Tag Archives: urban

The Easiest Way to Make Our Cities More Livable

Honestly, this is the best idea I’ve had in months.

Car horns should be as loud inside the car as they are outside the car.

I’ve written about car horns before. They are probably the biggest daily drag on my quality of life as a pedestrian and a bicyclist. If you could measure the stress and anger spewed like shrapnel in every direction by car horn detonations, I bet the cost to our health care system would be titanic.

You can’t get rid of them entirely because they’re “safety features.” But make the driver experience that awful sound the way their victim bystanders do, and the horn would quickly become used for what it’s supposed to be used for: emergencies.

The benefits would go beyond sidewalk stress and anger, too. Car horns give us the illusion that we have some control over the jerkoff six cars up who isn’t driving at the instant the light changes green. Make this change to car horns, and we learn a little patience (while thanking the driver who takes one for the team and honks anyway).

We’ve also diminished the car horn as a signal of danger by using it constantly. Make them unpleasant to honk, and everyone will pay more attention to the horns we do hear.

Seriously, Washington DC. Make this happen.

Urban Olympics II: Summer Bicycle Triathlon

Another post in the Urban Olympics series.  This morning I tested out Philadelphia’s urban bicycle triathlon course.  The Philly UBT consists of four stages and three events.  The course map is below:

Philadelphia's urban triathlon course (click for bigger view)

A primer on the Philly Urban Triathlon for the unfamiliar:

Stage 1: Time Trial (Point A to Point B on map)

Starting at Point A (21st & Pine), bike your way to Point B (15th & Pine).  The lights are timed and you must maintain a minimum speed of, oh, pretty fast, to get through them all without stopping.  One minute time penalty is assessed for every missed light.

Stage 2: Cool Down (Point B to Point C)

For this block, you reduce speed and lower your heart rate in preparation for the stop at Broad & Pine.

Stage 3: Witty Banter (Point C)

You must wait through the duration of one light at point C, during which time you make witty banter with the UArts students who hang around the corner of Broad & Pine at 8:10 in the morning.  The lower your heart rate, the wittier you will be.

Stage 4: Death Slalom (Point C to D)

For the last leg of the race, you must continue down Pine from Broad Street to 10th Street.  This stretch of pavement is atrocious, filled with more potholes, crumbled asphalt, and bad patch jobs than smooth concrete.  A popular area for taxi hailers, you must slalom between the bike lane and the car lane while avoiding taxis and moving vehicles.

Final scores are a combination of total eclipsed time and number of witticisms registered with the art types.  Automatic win if you get a phone number.

Urban Olympics: The Biathlon

Not us

My housemates and I competed in the men’s 3ish mile urban biathlon this afternoon.  The results were as follows:

  1. Jeff, 11 hits
  2. Nicholas, 9 hits
  3. Jon, 8 hits

For those not familiar with the somewhat-arcane urban biathlon scoring rules, here is a basic overview.  You run for a while.  Then you stop, and throw 5 snowballs at a stop sign about, oh, thirty feet away.  For every  miss, you do 5 push ups.  Repeat.  The third and fourth shooting rounds are on the ground, where the biathlonlete (the technical term) does a sit-up and throws a snowball as he rises up.  The winner is the one with the most targets hit.

Alternatives involve sprinting to the target and back once for each miss while the rest of the field is allowed to continue on the course.  This variation is more popular with people who enjoy sprinting.