Richmond by bike

Views from my first real ride on the Capital Trail—embarrassing, I know. 15 years ago, I used to ride out to this 7-11 way back before the trail existed. Turns out bike infrastructure is real nice!

Ban cars, Part 3

Via Alon Levy:

The upshot is that there are two valid strategies to deal with literally hundreds of millions of first-world citizens who stand to lose income, wealth, or social or cultural status from the green transition. The first is to buy them off, or at least buy off those who can be bought off without bankrupting the state. The second is to tell them no. No, we are not going to accommodate you: saving the planet is too important a goal, and turning your 20-minute car commute into a one-hour three-seat ride by a bus because you kept voting against trains is a price we are willing to pay, and even if you’re not willing to pay it, we don’t need you to vote for us.

Ban cars, part 2

Self-driving cars, SUVs, and the trolley problem.

The Detroit Free Press investigation showed that NHTSA knew four years ago that the proliferation of pickups and SUVs was putting pedestrians at risk thanks to heavier vehicle weights, higher bumpers, and compromised visibility. “Pedestrians are 2-3 times more likely to suffer a fatality when struck by an SUV or pickup truck than when struck by a passenger car,” the agency concluded in 2015. Children between 5 and 9 years old had a fatality risk four times greater in collisions with light trucks and SUVs than with cars. The regulators did nothing. If another product saw its nonuser death count spike by 50 percent in 10 years, consumers would revolt and Congress would make a big show of getting to the bottom of it. Automobiles are different.

Garbage can wheels

A couple of years ago my pal Sam talked about fixing the wheel on his garbage can and how that made his life so much nicer. Not that it’s hard to take the garbage out when the wheel on the can is busted, but how much nicer is the chore when the wheel actually rolls smoothly as intended? Since he shared that story with me I’ve used “garbage can wheel” as shorthand for doing whatever small thing is required to make some other small thing in life easier.

A couple of weeks ago I had a good Garbage Can Wheel. We recently moved all three of my family’s bikes out into the shed in our backyard—great news for the inside of our house which now has loads more space not taken up by bike parking. But dang if it wasn’t annoying to walk my bike around back, go inside and get the shed key, walk back out, put my bike away, lock the shed, and walk all the way around back into the front door.

One combination lock for the shed and and a keyless deadbolt for our back door later, and now it’s easier to store bikes in the shed than it ever was to keep them inside. My living room rejoices!

The key to a good Garbage Can Wheel (and the only hard part) is actually recognizing when small annoyances can be completely eradicated with a little money, effort, or time. It’s way too easy to spend the rest of your life dragging the garbage can with the busted wheel out to the alley. You shouldn’t and don’t have to live that way! Just fix the wheel. It’ll take, like, two minutes, tops.

Just like Nicholas Quah over at Hot Pod News, I love newsletters. His plan to make a Radiotopia-inspired federation of newsletters is interesting—although you wouldn’t catch me involved in anything that shares ad sale revenue. Membership though? Maybe like Maximum Fun?

Here’s Quah’s on how the relationship with his first newsletter partner will work:

You can subscribe here. Here’s what this arrangement means, and what it doesn’t:

  • To be clear: this isn’t Hot Pod Media acquiring Cherie’s newsletter, nor is this Hot Pod formally expanding into the music vertical. Cherie will fully continue to own the Water and Music newsletter plus all the other stuff that’s attached to it: the podcast, the paying member community, and so on. On that note: Water and Music members are separate from Hot Pod Insider paid subscribers.
  • Instead, consider this the seedling of a potential independent newsletter collective. (If this sounds Radiotopia-esque, that’s intentional.) I’m helping to edit the work, manage the back-end, and grow the newsletter.
  • What’s in it for me? Well, for one thing, I get to work on a whole new topic, which would be a welcome change for me. Plus, when appropriate, I’ll syndicate some pieces on the Hot Pod newsletter, and finally, once Water and Music gets to a certain revenue size, I’ll start pocketing a small cut.

This accounting of teaching congressional campaigns about digital security is fun, interesting, and could have been written about extended family members instead of people running for Congress. Maciej Ceglpwski, the Pinboard person, is one of my favorite internet writers.

But I never found a way to get people onto 1password in a single training session. The setup process has a lot of moving parts, involving the desktop app, browser plugin, online service, mobile app, and app store. It requires repeatedly typing a long master passphrase.

And then, once it is all set up, you have to train people on the unrelated skill of how to use the thing, starting with their most sensitive accounts. And then you leave.

In the end, I told candidates to generate unique passwords and save them in the notes app on their phone, or write them down on a card they kept in their wallet. And I’d do it again!

Max and Ross Bike Things

As part of RVA Bike Month, on May 20th, my pal Max and I will lead you in, around, and through all of Richmond’s hottest transportation infrastructure—by bike! Expect entertaining banter about how all that infrastracuture came to be, what the political fights were like, and what’s in store for the future of biking and transit in the City. This tour is great for people who are just starting to learn about active and sustainable transportation in Richmond.

We’ll meet at Monroe Park at 6:00 PM, and we will end at a brewery. Bring your bike and lights. If Facebook doesn’t terrify you, you can RSVP over there.

Complaints against public institutions are always the same

This comment on an article about congestion pricing in NYC exactly mirrors the conversations we’re having in Richmond about schools funding. I’ve gone ahead and replaced “subway” with “schools” and “The MTA” with “RPS”:

Yes we need money to fix the schools. But there is no mention of accountability. How will we know that this money won’t be siphoned off to other projects the way it has been in the past? Who will be the trustworthy monitor of this money? RPS cannot be trusted. Talk about it all you want but they must somehow demonstrate trustworthiness and accountability before they get any more money.

Or, as the Superintendent puts it:

“I support RPS. I just don’t trust that the money will go where you say it’s going, or that you’ll use it effectively.” That’s the number one critique I’ve heard over the last several weeks about the Mayor’s FY20 budget proposal. Some of that distrust has its roots in biases about race and class – conscious or otherwise – that still grip Richmond. But some is grounded in our own missteps. For example, we haven’t always used our money well, and when investments havebeen made – whether public or philanthropic – it hasn’t always been clear what difference they’ve made. To those of you who distrust RPS for these reasons, I want to say as clearly as I can: I hear your frustration. We must do better and we will.

Photo Challenge, Week 14: Titles

This week’s challenge was to focus on “the story within the image.” I took this picture of the Governor’s Mansion from the Grace Street overlook in Church Hill. If I had to title it, I’d go with something like Center of Controversy.

I liked the green space surrounding and isolating the Mansion—and the man who sits inside, insufficiently repentant (outwardly, at least) about his history with blackface. The rest of the City (include the State Capitol and City Hall) goes on about its business.