Episode 43: Traffic signals with Matt Steele

A new year, a new challenge to the deity of traffic engineering: the traffic light. contributor and recent Minneapolis City Council candidate Matt Steele says we have too many traffic signals and explains why that's a big problem for everyone. Choosing alternative measures of traffic control offers significant benefits to pedestrians, bicyclists, cars and trucks, and even help transit run more reliably.

Links include Strong Towns, the relation between speed and death, roundabouts and a very successful shared space project at a busy junction in Poynton, England.

Today's news selection features a fantastic Bikeyface comic on what snow says about our cities' priorities, another cyclist hit without accountability, and another oil train derailment and explosion near Fargo, North Dakota. We recap the horror that is fracking (natural gas drilling) and play two songs about fracking ("We'll Be There" & "My Water's on Fire").

A listener suggests that automation in transit operations may actually decrease safety as the humans involved become less alert. The same has happened with private cars as they've become safer for the people inside. Very interesting stuff.

UPDATE: Here's a link to the book I couldn't remember the name of, about the phenomenon of drivers being less attentive given increasing automation: Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do by Tom Vanderbilt.

May 2014 be the year in which we finally take traffic violence seriously and focus our attention and investments on sustainable transportation modes: walking, cycling, skating and especially public transit.  Help support this show and my other work by sharing it widely and by making a donation to my Transit Tour Fund if you are able to.  I am headed to the northeast very soon; please get in touch if we might connect.

Episode 41: Rail Transit Safety with Marc Ebuna

In light of the latest Metro-North Railroad derailment, fellow New Yorker Marc Ebuna, now a Boston-based transit advocate and editor of Transit Matters, joins me to explain what we can learn from the recent series of incidents this year on the nation's busiest commuter rail network.

Topics include technology, maintenance, funding, regulations and more, including considering whether bus and train operators should continue working the split shifts that are standard practice throughout the industry. We also remind you that, contrary to popular headlines, using a car is still by far the most dangerous way to get around.

Read more about the crash and investigation.  Follow Transit Matters and @transitmatters on Twitter.

What ideas do you have for improving transit safety?  Send comments, suggestions and ideas for show topics/guests to or use the contact form.  Follow me on Twitter and Facebook.  Also share your thoughts on the new web site look; more improvements to come.

UPDATE: Transit Matters is growing into a transit advocacy organization and I'm a part of it. Find out more at