Archive for Transportation

Transportation Equity Podcast

Just imagine what 58 transportation-oriented private and governmental groups could think of and accomplish together. Don’t imagine. Go to Transportation for Massachusetts ( and see. Start with the last year’s legislative recap here.

Josh Ostroff, interim director, spoke today on the aims and needs. We are two transit geeks, who love everything from trains to bikes (and tolerate cars as needed). Among our fast-talking topics were:

  • transportation equity, getting everyone including the poor from where they live to where they work or want to play quickly, safely and affordably
  • maintaining roads, bridges and rails
  • planning, building and repairing for multi-modal transit
  • transit for the “unrich’ who don’t have choices for work, education, and just getting around

Regular readers and listeners know I’m big on transit. I expect more shows with principals of T4MA. Meanwhile, look through the site for what fits your interest. Consider the T4MA half day conference Fast Forward to saturate yourself in the subject.

icon for podpress  T4MA Transit Equity [30:14m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


What Is It About Drivers v. Cyclists?

Want conflict? Just mention urban cyclists! Liveable Street’s blogger Steve Miller joins us to talk safety, the likelihood of jolly coexistence and more. He works for the Harvard School of Public Health and is known in transit as the founder of Hub on Wheels as well as on Boston and Cambridge’s bike advisory boards.

Fair warning: Mike is a cyclist, who often walks and occasional drives, but a cyclist first.

Miller has considerable knowledge in this area. He’ll talk about the turmoil and outlook.

If you can catch the show live, do it Tuesday, October 2nd at 2:30 PM here. Afterward, you can listen to or download the whole show back here, at the show URL or on our iTunes page.


Federal Budget (Sigh) Podcast

We progressives need to show the way. Both the President and Congress are lost.

The silliness of pretending that playing with discretionary spending will solve our huge national budget problems has gone on too far too long. Listen in as Ryan and Mike alternately bewail the asinine deal cutting that has gone on recently and the avoidance of the real issues that we have seen for decades…that would be from the President Bill Clinton era of our last balanced budget.

We propose such as emulating other industrialized nations in the percentage of GDP that goes to military and other defense spending. We propose turning to infrastructure improvements and repairs, both to prepare the nation for its future needs and to provide jobs, with disposable income to help us out of this huge recession.

We don’t trust either the President or Congressional leaders to get smart enough quick enough on their own.

That Link: We cited the excellent and very conservative observations of guest Bill Lind last year. You can catch his approach to spending on transportation here.

icon for podpress  Down the Rabbit Hole [29:29m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Two-winged Trolley Podcast

With homework for left and right wingers, William S. Lind gave us his past-is-future vision of public transit. His pessimism and hope on the topic are available also at The American Conservative and in full at the book he co-authored, Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation.

While a famous commentator on military and foreign affairs issues for that other wing, Lind is a serious pragmatist. As an urbanist and strong public-transit advocate, he calls conservatives and progressives alike to task. Listen in as he explains why many conservatives disdain public transit (even if they ride commuter rail) and what lefties need to do to talk the language and roll in the ideas taht are meaningful to the other side.

He gave us the history and concepts of when America could move by rail inside all towns of 5,000 or larger and intercity across America. He decries how the interstate highway system and its cars-over-trains subsidies killed that. Yet, he notes that unlike the multi-billion-dollar high-tech alternatives, trolley and related systems in the millions are within reach. Moreover, much of the necessary infrastructure is still in place, like rights of way.

Unfortunately, Lind suspects that as a nation, we are likely to do the usual — wait until it’s panic time to fix this. Fortunately, he said we can do the trick affordably within a decade.

His vision has work for everyone and sounds worth the effort. The sweetness is that the vision is worthy of both conservatives and progressives.

icon for podpress  Bill Lind [59:37m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download

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Two-winged Trolley Podcast Tomorrow

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 5th, at 2 p.m. Eastern, we talk trolleys. Bill Lind comes on to describe why left-wingers and right-wingers alike need to join him on the electric trolley.

You can listen live then here. Afterward come back to Left Ahead! or return to the show URL to hear or download it on demand.

This sort of past-as-future thinking has become the life work of this urbanist, who has long been famous for his conservative military analysis. Starting 13 years ago, he and Paul Weyrich (now deceased) performed a series of eight major transit studies. Those are collected in their book Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation.

He’s not shy about telling conservatives to stop throwing money at highways. Nor is he afraid to tell liberals what they need to say and do to get support from the other side.


Worcester Check-In Podcast

Social activist (podcaster, blogger, video maker and on and on) Mike Benedetti joined us from and to talk about Worcester. That helped keep us from our usual speculation and judgments of politicians. He is much less rarefied and concentrates on real issues of real people, like the homeless and immigrants. His own real life is after all with the Catholic Worker community.

Listen in as we figuratively walk through Worcester to talk about what matters there, how it is the same and different from other Massachusetts cities and what has been changing there. We deal with the impact (and lack thereof) of having the lieutenant governor and one of the most influential members of Congress in Jim McGovern.

You can learn more of Benedetti in this The Pulse Magazine profile (about the middle).  You can also see more of his craft and labors at Pie and Coffee and WCAATV’s 580 show.

He discusses such progressive issues as the surprising effectiveness of placing group homes in Worcester. He also walks us through the slow economic recovery of the central downtown. Listen in to hear what is and what isn’t happening…and why Worcester is a fine place to be a vegan.

icon for podpress  Mike Benedetti [49:08m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Pres. Mike Ross Podcast

The head of Boston’s City Council, President Michael Ross, spoke candidly about the present and future of the city. We had a free-ranging discussion from biking to bucks to who has the power. Listen in by clicking below.

Timing note:  Pres. Ross accommodated us despite a command performance at a bill signing up at the state house than some phone grief from BlogTalkRadio’s automated system. You’re welcome to hear your three favorite pundits hold forth at the start. Catch Ross from 33:43.

As one of the class of young Turks on council, Ross has been a seemingly indefatigable innovator and iconoclast. We covered his decade on the body with topics from cycling to restaurants on the Common (the bill he was up at the state house for), to education and crime.

Ross did not shy from his view of home rule (an archaic holdover of a political and class warfare) to term limits (yes for the mayor but we need institutional mayor on council). He spoke of the hole where Filene’s used to be and how the councilors and others absolutely had to step up in terrible economic times to keep Boston perking.

icon for podpress  Michael Ross [71:47m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Boston Cycling on the Brink Podcast

Pete Stidman, co-founder of the Boston Cyclists Union, spoke about his group’s aims, and the delights and perils of two-wheeling Beantown. While we are well on the way to the mayor’s vision of being a prime cycling city, we have quite a ways to go.

Disclaimer: Mike is a BCU member and will be volunteering for them.

Pete differentiated his group from the more formal lobbying organization, MassBike, as well as from recreational bike clubs.  BCU will work with them, as well as Livable Streets Alliance, when goals overlap. Listen in as he describes some of BCU’s goals, including:

  • Cycletracks around town
  • Bike lanes the length of Mass Avenue
  • Improved and expanded police crash data collection and procedures
  • Upgraded training for MBTA bus drivers

We spoke of the animosity and misunderstandings among cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. Stidman addressed the most common dangers in cycling and the outlook for getting more commuters and recreational bikers on the streets. Right now, Boston lags cycling centers such as Portland Oregon, Minneapolis, and San Francisco in both percentage of citizens who bike and number of full-time cycling staff per capita.

Seasonal note: Over the summer, BCU promotes both cycling and itself with a long list of free tuneups and farmers’ markets. The BCU offers memberships there, but its website does not yet have online enrollment (coming soon). You can get the newsletter for free here.

As a bonus, we had a caller from Mesa, Arizona, who compared and contrasted the cycling experiences there.

icon for podpress  Boston Cycling on the Brink [51:41m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download


Stidman on Cyclists This Tuesday

The co-founder of the Boston Cyclists Union joins us Tuesday. Pete Stidman talks bike safety, trends in Boston and elsewhere, and what his group will be up to this year and beyond.

Listen live Tuesday, 7/27 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern if you can by going here. Afterward, you can listen on demand there, here at Left Ahead! or on iTunes.

For background and a preview, check Chris Lovett’s interview with Stidman on bike safety. Click below.

Bike Safety Priorities in Boston from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.


Dukakis and the T Podcast

Mike  DukakisHot stuff from the Duke today on the T. Former Gov. Mike Dukakis joined us to talk about the MBTA specifically and mass transit in general. He is a huge public-transit advocate and the T flourished in his two terms as governor. He has answers and ideas.

One big thing he thinks we progressives can do is to advocate for our legislators to reasonably fund the T. It has teetered under mismanagement and staggered under overpowering debt for some time. Gov. Dukakis (now distinguished political-science professor at Northeastern) says the right start is to apply a 6¢ to 9¢ gasoline tax to the T and drop that failed notion of a never ending growth spiral of a sales tax.

The Duke speaks of a steel interstate for modern times, that is,  a fast, frequent system of intracity and intercity rail. As well as the predictable environmental and other benefits, it sees this as a jobs action when the state and nation need it the most. In fact, he said that his administrations’  10¢ for transportation efforts was just that.

Listen in as he explains how we have all the highways we need and that we’re “not going to build our way out of the highway mess.” Instead, “if you want a first-class public transportation system,you got to pay for it.”

He has high hopes between MA and federal effort, we’ll be able to do just that.

icon for podpress  The Duke Takes the T [54:24m]: Play Now | Play in Popup | Download