accounts for the seven new positions that would be created to support additional ticketing. Anyone else have info on that?

    And finally, yes, actually I do feel a little ashamed to have diverted a thread about promoting alternative transportation to a discussion on parking.

       —Scott TenBrink    May. 4 '06 - 08:00AM    #
  18. As someone who involuntarily had her car curbed a few months ago, it would be lovely if Curb your Car month didn’t happen at the exact same time the AATA cuts down on service.

    I can ride my bike, and quite frequently do, but I really wish certain routes could be extended (#1 on Sundays comes to mind immediately – why can’t it complete the full loop?). I don’t expect 24 hour transportation in such a small city, but I’d trade the Link for better weekend and evening access on other routes in a heartbeat.

    Well… felt good to get that off my chest.

    And if anyone has hiring power and really wants to win the contest, I’ll automatically up your percentage. Just saying.

       —-    May. 4 '06 - 08:27AM    #
  19. Speaking of enforcing regulations…

    The biggest thing that could be done to encourage more bicycle commuters is for Ann Arbor to enforce traffic laws. I like to bike to campus and around town, but I feel less safe riding in Ann Arbor than anywhere I have lived before including big cities and small towns in the West where nobody else bikes.

    The problem is that bikers get free reign like pedestrians in this town, so some of them do really stupid things. Then drivers have no idea what to expect from bikers or even what their rights are. It’s no surprise that cars act erratic and sometimes hostile around bikes.

    A public education campaign about bike laws coupled with enforcement targeted at both bad bikers and aggressive drivers would be welcome. In my college town, the police would target bikes heavily in the first weeks of spring and the beginning of the academic year. After that traffic patterns tended to be very predictable.

    I see that GetDowntown has a “Bike Ambassador” program. I assume that is meant to acheive a similar result without involving the police so I’ll be watching with great anticipation. Any of you have info on that program?

       —dcwp    May. 4 '06 - 05:25PM    #
  20. dcwp,

    I’m a bike commuter and I agree with you that many bicyclists simply ignore traffic laws. My number one example is the guy riding the wrong way on First and glaring at all the cars coming at him. If we want to be treated as vehicles, we need to act as vehicles.

       —tom    May. 4 '06 - 05:51PM    #
  21. I am not against everything. There are many things I am for. Capitalism, climate change, environmental change that promotes higher standard of living, increasing world population.
    Oh and driving cars.

       —Scott    May. 4 '06 - 08:51PM    #
  22. What a timely meeting:
    (Tonight, May 4) Transportation Planning for Citizens
    “Upset about the condition of roads or sidewalks in your town? Do you wish pedestrians and bicyclists had better facilities in your community? Want to find out how to make sure future plans are made with your input? The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition (WBWC) will host a special presentation on transportation planning for citizens. Staff from SEMCOG, WATS, and the City of Ann Arbor will explain the transportation planning process, how projects get funded and how citizens can get involved at the local level to guide the process. Emphasis will be placed on the nonmotorized transportation planning.”

    Date: May 4, 2006
    Location: Ann Arbor District Library, 343 S. Fifth Avenue, 3rd Floor.
    Time: 7-9pm.
    All are welcome to attend.

       —Juliew    May. 4 '06 - 09:21PM    #
  23. With regard to the “Get Fit” part of the T-shirt slogan, Sabra and I are buying a new Honda Fit. It will replace my 16-year-old Honda Civic, whose useful life is slipping peacefully to its close.

    The Fit is supposed to come this weekend, but no word as yet. There may be trouble getting the ship from Japan up the Huron River to unload at Fischer Honda in Ypsilanti.

       —David Cahill    May. 5 '06 - 02:00AM    #
  24. Already walking the walk? May is the time to share your enthusiasm & get your friends, neighbors, & colleagues pumped up too!

    OK, I’ll take a stab at proselytizing – I’ve had a zero mile/zero minute commute for years. It’s great (especially in bad weather). So forget the bikes and buses and shoes—instead, I recommend everybody switch to home offices for the month of May. (And if you must bike, pedal downtown for a beer after work—would that count in the mileage total)?

       —mw    May. 5 '06 - 06:19AM    #
  25. Man, the single thing they could do to make me drive less is to extend the hours of busses until the bar close time. I realize that it’s probably prohibitively expensive (though don’t the UM busses run that late anyway?) but that’s one of the few times I feel like I NEED to drive home, because by 2am I’m just too damn tired to bike.
    (The other thing that holds me back is that the amount that I’d have to take the bus to make it cheaper than driving is just too high, even with these insane gas prices.)

       —js    May. 5 '06 - 07:49PM    #
  26. Explain that last sentence, js. Do you mean while still having your car? My car/driving costs are 0 since I only take the bus and bike (and train) and don’t have a car. How could that be more expensive than having a car with purchase, gas and insurance?

       —Dale    May. 5 '06 - 08:17PM    #
  27. I have a year-round home office.

       —David Cahill    May. 5 '06 - 08:21PM    #
  28. Dave, has your house been zonned for an office?
    You might be destroying the character of the neighborhood.

       —Scott    May. 5 '06 - 10:59PM    #
  29. js wrote: “Man, the single thing they could do to make me drive less is to extend the hours of busses until the bar close time.”

    This isn’t busses, and it’s $5, and it’s limited to City of Ann Arbor, BUT from the AATA website here’s one option:
    What if I need to make a trip when the buses are not in service?
    Use AATA’s Night Ride! Night Ride is a shared-ride taxi service (within the Ann Arbor city limits) which operates when fixed-route bus service is not available. Hours of operation are 11:00pm – 6:00am Monday – Friday and 7:00pm – 7:30am on Saturday & Sunday. Rides are $5.00 per person, $2.50 per person with an AATA issued ADA or Senior card. Call 734.528.5432 to request a trip…more detailed information is available in the Night Ride section of this site.

       —HD    May. 7 '06 - 02:11AM    #
  30. Yeah, when it comes to that, it’s the hour long wait that invariably happens when you call for a night ride, and that they’re dicks about sharing the cab…

    Hey, any of you know anything about the Keep Ypsi Rolling folks?

       —js    May. 8 '06 - 12:05AM    #
  31. js wrote: “Hey, any of you know anything about the Keep Ypsi Rolling folks?”

    Their efforts are now focussed on gathering petition signatures for a ballot initiative that would amend the City Charter to specify some percentage (1% I think) of the Ypsi city budget for bus service, with a proviso that the amendment is voided if AATA is put on some broader, county-wide funding base.

    Ypsi-Dixit who’s running point on it, and the KYR website have lots to read.

    If you’re asking who they are, beyond Ypsi-Dixit herself, I’m not quite certain. If you want to meet them in person, they have post petition-collection debreifings at Aubree’s, I think.

       —HD    May. 8 '06 - 12:52AM    #
  32. Well, I knew Laura was behind it, but I was wondering a little bit more about what they hope to accomplish… I was really hoping I could get Kestenbaum to weigh in on it…

       —js    May. 8 '06 - 12:56AM    #
  33. Who, me? My perspective is hardly crucial here.

    I’m all for bus service. Once upon a time, in the Lansing area, I was the only regular bus rider on the CATA board.

    The trouble with an areawide authority is that a special district millage apparently has to be at a single rate throughout the district regardless of how much service is provided to each area. CATA used to have a lower millage rate for outlying townships, but that was struck down by some judge.

    Since the local government has to make the decision to join, the single across-the-board millage rate would pretty well discourage, say, Scio Township or Ann Arbor Township from participating.

       —Larry Kestenbaum    May. 8 '06 - 05:57AM    #
  34. Aww, I ask you because you’ve usually got a level-headed and informed view on about any local political issue, and a view that often convinces me (though not always).

       —js    May. 8 '06 - 07:35PM    #
  35. Fun event for Curb your Car Month this Saturday at Arbor Brewing: Check out dozens of model high speed trains and “Futureville, Michigan” from 1pm until 11pm at the Arbor Brewing Company in downtown Ann Arbor. Transportation Riders United’s Director, Megan Owens, will be on hand from 4pm until 8pm to discuss the potential Ann Arbor to Detroit Rapid Transit project and other regional transit issues.

       —Juliew    May. 12 '06 - 05:34PM    #
  36. DCWP wrote: “I see that GetDowntown has a “Bike Ambassador” program. I assume that is meant to acheive a similar result without involving the police so I’ll be watching with great anticipation. Any of you have info on that program?”

    The idea behind the Bicycling Ambassador program is that we need increased education for both motorists (lesson: Share the Road) and cyclists (lesson: Follow the rules of the road) in our community. Getting a group of bicycling ambassadors out on the street and at a community events is a simple and inexpensive way to increase awareness about these issues right now. More info:

    However, you’re right. The enforcement component is a HUGE missing piece. I’ve been working with AAPD, but change is slow. I’m hopeful that in the next year we could see a visible, sustained enforcement campaign in our community. In conjuntion with the enforcment campaign, we’ll need a visibile education component (billboards, print ads, articles in local papers, radio spots) that reinforces the need for increased enforcement. The AAPD is a bit worried about the potential backlash in the community~ particularly if there seen as targeting cyclists.


       —Erica Briggs    May. 12 '06 - 10:25PM    #
  37. Erica,

    What can good, law-abiding, helmet-wearing, respectful cyclists do to help nudge along change? I’m betting people will kick and scream about how the police must have better things to do with their time than ticket rail trespassers bicyclists, but I’m made unhappy whenever I see cyclists blowing through stop signs or mowing down pedestrians and know that other people are associating me with those cyclists. Bad cycling behavior makes everyone unsafe.

    (The worst is when I look up to see another cyclist coming at me the wrong direction in my bike lane…)

       —TPM    May. 13 '06 - 01:27AM    #