East Riding Logistics
- Anne Ferro on a haul finally To all of you who ve clamored for it in commentary here, well it finally happened. Anne Ferro went out on a two-day haul with owner-operator Leo Wilkins, and David Tanner over at Land Line told the story following the haul. Wilkins took Ferro on a couple drops between Maryland and St.
Louis. (The OOIDA Life Member also happens to be one of the drivers recognized by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association with an award for his 21 years of safety at the Heart of America Trucking Show last month.) Part of what Ferro gleaned from the trip, Tanner reported, was a new perspective on the challenges the hours of service place on the driver s schedule, but also this, on spending the night in Wilkins bunk in Indianapolis as he took a hotel room: Wilkins' bunk is a lovely sleeping cabin. I looked at that and thought about what it would be like to be in a normal sleeper berth, and how difficult it is to change your clothes, how difficult it is to get fresh water, how you have to get up in the middle of the night or in the middle of your rest period to go to the bathroom at the truck stop if you don t have something like this accommodation . Read the full Land Line piece via this link.
And as for Wilkins, he was appreciative of Ferro s effort, as Tanner wrote Wilkins thoughts: Coming along with me to get a firsthand look at things, I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for doing that for me and for other truckers out there that are facing these problems. I ve learned a lot about her job and she s learned a lot about ours. Tell us what you think about the Administrator s effort in the comments.
Again, here s the full story.
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- Bi-fuel test drive: A new way into the natural gas game ... The Series 60 Detroit Diesel engine used in the test drive. The engine was refurbished and retrofitted with a bi-fuel natural gas kit from APG and Wheeltime before being dropped in a Freightliner Columbia glider. A road test and first-hand accounts of experience with natural gas retrofit fuel systems and glider kits reveal interesting possibilities for cost-minded truck fleets.
The first part of my test drive was west on I-80 out of Salt Lake City, on the level desert run that leads to the Bonneville Salt Flats. The goal then had been flat ground and little traffic to give me a feel for the truck. But now, we d doubled back and were climbing the Wasatch Mountains east of the city on I-215 leading to I-80 East toward Park City.
Here, I d get a chance to pull see some serious mountain grades and see for myself if a dual-fuel, diesel-ignited natural gas truck engine was up to hauling 44,000 pounds in this demanding terrain. As we started up the first grade, for reasons known only to Utah traffic engineers, the road suddenly began a series of winding S-turns at the same time as construction took a couple of lane options off the table. The truck was pulling well, but I grabbed another gear just to be on the safe side.
As I did, we emerged from a particularly sharp and narrow curve to behold an industrial-grade cargo cart sitting directly in the lane in front of me. This was no Dollar General shopping cart; but rather a full-blown, orange-painted steel cart with cast-iron wheels that had obviously fallen off a truck just up ahead. Hit it and your day was over.
Acting quickly, I eased my rig over to the side of the highway, watching out for four-wheelers darting and swerving all around me. After a couple of dicey seconds riding the median, I eased the truck back onto the highway and continued my climb. I mention the incident with the cargo cart not because there was anything special about how I dealt with the situation: It was an unpleasant few seconds during the drive but nothing special in the world of truck driving.
Rather, the cart was significant because it was the most remarkable thing that occurred during my test drive of the Freightliner Columbia I was driving that day. And that s not a slam against the truck. But rather a vindication that this rig, a glider kit fitted with a refurbished diesel engine that itself was retrofitted with an American Power Group (APG) natural gas fuel system, had performed exactly as the folks at APG, the Wheel Time Group and Smith Power, the manufacturer of the truck, had assured me it would.
What lies beneath Last year, I reported on the partnership founded between a cabal of glider kit builders, sales and support provider Wheel Time, natural-gas supplier Blu and APG to introduce the concept of natural gas glider kits to the North American trucking industry. The concept is simple: Fleets wishing to find an affordable way to get into the natural gas fuel game can spec glider kits with retrofit fuel systems and save as much as $40,000 on the vehicle compared to purchasing a new, dedicated natural gas truck. A further enticement for fleets, the argument goes, is that fleets can spec older, pre-EPA emissions (EGR) engines to power these trucks and enjoy more reliable power and serviceability in the bargain.
The Freightliner Cascadia driven in the drive test. My test rig on that blustery Utah morning was a perfect example. The rig was a gleaming white 2014 Freightliner Columbia daycab truck.
On the outside, even seasoned industry veterans would be unable to tell that this truck is anything other than a brand-new Freightliner ready to go to work. Climbing up into the cab, that reaction is further reinforced: The interior still had a factory-fresh smell with full, modern instrumentation and gauges, mirrors and ergonomics. Because the truck had been spec d as a regional-haul daycab, its interior appointments were pretty basic.
But if you wanted to upgrade the interior with the latest Daimler diagnostic and telematics systems, it wouldn t be a problem at all. It was underneath the hood and cab where the real differences this tractor offered were to be found. Pulling the hood forward revealed not the new, SCR-equipped DD12 you could reasonably expect to see sitting there.
Instead I was greeted with a concrete-gray, 1996-vintage Series 60 Detroit Diesel engine. Basically, glider kits take advantage of a quirky little loophole in truck manufacturing laws that allow fleets to purchase a truck with a brand-new cab and chassis, fitted with a recycled or refurbished drivetrain. The additional twist, thrown into the mix by APG, Wheeltime and their partners is that their rebuilt powertrains receive the further addition of a natural gas fuel and tank system.
The system manages the flow of the two fuels to the engine, using diesel both as the ignition source in the combustion chamber and as a power boost in situations demanding higher torque from the engine. So, when the truck is just getting rolling or climbing a steep mountain grade, the system supplies larger amounts of diesel to the engine (up to 50 percent of the fuel supplied, depending on road and terrain conditions) and then dials that ratio back as engine load demands decrease. So, on my flat run heading west, the engine was using a minimum of diesel only a little shot to initiate combustion while the cheaper natural gas kept the wheels turning.
Later, in the mountains, the system delivered a significantly higher percentage of diesel to the combustion mix to make sure I had plenty of power on hand to deal with the road I was on. It s a slick system that works surprisingly well. On the road, the truck handles and drives exactly as one expects: it is, after all, a brand-new truck.
The only indications that something unusual is going are an electronic fuel system monitor on the dash, which tells the driver what the diesel to natural gas fuel ratio is. The second indication is the noise level in the cab. Although the truck is new, remember that it has a 20-year engine under the hood.
And although that engine is also brand-new, for all practical purposes, and has received several technological upgrades in the course of the refurbishing process it went through, it is still a noticeably louder engine that new ones that come out of the factories today. So some more pronounced drivetrain noise is to be expected. On the other hand, if you re a fan of older engines like the Series 60, it s a good bet that you re more than happy to trade off a little more ambient cab noise for the chance to run those engines again. (To be fair, the work engine makers have done over the reduce noise levels emitted by heavy-duty diesel engines is unprecedented and largely goes unsung and unrecognized by the general public and even many fleets and drivers.
Additionally, it should be noted that drivetrain noise decreases somewhat as the amount of diesel fuel being delivered to the engine falls off. So the truck is noticeably quieter when running predominantly on natural gas.) Most important of all, of course, is the performance of the fuel system in real-world driving conditions; which was why my hosts in Salt Lake were so eager for me to drive the truck in the mountains to the east of the city. And, again, as my earlier cart-in-the-road story testified, the dual-fuel system delivered in spades.
The glider kit pulled as well as any truck on the highway. We were loaded with about 44,000 pounds in the box and had no problem dealing with any of the grades up to 6 in percent in some areas that we encountered. This is a system that works on behalf of fleets and drivers to get the job done.
See Part 2 of this series Monday.
- Bike, Large Truck Deaths Soar As Total Traffic Fatalities Drop Deaths of bicyclists and occupants of large trucks rose sharply last year even as total traffic fatalities dropped to their lowest level since 1949, federal safety officials said Monday. Bicyclist deaths jumped 8.7 percent and deaths of occupants of large trucks increased 20 percent, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an analysis of 2011 traffic deaths. Overall traffic fatalities dropped 1.9 percent, to 32,367.
The decline came as the number of miles driven by motorists dropped by 1.2 percent. Last year also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2011, down from 1.11 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010. The increase in bicycle deaths probably reflects more people riding bicycles to work and for pleasure, said Jonathan Adkins, deputy executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, which represents state highway safety agencies.
Washington, D.C., for example, reports a 175 percent increase in bicyclists during morning and evening rush hours since 2004. The city also tripled its bike lane network during the same period. Our culture is beginning to move away from driving and toward healthier and greener modes of transportations, Adkins said.
We need to be able to accommodate all these forms of transportation safely. The increase in deaths of large-truck occupants is more puzzling, but may be due to more trucks returning to the road as the economy improves, he said. There are more questions than answers about what is occurring here, Adkins said.
NHTSA said the agency is working with the Federal Motor Carrier Administration to gather more information to better understand the reason for the increase. Industry officials suspect there may be a connection between states increasing their speed limits and the increase in deaths, Sean McNally, a spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, said. Texas, for example, recently increased the speed limit 85 mph on Highway 130 between Austin and San Antonio, the fastest in the nation, he noted.
Congress passed a transportation bill earlier this year that directs NHTSA to study how well large trucks protect their occupants in crashes. Motorcycle deaths also rose 2.1 percent, marking the 13th time in the last 14 years that motorcycle rider deaths have risen. Despite the overall progress in 2011, preliminary crash data for this year shows that motor vehicle deaths and injuries are trending upward again, Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Copyright 2012 Associated Press.
All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Buying a Horse Farm on East coast-where would you go? May.
14, 2011, 04:31 PM #1 Buying a Horse Farm on East coast-where would you go? Question-If you had the funds to purchase a small horse farm anywhere on the East Coast area, where would you go? I want to take into consideration the weather (hurricanes, tornados, floods, etc) as well as the availability of good hay (no more trucking in hay from up north) as well as NO snow or just a little.
I was asked this question by a friend and I picked North Carolina or possibly South Carolina. I did not pick Florida due to the heat of the summer and Virginia was out because of the snow issue. What do you guys think?
Keep in mind...normal is just a dryer setting.~anonymous May.
14, 2011, 05:14 PM #2 May.
14, 2011, 05:26 PM #3 May.
14, 2011, 05:27 PM #4 Tabor City, NC! Because I know someone with a horse farm for sale there. Srsly, though, it's not a bad place to be.
Property values are reasonable, but you're only a couple of hours' haul from Southern Pines or Camden. And only 25 minutes from me! Yes, one feeds coastal bermuda here.
Otherwise, it's expensive. First Light Farm C r a y o l a posse ~ Maize May.
14, 2011, 05:33 PM #5 I looked at a map of the US, ruled out anywhere that had snow (been there, done that), tons of rain, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes (been there, done that), and anywhere that was more comfortable for a crocodile than a human being. I was pretty much left with North Carolina (inland, away from the coast) and South Carolina.
Came to Aiken, SC one weekend, bought a farm, and never looked back! Absolutely love it here! You're entitled to your own opinion, not your own facts!
14, 2011, 05:33 PM #6 May.
14, 2011, 06:50 PM #7 May.
14, 2011, 06:54 PM #8 You might seriously take a look in the Ocala/Williston areas of Florida. Horse Country for sure. Probably not a bit hotter than in the Carolinas and guaranteed to be nicer in the winter months.
There are so many wonderful places that can be had cheaply too. "My treasures do not sparkle or glitter, they shine in the sunlight and nicker to me in the night" May.
14, 2011, 07:02 PM #9 Virginia was out because of the snow issue. What do you guys think? VA - Snow?!
I grew up in WA State - where there was on average 3+ feet of snow a winter. We still got to the shows even in the winter. When I moved to VA, it was like a dream come true.
I've lived in both Charlottesville and outside of Lynchburg, and I can remember getting maybe 12 inches tops of snow, and it usually was gone within a week. If I ever have enough money, I'd love a farmette outside Charlottesville - probably out towards Keswick or in Ivy. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~Coth's Resident Deatheater~ May.
14, 2011, 07:07 PM #10 May.
14, 2011, 08:04 PM #11 You might seriously take a look in the Ocala/Williston areas of Florida. Horse Country for sure.
Probably not a bit hotter than in the Carolinas and guaranteed to be nicer in the winter months. There are so many wonderful places that can be had cheaply too. I second this.
I've lived in Maryland and it was just as hot there in the summer as it is here in Ocala. There are friends and faces that may be forgotten, but there are horses that never will be. - Andy Adams May.
14, 2011, 08:32 PM #12 Tennessee has an added advantage, no personal income tax Yeah, but sales tax is 9-1/2 to 9-3/4 percent depending on where you settle. And NE Tennessee has probably changed from years ago.
We lived there from 2000 to 2006 and I was thrilled to see it for the last time in my rearview mirror. Lots of drugs, meth especially, and lots of drunks, pregnant teenagers, and illiterate fat adults. Check out the "people of Walmart" site, there's a lot of them from the Tennessee area and I know exactly at which Walmart they were taking pictures.
Very clannish, too, we never fit in no matter how hard we tried to dumb ourselves down. And you really need to be Baptist to live there, preferably the snake-handling kind. We left Tennessee in July (the day after my birthday to be exact, best birthday ever) and it was hotter in Fall Branch, TN, than it was in Live Oak, FL, where we lived for 2 years before relocating to the Ocala area.
Love it here. Always something horsey to do, lots of trails to ride, shows to attend (polo tomorrow is free to watch!), not real cold in the winter (we saw some teens but it warms right back up) and only a couple months of really hot weather in the summer. Florida has no state income tax either and sales tax in Marion County is only 6 percent.
And we have Silver Springs with the glass-bottom boats! If there's one thing that I've learned from all this living, Is that it wouldn't change a thing if I let go - Jimmy Buffett May.
14, 2011, 09:33 PM #13 Yeah, but sales tax is 9-1/2 to 9-3/4 percent depending on where you settle. ! that is why so many people are moving to Texas, no personal income tax, state sells tax 6.25% to 8.25% (none on food) May.
14, 2011, 11:22 PM #14 "I refuse to engage in a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed."--Pogo May.
14, 2011, 11:31 PM #15 VA - Snow?! I grew up in WA State - where there was on average 3+ feet of snow a winter. Good lord, where in the world did you live in WA state?
I've lived her for 30 years and we've only ever gotten a few inches every other year or so (with a few exception years). I can't imagine where you'd be to get several feet unless you were up in the mountains??? In regards to the OP.....I'm headed to NC as soon as we can sell our farm here in Seattle.
I kept ruling states out based on weather and the potential for natural catastrophe and finally settled on NC. Though I just spent a week in SC and certainly wouldn't rule it out if it weren't for the fact that the majority of the employees I manage are in the Raleigh area. It should be noted, though, that my ruling out process involved a lot of assumptions based on not a whole lot.
14, 2011, 11:52 PM #16 I just took a trip south to check out locales (most suggested in several pages here on COTH) in April. Since I follow horse racing, and also seek to get back to H/J owning some time, I went from Lexington to the Carolinas, to Northern VA. Lexington was, of course, beautiful with endless breeding farms, although I checked out racing farms vs.
riding - didn't see too many convenient places for casual riding while there. Lots of very narrow roads that I'd be scared to ride a bike on, let alone ride along. But of course you'd have the best in vets, supplies, etc. - and I didn't really investigate many small towns.
I briefly visited Aiken and Tryon NC. Aiken is beautiful, but very exclusive and pricey. An historians dream, and of course there's the park in town.
I loved Tryon, but I'm a small town girl. Fairly out in the middle of nowhere, it seemed, but endless horse farms, and the prices seemed very reasonable. In fact I'm wondering what's the catch except for the remoteness.
The hay mentioned above might be a clue? Wonder how the vets are. The spring tornadoes struck just as I was returning, but they wound around the NC/SC areas I was in, and tore up eastern NC, and along SW VA.
I also visited Northern VA - Middleburg, The Plains, Berryville. Growing fast, exclusive, but amazing hunt country. My sister lives in nearby Winchester.
She is moving back to NY, but she is not a horse person, and a bit of a homebody, so doesn't work for her. I am from central upstate New York, but have ridden and shown at barns in the Capital District/Saratoga area, as well as the Syracuse area. Winters up here are tough but Albany is milder than Syracuse.
This year was downright awful, although the worst is when there's lots of ice - all we had to deal with this year was volumes of fluffy snow - 173" in Syracuse (4th worst on record - av. is 111.8"), and 87.2" in Albany (av. is 62").
However, lots of boarding facilities have indoors attached to the stables, and riding and showing all year is typical. DPWs are used to dealing with the snow. Syracuse has very reasonable housing as well.
And I've always thought the trainers available are excellent in both areas. And as mentioned above, still plenty of farmland so reasonable hay prices. Vet service is excellent near Syracuse and Albany/Saratoga - not so much in between where I live now.
I have good friends in both places, but this winter really has me thinking twice about remaining in NY State. NY has tornado warnings, but any actual tornadoes usually do little. One wound through here 10 years ago, mostly winding through a couple of farms and a small airport.
One touched down west of here a few days after the southern ones, but haven't heard of any real damage. Finally sig other lives in Maine, and I've been a regular visitor there the past 4 years. Some good barns, but the cost of living, including housing, boarding and riding, at least around Southern Maine, is pretty steep.
I was given a retired OTTB this year, and could board and train him in Syracuse for $400 +$200 training - Maine began at $800+. And most shows, from what I understand, are a haul. Portland is a neat town to live in - outstanding restaurants, lots of conveniences for a small city, and still quaint New England, but many Bostonians, NYers, etc.
have found it, too. Lots of snow, and often ice damage is an issue in Maine. I don't feel the utilities are as well maintained there - power, phone, cable.
Sig other has had more power outages in his seaside place than I have had out in the middle of nowhere in NY. I'm intrigued by the mention of maritime Canada above. Visited New Brunswick this fall - beautiful, and family goes back to ancestors there.
I avoided visiting FL in my trip as I just assumed it was too hot in the summer. Maybe I'll think twice and check out Ocala some day. Good luck with your decision.
I read every one of these threads about where to go. May.
15, 2011, 12:04 AM #17 I think it is hard to narrow it down without knowing specifically what you want to do with your horses. I'm from Virginia hunt country, but absolutely love the Southern Pines area.
A little bit to the north is agreat town called Pittsboro. I had clients that lived there. It is near enough to Raleigh/Durham but has a great small town with some class feel.
They had cute little shops and some great restaurants. It is still going to be hotter than blazes in the summer, and instead of snow you get ice storms!!! I learned everything I know from a chestnut mare so don't even try me.
15, 2011, 12:06 AM #18 May.
15, 2011, 12:10 AM #19 May.
15, 2011, 08:08 AM #20 Finally sig other lives in Maine, and I've been a regular visitor there the past 4 years. Some good barns, but the cost of living, including housing, boarding and riding, at least around Southern Maine, is pretty steep. I was given a retired OTTB this year, and could board and train him in Syracuse for $400 +$200 training - Maine began at $800+.
And most shows, from what I understand, are a haul. Portland is a neat town to live in - outstanding restaurants, lots of conveniences for a small city, and still quaint New England, but many Bostonians, NYers, etc. have found it, too.
Lots of snow, and often ice damage is an issue in Maine. I don't feel the utilities are as well maintained there - power, phone, cable. Sig other has had more power outages in his seaside place than I have had out in the middle of nowhere in NY.
I live in mid-coast Maine, and, depending on what you want for a horse life, it doesn't have to be $800+. Of course, if you don't want to deal with any snow then New England is probably not a good option. I pay $300 a month for 24/7 turnout with a shed.
My BO offers discounted lessons for boarders at $30 for 45 min-an hour. Full training is $300 on top of board, but she offers partial training, too, such as riding your horse either 2 or 3 times a week. I agree that cost of living is high here, although hay is relatively inexpensive compared to some of the prices I've seen posted here on CoTH.
We pay 3.50-4.00 a bale for good grass hay. You can find lots of small barn boarding opportunities, and some good deals on properties where you can keep your horse at home. Certain areas are more prone to power outages in the winter, it truly depends on whether you are in an area that gets more ice and high winds or not.
An indoor arena is a must if you have real competitive goals, but I also know some competitive trail types who ride all winter on snowmobile trails. Oh, and it is a haul to anything but schooling type dressage shows, which are fairly numerous and in many locations. I think if I wanted to stay in New England I might check out western Massachussetts.
From visits I've made there they get a real spring a good 6 weeks earlier than we do in Maine.
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- California High Speed Rail Blog Should LA Spend $3.5 Billion to ... Today s Long Beach Press-Telegram has a long and detailed and quite good article on the current status of the ancient debate over the 710 extension. The latest concept is to bore two tunnels under South Pasadena at a cost of at least $3.5 billion. But is it even necessary?
Especially when there s a screaming need for more passenger rail investment? The article does a good job of laying out the terms of debate if the 710 extension is built, would it help complete the regional freeway network, or would it become just another clogged SoCal freeway? South Pasadena mayor Michael Cacciotti argues the latter, and he has evidence to support him: Cacciotti, also a board member for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said Caltrans 1993 completion of the Century (105) Freeway in the South Bay is a prime example of what could happen on the 710.
Within two weeks of opening it was bumper to bumper in rush hour, he said. Traffic patterns move to the open areas. And the same thing happened with the Foothill (210) Freeway when it was extended from La Verne to the 215 in San Bernardino, Cacciotti said.
In 2009, Iteris, a Orange County- based traffic consultant group, conducted a survey called the I-710 Missing Link Truck Study. Released only in draft form, the study seems to back up Cacciotti s claim. Commissioned by the Southern California Association of Governments, Iteris consultants found that fully half of 18 trucking companies surveyed indicated they would use the 710 extension route for trucking operations.
Cacciotti argues for building light rail along the corridor instead, which makes sense remove the passenger trips and leave the freeway to trucks going to and from the port, which is a major source of traffic on the 710 as it is. And already there is rail service from Long Beach to Pasadena via the Blue and Gold lines, a trip the Downtown Connector would make even quicker and easier. But even turning the 710 into a de facto truck freeway may not be the most effective use of money or the best way to move goods.
The answer instead could be rail: Improvements to rail, which carries two-thirds of the items from the port out of the Los Angeles County basin will be the key to moving goods more efficiently, according to Michael Christensen, deputy executive director of the Port Of Los Angeles. Port of Los Angeles officials say they are turning to the Alameda Corridor East project as the solution to freight congestion rather than installing north-south train tracks through existing neighborhoods. The Alameda Corridor East is essentially a pathway from the ports followed by eastbound trains along the 710 corridor to the 60 Freeway and into San Bernardino County and beyond.
For the most part it runs parallel to the 10 and the 60 between both. The ACE project aims to update west-to-east rail lines to accommodate communities along its path. It will also add a second rail line to increase efficiency.
We re providing a larger artery for the increased volume, said ACE board Chairman David Gutierrez. This project has been identified as not only a project of regional significance but also of national significance. BNSF is also building a major new rail yard near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which according to the company would take 1.5 million trucks off the 710 Freeway.
The Alameda Corridor East project, modeled on the successful north-south Alameda Corridor rail project completed about ten years ago, combined with other rail improvements would help address the goods movement issue. Many of the goods offloaded at the port are handled in warehouses in the Inland Empire, and the Alameda Corridor East would help trains get to those warehouses more easily. That seems a much more sound use of money than building two large bored tunnels underneath South Pasadena.
The article points out that the model for those freeway tunnels is Seattle s Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel, an extremely controversial project that has yet to begin tunneling. Uncertainty remains about whether it will be built without cost overruns, and last week it emerged that a lot of traffic might avoid the tunnel altogether if tolls were set at rates needed to help pay for the project. It s not at all clear to me that the 710 extension is a good use of money.
Investments in new transportation infrastructure in California ought to be focused on rail, for both passengers and freight.
It s time to stop wasting billions on freeway lanes that will just get clogged with cars while the need to invest in clean, reliable, fast passenger rail continues to grow.
- Case Study: How We Improved Landing Page Conversions by 79.3% It took us 6 rounds of tests until we landed on a variation that was doing 79.3% better than the version our client had before coming to us. Background TruckersReport is a network of professional truck drivers, connected by a trucking industry forum. It s a great community for drivers to share information and assist in each others careers.
I guess it s what you would call a niche site but that niche is bringing TruckersReport over 1,000,000 visits each month (close to 5 million pageviews). One of the services they provide to their community is helping truck drivers find better job opportunities. Truck drivers fill out a one-time online resume and then choose between offers from pre-screened trucking companies.
This was the landing page they had, our starting point: This landing page was converting at 12.1% (email opt-ins). What followed after the initial landing page was a 4-step online resume building flow. The primary task at hand was to increase landing page conversions to widen the funnel at the top but also to increase overall funnel conversions.
Analysis In addition to heuristic analysis, we analyzed the current page using Google Analytics, set up mouse tracking data collection (click data, scroll maps, attention heat maps) and started to record user session videos via SessionCam. Next, we wanted to understand the audience better. We ran an online survey using Google Docs with the goal to get in the head of the truck drivers.
Why were they looking for a new job? What matters the most about truck driving jobs, and what were the main motivators? What were their main hesitations and questions when considering a new job offer?
These were the top factors what we focused on: Mobile visits (smartphones + tablets) formed about 50% of the total traffic. Truck drivers were using the site while on the road! > Need responsive design Weak headline, no benefit > Need a better headline that includes a benefit, addresses main pain-points or wants Cheesy stock photo, the good old handshake > Need a better photo that people would relate to Simple, but boring design that might just look too basic and amateur > Improve the design to create better first impressions Lack of proof, credibility > Add some Drivers wanted 3 things the most: better pay, more benefits and more home time. Other things in the list were better working hours, well-maintained equipment, respect from the employer.
Many were jaded by empty promises and had negative associations with recruiters. Armed with these insights, we proceeded. New design This was the new, fully responsive, design we created.
We didn t want to change the layout dramatically. We wanted to better isolate user issues. Heat maps and user session replay videos showed that the previous layout worked well in terms of usability.
Why this layout: Prominent headline that would be #1 in visual hierarchy Explanatory paragraph right underneath to explain what the page is about Large background images tend to work well as attention-grabbers Warm, smiling people that look you in the eye also help with attention Left side of the screen gets more attention, so we kept copy on the left As per Gutenberg diagram, bottom right is the terminal area, so that explains the form and call to action placement. In the process we also re-designed the funnel steps (also fully responsive). Tests Test #1 Hypothesis: Fewer form fields = less friction and hassle to fill out the form, resulting in more conversions.
Results: The control beat the variation by 13.56%. Insights: Although short forms usually outperform long forms, this did not apply here. More testing is needed to figure out why.
Hypothesis: added fields give more credibility or add relevancy, a plain e-mail field can look spammy . Test #2: Hypothesis: Copy that addresses most common problems truck drivers are facing, using the the wording they actually use (taken from the customer survey) will resonate better with the audience. We crafted a new headline + bullet points full of benefits and addressed other stuff that came up in the survey.
Results: While there was no difference in landing page opt-ins, there was a 21.7% difference in the bottom of the funnel conversions original won. People lured in by big promises were less motivated to go through the whole 5-step funnel. Insights: Short, straight-to-the point language can work.
Too many promises can look like a hype, or attract the wrong kind of people. Test #3 In the first 2 tests, the average conversion rates had been similar to the original landing page. But since traffic is ever-changing, we decided to test the original landing page vs.
the new landing page to make sure the design was enhancing the site. In addition, we wanted to test the absence of a job match page. By default people who completed the opt-in, landed on this page, which had some animation on it that made people feel progress in the background: The idea behind having this page was to help boost bottom of the funnel conversions.
Google Anaytics showed us that there was a 10.8% drop-off rate on this page. So we wanted to test whether losing those people would have a negative impact. Results: Variation #1 (new landing page) resulted in 21.7% more opt-ins than the control at 99.7% confidence level, and 24% more signups from the whole funnel.
Job match page did not help improve bottom of the funnel conversions, so we decided to remove it. Test #4 We wanted to test more headlines. Contestants: Original: Get a truck driving job with better pay .
Straightforward. Question: Looking for a truck driving job with better pay? The idea here is the notion that people always answer questions in their mind when they read a question.
3 main benefits: Better Pay. More Benefits. Respect for drivers.
These benefits came from the survey as the 3 most important priorities to the audience. But you are free: You can get a driving job with better pay. But, of course, you are free to choose.
The psychological phenomenon of autonomy is at play here and is widely researched to increase persuasiveness. Results: Control outperformed all the variations. The original headline won the second best variation You are free to choose by 16.2%.
Insight: A simple, straightforward approach works best for this audience. So the question is how can we use this insight to make the page even simpler? Test #5 Building on the simple insight from the previous test, we created a shorter, simpler version of the page: Results: Variation #1 with a shorter page layout and less copy outperformed the control and resulted in 21.5% more opt-ins at a 99.6% confidence level.
Insight: Learnings from previous tests proved to be right shorter layout and less copy resulted in more opt-ins. How can we now make it even simpler? Test #6 We had many different hypotheses on how to simplify the page even more.
New design that s built from the get go for a more compact layout. Better content presentation typically helps. Remove all fields but the email field (the only mandatory field).
Less fields typically helps. Get rid of the name field and make the email field the last one. The idea here is for people to start with easy fields (dropdowns), its easier to get going, and by the time they reach the hard field email the user is thinking oh well I already started (a known psychological phenomenon called commitment and consistency by Cialdini), so we d be riding on momentum.
Results: Variation #3 with no name field and email as the last field resulted in 44.7% more opt-ins at a 99.9% confidence level. We achieved a 21.7% conversion rate (the margin of error was 1.48% but no overlap with the ranges of other variations occurred) which is 79.3% is better than the initial landing page we started to work on. Conclusion: Testing is an iterative process When you start testing a page, don t test just once and move on to testing other parts of the site.
Don t think of the process as one-off tests, but as testing campaigns. Learn from each test, make sure you send test data to Google Analytics and segment the results (I didn t go into details with this here), and keep iterating. Use insights from previous tests to drive upcoming tests.
You won t know what matters until you test it. Have a lot of patience. If we had only tested the control vs.
the new landing page we wouldn t have reached 79.3% and we re just getting started.
VN:F 1.9.22_1171 Rating: 5.0/ 5 (10 votes cast) Case Study: How We Improved Landing Page Conversions by 79.3% , 5.0 out of 5 based on 10 ratings
- Cyclist sues truck driver after log strikes him in the head MARSHALL After a cyclist was struck in the head by a log, he filed a lawsuit against the truck driver and the company claiming the driver was at fault for not properly trimming the logs. Phillip Christopher Haltom filed suit against David Paul Weaver and Murphy Bros. Trucking and Construction on Aug.
15 in the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division. The accident occurred on Oct.
4, 2012, as Haltom and his wife were riding bicycles down FM 249 in Cass County near Bloomberg. Defendant Weaver, while driving an 18-wheeler that was hauling logs, attempted to pass Haltom.
According to the lawsuit, the logs were not trimmed properly and a portions of the logs hit Haltom in the back of the head causing him to wreck. The defendants are accused of negligence for failing to properly trim and haul the load of logs, failing to assure the no logs were dangerously being carried outside the rig s trailer, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to properly share the road with a bicyclist, failing to yield the right of way, failing to control speed, failing to timely apply the rig s brakes, operating the rig in an unsafe manner and for driver inattention. The plaintiff is seeking an award of damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, physical impairment, physical disability, mental anguish, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, interest and court costs.
Haltom is represented by Matthew F. Golden of Cochran & Golden PLLC in Texarkana. A jury trial is requested.
- Feeling Congested: Does Toronto Suffer From The Moscow ... The City of Toronto s consultations about transportation plans and financing continued on the evening of March 4, 2013, with a panel discussion at the St. Lawrence Centre. The 500-seat Jane Mallett Theatre was packed for the event, and had been sold out for several days in advance.
The participants were: Matt Galloway, host of CBC s Metro Morning , as moderator Jennifer Keesmaat, Chief Planner of Toronto Larry Beasley, retired Chief Planner for Vancouver, keynote speaker Carol Wilding, president and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade Councillor Peter Milczyn, chair of Toronto s Planning & Growth Management Committee and member of the Toronto Transit Commission Councillor Michael Thompson, chair of Toronto s Economic Development Committee John Howe, Vice-President, Investment Strategy and Project Evaluation at Metrolinx The most newsworthy comments of the evening were a clear break by the two Councillors, both members of Mayor Ford s Executive Committee, with the Mayor s position on financing transit. Michael Thompson stated that getting rid of the Vehicle Registration Tax was a mistake , and Peter Milczyn stated that Council (by implication with or without the Mayor) would approve a suite of tools to generate the needed revenue. The message that the people are ahead of the politicians on transit financing, first raised by Carol Wilding, was a consistent theme.
5, 2013 at 11:10 am: Although Larry Beasley s thesis was that Moscow was trapped in an inescapable hole caused by decades of inaction on transit investment, this information appears to be out of date. As one commenter here has noted, since the arrival of a new mayor and the availability of petrodollars, a lot has been happening. This can also be seen by a cursory trip around the internet looking at the Moscow system.
Yes, the hole they have to dig out of was very deep, but they re trying. Toronto has not yet really acknowledged the effort needed not just to arrest the decline, but to make up for decades when transit wasn t important enough beyond fighting over a vanity subway line or two. Introduction Jennifer Keesmaat led off with an introductory talk about the City s review of its Official Plan and the critical issue of how to finance transit.
As already reported here in a previous article, Phase 1 of the process runs to the end of March when staff will recommend to Council the tools that should be endorsed as part of the regional Metrolinx Investment Strategy. Phase 2 will follow with identification of priority projects and refinement of policies. Phase 3 will produce the recommended project list and link reduction of congestion to funding tools.
All of this will take place, in theory, by the beginning of 2014. Keesmaat is still touting the standard argument that reduction of congestion is the goal, but we have known ever since The Big Move was published by Metrolinx that the best we can hope for is to manage congestion and the effects of growth, not eliminate it. She also raised the question of goods movement and the role of the road network.
This is an undercurrent in many discussions, and could be a Trojan horse used by advocates of car-oriented projects. What is still missing is a recognition that the balance between roads, transit, cycling and pedestrians varies across the city, and the presence of a 16-lane expressway in one part of town does not imply that entire city should be bulldozed in the name of faster trucking. Indeed, the trucking needs vary from one area to another, and the densely developed residential and commercial areas do not have the same needs as an industrial park.
Keesmaat noted that Toronto has been successful in directing growth to areas identified in the Official Plan. That s good as far as it goes, but this misses two key points. First, many of those areas would have grown anyhow whether the OP flagged them or not.
Second, the OP may have identified transit corridors and hoped to sustain growth with new routes, but in fact Toronto has built little to support the premise that transit will be integral to the City s growth. The most flagrant example is on the waterfront, but we also risk increased density on major corridors without a commitment to increased transit service or infrastructure. This inactivity feeds directly into public skepticism about new transit plans.
Keesmaat noted that growth should be directed, and land use should be organized to reduce the need for movement be it commuting for work and education, or to leisure activities. However, changing existing land use and travel patterns on that scale takes a generation or more, and the established city is self-reinforcing. Downtown is and will remain downtown.
Universities will not move to new locations to suit the convenience of transit planners or the aspirations of every municipality. Industrial uses will remain where they have good transportation, almost certainly road-oriented. The Feeling Congested website has had over 10,000 hits and there have been 6,000 responses to its questionnaire. (The hit count seems rather low considering that a site like mine goes through that many in less than a week.
The number may actually refer to unique visitors.) Keesmaat reported that feedback from consultations shows that people want a clear link between new revenue and actual building, and that improvement of the travel experience (for which read quality and quantity of service) must improve. The site remains open for responses until March 15. Keesmaat concluded by saying that there is an enormous appetite for tangible outcomes , and that people want more pleasure in their everyday lives.
Keynote Larry Beasley echoed the mood of the evening in saying that it s about time we have this conversation, and then launched into a defense of land use planning as the best way to plan transit. Proximity is the best solution with diversity in choices of modes for movement. People will choose their travel mode trip by trip, but policies should encourage and support movement by walking, cycling, transit, goods movement and last by automobile.
There will be less space for cars, but they won t disappear. He lauded what Toronto has already done with its directed growth (see above), increased densities, strong transit ridership and high cost recovery (which Beasley sees as a mark of a health transit system, not of a skinflint collection of funding partners). Toronto has a very different transportation problem than other North American cities, one that is harder to cope with, and Beasley calls this the Moscow syndrome .
Beasley has worked in that city in its attempt to come to grips with rising transit demand and strangling congestion, but Moscow faces the result of 20 years during which nothing was invested in the system after the fall of the Soviet system. The transit network has very high daily ridership, the urban structure encourages walking and transit trips, but things are coming apart at the seams. A trip to the airport takes three hours in traffic, and crowd control measures are needed on the transit system.
There is not enough money for any projects, and governments have been in a collective denial about the scope of the problem. There are universal truths transportation needs cannot be sustained just on automobiles. Auto investment leads to increased use, and in Moscow s economic climate, to exponential growth.
Failure to invest leads to a decline in transit s attractiveness and falling riding, and the longer this persists, the harder it is to catch up. Moscow planners have no idea how to get control of the situation. The dysfunctional network makes the city less competitive and economic development incentives don t work because they cannot overcome fundamental transportation problems.
Moscow offers a lesson to Toronto. We are not as far down this path, but the symptoms are there for anyone to see. Moscow s experience confirms that this is not about choosing one funding source, but all that are available.
The debate will be over timing and ordering of new revenues (some are easier to implement both organizationally and politically), what Beasley called a choreography of spending . There are basic consumer trends that must be recognized: People have a high expectation of what they will consume, that they have a good experience, and that service (in this case) transit must be there. Who provides it is secondary to its actually existing.
People are fed up with government s loss of control. People will avoid what they don t have to pay for, but will pay for what they want. People will pay up front if they have a guarantee of delivery at the promised quality.
People will always compare new costs with what they face now and will regard new transit spending (at a presumed $600/person/year) as not that big a deal . People want to be involved in the decisions. Beasley had a set of recommendations for Toronto: We must go further to get integrated planning across the region and across transportation modes.
Citizens must be involved for widespread understanding and acceptance of plans. There must be an air tight guarantee of directed spending, and a citizens bill of rights for mobility. Key decisions should be made directly by the electorate.
Direct democracy is messy and should be saved for fundamental issues. There needs to be advocacy for new plans including information on the effect of doing nothing or of various approaches to balance between modes. Trust in the wisdom of the people and engage them in the debate.
Beasley noted that extra charges could be used to discourage unwanted practices, while discounts could be used as incentives for desired behaviours. He then undercut his own thesis by proposing that the wealthy could buy the right to park and this revenue could be used to subsidize transit for the needy. Density bonusing could be formally on sale with extra revenues going to fund transit investment.
Well, no. If parking is bad, it does not matter whether you can buy your way to paradise. As for density, if your Official Plan says that an area should grow at a certain density, then buying your way out of that constraint makes the planning irrelevant.
Moreover, fast turnover of land near new transit lines is not guaranteed as we have seen in Toronto. This is not just a question of bad planning by Toronto (look at the long-dormant Etobicoke Centre at the six points, or the lack of development around the Spadina subway), but of the basic fact that the market builds where there is a demand and a profit to be made. Toronto must plot out a pro-active strategy and plan for growth or we will not stay as an A-league city .
Toronto has to pay for what it needs. There may be some money in budgetary savings and waste , but this is nowhere near enough. New money is needed, and Toronto should borrow now against future revenue to deliver improvements quickly.
Get on with the job, and flag anyone who stalls the process and the cost of delay. The Panel Discussion Matt Galloway directed a series of questions to the panel. To Carol Wilding: What has the Board of Trade been doing?
Public engagement has been ongoing for over a year, and the public, including the business community, is ahead of the politicians who may be unwilling to seize the issue. People are fed up with policy zigzags , constant changes of direction, and there is a real sophistication in understanding issues and costs. Galloway replied that polls show that huge numbers of people don t know what is going on with planning.
Wilding observed that there is a range of understanding but people are ready for decisions. To John Howe: Nobody knows what The Big Move is. Metrolinx is a young agency, only five years old, but they have an integrated plan.
What is needed is a better communications job, and a desire to think and act as a region. Galloway again: but many don t know about this. Howe: we are building already and we need to sell what we are doing.
At this point I must offer an observation of my own. Metrolinx repeatedly trots out the $16-billion in projects now underway as an example that things are happening . The problem is that the majority of this money has not yet been spent and there is some concern whether the first tier of projects will all be built, or at least funded from general revenues as originally announced, thanks to ongoing deferral of actual spending by Queen s Park.
As for the individual projects, a great deal of this is out of sight to most people. The Spadina subway extension, a project launched before Metrolinx even existed, has major construction effects on the areas through which it passes, but is otherwise of little concern to most of the GTHA. The Eglinton LRT project has not progressed beyond construction of the access pit at Black Creek Drive.
Construction at Union Station is a constant reminder for GO Transit riders and for people who work or travel near Front and Bay, but is unknown beyond there. Work on the Union Pearson Express affects those along the corridor, but few others. Work on busways in Mississauga and in York Region similarly affects the immediate vicinity of the works, but nobody else.
The GTHA is a big place, and if we were to draw a map showing where work is actually underway and visible, there would be a lot of white space. To Jennifer Keesmaat: The same issue a large number of people don t know what s going on. The City s consultation rounds are intended to get the message out, and talk about the City s role and its future.
Movement must be refined around pedestrians, cycling and transit. Toronto is part of a regional framework, but this won t necessarily mesh with the City s plans. Toronto is already a large region on its own crushed under the weight of its amalgamation.
To Carol Wilding: What about a Toronto first outlook? Wilding s definition is much broader than borders. She agrees with Keesmaat that there is a micro conversation about the City of Toronto and active transportation, but there are also discussions around the region.
To John Howe: How does Toronto thrive in this context? Howe feels that for the region to work, there must be a strong Toronto. However, there are 6.6m people in the region and travel across regional boundaries is common.
This misses the whole point that we are supposed to be encouraging local demand, but recogizes that regional demand isn t going away soon. Jennifer Keesmaat observed that creating places to live in Hamilton while working in Toronto will cost a lot to support, and we will fail. We need local transit, closely spaced stations for easy access and neighbourhood hubs.
A network designed around long-distance movement will not provide this. Peter Milczyn felt that there is too much parochial talk about fair shares in any planning. He would like his constituents (in Etobicoke) to be able to move around the region into Brampton or Markham, say.
Local land use should support good transit access and compact urban nodes. Toronto has done a bad job with nodes notably at subway stations. Metrolinx is a new agency can/will they do better?
Michael Thompson wants to look at the region in its entirety. It takes someone three hours to get downtown from Malvern. We need to look at everyone s needs and all of the transportation network.
He remembers when the zone fare paid at Don Mills and Eglinton was eliminated, but also when stickers on transit vehicles proclaimed that they were funded by the Province of Ontario. How can we connect local neighbourhoods into the system. The public needs more say at both the local and regional levels.
Matt Galloway asked Thompson whether he would ask voters to support transit funding in the coming election. He replied that he is in favour of distance based fares, and that his constituents would pay this if only they can get service. What else beyond fares?
A sales tax seems to be a very appropriate tool. Peter Milczyn prevers a parking levy because this links bad land use to the cost of providing transportation. Galloway: Is there the political will?
Milczyn replied that the status quo isn t working. How much of an obstruction is the Mayor? Milczyn calmly but forcefully replied that Council will speak .
In the past administration Miller, there was no linkage between new taxes (Land Transfer and Vehicle Registration taxes) and outcomes. Now that we are delivering on new transit investment, the debate will shift. Michael Thompson spoke of the need for leadership.
This is not just about travel, but the loss of competitiveness in Toronto. The view that we can have affordable transit without paying for it no longer holds, but we must show people what they can have and make a realistic presentation of the options. Galloway: How do you counter people who are opposed to the plans or the spending?
Michael Thompson replied that at the end of the day, we have to look at the future of the city and make tough decisions. Does this mean something to people now? You can t have it both ways this is not realistic.
Leadership requires that we let people know somebody has to pay for transit. On the choreography of spending , Larry Beasley explained that some sources are easy to implement, some more painful. Road and bridge tolls faced stiff opposition in Vancouver.
If you start with easier sources and build something, then there will be greater reception for additional revenue sources. We must be specific about phasing, project costs and the actual cost/person. Carol Wilding agreed saying that the conversation is about the appetite for funding tools.
Everybody has to sacrifice, and there are many examples of urban centres who have already done this. Jennifer Keesmaat noted that bringing people into the conversation with good information and analysis yields benefits, builds trust and gives politicians information for discussions with their constituents. She reported a recent conversation with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion who urged using the revenue tool cities already have property taxes.
Matt Galloway asked John Howe about the issue of charging for parking at GO lots. Howe replied that Metrolinx must report by June 1 with a recommended set of tools for 25 years and beyond. We are one of the last urban regions without dedicated funding tools.
Direct funding from governments doesn t work any more as they are already tapped out . But what if parking charges drive people away from transit? People don t want to feel that we are targeting just one segment for new revenue.
A mix of user fees, everybody pays taxes such as sales tax, and beneficiary levies (such as development charges) are all needed. Moreover, we shouldn t just build transit but also walking and parking for access. Larry Beasley noted that good transit station integration with access to neighbourhoods are needed.
Peter Milczyn noted that when the TTC started to charge for parking, transit riding went up and parking use went down to the point that some property is now being redeveloped for housing right on the subway s doorstep. If people don t want to pay for parking, they won t get anywhere fast by driving rather than by taking transit. What about pedestrians and cyclists?
The city has a responsibility to provide infrastructure and space, and must also look after road improvements and maintenance. What about the polarized conversation of roads versus transit? Michael Thompson felt that Toronto is getting there on this topic, but we will continue to be a car-friendly city for a long time.
We rely on the auto industry for economic activity. Galloway: What does this have to do with getting around if there are fewer cars there is more opportunity for better transit, cycling and public realm improvements. Thompson noted that autos won t disappear overnight.
Larry Beasley pointed out that in 10 years, at most, automobiles will be clean , and the pollution argument will go away. The demand for personal mobility will continue to rise, and we need to manage cars more aggressively than ever. They are only one of the movement choices.
Pedestrian and cycling facilities are too often value engineered out of projects, and these modes need to have a guaranteed source of funds. The focus is on transit because that s where the big problem is seen. John Howe noted that 25% of the proposed Next Wave revenue stream will go to local projects including active transportation.
Jennifer Keesmaat replied that the challenge is where this 25% is used for example there is no public realm budget for the Eglinton corridor and that there is a gap between statements and the reality of what is planned. Who pays for what remains an issue (and by implication especially if Metrolinx downloads some aspects of transit projects into that local 25%). Keesmaat felt that money should be provided for a cross-city cycling track across Eglinton.
Should we put these questions to the public? Peter Milczyn wondered whether we have the time or the leadership for such a campaign. Los Angeles had a mayor as leader of the transit tax referendum, but Milczyn was unsure that Toronto has this leadership.
We know what the problem is, what the solutions are, and there is the political will to proceed. The 2014 election will be the plebiscite. Larry Beasley felt that this audience was the converted , and these policies need a deep constituency.
It s basic democracy and a stronger way to build support. Michael Thompson agreed that consultation with residents is needed, but many of his constituents say just act . Carol Wilding said that from a business perspective, there is a need to consult, but businesses don t want more and just want politicians to get on with the job.
Anyone who says I don t like that must be challenged for an alternative. Saying I won t pay is not acceptable any more. What more incentive do we need beyond the $6-billion annual cost of congestion?
As a wrap up question, Matt Galloway asked what sign people who are not at this meeting will have that action is here. John Howe: We are building already, and this is the launching pad for the next wave of tools. Carol Wilding: The Board of Trade will come out with a narrow set of tools and a shift in focus to specifics from the general discussion.
Peter Milczyn noted that the city s consultation on revenue tools will come to Council for a decision soon. Jennifer Keesmaat felt that the conversation should be unending but evolving , and without it we will miss a deep understanding among the public. We must hold politicians accountable.
The conversation is very different from three years ago and we are now talking about how to pay for transit. A charter is needed setting out what the City of Toronto will commit to with new revenue tools, and we must build trust with the public. Michael Thompson reiterated the need for leadership.
This is a time to act. Although there is a lot of work in progress, the public doesn t know about it and we must demonstrate what is going on. Where will this leadership come from?
From the people and from Council. Larry Beasley argued that if in three months everybody adopted the same citizens bill of rights for mobility that would give a guarantee that we will deliver to a common commitment. Questions From the Floor Will electric vehicles (unspecified) be included as a transportation mode.
From Thompson and Milczyn, yes , although it is unclear just what this means. The elephant in the room is Rob Ford. What will Council do to get Ford Nation to open their eyes that the Mayor s hope for private funding with no new taxes won t work.
Peter Milczyn replied that Council will approve a transportation plan and a funding plan there will be a majority in support. Michael Thompson said that the fact we (the Councillors) are here should send a strong message about support for this direction. Milczyn said that we have had a lot of drama that is entertaining, annoying and frustrating, but not much is slowing down.
Thompson observed that there has been no response from the private sector on funding and this is not a reality. Part of the process will be to change the dialogue to realistic options. A student from York University (who took only one hour to get downtown from the campus!) spoke as a suburbanite wanting to keep what they have.
Does user pricing mean that we will segregate populations by tolls and distance-based transit fares? Where does local funding come in? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that The Big Move is looking region-wide, but we don t want to create unintended consequences.
When we look at projects for Toronto, there may be a gap with what Metrolinx is doing, and planners need to work with Council on filling that gap for specific projects. We must avoid the consequences of selective application of revenue tools across the region. John Howe felt that regional benefits should be equitable without explaining just how this would be measured given that spending in one location may benefit residents elsewhere.
In the GTA, there are 15,000 condos built each year representing a $40b investment over 10 years. The transit investments proposed are much smaller, relatively, than we are making this out to be. If the problem is $6b in lost economic activity, how do you solve this with only $2b in annual investment?
Who will stand up and say this is not enough, let s spend $40b in the next 10 years. Carol Wilding replied that we need to get the money, and a different suite of tools is needed to get more. She noted that Los Angeles tried to accelerate its multi-decade program.
Do we need to be more ambitious? John Howe replied that we need to manage expectations. We are not going to eliminate congestion, only manage it to a reasonable level.
Toronto is seeing corridor development, but it should use buses, not surface rail. Users should pay through fares, and there should be higher gas tax. Carol Wilding replied that through consultations, the Board of Trade concluded that a combination of tools is needed.
One user pay mechanism won t get us where we are going. The weak mayor system guarantees poor leadership and candidates. How do we get a discussion of this?
Peter Milczyn replied that Council has all the discretion they need about how to spend. We have state of good repair and expansion issues, and these are better addressed on a regional basis than by individual municipalities. Michael Thompson warned that we must be careful what we wish for, that the wrong person could wind up in power.
The Council system works, it is collegial, and members work through challenges. Thompson is not supportive of a strong mayor system. Twenty-five percent of the city is paved (roads, parking lots).
Should there be a progressive gas tax to penalize cars? Jennifer Keesmat replied that it makes sense that users pay. Peter Milczyn noted that in some jurisdictions, a vehicle tax is based on engine size.
John Howe cautioned that gas tax is not a robust revenue source as consumption is falling as people switch to more efficient vehicles. This is not necessarily a long term tool. Do politicians have to go against the oil industry to increase taxes on cars?
Most folks would hate a toll, but if it is just added to their fuel bill it would be easier. Larry Beasley replied that gas tax is a damn good idea for the near future because it causes costs to the user and can shift demand. However, we should not fall into one source funding and need a robust bundle of tools.
A Vancouver study showed that the public subsidy of cars amounts to about $2,700 per car per year. Is there the political will to address these cost, and what will Council do to reinstate the Vehicle Registration Tax? Michael Thompson replied that it was an absolute mistake to remove the VRT.
Many of his residents didn t really mind paying it, but if asked should we get rid of it were more than happy for the savings. How will people be confident that there won t be a future rollback of transit revenues as a tax cut? Thompson replied that given the need for better transportation and funding tools, this is something we must not do.
The mistake won t be made again at least not by me . Peter Milczyn argued that there will be a suite of new levies, but these will be dedicated to transportation. The old VRT went into general revenue, an error of the previous administration , and that a general tax generates general discontent.
People will accept a specific tax. (I could not help thinking that if this is the fig leaf needed to get Ford supporters to embrace a Miller era tax, so be it.) There is a lack of cycling infrastructure. One quarter of the new revenue stream will go to local projects, but what proportion within this goes to active transportation? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that this is essential, and Peter Milczyn confirmed that this will be part of the overall Official Plan, and should be included in a mobility bill of rights.
What will be the effects of the new tools on those with lower incomes, and what guarantee is there that businesses will pay too? Jennifer Keesmaat replied that on a regional basis the city has a high business assessment and this is a risk flagged by the commercial real estate industry. However, Toronto has very low property taxes and has more room on this side.
Carol Wilding noted that this is an issue in addition to the ongoing migration of employment lands to residential use. Businesses are ready to pay their share, and the key is to avoid too much distortion in the market. Twenty five years ago, the same issues were being discussed at public meetings.
The greatest concentration of development is downtown. What is being done about more capacity and the ability to get around? The Moscow syndrome is here already.
People won t come downtown because of congestion. John Howe replied that The Big Move has advanced the relief line for more access to downtown, the UPX will provide a direct link to the airport by 2015, and the passenger concourse for GO at Union Station will be expanded to three times its current size. There are workers in skilled trades all over the city working on transit projects.
They are having the same discussion about how to fund future projects and jobs. An educated workforce will support the politicians, and workers understand that they need to contribute to future jobs. By analogy to Los Angeles, will large infrastructure projects be used for job creation in at risk communities?
Michael Thompson talked about the City of Toronto s strategy to bring young people into the trades through public projects. There is a lot of asking (consultation), but not a lot of telling (education) people about what is going on. Does Metrolinx have a plan to bring the public onside?
John Howe talked about consultations now in progress including a residents reference panel. A public campaign through advertising will begin soon. Larry Beasley urged that education should not get lost in consultation.
Conclusion The need for real movement on network planning and funding is beyond question except, possibly, to those misguided politicians who hate taxes and who prefer to play to those voters who can be sold a something-for-nothing view of the future.
What is needed is for politicians at City Hall and at Queen s Park to focus on getting new revenue tools and credible plans in place rather than working on each other s defeat.
- Fixing truck jams in East and West Africa 501818308 | The Africa ... Regulations, cartels and crumbling infrastructure raise the cost and delivery times of imports and exports across the continent. New railway plans will help to bring more competition to the transport sector. Pity the East African truck driver, upon whose weary shoulders lies the bur den of East Africa's exports.
Setting forth from Mombasa to Kigali on a route known as the Northern Corridor, he will negotiate the arduous 1,700km journey over five days. He will be on the road for 13 hours between 4.30am and 8pm each day, crawling at an average speed of 53km per hour over an uphill landscape set on some of the most tortuous roads on Earth. Aside from stopping for long hours at two border posts, he will encounter another 45 roadblocks where he will be forced to cough up an average of $158 per trip in bribes.
There are also numerous detours caused by road repairs and construction, and even more delays to wait for accidents to be cleared. The East African Community found in 2008 that 95% of East Africa's cargo is transported by road. In addition, more business is being done within the region, increasing traffic and creating new forms of delay.
In Kenya alone, say transporters, there are more than 10,000 long-haul trucks plying the roads. Of the big Kenyan transporters, the likes of R.K. Sanghani, A.O.
Bayusuf and Sons, and Multiple Hauliers boast fleets of between 300 and 1,000 trucks. Even with improved fleets, regional regulations that limit axle-load weights mean more trucks, increased road maintenance costs and the slowing down of delivery times. Five years ago, the Rwandan government commissioned a study of the Northern Corridor.
A Diagnostic Survey of the Kigali-Mombasa Transport Corridor found that 60% of the journey is spent on the side of the road and that bribes at roadblocks are small but numerous. The biggest sources of delays were what happened before and after the journey due to Rwanda's limited truck availability, slow import/export procedures and cargo-handling problems. Despite this, World Bank studies praised Rwanda's deregulation of the haulage industry in 1994, when the end of the monopoly of state-owned company haulier Soci t de Transport International au Rwanda led prices to drop by 75% in real terms.
Middlemen and Mafia In West Africa, delays and high costs are caused by the stranglehold of middlemen. In C te d'Ivoire, a hub for transporting goods to landlocked Burkina Faso and Mali, a group of businessmen maintain a tight grip on the sector. They represent shadowy interests linked, some officials told The Africa Report , to Corsican families.
Ivorian cashew farmer Moussa Traor had a problem getting his produce to Burkina Faso twice a week. The 1,120km journey cost 1.2m CFA francs ($2,400) per trip. "That price is clearly not going to be affordable for most small-time business owners. I tried asking different operators, but the cost was always the same.
Eventually, I realised what it boiled down to was price fixing," he said. "They know the trucks that are in a good state," Traor explained. "When I tried to get around the prices they offered, I found the only trucks willing to take my goods were in a pitiful condition, had very few clients and unreliable drivers." These trucks did not have Global Positioning System trackers, a major headache for any client, he added. Creaking roads and poor maintenance ruled them out of many rural areas during the rainy season. Traor returned to "the very first middleman I visited there are no real alternatives to road transport. " The soaring cost of transporting goods on West Africa's roads remains among the highest in the world, curbing investment and preventing progress in a sector in which a plethora of small-time and inefficient owner-operators are the only alternative to expensive multinationals.
No negotiation USAID West Africa Trade Hub, which works to improve conditions for the region's exporters, estimates that in Ghana only four or five large companies, such as the Global Haulage Company, focus solely on trucking. Company owners say that many transporters operate informally, making it difficult to identify and fix problems that keep costs so high. A 2008 study by the Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic said the root of the problem was clear: 'Deregulating the trucking industry in West and Central Africa is less a technical than a political and social issue.' The report argued: 'Whenever competition does exist, it is not based on price and quality of service, but on the capacity to circumvent the rules and capture loads with little or no negotiation on prices or services quality.' In Nigeria, for example, a lack of political connections means the risk of, as one company owner explained, "haggling for a week over a $10 bribe just to get your container on the road".
Poorly integrated markets and language barriers also contribute to the problem in West Africa. Much-touted plans to upgrade the Abidjan Lagos corridor have also faltered amid wrangling on bilateral agreements. Infrastructure deficits also play a part.
An official from Dangote Group, which runs a haulage business of more than 5,000 trucks under the brand DanTrans, estimated that upgrading roads in Nigeria could translate into a 5%-10% reduction in costs. In East Africa, a major factor associated with increased cargo costs is the region's largely moribund railways. It is only now that landlocked Rwanda is planning a national railway network.
The Kenya-Uganda railway that opened up the region to the rest of the world 110 years ago has been in a critical condition for decades. "Even if you had the railway in working order, because it is a linear route rather than spread out across the region, you would still need trucks to move goods from the terminals to the final destination," explains one Nairobi-based transporter. Last year, Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital sunk $300m into Rift Valley Railways, the operator of the Kenya-Uganda railway. The funds are to be devoted to upgrading the rolling stock and "getting the trains to run on time", emphasised Citadel's managing director Karim Sadek.
Once fully implemented, Citadel's plans could cut haulage costs by 40% and usher in the long-delayed migration from road haulage to rail, offering a long-term solution to East Africa's perennial transport crisis
- Freight Consolidator Cardinal Maritime - Golf Day results The sun shone again for the 6th annual Cardinal golf day at Mottram Hall Hotel on Friday 7th September. There were plenty of good scores with lots of birdies but plenty of bogies. The overall winner of the customer prize was Gareth Chennells with a very creditable 38 points.
The staff prize was fiercely contested this year with Brian Hay and Andrew Smithurst tying on 36 points. In the end Andrew took the trophy with a better back 9. The celebrations went on long into the evening and a good time was had by all.
We are already in the advanced stages of organising next year s event which will take place in September 2013 at a venue to be confirmed.
We are possibly looking at Birmingham next year as the venue so please contact us if you are interested in attending by calling Chris Bartram on 0161 492 1778 or emailing [email protected]
- Freight Interests' Dire Predictions About Road Diets Not Borne Out ... As Fizz reported yesterday, freight and manufacturing interests in SODO and Georgetown oppose the city's plans to add bike lanes and pedestrian facilities to Airport Way S. and East Marginal Way, arguing that removing any capacity for trucks would devastate freight mobility in the city. At a Port of Seattle-sponsored forum this past Monday, longshore union representative Harold Ugles said, What we re trying to do is prevent gridlock, because gridlock drives away the jobs, it pisses off the public, and it s a problem for everybody.
However, two studies by the Seattle Department of Transportation indicate that neither Airport Way nor East Marginal Way are actually major conduits for freight---confirming what neighborhood leaders, who generally support the road diets, have been saying all along. On East Marginal Way, the city has proposed reducing the number of lanes from six to four, plus a turning lane. On Airport, it would add bus bulbs and reconfigure parking to improve pedestrian safety.
Here's what the city studies found: On Airport Way, "Traffic volume... has dropped approximately 36% since 1961," when I-5 opened, yet "the configuration of the surface streets has not changed." Moreover, freight traffic makes up just 10 percent of all traffic on the road, contradicting freight interests' claims that the road is a major corridor for freight. On East Marginal Way, "Traffic volume ...
has dropped approximately 44 percent" since 1961, and freight traffic makes up just 11 percent of all traffic on the street.
Those facts---that traffic is shrinking and that freight hardly uses either road in the first place--- strongly contradict freight interests' claims that the road is a major corridor for freight and that reducing their capacity for cars and trucks will result in "job loss" and "gridlock."
Tom Corbett's transportation plan looks like a conversation ...By Charles Thompson|[email protected] & Jan Murphy|[email protected] As much as it s been wanted, Gov. Tom Corbett s transportation funding package wasn t exactly loved to death Tuesday. Some lawmakers said it wasn t enough.
Others worried about how much it could cost consumers at the pump. Others acknowledged that it will take full bipartisan cooperation, something the Pennsylvania General Assembly hasn t been great at in recent years. But don t be fooled.
The need for more transportation funding remains a high priority of many in the Legislature. And while most weren t ready to endorse Corbett s plan completely today, everyone acknowledged it is an issue that is ripe for discussion and they signaled a willingness to work on it. As the governor laid out his plan to lawmakers in his budget address to a joint session of the Legislature, Democrats sat on their hands and some Republicans reacted with tepid applause.
Rep. Glen Grell, R-Hampden Twp., said that was more a result of unfamiliarity with details of the plan more so than outright opposition. "There's no doubt many of my constituents support the idea of dedicating some more funding to fix our roads and bridges," he said. "But until we get a better handle for the impact on consumers, we have to hold our enthusiasm in check a little bit." Corbett s plan rests on one key proposal from a transportation funding advisory commission he put together at the start of his term: lifting a cap built into a longstanding tax on fuel at the wholesale level. Removing that lid on the so-called oil company tax in the three steps that Corbett proposes over the next five years would generate nearly $2 billion in new funds annually by 2018, when the cap would be totally eliminated.
That s based on current pricing levels. "It is time for oil and gas companies to pay their fair share of the cost of the infrastructure supporting their industry," Corbett said in his budget address. "Our most costly option would be to do nothing. It will cost us in repairs, it will cost us in rebuilding, and it could cost us in tragedies we might have avoided." Pain at the pump? The great mystery is how much of that cost will be passed onto the consumer.
The plan, as proposed, does not contain any mechanism to prohibit that. And when the funding commission released its 2011 report, the going estimate was that it could cost as much as 20 cents per gallon of gas, if distributors and retailers passed that entire tab onto motorists. Corbett s Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch said Tuesday the cause-effect relationship there is not so clear, given the many other factors that drive the price of a gallon of gasoline, including the price of crude oil and refinery costs.
I don t know any more than you do, any more than we re all going to be able find out, Schoch said. Even so, Corbett s plan attempts to offset some anticipated retail gas price increases, as the governor has proposed a one penny cut in the state s retail gas tax in each of the next two years. The plan would net $1.8 billion annually by year five.
Some wondered if that was too little, too late. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman John Rafferty, R-Montgomery County, said, We re going to do transportation. We re not going to do transportation-lite.
He said he could support the governor s plan with one exception. He didn t like the five-year phase-in of the uncapping of the oil franchise tax. He wanted it lifted sooner to generate money quicker.
We have a construction season we got to get going, Rafferty said. We got 4,000 structurally deficient bridges and we got roads in need of repair. We have to protect the welfare of our children.
I heard that over and over again. They re the same ones riding across those bridges and roadways. Rafferty plans to unveil his own transportation funding plan this spring.
He hinted that his plan includes many of the ideas included in the governor s transportation funding advisory commission that would generate $2.7 billion a year. That commission suggested higher fees for driver s licenses and vehicle registrations and shifting some state police costs now charged to the motor license fund to the state s general fund to free up those dollars for roadwork. Schoch said he is open to dialogue but given the traditional difficulty in getting major transportation packages passed, his main concern was finding a sweet spot where we get action on this.
What we don t want to do is have something that some believe is high enough and others might say it s too high, I m not going to vote for it, Schoch said. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, R-Centre County, said he didn t have a magic number for what he wanted the transportation funding plan to raise. But Corman, whose district includes Perry County, echoed the need to seize the momentum and get the best plan possible passed this year.
They re obviously not easy to get done, Corman said. So let s have a bill that solves the problem so we don t have to come back in three, four, five years and do it again. Praise and skepticism Outside the Legislature, Corbett was drawing raves for finally starting the discussion.
Robert Latham, executive vice president of Associated Pennsylvania Constructors, a road builders trade group, said, The most important thing is that the governor has rolled out a comprehensive transportation plan that s workable. ... It s the first time that we ve seen that in 16 years so I think you ve got to give Governor Corbett credit for that. James Runk, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association, a trade association of trucking companies, said, At first blush it s a good idea.
It s timely and we should move on it and not miss another construction season. Back at the Capitol, there remained some skeptics who needed to know more about the impact on motorists and possibly wait for some poll results to be sure they re on firm ground to flirt with any gas price when the going rate is $3.65 a gallon. I want to know what the cost to consumers is going to be before we make a definitive decision, said House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny.
I don t think by any means the governor s proposal is necessarily the definitive proposal. That s one opinion that was shared across the aisle by another House member who said he believes more money is needed. Rep.
Mike Hanna, D-Clinton, described Corbett s transportation plan as a lemon and a bridge to nowhere. He said lowering the gas tax and then lifting the cap on the oil company tax was nothing more than a gimmick aimed to appease tea party favorite Grover Norquist whose no-tax-increase pledge Corbett signed when campaigning for governor in 2010. Governor Corbett s gas tax fiasco falls short of what is needed.
It s disappointing to see such a lack of courage from this governor, Hanna said.
Staff writer Robert Vickers contributed to this article.
- Gunman, boss in Fla.
shooting were once close - abc27 WHTMBy DEREK KINNER Associated Press LAKE BUTLER, Fla. (AP) - A longtime employee of a Florida trucking company was once very close with his former boss, even described as his right-hand man. But police say Hubert Allen Jr. drove around Saturday and shot former co-workers and his onetime boss, killing the ex-employer and another man before turning a gun on himself.
On Sunday, residents in this close-knit community near Jacksonville mourned and tried to piece together what happened. Police didn't release any new details or information on a possible motive. "Mr. Hubert was a real quiet guy," said the Rev.
Patrick Maxwell of the Victory Christian Center. "He wasn't the type who would go around and say I have a grudge against anyone." Maxwell said he visited Allen's daughter and grandchildren after the shootings. The family was as surprised as the rest of the town and had no idea what sparked the shootings, Maxwell said. Allen's wife died in the late 1990s and he lived alone.
Maxwell said he had developed a serious heart disease and his church had prayed for him recently. Allen, 72, didn't attend the church, but his daughter and grandchildren did. It wasn't yet clear why Allen stopped working for Pritchett Trucking Inc.
On Saturday, Allen drove to a location owned by his former boss, Marvin Pritchett. He shot and killed former co-worker Rolando Gonzalez-Delgado, 28, around 9 a.m., then went a short distance and killed Pritchett, 80, who founded the company in 1980. A few minutes later, Allen pulled over where another former co-worker was driving a farm tractor, exchanged words with him and fired a shotgun, authorities said.
The victim, 66-year-old Lewis Mabrey Jr., was in good condition Sunday, hospital spokeswoman Nickie Doria said. Allen then went to the company's headquarters in Lake Butler and shot 44-year-old David Griffis in the stomach, the sheriff's office said. Griffis was in critical condition Sunday.
Allen killed himself at his nearby home. It was clear to everyone in town that Allen and Pritchett had a good relationship at one point. "You had the assumption, no, the conviction, that they were close," Maxwell said. Pritchett grew up in Union County and was constantly involved in businesses, from gas stations to truck companies to his beloved farm, Rolling Oaks.
Residents said he was known around town as Mr. P, a generous man who gave to charitable groups and projects and treated his employees well. "He arrived at work before anyone else. He was always there for his employees," Bill Thomas, who worked as a dispatcher for Pritchett for several years, said outside Pritchett's longtime church, First Christian.
As Thomas spoke, the church bell, which can be heard across town, rang. "He was instrumental in that, too," he said, explaining that Pritchett helped finance the new bell. The church prepared for a prayer service Sunday evening. The Rev.
Art Peterson said he met with Pritchett's family and counseled them. "It's rough. They're still in a state of shock, but they're coping," he said. Thomas, who left the trucking company six years ago, said he used to see Allen around often, overseeing Pritchett's farm. "He was always Mr.
P.'s right-hand man," Thomas said. But it had been several years since he had seen Allen, he said. Thomas said Allen was the great-grandfather of NFL running back C.J.
Spiller, who started a game for the Buffalo Bills on Saturday night despite the shootings. Thomas said Allen had an influence on Spiller's life. "I believe he had a lot to do with C.J.'s upbringing. In the South, families are very close, and grandparents are around every day," Thomas said. "C.J.
is a fine young man and, like I said, Hubert was a fine man. I have no idea why he did what he did. It just blows my mind." Spiller was born in Lake Butler and was a star at Union County High School.
After the game against the Washington Redskins, a Bills representative stood at Spiller's locker and said the running back would have no comment. On Sunday, flags flew at half-staff at the trucking company's headquarters. The company's website said it employs 400 people and owns hundreds of vehicles that operate around the country.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.
All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
- Has the U.S.
Reached Peak Car?
naked capitalismYves here. This post is a workmanlike compilation of trends in the driving habits of Americans. Some of the data shows that use of public transportation has been rising faster than population growth yet budget stresses mean those services are regularly targeted for fare increases and schedule cutbacks.
Having never owned a car, and hoping to remain in that category, I wish I saw a more concerted push towards rethinking zoning and development to encourage more density and thus more walking (which gives you a twofer: more active citizens and less gas usage). Perhaps readers will point out some examples, but it seems that this sort of change has been relegated to the category of environmentalist dreaming rather than a goal to be taken seriously. By Matt Smith, an analyst who blogs at Energy Burrito.
Cross posted from OilPrice There have been a number of recent research reports addressing the notion of Peak Car whether driving has peaked per person in the US. So here are a bunch of interesting tidbits and nuggets I have gleaned from the reports A New Direction and Has Motorization in the US Peaked? , as well as an update on miles driven .it s all downhill from here. Pedal to the Metal From the end of World War II to 2004 (known as the Driving Boom ), Americans drove more miles nearly every year The driving boom coincided with the Baby Boom a bubble of those born between 1946 and 1964 By 2004, the average American was driving 85% more miles than in 1970 Between 1980 and 2010, freeway capacity (measured in lane-miles) expanded by 35% Hitting The Brakes The peak driving age group is that of 35-54 year-olds The total number of 35-54 year-olds is set to tail off by the end of this decade Meanwhile, the share of the population of those 65 and older is set to increase dramatically by 2040 In 1980, the age group of 65 and older made up 11% of the population.
By 2040 this share is expected to reach 21% By 1992, 90% of the driving age population could drive, but by 2011 this had fallen to 86% the lowest level in 30 years In 2011, 67% of 16-34 year-olds had a license, the lowest level since at last 1963 Inflation-adjusted gasoline prices have doubled in the last decade Young people aged 16 -34 drove 23% fewer miles in 2009 than in 2001 From 2001 2009, the number of passenger miles travelled by those aged 16-34 on public transport increased 40% Americans took nearly 10% more trips via public transportation in 2011 than in 2005 Driving It Home The absolute number of cars peaked in 2008, at 236.4 million This translates to nearly 2 vehicles per household, over 1 car per licensed driver, and 0.75 vehicles per person Although The Great Recession is likely to blame for the drop-off in vehicles since 2008, a growing population (increasing 11% from 2011 to 2025) means we will likely see a higher number of vehicles on the road in the future.
Conclusion Although we may not have peaked in terms of total vehicles in the US, we have likely peaked in terms of Peak Car aka miles driven per person.
Whether this slow-down is due to telecommuting, changing demographics, higher fuel costs, online shopping, or increased use of public transport, the evidence points to a turning tide in terms of miles driven: Thanks for playing, and keep on trucking or don t, as the case may be
- Here There Be Alligators: In the rivers and swamps of Mississippi ... Alligators are best hunted at night, when they are most active, and for a while Turner s hunting party sat in darkness, shining a spotlight along the water, waiting. When it resurfaced, it sounded like a whale, Turner said. They turned and saw it, as wide as an office desk, behind the boat.
It stayed up long enough to draw a breath, then went under again and acted as the 17 and a half foot long boat s pilot as it moved through its underwater world, pulling the four hunters along. It emerged several times to breathe, then would disappear again and tighten the line. A man holding a rod and reel with a hook embedded in an alligator dictates nothing.
He only holds on. These hunters did so for two hours. The last time the alligator came up its mouth was open and it bit at the boat s gunwale.
One of the hunters picked up a .410 bore shotgun, aimed at the back of the animal s head and squeezed the trigger. Not long after that, after three other hunters in the area came over to help, the group dragged its dead body onto a sandbar. Turner told me it was then that he knew they had got a giant.
It was as long as two men and went on the books at 741.5 pounds, the heaviest caught in Mississippi history. They loaded it into the boat and traveled the river toward a ramp, where they put the boat on a truck trailer and drove to Canton, Miss. A biologist with the state s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks checked the alligator s size the following day.
It was as long as two men and went on the books at 741.5 pounds, the heaviest caught in Mississippi history. Alligators are predatory, cannibalistic and efficient hunters. They move deliberately and have armor-like skin.
Their jaws are traps. In terms of the food chain, in the swamps and waterways where they live, nothing looks down on them. Occupying a stretch of the country between Texas and the Carolinas and farther south, the reptiles are the same as those that once shared space with dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago.
Their brains would fit in a tablespoon, and unless bothered, they are relatively quiet. They can live longer than 50 years. When I first heard about what Turner caught, my imagination got away from me.
I had this haunting vision of it floating in that bayou every night for a half-century, hunting its prey. Sitting in my office cubicle, wearing loafers, this unsettled me. Not long after that, Dr.
Francisco Villa, a biologist at Mississippi State University, told me alligators typically eat turtles, fish, crabs, birds, beavers and raccoons. Then he added, Pretty much anything that swims by and they can handle. And I pictured a 700-pounder ripping my arm off at the shoulder. *** Beth Trammell with the 723.5-pound male alligator her party captured. (Photo courtesy of Beth Trammell) I am from Mississippi.
Old rivers bracket the state. The Mississippi runs down the western border, the Tombigbee meanders along the eastern side, and minor rivers and creeks crisscross the middle. Alligators live in almost all of them.
When I was young, our parents let us teenage boys loose in these rivers and creeks. A perfect spot had a sandy bottom and decent current. But if pine straw caked the bottom and the water grew green and stagnant near the bank, no one cared.
In the heat of summer, the swimming holes were always cool. We went to Black Creek, Bogue Homa Creek, Okatoma Creek and the Bouie River. When we got old enough to drive we left our parents behind, but still cut paths to creeks, usually with six-packs of beer.
At Shelton Creek, a flat, natural rock surface spread out beside a shaded pool of deep, dark, cool water. This became my favorite spot. The unknown attracts us all and on many Saturdays I caught my breath and let my hands use the rock to push me farther and farther down into the water.
I wanted to reach the bottom, to feel what was deep and untouched, but can t recall ever making it. No one worried about alligators. Today, I live beside the Tombigbee in the northeast corner of the state, where there are fewer alligators than in the southern end.
Still, a game warden told me if someone went on the Tombigbee near my home at night with a flashlight, it would be nothing to find 50 or 60 pairs of alligator eyes glowing back. Fishermen see them all the time. I am not much of a fisherman.
But the closest I have ever come to a wild alligator, as far as I know, was one day in the mid-1990s when my father and I put his boat into Lake Columbia, in southwest Mississippi, and went fishing for bass. We started at daybreak. By midday we had no luck and decided to try the lake s far side, where a forest met the water s edge and where we had seen no one fishing that day.
While coming toward a cut of land that jutted out into the water, I saw what looked like an old, black garbage bag on the shoreline. The sun shone off of it in a dull way that made me think it had been there a while. It looked wet and had odd angles, like it was twisted.
About the time I shut the motor off and we began coasting, I realized it was not a bag but an alligator, probably 8 feet long and as wide as a car tire in the middle. We were heading straight toward it. it came over me that there was something powerful and out of our control in the water and my blood pressure rose.
For a few moments that alligator sat stone-still as our boat moved silently through the water. It was sunning itself. We got close enough to see that its eyes were open.
Then, without warning, it moved with a frog s sudden grace, running itself off the shoreline into the water in front of the boat and disappearing. There was hardly a splash. I was mesmerized.
My father was not. He said over his shoulder, Go. When I did not, his voice grew more direct and forceful, and he said, Get us out of here.
It wouldn t be nothing for that thing to turn this boat over. With that, it came over me that there was something powerful and out of our control in the water and my blood pressure rose. Tasting fear, I cranked the motor and we left.
I did not look back, but my thoughts were where it had gone, under the water. Somewhere, that alligator was gliding away. I was sure its eyes were looking up.
Turner caught his alligator in south Mississippi. Because it was the fifth record-setting catch during Mississippi s 10-day annual alligator season, and because of the menacing place alligators hold in our minds, the news spread far and fast. Media outlets around the world ran stories with pictures.
The words monster and beast were in the headlines. Australia and Canada called. England and China called.
The world knew of the vast Mississippi River, but had never considered the enormous gators that lived under its surface. In the middle of the ruckus, Ricky Flynt, an alligator expert with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, spoke on camera with a TV station. He is an earnest man, with a serious manner, and toward the end of his interview, while footage of Turner s alligator rolled, he said, I believe we ve got alligators in Mississippi in the 900- to 1,000-pound range.
Whether an alligator hunter can be successful in getting them in is another story. It sounded like a challenge, but a warning, too. *** Hunting Regulations 1 Persons eligible: Only residents of the State of Mississippi who are sixteen (16) years of age or older may apply for an Alligator Possession Permit. Non-residents may participate as alligator hunting assistants.
2 Bag limit: Each person receiving an Alligator Possession Permit will be allowed to harvest two (2) alligators four (4) feet in length or longer, only one (1) of which may exceed seven (7) feet in length.
3 Capture and Dispatch Methods: a. Use of bait or baited hooks is prohibited. b.
Alligators must be captured alive prior to shooting or otherwise dispatching the animal. It is unlawful to kill an unrestrained alligator. c.
Restrained is defined as an alligator that has a noose or snare secured around the neck or leg in a manner that the alligator is controlled. d. Capture methods are restricted to hand-held snares, snatch hooks, harpoons, and bowfishing equipment.
e. The use of fishing lures or other devices (with hooks attached) for the purpose of catching alligators in the mouth is prohibited. f.
All alligators must be dispatched or released immediately after capture and prior to being transported. g. Any alligator that is captured with a harpoon or bowfishing equipment must be reduced to the bag and may not be released.
h. Firearms used for dispatching an alligator are restricted to long-barreled, shoulder-fired shotguns with shot size no larger than No.
6 and bangsticks chambered in .38 caliber or larger. No pistols are allowed.
i. All shotguns and bangsticks must be cased and unloaded at all times until a restraining line has been attached to the alligator. j.
No other firearm or ammunition may be in possession of the permittee or hunting party. Catching an alligator Estimate its length The snout length (the distance between the nostrils and the front of the eyes) in inches can be translated into feet to estimate the total body length. Capture it The use of bait and hook is illegal.
Legal methods: Snatch Hooks (hand thrown or rod/reel), Harpoon (with attached line and/or buoy), Snare (hand or pole type), Bowfishing equipment (with attached line and/or buoy). Dispatch it Use a shotgun or bangstick once the alligator is restrained and controlled with a snare. To safely and humanely dispatch the alligator, aim for the center of the spine directly behind the skull plate.
Information via the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (source, source) As long as people and alligators have shared Mississippi, there have been people who hunted the creatures. Spanish explorers called them el lagarto , which means the lizard, and that morphed into what we call them today. The Choctaw believed an alligator told the creator the best water was where cypress trees grew in bayous, so the creator placed the alligator there.
Native Americans saw them as mysterious, respected hunters. In a northern Mississippi plain in the 1930s, an archaeologist was poking around a native burial ground when he found the remains of a human skeleton covered with turtle shells. On top of it all was an alligator skull.
In the late 1960s, because of illegal hunting, they were an endangered species. In an effort to replenish their numbers, and to help control the beaver population, Mississippi wildlife officials drove horse trailers loaded with 3,500 baby alligators from Louisiana to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. The babies were handed out in bags to landowners, who took them across the state and released them into the waters.
It worked. By the late 1980s, they were no longer endangered. The last census, in 2000, suggested there were roughly 48,000 in the state s fresh water.
That was a conservative estimate, Flynt said, and it is safe to assume there are even more today. They are prevalent enough that the state legislature gave the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks the specific authority to deal with alligators. Flynt says the agency gets 300 to 500 phone calls a year.
since 2005, the state has allowed its residents a few days each year to kill them. The program mainly handles what it calls nuisance alligators, which for the most part are young alligators that sometimes wander into backyard swimming pools or neighborhood ditches. Still, they routinely attack dogs and other pets that roam near water because of their resemblance to their natural prey.
Yes, a gator will grab a dog if one ends up in their dining room, a wildlife official said. For most of the year, it is still illegal to possess or hunt alligator. But since 2005, the state has allowed its residents a few days each year to kill them.
Almost everyone in Mississippi is a hunter of some sort, and the alligator hunts are open to the public. There are a limited number of permits given out via an application process and far more people apply than receive them. It is not uncommon for applicants to wait several years between hunts.
The men and women randomly chosen fan out across the state in groups because one person, acting alone, cannot catch an alligator. At least not a big one. It is an exhausting, exacting endeavor.
For safety and sporting reasons, you are not allowed to shoot them until you have secured a part of an alligator s body with a snare, a loop of wire attached to a pole. To get a snare attached, you have to be within a few feet of the alligator, and to get close, most hunters begin with a rod and reel and treble hook. It s more alligator fishing than alligator hunting, Flynt said.
Hunters like Lee Turner and his friends gather on boats and go out at night looking to spot the gators floating in the water, waiting for their next meal. Midnight hunts are the norm. When a spotlight reveals a set of glowing eyes, a hunter casts a hook over the body, jerks it into the skin and holds on.
An alligator can stay beneath the water for an hour. After they go under, you let them wear themselves out. Perhaps you try to get another hook or two set.
This can last hours. When they tire and raise to the surface, you slip on the snare. This is tricky.
Alligators are surprisingly quick. Hands have been chewed up. Once a snare is on, you are allowed to shoot them with a shotgun loaded with birdshot.
A biologist, describing an alligator s toughness, said they are built with bullet-proof bone and skin. But at the base of their skulls there is a soft spot of tissue, their lone weak spot, and the place to take aim at point-blank range. Then comes the part that typically takes the longest: getting the massive body, all dead weight, loaded into a boat.
they are built with bullet-proof bone and skin. Because so many steps are involved, many things can go wrong, and usually do. This often begins early in the process, when an alligator that is hooked tries to escape, and the splashing and cheering and maneuvering begins.
Flynt calls this a Chinese water dance. A prehistoric thing weighing several hundred pounds fighting for its life can be messy. Add into this several adrenaline-filled hunters gathered in a small boat, a loaded gun, several different fishing lines, the absence of sunlight, and drinking (which is illegal but known to occur), and things rarely go as planned.
It is truly an adventure, Flynt said. There is an element of danger involved. It can be very dangerous.
That is part of the appeal. The hunters who apply for tags are not professionals or wildlife experts, like Steve Irwin, the late Australian known as The Crocodile Hunter for catching the alligators more aggressive, saltwater-tolerant cousin. They are mostly just middle-class Mississippi natives who grew up beating around the outdoors, hunting deer, quail and ducks.
Though alligator meat can be battered and fried, it is tough and hardly worth the fight. That s not why people hunt them. It is a pursuit undertaken mainly for the novelty and thrill.
One hunter said, It s not like a deer is going to jump in the stand and bite you. During the season, Ben Mask, who is 32 and works for Tupelo, Miss., Light and Water, caught an alligator in Tibbee Creek in northeast Mississippi. They can hurt you, he said.
That makes it fun. Mask s alligator weighed 620 pounds. Big, but no record.
Usually, a single shot to the soft spot is enough to kill. The one Mask caught proved resilient, though, and it took two shots. His hunting party then shot it a third time, as well.
I asked why. Insurance, he said. *** Dustin Bockman's hunting party with their 727-pound catch. (Courtesy of Dustin Bockman) The 2013 hunt began at noon on Aug.
30 and ended at noon on Sept.
9. Approximately 920 hunters received permits and more than 2,600 people went out searching for alligators.
Exactly 671 were killed. Every single record the state keeps track of was broken. Exactly 671 were killed.
Every single record the state keeps track of was broken. The first one fell early. On the opening night, Brandon Maskew, a 27-year-old who goes by Boo and works for a trucking company in Laurel, Miss., took his three-person party onto the Pascagoula River.
It runs through the state s southeastern corner for about 80 miles before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico. In a marsh not far from the Gulf, Maskew came across a gator and hooked into it. The process went well and only took about 40 minutes.
When it was over, the party had caught a female alligator that was 10 feet long and weighed 295.3 pounds both records for the gender. The next morning, Maskew and Allen Big Al Purvis, who went on the hunt, took a picture standing beside the alligator. It hung, suspended in the air, by industrial-strength straps attached to a front-end loader.
In that photograph, Purvis has on a Tequila Sunrise T-shirt and Maskew, in cut-off cargo pants, has his right arm locked around Purvis neck. They are all smiles. The tone of the next nine days had been set.
Lee Turner stands next to his record-setting 741.5-pound gator. (Courtesy of Lee Turner) That weekend, shortly after midnight on Sept.
1, Beth Trammell, a first-time hunter from Madison, Miss., was hunting in the Yazoo Diversion Canal in Issaquena County. This is the state s eastern edge, part of the Mississippi Delta. Trammell s party landed a 723.5-pound male alligator.
It broke the state s previous size-record for a male by more than 25 pounds. But it only stood for an hour and a half. While Trammell s hunting party was pulling their alligator in, a 27-year-old UPS driver named Dustin Bockman was a few miles south hunting the Big Black River in Claiborne County.
Bockman, a bachelor, is a native from Vicksburg and went hunting in shorts and a T-shirt you do not need camouflage to hunt gators. This was not his first time. Anything you can kill, I ve killed it, he told me.
Bockman s brother and best friend went into the Big Black River with him. They chose that river because they fish there regularly and always see alligators. Alligators move across the surface with their eyes and top half of their snouts, and maybe a third of their body, showing above the water.
As they swim their powerful tails and feet propeling them along it is hard to judge their size. We had no idea they were as big as they are, Bockman said. Alligators you see are usually small, like the one Bockman caught as a child.
He grew up near the Big Black River and one day, when he was kid, he spotted a 5-foot long alligator walking a neighborhood road and he caught it. The local paper took his picture. Although most hunters use a rod and reel to snag a gator, Bockman took a different approach.
He dropped a handful of glow sticks, the kind people wave at concerts, into an empty 3-liter water jug, and he tied the jug to a rope attached to an arrow in a crossbow. The plan was to shoot an alligator with the arrow and, after it went under, trail the light of the glow sticks along the Big Black River. They rode the river for an hour.
Bockman said in that time, shining a spotlight around, they saw hundreds of eyes on the water. Most disappeared as soon as the light found them and the boat crept along, powered by a quiet trolling motor. They turned into a slough and hunted a swampy area.
But they didn t spot a big one, Bockman said, so they turned back toward the river. As they approached the river, they passed one that held their attention. It was floating, and Bockman pulled the boat along behind it, and followed.
He wanted to be within 10 feet before pulling the crossbow s trigger. It took hours to get that close. Bockman described it as a game of cat and mouse.
He remembers that when the boat got close enough he said, Oh my God. When he shot the arrow lodged behind its left shoulder the alligator went under and began pulling the boat along, upstream, and then downstream, and then back again, slowly. Every now and then it dropped to the bottom and sat still.
Each time the boat stopped, the crew s excitement grew. After several hours, the alligator grew tired and surfaced long enough for Bockman to get the boat beside it. They got a snare on it, but it kept wanting to slip off and Bockman, fearing the gator would be lost, picked up his brother s .16-gauge shotgun.
He stuck the barrel into the water and fired a shot toward the alligator s soft spot. When he did, water flew high in the air and the pressure peeled the barrel back. I looked like Elmer Fudd, Bockman said.
He shot again. The second shot killed the reptile. Then the work began.
The three men wrapped their arms around the animal s leathery skin and pushed and pulled and tugged for four hours, trying to get the body out of the water and onto a sandbar. Somehow, they needed to get it in their boat, but couldn t lift it alone, and if they left it on the bank, who knew what might happen. So, as the mosquitoes bit them, they waited.
By the time some other hunters happened by and helped them get it loaded in the boat, Bockman s party had been on the water for 12 hours. Flynt met them to inspect the gator. It weighed 727 pounds and set the new record for a male alligator caught in the state.
It stood for six days. Lee Turner broke it. He is a 30-year-old resident of Madison, a suburb of Jackson.
He works for a shipping company and is married with a 1-year-old child. He is tall with a big smile. He grew up in Quitman, in east Mississippi, near the Chickasawhay River and his father was in the oil business.
They had a farm. I ve been hunting ever since I was old enough to go with my dad, Turner said. There were alligators in the reservoir near where he grew up.
They ignored them while waterskiing. They don t really bother you, he said. They kind of stay in the shadows.
Turner took John and Jennifer Ratcliff, experienced gator hunters, and Jimmy Greer, a friend, on his hunt. At 9 p.m. on Sept.
7, they put a boat into the Mississippi River at a public ramp near Port Gibson. They had two spotlights, four deep-sea fishing lines, a couple of snares and a .410-bore shotgun. I was hoping to catch a 10-foot gator, Turner told me.
That would have been great. They spotted an alligator immediately. It was gliding around near the ramp and about 5 feet long.
Turner went after it it was his first time, his eyes were wide but it got away, and they headed up river. Alligator hunters who receive tags actually get two. One is for an alligator shorter than 7 feet; one is for one longer than 7 feet.
Not long after heading north, Turner s party caught an alligator that was 7 feet 3 inches long. The process took about a half-hour It didn t put up too much of a fight, Turner said. They got it into the boat, secured its jaws shut with Duct tape, and took some pictures.
But they wanted a big one. So they released it and continued up river. Three hours in, they had spotted about 30 alligators, but none big enough to chase.
They turned into Bayou Pierre, a small tributary of the Mississippi River known for its warm water. When they did, they spotted two near the bank, and they looked big, but Turner kept moving. Eventually they caught a runt, Turner said, that was 6 feet 10 inches long.
It took only 20 minutes to get in. That took care of one tag. They wanted to go deeper into the bayou but saw lights up ahead bouncing around on the water.
Not wanting to disturb another hunting party, they turned back toward the Mississippi. Near the river, they spotted the two big ones they had seen earlier. One turned to get farther into the bayou.
The other headed for the river. Turner followed. As they inched closer and closer, the alligator, sliding along the surface with a spotlight lighting its back, appeared bigger and bigger.
Turner said at one point he turned toward John Ratcliff and said, That s a big gator. Ratcliff, who seven years ago held the record for the biggest alligator, responded, Ain t but one way to find out. Then he took a rod and reel and threw a line.
The alligator, hooked, went under. It stayed down for about 10 minutes before surfacing behind the boat. We heard it before we saw it, Turner said.
After the group laid eyes on the animal up close, and were confronted with the size of what they were attached to, Ratcliff spoke first. He said they needed a plan. No matter how prepared you are, Turner said, when you get one on the line everything goes haywire.
It always crumbles. No matter how prepared you are, when you get one on the line everything goes haywire. It always crumbles.
The party managed to get three more lines hooked into it. Because of its massive size, the gator broke three. Turner held the last one.
He had to lean back to offset the force, like battling a tuna at sea, as the animal pulled the boat along. Eventually, it went to the bottom in water about 12 feet deep. It had been two hours since Ratcliff got the first hook in and the group, after securing three more hooks into the animal s side, waited.
When it finally came up again, it was agitated and that is when it began biting at the fiberglass boat. Turner said they did not feel like it was trying to attack them, but was just panicked, confused and scared. Still, Ratcliff, sensing urgency, said it needed to be shot, and soon.
Ratcliff was near the edge of the boat trying to work his nerve up to slip on the snare. His wife was holding a spotlight. Turner was holding the line.
So Greer picked up the shotgun and walked to the edge, beside Ratcliff, who jerked a snare down around the animal s head. Greer leaned out over the water with the alligator beneath him, aimed at the exhausted animal, pulled the trigger. It only took one.
When alligators die they lose buoyancy, and Turner said the moment the shot rang out the rods with lines attached to it each fell into a U shape as the alligator sunk to the bottom. After the four of them got it pulled halfway onto a sandbar, the Ratcliffs took the boat down the river looking for help. Turner and Greer sat with their catch.
It was about 2 a.m. Three other hunters helped get it loaded into the Turner party s boat and they drove back to Port Gibson. With the alligator riding in the boat, they went to Canton, a middle Mississippi town near where Turner works.
A friend of his who owns a backhoe met them there and helped lift the alligator into the back of a pickup. They went to a weigh station off of Interstate 55 to see how much it weighed. By then, the sun had risen and as they waited to get on the scales, about 50 people who happened to be passing by stopped to stand beside the gator in the truck bed, and they all took pictures.
It cost Turner $10 to weigh it. Flynt came and made the 741.5-pound weight official. By the time Turner crawled into bed that night he had been up nearly 48 hours.
That same day a 33-year-old banker named Ben Walker caught an alligator in the Yazoo River, a Delta waterway that runs from Greenwood to Vicksburg. It was not as heavy as Turner s, but at 13 feet 7 inches, was the longest in state history. To get it out of their boat they used a truck wench and stored it in a walk-in freezer until Flynt could verify the record.
Walker plans on getting the alligator s head mounted it will cost about $1,000 and hanging it at his father s cabin beside the Yazoo River. It is fitting place, he said. He feels sure the animal left a footprint in the area, eating pigs and deer.
Bockman, who told me people on his UPS route call him gator man now, is having a pair of boots and a new wallet made from his alligator s hide. He also wants to mount the head. He will get a piece of driftwood from the Mississippi River and fix the head to it, along with the broken barrel of the shotgun that killed it, and the empty water jug.
Turner sent his alligator to Florida with a trapper he met through the Ratcliffs. He is going to use the money he gets for its hide to have the head mounted. He isn t sure where it will go, though, because his wife doesn t want it inside their home.
That is OK with Turner. He already has a deer head, a turkey and two squirrels on the wall. There just isn t room for an alligator. *** Ben Walker and his group with their 13'7" alligator, the longest in state history. (Courtesy of Ben Walker) I asked the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks how many unprovoked alligator attacks have occurred in the state.
Florida has attacks occasionally, and there have been fatalities there, though rarely. Mississippi officials told me no such attacks have ever been reported. This struck me as odd.
Then I remembered something Walker said. Before becoming a banker, he was a wildlife biologist. They re going to stay away from us as much as possible.
They associate humans with danger. You re not going to step on an alligator the way you might step on a water moccasin, he said. They re going to stay away from us as much as possible.
They associate humans with danger. In that way, we re a lot like gators, because we associate danger with them. Near where I grew up, beside an old two-lane highway going just outside a south Mississippi community called Brooklyn, someone once kept an alligator chained up in front of their home.
It was a rural oddity, something that made everyone shift to one side of the car when you drove past in the hope that it would be there, sitting still, like frozen from another time. Most often, though, it wouldn t be. That chain was long and on a pulley system, and there was a pond nearby, and that alligator stayed out of sight a lot.
It mostly lived in the imagination. A few weeks ago, I learned the man who chained that alligator was named Carnes Archer and I wanted to understand why he kept a gator. When I learned Archer died several years ago, I was referred to John Dearman, a friend of the family who lives in the area.
This is what he told me: One day in August of 1957, Archer caught an alligator in the water not far from where the Black Creek meets Red Creek. It was a female about 7 feet long. Archer brought it home and chained it up, where it became something of a local attraction.
Archer fed it road kill. Over the years it grew to be 14 feet long. Had it of been one of the alligators caught in the wild and killed this season, it would have been a record.
When people stopped to stare, Archer would ham it up with his pet, which everyone called Chomper. He would rattle the chain, and when the alligator lurched near him, thinking it was going to be fed, Archer would lay down beside it and pretend to take a nap. He was the only person who could do that, Dearman said.
I asked Ricky Flynt about Chomper recently. He said the state was aware of the situation, and after receiving a handful of complaints, wildlife officials investigated. In 2009, after Archer had passed away, the state asked Archer s son for paperwork that could document how the alligator came to be chained up in his father s front yard in Brooklyn.
After that, Flynt said the alligator suddenly came up missing. I called Archer s son to ask him about that, but he didn t call me back. Brooklyn is the kind of place where people keep their secrets and do not appreciate journalists poking around with questions.
No one knows where the alligator went, if anywhere. According to Dearman, it died in 2011. He says the family did not have its head mounted, but instead buried it on Archer s property.
At least that s what he said. All I know is, the next time I find myself passing through, I plan on slowing down, leaning over in my truck and taking a good, hard look, just to be sure. William Browning is a University of Mississippi graduate and reporter.
His work was recently listed as a notable selection in The Best American Sports Writing 2013. In 2011 he won an APSE award. The majority of his career, however, has been spent covering crime, courts and the U.S.
military. He lives in a cabin in Lowndes County, Miss., with his wife, Joy, and their dog, Harper, and cats, Bombay and L.B. He can be reached via Twitter at @wtbrowning.
Design Uy Tieu, Ramla Mahmood, Dylan Lathrop | Development Josh Laincz | Producer Chris Mottram | Editor Glenn Stout | Copy Editor Kevin Fixler | Lede Photo Lee Turner | Music Mike Dowling
- Intermodal Transportation Showing Growth As the US economy starts to move forward again after a few years of stagnant or flat growth, intermodal transportation companies are riding the momentum in increased goods &product shipments from U.S manufacturers and service companies. Recent figures from the Intermodal Association of North America s Intermodal Market Trends and Statistics report that U.S. growth of container volume grew nearly 13% over 2011 s Q2.
It was the second strong growth quarter in a row, just below 2012 s strong first quarter increase of 14% in container volume. International intermodal shipping volume for U.S. container imports also grew 4% in 2012 s second quarter, the best quarter in a year for international.
This is the type of encouraging business results for our nation s economy, especially heading into an election year cycle. From port shipments and deliveries on both East and West Coasts, to intermodal trucking companies in the Midwest, business is looking up for the U.S. logistics industry.
The last four years in intermodal transportation have been depressing, as trucking companies faced driver shortages and high fuel costs. But 2011 showed a slight uptick in growth, which now has blossomed into the encouraging 2012 numbers seen at top. The reasons vary.
Intermodal shipping offers cost savings from solid pricing, less handling costs, environmental benefits and better industry safety. Plus, the truckers have returned to the roads, and can again resume making a living from the increased shipments. The U.S.
logistics system is a complicated one, compiled of different industry segments and businesses working in intermodal transportation. Industry participants include intermodal trucking and rail firms, ocean carriers, port authorities, logistics companies, and suppliers firms offering leasing, warehousing and other services. Collectively, these companies help move the nation s standard shipping containers and trailers.
Individually, each outfit works to provide better operations, better use of existing infrastructure, and better service to their own corporate customers. A key benefit of these companies working together in intermodal transportation is that they help reduce transportation costs on particular modes of transport, while also lessening congestion on sea, air and roadways. Moreover, each particular mode of transportation brings with it its own advantages.
Intermodal trucking companies establish arrangements with railroads to benefit both by helping to secure containers, decrease costs and improving overall service efficiencies. Studies have shown that using trains in rail transportation for shipping goods has shown to reduce highway accidents and lower its carbon footprint. But in some instances, there are advantages for some companies in using trucking mode of transportation.
Intermodal trucking firms can be more flexible and time sensitive to good shipments in particular regions of the country. They also can utilize a smaller, more efficient fleet for smaller shipments. Overall, shippers can rely on U.S.
intermodal transportation companies for reliability, safety and efficiency. When more companies move their freight to intermodal forms, the U.S. logistics industry will prove to be resilient in the face of ongoing competition.
Article Source: Calhoun Truck Lines
- Investigation casebook: The name of the game We re taking a look back at some of the year s best Investigations featured in Commercial Motor magazine. For our Christmas edition 19 December we looked once again at some of the more unusual company names within road transport. The name of the game What makes a company name memorable?
CM finds out what led some firms to choose their names. Last year, CM took a look at some of the more unusual names within UK road transport, such as Buffaload Logistics, Tomato Plant, Panther Logistics (now Panther Warehousing) and Goaty Trucking, in a sector still dominated outside the 3PLs by family names. We wanted to know if standing out from the crowd had been a boon or bane for those firms, which had decided to stick their heads above the parapet and go for something different.
Here s the class of 2013. Fly By Nite You may have seen Fly By Nite s eye-catching bat livery on the roads, but the name wasn t inspired by bats themselves more their nocturnal lifestyle. We are a music logistics company, so everything travels by night, says director Carl Reed.
He explains that the nature of the touring business means it usually begins loading equipment onto its trucks when concerts finish at about 11pm. They then move through the night so they are at another venue the next morning. The unique spelling, he adds, is simply a twist on words (which handily also describes what the business does).
Since Fly By Nite began in Birmingham in 1989 it has expanded rapidly, taking on between 12 to 14 additional and replacement vehicles each year. Reed feels having an unusual moniker hasn t had anything but upside for the firm. It now runs a fleet of more than 100 trucks from two sites in Redditch, Worcestershire, and is awaiting its first Euro-6 trial vehicles after Christmas.
Panic Transport Kevin Johnson, MD at Panic Transport, says one of the industry s most memorable names owes its genesis to none other than the PG Tips Chimpanzees. Johnson had gone into business for himself in Rugby in 1986 as Mr Shifter. All was going well until the tea-plugging chimps turned up not long after in a re-run of their TV commercial where a chimp named Mr Shifter destroyed a perfectly good piano while attempting its removal.
In that instant, Johnson knew his company s name had to change. He went with his initials as a stop-gap, KNJ, well aware that it lacked a wow factor. It didn t really have much going for it, he says.
A few years on, a brainstorm with some of his drivers down the pub resulted in Panic Transport and Fast and Reliable Transport Service a ying and yang option. Of course the latter abbreviates as FART, which Johnson considered, toying with a Goes Like The Wind tagline. Instead, he went to a design company called Pyramid in Leamington Spa and they came up with a third concept: Distribution Unlimited.
This was in the running until Johnson mentioned it to the next client he met who pointed out it could abbreviate as DULL. It left Panic, which was born in 1990, as the only viable option. Today the 68-vehicle strong Palletline member has the reputation to stand on its own two feet, but Johnson says that while Panic helped the business develop in an age where you only have to remember a name and then Google it, it did see it become pigeon-holed as a courier, and a last-minute option.
Thus he created the Fragile Distribution and Moto Distribution brands, which are no longer in use, starting around 10 years ago to win business handling high-value glass and automotive products respectively. I don t like the name Panic, but the recognition is such I can t change it now, says Johnson. Sumo Heavy Haulage Based in the East Riding of Yorkshire, Sumo Haulage is part of Sumo UK, an agricultural equipment manufacturer that was started in 1991 by Shaun Wealleans as SW Agriservices.
In 1993 the company designed its first truck tyre press and decided to call it Sumo Wealleans nickname. In 2009 SW Agriservices changed its name to Sumo UK, and today produces all its own products from its factory in Melbourne. Sumo Heavy Haulage started life transporting the group s machines from the factory to farms essentially two vehicles on a restricted licence.
As the parent company s reputation grew, however, Weallean began to get enquiries as to whether he d consider delivering other people s product. As a result, family friend Jeremy Desmond was recruited around six months ago as transport manager to mastermind the haulage business s development, including some hire and reward work. You ve got to sell your haulage company as a product these days, says Desmond, who oversees three trucks (Volvos) and three trailers, low-loaders, and a Euroliner, with more to come.
He adds: We go to agricultural shows, and there are very few manufacturers that have their own vehicles. We turn up with our trucks and drivers in uniform and it really gets us noticed. The Pink Link The story of Huddersfield-based The Pink Link began in June 1991 when David Allen bought haulage business SBH.
Allen formerly a boss at Tuffnell s Parcels Express inherited a fleet of vehicles with a mix of colours, but decided to standardise in bright pink and adopt strap line The Pink Link. His daughter, Vicki Davenport, the sales and commercial director at the company, says: When we took over in 1991, it had a multi-coloured array of vehicles. We couldn t afford to buy new so we painted them all a baby pink and had the strap line.
The choice of colour was to get noticed: It was a big thing at the time, especially for drivers who got quite a bit of reaction when they drove up to their delivery points. According to Davenport, the firm s male drivers are now completely comfortable with the livery, and even get some jealous looks from other drivers because the trucks look so smart! She adds: It certainly helps to sell having such a striking brand, and we would never consider changing it.
Some others we like United Colours of Beddington Deadman Confidential Baird Lends-A-Hand Bang Logistics Accelerate Freight Serious Waste Management U Call I Haul Moov-U The Womans Touch Grumpy Transport ); } //]]
- Ipswich/Felixstowe: Could speed limit be reduced during high winds ... Highways bosses and politicians are looking at new ways of easing traffic congestion in Ipswich including holding Felixstowe-bound lorries in stacking areas west of the Orwell Bridge. A summit meeting between the police, Suffolk County Council, and Highways Agency officials is due to be held within the next few weeks to discuss ways of preventing a repeat of last week s gridlock in Ipswich after the closure of the bridge. On Wednesday the bridge was closed for much of the day, bringing the town to a standstill.
Another closure overnight on Friday to Saturday caused further inconvenience, although there was not as much traffic on the road. The summit meeting has been called by Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore who said it was vital to ensure the town was not brought to a halt by the closure of the bridge. Efforts to reduce the number of accidents on the bridge are already under way.
The Highways Agency is planning to introduce a 60mph speed limit, which is likely to be enforced with average speed cameras. Mr Passmore said he was urging the Agency to consider introducing reduced speed limits, enforced by the cameras, when conditions deteriorated. He said: If things are particularly bad on the bridge for whatever reason you could drop the speed limit to 50mph or 40mph.
If there are high winds it might be possible to use the bridge with a maximum of 30mph That would be better than sitting in a queue in Ipswich going precisely nowhere. One option could be the creation of stacking areas to the west of Ipswich for large lorries heading to Felixstowe when the bridge was closed. He said the old A12 at Copdock, and the former Bury Road park and ride site in Ipswich could be considered.
He also said sites further along the A14 near Stowmarket could be an option. However this might not be a simple solution most of the lorries heading to Felixstowe during periods of high winds are not going to the port itself, but independent yards. They are much more difficult to regulate.
County council cabinet member for transport Graham Newman said action was needed. Some lorries had tried to avoid Ipswich by using the B1078 to get from Needham Market to Wickham Market and then go down the A12. He said: There were major problems in Coddenham where the road is totally unsuitable for large lorries like that.
We have to look at ways of easing the problem. Ipswich council s scrutiny panel is to look at the problems and draw up a policy to try to ensure the road can remain open. Conservative councillor George Debman has called for the policy to be drawn up: Those of us who live and work in the town know how difficult it is when the bridge is closed.
The town comes to a halt and it really affects business. There must be a way of keeping the bridge open, reducing speeds and ensuring HGVs remain in the outside lane. Business leaders warned that regular closures of the bridge were damaging the economy of the whole county.
John Dugmore, chief executive of the Suffolk and Ipswich Chamber of Commerce, said: With the horrendous weather the effect on business has been a major challenge. The closure of the Orwell Bridge does cause major frustrations and inconvenience both to businesses moving freight and to those operating in Ipswich. If climate change means we will see the bridge closed more often then business will want to see options considered for improving the situation.
Those options must have the support of business if they are to be implemented and make a difference.
- Keeping Up With Sandy: We Keep On TruckingDay Five dawned dark. Our location in Indiana was at the very western edge of the Eastern Time Zone. Consequently it was very dark at 6am.
So the plans of leaving early were but a dream as we did not really want to put things away in the pitch black. It is considered poor form to rustle about too much before it gets light outside. But we were on the road again (sounds like a song!) by 7:30am.
Indiana turned into Illinois and by dint of a change to Central Time Zone, we made it to Chicago about 1/2 after we left Indiana. Huh? Thank goodness we did the drive through the city on a Sunday morning instead of a workday.
Even today there was a lot of traffic. Even with GPS the navigation was especially tricky in one spot and we pretty much slowed to a crawl waiting to be let into the proper lane. We certainly looked like out-of-towners with our big whale of a 5th wheel and Maine plates.
To add to the fun, GPS directed us to I90 where there were big signs saying "Express Lanes, No Trucks". We aren't officially a truck (at least that's my story should any law enforcement official ask). But our concern was that maybe some of the bridges were too low for us.
We committed ourselves to the route and held our breath as we did encounter one 13' 9" bridge. We are 12' 9". So we made it, none the worse for wear and without any citations.
Why yes, it is still there! This is the view that I want from my rear window. Another of my jobs is to alert the driver if I do NOT see this.
As you might be able to guess, roadside sights kept me amused for most of our 441.9 mile drive today. EZPass has worked on all the toll roads so far. The midwestern states seem to be replacing something called IZoom with it.
I saw an interesting sign advertising "Full season control of corn root worm" We accidentally engaged in the sport of turtle tipping this morning somewhere east of South Bend. The silly turtle really shouldn't have sauntered out in front of such a big camper. Brett said it flipped over once but did appear to be headed off the road on its own power.
A sign advertising an Amish market prompted the following conversation: Q -Would you like to buy an Amish? A-I'm not sure. Q-What would we do with one?
A- Put it in the living room and force it to watch TV. When all the people riding on 3 motorcycles give you the thumbs up sign, it does not mean that they think you have a nice rig. I really need to work on my 65mph photo taking.
This picture shows 2 rainbows that appeared in the sky just before we got to Chicago. Just when I decided that the scenery looked a lot like Maine, we began to get more and more farm land covered with corn. Boy howdy there's a lot of corn growing out here.
Somebody told me once that it was tall so I for some reason got a mental image of corn the size of the pine trees along the interstate at home. I'm happy to report that it isn't quite that tall. Here we have stopped at a rest area in Wisconsin.
We spoke with a man who was delivering a new RV to British Columbia. We noticed quite a few trucks from this delivery company hauling new fifth wheels. I guess that's how all those new recreational vehicles get from Indiana to their new owners.
Wisconsin was the first place where we encountered bio-diesel for sale. It is .01 per gallon cheaper than regular diesel. We crossed the Mississippi River this afternoon.
I knew it would happen but it just took me off guard to do it between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Somewhere in my brain I equated Mississippi River with the South. After this rest area, the highway climbs up the Great River Bluffs.
These must have been formed as the river eroded the banks and got to the present location. The silo looks like a smoke stack with that cloud just behind it. And there was corn for as far as the eye could see.
Minnesota settled into beautiful farmland from the border to Rochester where we are spending the night. Brett likes the fact that the road signs here aren't making things up. We drove 45 mph through much of Illinois under the "Road Work" warning signs but there wasn't any road work happening.
Minnesota put out a "Bump Ahead" warning and then at the exact spot of the bump, had another sign with an arrow pointing to the bump. Dear Maine, please come take a look at this. I'm tired of guessing whether the frost heave sign is serious or just left over from last season.
We got to our pretty campground at about 4:30pm and the nice people here showed us to our very easy to get into pull through site. Did I mention that the two nicest words in RV'ing are pull through? We set up the electric grill on the picnic table and I cooked bacon and banana pancakes with fresh raspberries.
A breakfast for dinner camping event was had by all. Then a walk around the campground where we admired some more corn fields and smelled the smells of harvest. And oooooh'ed and aaaaah'ed over the enormous corn harvesting machines (my phone was being charged so I didn't get any pictures).
It was another great day on our great adventure.
I wonder what we'll learn tomorrow?
- Motorists face months of disruption on Humber Bridge MOTORISTS face nine months of disruption on the Humber Bridge while crucial repair work is carried out. Just one lane will be operating in each direction on the bridge and reduced speed limits will be enforced while the work is completed. Bridge bosses say the repairs are vital to replace four solid steel A-frames that connect the main span bridge deck to the towers at either end of the bridge.
MISERY FOR MOTORISTS: Drivers are facing nine months of disruption on the Humber Bridge while essential repair work is carried out. Picture: Jerome Ellerby But haulage firms reliant on the crossing for an easy route south have warned the move could prove costly if efforts to prevent tailbacks fail. Dominic Yeardley, director of Hull freight company Eurovision Logistics, said: "It's such a marginal industry we're in, just a small delay can have an impact.
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Savings based on directors rates. Contact: 01482 423178 Valid until: Thursday, October 31 2013 "If you're going over the bridge twice a day and you lose an hour, you've lost a reasonably significant percentage of your hauling capacity for that vehicle. "There's no way of getting that back. You risk being late with your customers' deliveries." The Humber Bridge Board insists it has learnt from the mistakes of July, when toll booth closures during an upgrade programme led to tailbacks stretching to Willerby and past Barton-upon-Humber on the south bank.
Bridgemaster Peter Hill said he was aware closed lanes during the 3.9m repair work were likely to be a cause for concern to customers. He said: "We appreciate customers will be worried this work could affect traffic flow in and around the Humber Bridge toll area but we want to stress that we are doing all we can to minimise any impact. "At peak times, we will have three approach lanes and three toll booths open in each direction, as at present. "We will only reduce this to two lanes, or possibly one, at the quietest times during nights and at weekends, and only when the works make this essential for safety. "With the maintenance work continuing until next summer, we are also planning ahead for the winter months and the effects poor weather will bring to minimise disruption." The maintenance work is due to start at the end of this month. It is unrelated to the Humber Bridge Toll Project, which is replacing manned booths with electronic ones.
Bridge bosses said it made economic sense to carry out both schemes together as lane restrictions would be in place for a shorter amount of time.
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- MSM Monitor: Sunday Globe Special: Truck Stop I'm getting hungry myself. "Push for healthier truck drivers gaining momentum" by Jamie Stengle | Associated Press, October 14, 2012 DALLAS In the months after Doug Robinson started driving a truck, he noticed his clothes were increasingly more snug-fitting. He was already overweight but soon realized that spending up to 11 hours behind the wheel, frequently eating fast food , and not exercising was a poor combination. When his employer, US Xpress, took part in a weight-loss challenge sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association, the 321-pound, 6-foot-1-inch Robinson signed up.
He s about 40 pounds into his goal of dropping 100. His truck s refrigerator is stocked with chicken, tuna, and vegetables. And after his day s drive, he walks on trails near rest stops or just circling his truck.
I have asthma, so with the extra weight on there, it isn t good for me, said Robinson, a 30-year-old from Philadelphia. When I started losing weight, instantly I was breathing better. I was sleeping better at night.
I'm all for people being healthier; I just wish there weren't poisons in the land, air, and water while we obsess about obesity in a land where one in six are hungry. From trucking companies embracing wellness and weight-loss programs to gyms being installed at truck stops , momentum has picked up in recent years to help those who make their living driving big rigs get into shape. I think a lot of trucking companies are coming around to the idea that their drivers are their assets, said Boyd Stephenson of the American Truck ing Associations, the industry s largest national trade association.
He added that healthier employees help a company s bottom line . I knew there wa$ an agenda at work. There s an additional incentive for truckers to stay in shape their job might depend on their health.
I smell a discrimination lawsuit cooking. Every two years, they must pass a physical exam required by the Department of Transportation s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. They are checked for conditions that might cause them to become incapacitated suddenly or gradually while driving, including severe heart conditions, high blood pressure, and respiratory disorders.
While there are no weight restrictions , a commercial driver who has been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and is not undergoing treatment will not get a medical certificate. Sleep apnea, more common among those who are overweight, leads to daytime sleepiness, a danger on long drives. But there are obstacles for truck drivers who are mindful of their health.
In addition to being seated for many hours at a time, eating options are usually limited to places with parking lots big enough to accommodate their tractor-trailers most often truck stops, which historically have not been known for wholesome food or workout equipment. That s something truck stop chains have been trying to change. TravelCenters of America, which operates under the TA and Petro Stopping Centers brands, launched a program two years ago called StayFit that includes placing small, free gyms in truck stops, offering healthier eating options and half portions, mapping walking routes near truck stops, and building basketball courts in some locations.
We wanted to remove as many barriers to drivers health as possible, said TravelCenters spokesman Tom Liutkus, who said the company has gyms at 42 of its more than 240 locations, with plans to outfit them all by the end of next year. He added that the gyms have been accessed more than 30,000 times. Gym franchiser Snap Fitness has partnered with Rolling Strong, which provides wellness programs aimed at truckers, to open gyms at Pilot Flying J locations.
The first one opened south of Dallas in June: A nearly 1,000-square-foot stand-alone building filled with weights and a dozen machines. More than 120 memberships have been sold for that gym. We know that we have an audience out there that needs help, said Snap Fitness chief executive officer and founder Peter Taunton.
By the end of the year, the company plans to install gyms inside Pilot Flying J truck stops in Georgia and Tennessee. --more--" Time to climb into the cab and get me some sleep.
- Network for Truck Drivers To Connect with Ride-Along Friends ... Quote: Hi! I just joined this forum, and look forward to connecting with folks. Does anyone know if there is a network for people wanting rides by 18-wheeler to connect with drivers who would enjoy having ride-along companionship?
The ride-along friends could be a sort of "driver's helper" as well, by contributing healthy home-cooked meals etc. In the past when I have caught rides with truckers, I have always enjoyed the experience greatly - sharing stories and such, makes for a richer journey. If any such network exists, I would like to be a regular participant.
If it doesn't exist yet, I would like to start one! greendragonflylady, currently seeking a ride east on I-10 from Texas to Florida or anywhere in between You have already found the network. Actually, just about any trucking website will do.
Just post and if a driver is interested, they'll email or PM you. Women seeking a ride-along experience must be aware of a few things: - Drivers of commercial vehicle need company permission to haul a bunk bunny around. Usually, the company will charge the driver a buck or two per day to cover the added insurance.
Drivers with their own truck, but who are leased to another company, still need permission and insurance -- it's in the lease agreement that they never read... The reasons are obvious -- you or your survivors will sue the company if anything happens. The driver needs written permission (easily faxed) from the carrier saying you can ride along should DOT ask for it.
Be wary of the brain-dead driver who offers you a ride without company permission. His job is history if the carrier finds out. - Never leave home without a means ($$$ & plastic) to get back home if something goes wrong. If you're broke and hungry with no means of getting home, you are at the mercy of the driver.
Use your head. - You need to positively ID the driver, the company name/truck number and make sure your friends/family know who you're riding with. The driver needs to know that others are aware of his ID should you end up in up in a ditch somewhere along I-40. Take your cell phone and, in the presence of the driver, check in with friends/family regularly. - Pay your own way all the time unless you intend to pay the driver in other ways.
You can help him out by buying his meals because he's not getting rich. - You should not be surprised if the driver hits on you or kicks you out of the truck in the middle of nowhere. C'mon!!! Drivers assume that women who want to see America in a truck are a little flaky/naive/stupid/loose to begin with, so it's only a matter of time before 300# of raging testosterone decides it's time for you to pay for the ride/meals/lodging/etc...
by giving him a ride. - There is no such thing as a woman who is too unattractive for a horny driver to hit on... - Be aware of this and the possibility that you could end up as a statistic in a computer database. Personally, I'd kick my daughters' butts if the decided to ride-along. Sooner or later they'll have an really unpleasant experience and there are far better ways to see America.
Last edited by juno_hoo; 10-18-2011 at 09:55 AM .
- New Transport Team - Cardinal Maritime - Freight consolidation news Complementing our market-leading LCL import & export services we now have a growing fleet of Captain branded vehicles on the road in the UK.
In line with our commitment to innovation our dedicated transport team have now gone live with our new IT transport module to assist them in their endeavours.
This should ensure the most efficient use of our vehicles & provide our loyal clients with significant cost savings through better utilisation of vehicles while enabling us to continue our green pledge in further reducing our carbon footprint.
- Not Firing On All Cylinders: Travels with Harley(with apologies to John Steinbeck) I rode to Durham NC for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation's 2012 Meeting Of The Minds.
2613 miles on a 1990 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic. My daily commute is 20 miles, so this was the equivalent of 130 days of commuting, most of it at 65 MPH or more. Some thoughts from the road: My seat is approximately 47 years old.
The bike's seat is approximately 22 years old. Before the next long trip one of them is going to be changed. I'm betting on the bike seat.
I don't mind when my Harley marks its territory, but when it does it on my jeans it becomes a problem. The rocker box gaskets I planned to do this winter during chrome polishing season suddenly moved up in priority. As I was riding down I-64 in eastern Kentucky, I wondered why the on-ramps were always on curves.
Later it occurred to me that it was because there weren't enough straight sections of I-64 to accommodate the on-ramps! Speed limit signs in the Durham NC area are apparently suggestions, or perhaps recommended minimums. Indiana has found a way to keep roads from buckling in summer heat: generous expansion joints.
Unfortunately, the rest of the year, when the roads contract, there are corresponding gaps. At 70 MPH on a motorcycle, it feels like riding over a 2x4 every 15 feet or so. I knew I was back in Iowa when I started seeing evidence of road-killed deer and started meeting wind generator blades and tower sections on trucks heading east on I-80.
Speaking of wind generators, I have deduced the reason for locating them along I-80. There's never any shortage of energy to drive them! Speaking further of wind generators, maybe it's me but it seems a waste to have wind generator parts meeting each other on the Interstate.
Seriously...instead of trucking a blade from west to east at the same time a blade is being trucked from east to west, why not arrange to use the parts in the west on the project in the west and vice-versa?
It was a great trip, and a great conference, and I can't wait to do it again!
- not too surprised, the expected happened today - Sportbikes.net 03-10-2013, 10:34 PM # 1 ( permalink ) Umbrella Girl Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Colorado Thanks: 10 Thanked 10 Times in 9 Posts Not five minutes into my ride, a truck turning left hit me. Overall, it wasn't too bad but here's my story. Some background.
This was my first bike, 07 GSX-R600. I started riding in January of last year, so I only have over a year of experience and 13.5k mi. The forecasted blizzard yesterday in Colorado turned out to be a fluke of just 4 in.
of snow. Today, it was around 32 degrees and the roads were dry and snow-free, so I decided to go on a ride - like I do every ridable day. I had on all my gear: helmet, jacket, a second jacket, gloves and liner, full race boots, knee guards, & kelvar jeans.
I then headed out onto the main road next to my neighborhood. I reached this intersection and was hit by a trucking making a left turn. I live near this intersection, so I know never to make a left turn here because of the non-stop traffic.
You really have to wait a long time for the right-of-way. So, I was heading east and was focusing on another car about to make a left turn into the shopping center (like the white car in the photo). That car stopped after noticing me.
Suddenly, another left-hand turner, the truck coming out of the shopping center made his left turn. This I was not expecting because his right-of-way was after me and the first left-hand turner. I didn't even look that way.
Well, he came out to the intersection and stopped on my lane. I braked but was not able to stop in time; the right-front of my bike hit his bumper, and I dropped the bike on the left side. During my emergency braking, I did lock up the rear - man, that didn't take much.
I don't know if it was me, but I felt there was a little gravel on the road during my stop. Also, it didn't feel like I used enough front brakes (had always put off my e-braking practice). Here's a photo of my zip-tie.
Can somebody comment regarding whether I used enough front brakes because this is the only thing that bothers me - whether I could have stopped in time. Whether I used enough front brakes or not, I couldn't really tell at time. I can tell you one thing, it was difficult to consider going around the truck on the left side when the truck was still creeping and you don't know if it was going to stop.
If I had done that, the result would have been a head-on with the other left-turner that had stopped, so stopping was my only option. The driver was a nice dude with his wife. He's a rider and even he said what everybody else says in such situations - I didn't see you.
I didn't get angry and just laughed it off. He was insured and admitted fault. Also, I got the information of an eyewitness who saw everything.
Damages to the bike aren't bad. Only injury was my right middle finger. Before: After: The Shogun frame slider and spool really minimized the cosmetic damages on the left side, but there were still some small scratches on the fairing and scuffs on the mirror.
Only injury: The riding season for me never really ended, but now I will be out of commission for a while. Depending on the insurance settlement, I might rebuild, track it, or look at the V-Strom.
03-10-2013, 10:45 PM # 2 ( permalink ) World 500 GP Champion Join Date: Nov 2010 Location: Sugar Notch, PA (Northeast PA) Age: 30 Thanks: 2,434 Thanked 3,301 Times in 1,686 Posts Well, that really is about the best outcome from a bad situation. Glad to hear you're relatively okay, that the guy admitted fault, and that there was an eye-witness.
All very good things. What was the zip tie there for? Was that just for you to see how far your front forks compressed?
I don't really have much useful advice for you concerning whether or not you applied enough brake. I'm sure someone with more experience than me will chime in and provide a better answer. How fast were you going before you started emergency braking?
How fast do estimate you were going when you hit him (because I'm sure you had plenty of time to look down at the speedometer before impact, right? )?
03-10-2013, 10:54 PM # 3 ( permalink ) World 500 GP Champion Join Date: Jun 2010 Location: Austin, TX Age: 20 Thanks: 214 Thanked 590 Times in 405 Posts As far as the braking, it is hard to tell. I would say yes, but that also depends on how your suspension is set up for you as a rider, if the front is too soft then you may not have been able to brake as hard as you possibly could. Either way, based on suspension travel, I'd say you probably did a pretty good job.
You say you felt like there may have been gravel? Was that feedback from the front or the rear? The reason I ask is because, as you pointed out, the rear locked up relatively easy.
While braking, this transfers weight to the front and lightens the load on the rear tire, which makes the rear much easier to lock up. Did the rear seem to feel like it was skipping a little bit? If so, then this is more likely due to very light load on the rear rather than gravel because gravel would have also influenced the front tire under such heavy braking situations.
Glad to see you came out of it alright and that it doesn't seem like it was your fault. Sounds like you kept a pretty level head, and I hope you get the bike fixed up and rideable fast! Remember, in colder weather people definitely are not expecting motorcycles to be out, so ride more cautiously. __________________ Rider's Resume: http://tinyurl.com/ctx76c4 03-10-2013, 11:34 PM # 4 ( permalink ) Umbrella Girl Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Colorado Thanks: 10 Thanked 10 Times in 9 Posts Quote: You say you felt like there may have been gravel?
Was that feedback from the front or the rear? The reason I ask is because, as you pointed out, the rear locked up relatively easy. While braking, this transfers weight to the front and lightens the load on the rear tire, which makes the rear much easier to lock up.
Did the rear seem to feel like it was skipping a little bit? If so, then this is more likely due to very light load on the rear rather than gravel because gravel would have also influenced the front tire under such heavy braking situations. That was feedback from the rear, don't recall with the front except I didn't feel too much compression.
You're definitely correct with the lightened load on the rear making it easy to lock up. Will probably start to forget about it and focus completely on the front next time.
03-10-2013, 11:39 PM # 5 ( permalink ) Umbrella Girl Join Date: Jul 2012 Location: Colorado Thanks: 10 Thanked 10 Times in 9 Posts Yes, too see how much compression I'm getting out of them. I was definitely traveling the speed limit at 40 because I usually slow down there while looking at the first left-turner.
03-11-2013, 12:29 AM # 6 ( permalink ) Mediocre Strafer Join Date: Aug 2006 Location: San Diego Thanks: 464 Thanked 1,441 Times in 730 Posts Basically, if the rear wheel didn't come off the ground, or the front tire lock up, you didn't use all the front brake you could. You see the problem with the rear brake under emergency braking - you have a whole lot of other things going on in that moment, and it is giving you less and less help as you stop harder and harder. Glad you're pretty much ok!
KeS The Following User Says Thank You to kevin_stevens For This Useful Post: 03-11-2013, 02:27 AM # 7 ( permalink ) SBN Newb Join Date: Jan 2013 Location: los angeles Age: 20 Thanks: 0 Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts Just my 2-cents as to what to do with the bike, if his insuance is going to total your bike(might be likely because cosmetic damage adds up and they price how much it will cost to make your bike perfect again) have them take your bike and give you the cash value. My roommate got hit in a similar situation and the driver admitted fault. The other drivers insurance company valued his bike based on what it would cost from a dealership + the added fees for tax title and license + an adjustment for mileage accumulation.
His bike was a 2006 or 07 ninja 250r and they gave him about $4k for it. It was allstate insurance btw. Take pics of your damaged gear and print out the retail value from an online retailer, so they can replace that.
Send pics of your finger and any medical forms from the er or whatever, as they will reimburse you for your copays and give you pain and suffering money. Also document any work you have to miss, because they should pay you for that. Glad to hear you are ok, but make sure your are compensated fairly, because itll take awhile to get everything back (the whole process took my roommate about a month).
Stay safe man 03-11-2013, 03:30 AM # 8 ( permalink ) Live to ride Join Date: Nov 2005 Location: Rapid Valley, South Dakota Age: 30 Posts: 11,736 Gameroom cash: $89919 Sportbike: 08 250R, 05 ZX6R, 09 zx14 Thanks: 160 Thanked 421 Times in 270 Posts You didnt use enough front brake. This time of the year is a bad idea to not be practicing safe riding, the roads are not as "clear" as you think. In my area they use a chemicle compound to keep the roads from icing over and sand.
Very scary to put yourself in an emergency braking situation, because traction is very unpredictable. You may really benefit from assuming that all vehicles will pull across you and always be on the defense. __________________ TEAM ALFALFA Resume "...to disarm the people - that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them." (George Mason) "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." Last edited by binx_19; 03-11-2013 at 03:32 AM .
03-11-2013, 07:55 AM # 9 ( permalink ) World 500 GP Champion Join Date: Oct 2007 Location: Charlotte, NC Thanks: 1,836 Thanked 2,685 Times in 1,561 Posts Did you lift the rear off the ground? If yes, then you used enough front brake Sent from Motorcycle.com Free App 03-11-2013, 09:15 AM # 10 ( permalink ) Silent pipes take lives Join Date: Aug 2006 Location: Washington D.C.
area Age: 36 Posts: 12,744 Gameroom cash: $60636 Sportbike: 2012 ZX-14R, 2011 H-D Wide Glide Thanks: 246 Thanked 196 Times in 131 Posts Of course, they're always going to say they didn't see you because if they say they did see you, then they're effectively admitting to purposely causing the accident.
03-11-2013, 09:38 AM # 11 ( permalink ) World 500 GP Champion Join Date: Jun 2010 Location: Austin, TX Age: 20 Thanks: 214 Thanked 590 Times in 405 Posts I think we should be careful about perpetuating this idea of the rear wheel coming off the ground. Without proper practice (which should be done anyways), it can be difficult to predict how much braking this is vs how much is too much. I know I'd rather have someone else's insurance pay out rather than taking a claim myself from flipping over the handlebars. __________________ Rider's Resume: http://tinyurl.com/ctx76c4 The Following User Says Thank You to TCormier For This Useful Post: 03-11-2013, 09:56 AM # 12 ( permalink ) Mexican Hard Shell Taco Join Date: Jun 2004 Location: Mexico, Mexico City Age: 34 Posts: 4,586 Gameroom cash: $30023 Sportbike: XT660R - XT660X - SV1000S - SV1000 - XJR1300 - RX-S 115 Thanks: 97 Thanked 472 Times in 297 Posts There are many situations where the front wheel will slide before the rear wheel comes off the ground, and that is, if that bike can actually do that.
I know for a fact my XT660R and XJR1300 won't lift the rear wheel under any circumstance, the front will slide way before that. The SV1Ks will do, as well as the XT660X, but depending on the pavement and traction, sometimes the front wheel will slide. And forget about the rear brake, in emergency situations it just trouble. __________________ Go soothingly on the greasy mud, for therein lies the skid demon.
The Following User Says Thank You to S sser Tod For This Useful Post: 03-11-2013, 10:44 AM # 13 ( permalink ) 500 G.P. Champion Join Date: Sep 2006 Location: Calgary, AB CA Age: 27 Thanks: 59 Thanked 135 Times in 87 Posts If you're keeping the bike make sure you get the triples clamps, forks and wheel checked to see if they're still straight. Quote: I think we should be careful about perpetuating this idea of the rear wheel coming off the ground.
Without proper practice (which should be done anyways), it can be difficult to predict how much braking this is vs how much is too much. I know I'd rather have someone else's insurance pay out rather than taking a claim myself from flipping over the handlebars. That, and a less experienced person will grab the lever harder.
Getting on the brakes too quick disrupts the balance and lifts the rear way faster. I guarentee a more experienced rider can brake harder without upsetting the chassis __________________ . Last edited by phail; 03-11-2013 at 10:47 AM .
03-11-2013, 11:50 AM # 14 ( permalink ) World 500 GP Champion Join Date: Jun 2010 Location: Austin, TX Age: 20 Thanks: 214 Thanked 590 Times in 405 Posts Quote: There are many situations where the front wheel will slide before the rear wheel comes off the ground, and that is, if that bike can actually do that. I know for a fact my XT660R and XJR1300 won't lift the rear wheel under any circumstance, the front will slide way before that. The SV1Ks will do, as well as the XT660X, but depending on the pavement and traction, sometimes the front wheel will slide.
And forget about the rear brake, in emergency situations it just trouble. Very good point as well. This is why it is important to practice: unless you know what your bike can do you are just hoping it will when the possible situation comes!
Also agree on the rear brake, unless someone has a lot of practice with it, it isn't going to help much in an emergency situation and can actually do more harm than good. If you are someone who can practice and does, then that is different. But we know 95% of riders aren't practicing it up in parking lots.
Quote: If you're keeping the bike make sure you get the triples clamps, forks and wheel checked to see if they're still straight. That, and a less experienced person will grab the lever harder. Getting on the brakes too quick disrupts the balance and lifts the rear way faster.
I guarentee a more experienced rider can brake harder without upsetting the chassis Even experienced riders make this mistake. I did this last year at the track which resulted in a really bad crash for me. But an experienced rider is less likely to make that mistake.
For anyone reading, I'd suggest moving your weight forward, to help load the front tire, and gently getting on the brakes, then you can progressively brake harder. I guarantee this will make you be able to stop faster because you aren't disrupting the chassis, suspension, and also allowing the front tire to properly handle the weight. Practice this stuff in a parking lot! __________________ Rider's Resume: http://tinyurl.com/ctx76c4 03-11-2013, 12:01 PM # 15 ( permalink ) Mediocre Strafer Join Date: Aug 2006 Location: San Diego Thanks: 464 Thanked 1,441 Times in 730 Posts Quote: I think we should be careful about perpetuating this idea of the rear wheel coming off the ground.
Without proper practice (which should be done anyways), it can be difficult to predict how much braking this is vs how much is too much. I know I'd rather have someone else's insurance pay out rather than taking a claim myself from flipping over the handlebars. I'm not sure of your point.
The OP was asking if he could have braked harder and stopped quicker. The answer was that if the rear didn't lift or the front slide, he could have. That's straightforward and unequivocal physics.
You seem to be suggesting that in some cases it's better to go ahead and run into someone rather than risk crashing yourself by endoing.
That's opening a huge can of worms about riding behavior and tactics, is that where you intended to go?
Or are you suggesting another way for riders to know when they are doing max braking, like trailing the rear slightly so they can feel it lock rather than wait for the rear to come up? (I actually do this.) KeS
- Ohio Man Buried with Treasured Harley Graphic Image Ohio man, Billie Standley, rode into the sunset in style and was buried with his treasured Harley Davidson. The native of the small village of Mechanicsburg passed away this week at the age of 82. As his family honored his final wish, Standley s funeral brought cyclists from across the country to say goodbye and pay tribute in a most unusual way.
After years of planning his own funeral and burial, Standley was laid to rest astride his beloved bike. A man who enjoyed life to the fullest, Standley was known for his unique sense of adventure and quirky ideas. He lived life on the edge and took every advantage to see the world and experience life.
A former rodeo rider, Standley was also a family man and dedicated worker. He embraced the best of all worlds with his rugged spirit and heart of gold. He liked to stand out in the crowd and the crowd of mourners saw first hand how he stood out, even in death.
Growing up in rural Ohio, Standley pursued adventure while holding down a long time trucking job and raising his four children with his wife. The great outdoors beckoned as Standley loved fishing, water skiing and horse back riding. His first love, next to family and friends, however, was his 1967 Harley Davidson Electra Glide.
The bike was a huge part of his life and has now become a fixture in his death. Standley came up with his own funeral plans close to two decades ago and everyone who loved the man knew about his crazy idea. It was more than just a fly by night dream, it became a focus and reality.
The Ohio man wanted to be buried with his treasured bike. He was serious and did not let go of the possibility. He started making his own final arrangements by purchasing three plots in a nearby cemetery.
His children got on board and supported the plan. His sons took to building a plexiglass casket that would be large enough for the motorcycle and their father. All the details were carefully considered as the men completed the reinforced structure that would someday enclose Standley.
The casket was kept in the family garage and quickly became a showcase and conversation piece. The Ohio man was quite proud of the masterpiece and it gave him peace of mind for his future grand exit. Ohio Man Buried with Treasured Harley, photo by Jeff Guerini Standley developed Alzheimer s disease, but did not forget about his final dream.
After battling lung cancer this past year, he passed away on January 26, 2014 and his casket was passed on to the funeral home. Skillman, McDonald and Vernon funeral home in Mechanicsburg were ready and able to assure the details of securing Standley onto his bike and into the see through casket. At Standley s request, the funeral was held outside, despite the bitter cold, so the public and many cyclists could view his last ride.
Dressed in full biker gear and surrounded by his trophies from his rodeo days, Standley was on display on his bike and enclosed in the special casket. The extra effort from five funeral directors required braces and straps to get Standley prepared for his last ride. It was time for the final goodbye as all preparations were secure.
As the village looked on with awe, the town motto, Where Unity Means Progress , was evident. This was certainly a moment of progress in the town of 2,000 and one everyone would remember. As the unique casket was towed four miles to the cemetery, Standley was in full display atop his beloved Harley.
The Ohio man lived his dream and died in peace as he was laid to rest with his treasured friend.
By: Roanne FitzGibbon Vernon Funeral Home Dayton Daily News Springfield News Sun Like this: Like Loading...
- Passenger Rail and Freight Rail Are Friends, Not Enemies When I first saw this NPR story titled High-Speed Rail Buzz Overpowers Daily Chug Of Freight Trains I thought it would be a reasonable look at the challenges that come in certain high speed rail projects that intend to share tracks. But that s not what this is about: But these new projects could conflict with the freight systems that go largely undetected for many Americans. As it stands now, Amtrak pays private companies in the center of the country to run its low-speed passenger trains on freight-rail tracks.
But high-speed trains would need their own tracks, depriving the freight-rail system of some of that revenue. How to build a high-speed system without hurting the freight industry is a problem that has not yet been solved, says professor Christopher Barkan, director of the RailTEC center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Huh?
Freight rail will be gutted because passenger trains will run on their own tracks and deprive freight rail companies of precious revenue? That doesn t make any sense at all. During FY 2010, the most recent year I could find stats for, Amtrak paid $135 million in track access fees to freight railroads, representing about 6.6% of Amtrak s total operating costs that year.
In FY 2010 the operating revenues for Union Pacific were $4.981 billion. For BNSF the operating revenue in FY 2010 was $4.5 billion, for CSX the FY 2010 operating revenue was $2.8 billion for Norfolk Southern the FY 2010 railway operating revenue was $2.67 billion, for Canadian Pacific the FY 2010 revenue was C$5.0 billion and FY 2010 revenue for CN was C$8.297 billion. Treating the Canadian numbers at rough parity with USD, that gets a grand total of $28.248 billion in FY 2010 operating revenue for the major freight railroads Amtrak pays.
It took me a total of 10 minutes to research those numbers. So Amtrak s $135 million payments that year reflect 0.48% of annual revenue for those freight rail companies. And we re supposed to believe that if that money went away, it s some mortal threat to the future of freight rail in America?
How absurd! Especially since, at least for the time being, most high speed rail plans in America do not envision dedicated passenger rail tracks, meaning that 0.48% of revenue will not be going anywhere anytime soon except perhaps upward. The rest of the NPR story is quotes from people waxing rhapsodic about the economic and cultural value of freight rail.
And I am in full and complete agreement about that. America needs to shift toward using electrified freight rail for as many of its freight hauling needs as possible, just as we did until the 1980s (well, it wasn t electrified then). It s better for the environment and by using electric locomotion it can be better for the businesses who depend on freight rail since the price will not be dependent on an ever-rising cost of oil.
Further, separate high speed rail tracks mean that there s more room for freight rail to grow. As I said above, there is a genuine issue in terms of capacity when passenger and freight share tracks. It can work as an interim measure, but the best solution for everyone is for passenger rail and freight rail to have their own tracks, allowing both to expand capacity over the coming decades as demand for electric rail rises.
I strongly support further federal investment in all forms of passenger rail and I also strongly support further federal investment in all forms of freight rail. NPR here implies that there s only so much money to go around, which just isn t true. There s plenty of money to invest in both kinds of rail.
Unfortunately, the folks NPR interviewed are colored by some basic factual errors when it comes to high speed rail: In addition, political opponents of the president s vision say America is just too spread out, too large and diffusely populated for high-speed economics to work. The population densities in countries where it has worked are different than in the U.S., says RailTEC s Barkan. Well, that s definitely true out in the West, where you have vast swathes of land with very little population.
Actually, California s population densities and the distances between metro areas are very similar to both France and Spain. The notion that California is somehow less dense is just not true. Barkan acknowledges that the Midwest s densities and distances resemble France as well, so he appears to have some possibility of being brought around to reason, which is nice.
But that doesn t redeem this article, which makes some crazy assumptions not supported by the evidence.
Passenger rail and freight rail are both important to the transportation future of this country, and both should be supported, rather than artificially and unjustifiably pitted against each other.
- Reinventing the Way America Uses Its Energy Print | Blog4Truckers Where IS that good ol American ingenuity? With fuel prices on the rise yet again, what ideas are being brought to the table to replace oil as the dominent source of energy in America and what ideas does the American trucker have to solve our energy challenges? Let s recap what I said in last week s blog and put some new things on the table.
Diesel this week has hit $4.142 per gallon. In an April 3rd interview with Sean Kilcarr of Fleet Owner magazine, Eric Starks, president of research firm FTR Associates said. In particular, we haven t seen the huge price spikes we did back a few years ago the per gallon price numbers have gone up very slowly compared to what s happened to the price of gasoline in the U.S.
That s the big thing. According to Sparks, there are other reasons beyond the slower increases in fuel cost that has made the over-all impact less on the American trucker. The big reason is that payment terms have normalized in trucking compared to 2008, he explained.
We re back to a 30- to 45-day payment cycle whereas a few years back we were seeing many terms extended out to 120 days. That creates a cash crunch for a carrier if fuel prices suddenly jump, which is what happened in 2008. But this doesn t mean there isn t reason for concern.
According to Starks in the April 3rd Fleet Owner article, if diesel were to suddenly spike 50 cents in a week or hit $5 per gallon, Either of those would create real havoc in the system. While there s currently wiggle room to deal with the challenge of increasing fuel costs, the window is closing down fairly quickly before the situation goes critical. The facts are out there: As the world economy improves, the consumption of fossil fuels increases across the globe, especially in the large populations of India and China with their emerging middle class.
With the Arab Spring, the war in Afghanistan, and things heating up between Israel and Iran, tensions are increasing. The political fights between the Drill, baby, drill, and Make everyone walk and ride bikes, crowds in the US are growing more heated. The non-consuming oil speculators who react to each one of these situations are driving the price of oil even higher.
But we must also keep in mind that in all of this turmoil the U.S. has greatly reduced its dependence on foreign oil, particularly Middle Eastern sources. Today nearly 70% of U.S.
oil comes from North America.
55% comes from the wells within our borders; the other 15% comes from Mexico and Canada. But this reduction of importing Middle East oil comes at a cost in that U.S. and Canadian oil is far more expensive to pump out of the ground.
This means everyone will pay a higher price per gallon to fuel their vehicles. So what are the alternatives besides drilling more U.S. wells, or returning many Americans to the horse and buggy or riding bicycles?
Americans are fiercely independent and enjoy the freedom of having their own personal mode of transportation so they can go when they want to, where they want, without depending on someone else to transport them. What ideas and changes are occurring within trucking to improve efficiency and lower cost of fueling and operating a truck? Actually, there are several.
Several truck engine manufacturers are introducing natural gas powered Class 8 engines, from the Navistar Maxx Force, to PACCAR s, to Daimler s Freightliner use of Cummins Westport Natural Gas engines. Natural gas is a win-win for the industry as it s more plentiful in the U.S. than oil-based diesel.
It also burns cleaner. The biggest challenge for moving the industry to using a greater proportion of LNG or CNG is getting the distribution infrastructure in place so carriers have access to the needed fuel. Stepping up to the plate is T.
Boone Pickens of Clean Energy Fuel and Pilot Flying J as they partner to provide Natural Gas fueling facilities at Pilot and Flying Js Travel Plazas across the U.S. In a press release late last year from Clean Energy Fuel To support the growing demand for natural gas-fueled trucking in the United States, Clean Energy Fuels Corp. has signed an agreement with Pilot Travel Centers LLC to build, own and operate public access, compressed and liquefied natural gas (CNG/LNG) fueling facilities at agreed-upon Pilot Flying J truck travel centers nationwide.
It s estimated that by using LGN or CNG as truck fuel, operators will see 50 cents to a dollar savings per gallon over diesel, 23% less greenhouse gases emitted over diesel, a healthier environment for the truck driver with no diesel fumes and quieter running than a comparable diesel engine. (source: http://www.cleanenergyfuels.com/trucking/index) Another idea that s coming to fruition is the shore power plug-in stations for parked trucks and truck refrigerated units. While not a new idea for the traveling public, as RVers have utilized plug-ins for years at RV parks and even at home, it s a new idea for truckers. Now I have to admit it s something I utilized for several years, having installed inverter/converter chargers in my last three trucks.
I was able to find places that I could plug-in because of the nature of the freight I was hauling. Until now, for the vast majority of truckers, it would have been an expensive alternative with very little return. IdleAir was the first player on the scene with the idea of parking and plugging into a permanent-placed station in a parking place at a truck stop.
This was slow to become accepted by truckers and the company went bankrupt twice before the current ownership and management were able to make a real go at getting it accepted. According to IdleAir s website: IdleAir s ATE Advanced Travel Center Electrification services provide the professional long-haul truck driver a comfortable, idle-free, secure place to rest. IdleAir saves drivers and fleets money, while creating a clean, quiet environment for better sleep.
Rested drivers are safer drivers. IdleAir service also includes Satellite TV, a color touch screen control module with basic internet access, standard electric inside and outside the cab. (http://www.idleair.com/features/) Next on the playing field is Sierra Cascade Solutions, a non-profit organization which is installing shore power plug-in, 50-space truck stop parking lots along major trucking corridors nationwide. According to information from their website; Shorepower Technologies offers a suite of integrated services that provide easy access to electricity, allowing truck drivers to turn off their engines and power cab appliances, accessories, and block heaters.
Shorepower delivers 120-VAC and 208-VAC electricity to vehicles in a manner similar to shore power connections at RV parks and marinas. Shorepower s system delivers reliable, high quality power for on-board amenities such as heating, cooling and entertainment. The services include cable TV and WiFi internet connections where available. (http://www.cascadesierrasolutions.org/shorepowertech.aspx) There are several other players in the truck stop electrification game.
CabAire provides a suite of automated systems to deliver safe, secure, and environmentally-friendly anti-idling services to truck drivers and truck stop owners. CabAire has used more than 40 years of engineering experience to develop the newest generation of stationary anti-idling, idle reduction, and emission-monitoring systems. CabAire s systems mitigate traffic congestion and reduce carbon-based emissions, ambient light, and noise pollution. (http://www.controlmod.com/cabaire/ ) The AireDock truck stop electrification unit is a rugged, custom-designed stand-alone pedestal that provides drivers with easy to use, temperature-controlled truck cabin air (cooling/heat), power outlets and high-speed internet connection.
AireDock is surface-mounted and constructed of modular stainless steel components; easy to maintain or replace. The non-corrodible housing is designed to withstand weather extremes, salt air and high winds. AireDock reduces fuel consumption; saves money and engine wear for truckers and generates financial benefits for the truck stop owner through monthly income, depreciation, tax credits, EPA or DEP funds.
AireDock is a complete turn-key non-idling solution that requires no on-site staff supervision. (http://www.airedock.com/) EnviroDock Inc. offers an affordable, stand-alone heating, air conditioning and shore power system that can be installed at truck stops, distribution centers and rest areas to provide alternatives to engine idling. Use of the system will greatly reduce noise, air pollution, and fuel costs and allow drivers to comply with current and future anti-idling legislation requirements. (http://envirodock.com/index.php) While we re probably not going to see any significant reduction in the cost of oil and therefore the cost of diesel, there are ways to reduce its overall economic impact on the industry and those that own and operate trucks.
But I still say the best innovators for our industry sit in the left seat of the trucks on our highways. A great example is Idle Free, founded by Robert Jordan, a former over-the-road trucker who spent over 6,200 nights in a bunk during his 20-year career. He invented the Idle Free Electric APU. ( http://idlefreesystems.com/) So what other ideas are out there?
These are just are some being brought to the table to help replace oil as the dominent source of energy or reduce our use of this volatile commodity. Where s that good ol American ingenuity? What ideas does the American trucker have to solve our energy challenges?
Drive long and prosper, being energy-smart.
Timothy Brady 2012 To contact Brady go to www.timothybrady.com For more information on Trucking Business Courses go to: www.truckersu.com
- Response to Police inaction for Frack Water Truck Death of Ft Worth ...As usual, heres the letters that will one day be reviewed in numerous lawsuits . - Forwarded Message From: kim feil To: kirk Sent: Saturday, August 3, 2013 7:41 AM Subject: Young FW Boy Killed by Frac Water Truck Kirk, I understand some legislators are trying to exempt the trucks for oil and gas from the restrictive hours to ensure they are getting enough rest the industry gets special treatment. The BSEEC is written by an economist not a scientist .Ed Irleand. In your search on the internet trying finding and reading the over 1,000 claims of drilling harm The List of the Harmed .
The current drilling methods are old school written during rural drilling times and has not been updated (except for where electric compressors are in use) and our local ordinances need rules such as .
1) diesel-less engines on surface equipment rigs/compressors/trucks for preproduction phases 3) they have to flowback right away- don t let the well sour and they need to use pressurized tanks (ventless) for flowback 4) they need to use vapor recovery systems on storage tanks 5) the compressor blowdowns (start up/shutdown) should not be allowed to vent- they must direct whats stuck in the lines to the storage tanks that are equipped with vapor recovery systems.
6) for the dehydrators, they need to use the BTEX Eliminator equipment .
7) then the erosion proof cement and rust proof steel should be mandated for the casings..oh wait that doesn t exist.. I live by the Cowboys Stadium in a densly populated area Chesapeake bought off votes when I delayed them landing in too small a space for drilling I have 500 signatures of people living and working in the area that did not want this now they are fracking today and they should have at least waited for school to begin to minimize air emissions to the children. My family has been downwind to the UTArlington and GM gaswells as the closest ones to include the other 58 padsites in Arlington s airshed.
In January when Chesapeake was having an emission event and no violation was found by the Cowboys Stadium, my teen was getting rashes and my husband s lymph nodes were swelling he now has cancer and my teen tests positive for an adrenal tumor biomarker. And now I have my own thryoid and adrenal issues. We ve already been through realizing that a Ft Worth side padsite spill into Lake Arlington may have exposed our drinking water-they don t test for fracking chemicals and for example Barium is only tested every nine years there are so many loopholes this industry gets that I ve devoted my life over the last four years to trying to raise the awareness and so I blog of course my emotions show in my words, but as fact based as I can get I lay out the info and wanted you to know that we are hurting hurting hurting in the DFW area your job as a first responder is to do more homework and see that the industry will legally get away with exposing you to Benzene and that your PID s are not sensitive enough for your people to know if it is safe to approach a site or if an evacuation should take place.
All this work and no results so far to make drilling safer for my family how sad too for how the drillers risk our first responders health too. Kim Feil http://barnettshalehell.wordpress.com/TEX LG. CODE ANN.
A 253.005 : Texas Statutes Section 253.005: LEASE OF OIL, GAS, OR MINERAL LAND (c) A well may not be drilled in the thickly settled part of the municipality.. Texas Administrative Code, Title 30, Part 1, Chapter 101, Subchapter A, Rule 101.4, Environmental Quality, NuisanceNo person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property. From: To: Sent: Saturday, August 3, 2013 5:44 AM Subject: Re: Young FW Boy Killed by Frac Water Truck The truth is our best weapon.
Kirk s points are well made and will strengthen our work if followed. In a message dated 8/3/2013 5:12:29 A.M. Central Daylight Time, kirk writes: I don t know if you ve ever suffered the loss of a loved one, but I have on several occasions.
As a military Veteran and Dallas Police Officer, my colleagues and I laid a number of our fellow service members and officers to rest. I have been the first responding officer on the scene of fatality accidents, and I have seen the emotional scars left not only on the family and friends of the deceased, but on the other parties involved. The death of 14-year-old Deston Bibbs was a terrible tragedy, and thoughtful people are grieving along with his hurting family.
But just as in the study of and debate about hydraulic fracturing we must not allow emotion to overtake our ability to reason, persuade and demonstrate common sense. That is a sure way to lose others attention and respect. Yes, we only have one environment , but the way we treat, love and forgive others is the greatest of these .
Perhaps the energy and trucking companies have or will reach out to Deston s family in some way I don t know. If I were the owner of a company operating in the area, I would accept the legal liability and civic responsibility that go along with the privilege of doing business in the community. That is a valid issue, and perhaps it was the point you were trying to make but, your e-mail was so emotionally-charged, I couldn t tell.
I don t know if you were just venting (which might be understandable) or, worse, attempting to manipulate others through emotion. Unless you have some evidence that this was not an accident, please refrain from impugning the character of the unnamed truck driver and my professional colleagues at the Fort Worth Police Department. Please check your facts (which are easily obtainable), and stick to the subject about which this group was presumably formed, or remove me from your mailing list.
P.S.: One of the best examples I believe we can follow is found in the unbelievable , but true story of Grover Norwood and Ulice Parker: Truck driver didn t know boy, 14, had been run over in south Fort Worth, police sayhttp://www.star-telegram.com/2013/08/02/5053020/truck-driver-didnt-know-boy-14.htmlInvestigators believe that Deston had been riding east through a field parallel to Sycamore School road. The truck, also eastbound, was in the far right lane preparing to turn south onto Crowley Road.As the teen attempted to turn north onto Crowley Road, the truck was turning south, according to the summary.Investigators believe the teen entered the roadway from a position where the driver s view would have been obstructed and most likely didn t see him on his bicycle, the detective wrote. The truck hit Deston, knocking him down and then driving over his body, according to the detective.
On June 3, the summary stated, the detective questioned the driver who said he was unaware that he had hit anything and provided a written statement stating as much. The WFAA-TV report you cited indicates that it was 9:20 p.m. on an April evening what kind of visibility was there?
Were there functioning street lights? Facts, facts let s stick to facts, please. Or, at least make the effort to ascertain them!
Deston, 14, was run over April 25 while he was riding his bike. The incident happened around 9:20 p.m. The teen died from his injuries the day after.
Sunset on that day was approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes prior to the accident at 8:05 p.m. according to this chart: How can you expect me to trust anything you say or e-mail me if you don t research your topic fully? In fact, your e-mail has inspired me to do my own research, and I just found this website: Original Message Subject: Young FW Boy Killed by Frac Water Truck From: Date: Fri, August 02, 2013 12:53 pm To: This is truly a sad story.
Not for one moment do I believe a truck driver could possibly run over a child on a bicycle and not feel the bump. It would be impossible NOT to feel the bump since the truck s trailer would lift on the side where contact was made. It is not even remotely possible that it squashed the boy and his bicycle so quickly and so completely as to not create an awareness that SOMETHING has been run over.
It is possible that the driver might have though he jumped a curb, but a quick glance in the rear view mirror would have indicated the actual cause of the bump. To say he was unaware of having hit something is just a bald faced lie by the truck driver. Unfortunately, the FWPD has allowed the driver to escape without charges.
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- Riding in Riverside: NIMBY rage not satisfied with taking my train ...Residents in the neighbourhood east of UC Riverside are really, really getting on my nerves. Were it not for their incessant complaining, the Perris Valley Line would already be up and running, and it would be stopping on my campus as well. RCTC officials delayed the project two years and removed the UC Riverside station to appease them, and yet they still aren't happy.
Ladies and gentlemen- YOU BOUGHT A HOUSE NEXT TO A TRAIN LINE. If, when you looked out the back windows of your home when considering buying it and saw train tracks, you didn't think "Hey, maybe trains call on this area from time to time. Trains are a deal-breaker for me, I should go look at that shiny McMansion in La Sierra or Woodcrest," then you are an idiot.
You did not adequately consider all of the factors involved in the purchase of your home, and you are asking the entire I-215 corridor to suffer on account of your shortsightedness. This is ridiculous- either shut up or move. I lived on Watkins Avenue immediately across from the train tracks for a year- the freighters that came through at night were noisy, yes, but we got used to it.
And Metrolink trains will be MUCH quieter than freight trains, considering their comparatively light weight, minimal length and higher speed. Furthermore, the PVL line improvements will actually make EVERY train that passes through your neighbourhood less noisy- the standards to which passenger tracks must be built are higher, and the tighter tolerances mean less noise. If you knew a damned thing about trains (which you don't, obviously), you'd ask for the project to be built with a quiet zone at the two grade crossings, rather than all of these sound walls and window treatments that even you all can't agree on.
And the safety arguments are crap. You're seriously shouting "Won't somebody think of the children?!?!" in this debate? Once again, track improvements will mitigate any chance of derailment or disaster- and when freighters and Metrolink trains go by, for the most part, your precious little snowflakes won't be in school!
Metrolink trains run during commute hours, and freighters travel that route late at night. If your child is still in school at 5pm, I think you have bigger things to worry about than this train thing. Seriously, Watkins Avenue neighbourhood- it's six measly trains a day.
Odds are you'll be off in your SUVs to your jobs for at least a few of them. It won't be as bad as you think- in fact, it might be better than the trains that already rumble past your homes- and at any rate, you have no right to complain, because YOU BOUGHT A HOUSE NEXT TO A TRAIN TRACK. (Normally, I'm not a big fan of arguments like that- often, it's low-income residents who can't afford to live anywhere else. Not in this case- that's a very affluent middle-class neighbourhood.) There is only one place for any sort of eastward rail line to leave Riverside on the current rail network, it goes by your house, so bloody deal with it.
Worst of all, this article quotes Save Riverside's Kevin Dawson as part of the Watkins Avenue Resistance- Mr.
Dawson was formerly a contact of mine when we were dealing with the Greyhound debacle last year.
It just goes to show you that there is no concerted coalition for transit and livability out here in Riverside. ( Note: Kevin mentions in the comments that, while he is affiliated with Save Riverside, his advocacy on this issue is related to his membership in the University Neighborhood Association.)
- Riding the Rails - Memphis Daily News VOL.
128 | NO.
76 | Thursday, April 18, 2013 By Jennifer Johnson Backer Updated 2:12PM By some estimates, America s railroad companies are in the midst of the largest investment boom since the Gilded Age when America s railroad track mileage tripled between 1860 and 1880. A hostler truck lines up to receive a rail shipping contrainer from a crane at the BNSF Railway Intermodal Facility at 4814 Lamar Ave. The facility is part of the growing rail presence in Memphis. (Daily News File Photo: Lance Murphey) This year, North American s freight railroads plan to invest $24.5 billion in intermodal terminals, new track, bridges and tunnels, safety equipment and rail cars, according to the Association of American Railroads.
As an important intermodal and switching tie for five Class I railroads, the Memphis region already is benefiting from the national boom. We are definitely a part of what is going on nationally in the railroad industry, and we are seeing the direct benefit of increased railroad traffic, said Martin Lipinski, director of the Intermodal Freight Transportation Institute at the University of Memphis. Railroad industry leaders say they strive to make the U.S.
freight network the most reliable and efficient in the world. This time around, the railway industry s investment is about making existing networks more efficient and equipped to transport varied types of freight, rather than increased geographic sprawl. Increased fuel costs, congested highways and a truck driver shortage also have led to more rail demand.
That s led many companies, including FedEx Corp. and Amazon.com, to rely on trains to ship more goods. Large consumer-based-shippers like Procter & Gamble Co., Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
and The Home Depot Inc. also helped drive rail demand beginning in the early 2000s as they turned to rail to help meet corporate sustainability goals. Last summer, Norfolk, Va.-based Norfolk Southern Corp.
opened its $105 million, 380-acre facility in Rossville, just east of Collierville. Because of increased demand, the terminal began operations before water and electricity were connected. The intermodal terminal is part of the railway s Crescent Corridor project, a $2.5 billion project to establish an efficient, high-capacity intermodal freight route between the Gulf Coast and the Northeast.
Intermodal terminals are huge parking lots with railroad tracks running through them. Rossville s first phase has 1,000 trailer spaces for drayage truckers, the drivers who deliver containers from the yard to nearby distribution centers for off-loading. The railroad says the Crescent Corridor will enable Norfolk Southern to be competitive with long-haul trucks, opening up a market potential for highway-to-rail conversions.
The Association of American Railroads estimates the Rossville intermodal facility will have a 10-year economic impact of more than $2.7 billion and will create 6,200 jobs by 2020 in the Memphis region, including Fayette County and North Mississippi. Earlier this year, Mike McClellan, Norfolk Southern vice president of intermodal and automotive marketing, told The Daily News the railway is currently rolling out new services in Rossville and expects to increase business this year. By the end of 2012, the facility was operating at about 50 percent capacity, he said.
The terminal also has enough space to double in size to meet future demand. Memphis also is one of the more eastern and southern stops for Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF Railway Co., a company that operates primarily in the Western two-thirds of the U.S. In 2010, the railway opened a $200 million new and improved yard at Lamar Avenue and Shelby Drive.
The facility, dubbed the Memphis Intermodal Facility, is used to transfer cargo between trains and trucks. BNSF increased lift capacity from 250,000 a year to 600,000, with room for expansion. Montreal-based Canadian National Railway Co., a railway with a network that spans from the Great Lakes to Louisiana in the U.S., also invested $100 million to renovate its Johnson Yard freight car switching facility in 2009.
The investment in the South Memphis rail yard helped increase efficiency for CN trains moving in and out of Memphis, one of the most important cities within the railroad s U.S. network. Jacksonville, Fla.-based CSX Corp., the largest East Coast rail carrier, also operates intermodal terminals in Memphis and Nashville, as does Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Corp., which has regional operations.
In 2011, CSX invested more than $50 million in its Tennessee network, including more than $948 million in freight cars and other rolling assets. Lipinski said Union Pacific also is considering expanding its Marion, Ark., intermodal facility. National experts say affordability and increased efficiency have led rail to steal market share from trucking, air transportation and other modes of transportation.
U.S. freight demand is projected to grow by half, to $27.5 billion by 2040, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
For longer distances, trains have historically been three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucks. But many customers still preferred to rely on trucks because of better reliability. Increased railway investments and improved networks have led to increased dependability, Lipinski says.
The railroad industry also increasingly uses advanced technology, like sensors, to detect mechanical issues and prevent delays. Those factors all bode well for a logistics hub like Memphis. A project that will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015, allowing larger ships to pass through, also could prove to be a boon for Memphis in the years to come, Lipinski said.
He expects increased container traffic at America s ports to lead to more railroad capacity in Memphis.
Association of American Railroads President and CEO Edward Hamberger told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation earlier this month that freight railroads are positioning themselves to meet future transportation demands in this country, including those tied directly and indirectly to the expansion of the Panama Canal.
Whether the freight is coming into or leaving from Long Beach or Savannah or Miami or Houston or Seattle or Norfolk or any other major port, he said, our nation s freight railroads are in a good position now, and are working diligently to be in an even better position in the future.
- Steve Kaufman: In Louisville, car, construction and trucking lobbies ... The future everywhere but Louisville, As we told you last week, Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency, or KIPDA, is conducting a feasibility study for light rail running along the Dixie Highway corridor, connecting those people who want to live in Louisville while working at Fort Knox s Human Resources Command. Still, light rail from Fort. Knox is not passenger train service, especially for a city like Louisville that was once a railroad hub.
Louisville is the L in L&N. We have the tracks, the population, the central location hell, we even still have the grand old Art Deco station we just don t have the train coming through. In 2001, when a national high-speed rail system was envisioned, Louisville was one of the cities on the line.
But that vision is still just that. So to take the train to Chicago, you either have to take a bus to Indianapolis or drive to Cincinnati. You can catch the train either north to Chicago or east to Washington D.C.
in Maysville. Also Ashland. But not Louisville.
And to underscore the irony, Amtrak calls it the Cardinal line! I don t think it was named that with Cincinnati or Chicago in mind. Most people you talk to blame our diminished hopes on the failure of the train service a decade ago.
It became an embarrassment, says Ross Capon, president of the National Association of Rail Passengers (NARP). Few people rode it because it was so slow and inconvenient an eight or nine-hour ride with no sleeping car. For some reason, Amtrak took the sleeping cars away during the summer and sent them to Texas, where there was evidently more need, says Schneider, who is NARP s Kentucky council representative and at one time was branch manager of the Kentucky Cabinet s Division of Multi-Modal Programs.
And then there was a big crash on the New York-to-Florida auto train, and all the sleepers were sent there. But by then, I think Amtrak was about ready to give up on the service here anyway. There just wasn t enough local interest, says Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
The tracks in place from Louisville to Indianapolis were fine for freight service, but not for the higher-speed train travel that would make riding the train more efficient than driving. If it was going to take eight hours to ride the train versus three or four to drive, people might take the train once, for curiosity, but not regularly enough to justify the service. But David Coyt, president of the Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation, has another explanation.
If a train gets in at 3 in the morning, it s not entirely conducive to use it. And then they took the sleeper cars off. Who d want to sit up all night?
He surmises this wasn t entirely accidental. Decisions were made, he said, darkly, that doomed this service. The city of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky never fought for this service.
Why? Because we love our highways, he said. There are tremendously powerful highway lobbies construction, oil and gas, trucking, the teamsters, plus ambulance-chasing lawyers that don t want to see passenger rail succeed here.
Plus GLI has never seen a highway it doesn t like. It apparently is not just Kentucky. Coyt points out that Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida all had robust plans for funding short-range rail travel within their states until they elected Republican governors to replace Democratic incumbents.
The Republicans are more highway-oriented than railroad-oriented, Coyt whispers, more big business-oriented than consumer-oriented. But Kentucky has a Democratic governor. More or less, Coyt says.
Isn t he the one who told the EPA to go away? The Midwest High Speed Rail Association, an influential advocacy group, recently published a wish list that it believes is entirely feasible. It includes high-speed tracks radiating out of Chicago that reach out to and connect up with Toledo and Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, Champaign, Ill., and St.
Louis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and St. Paul. All the major metropolitan hubs.
These are tracks capable of carrying trains going 125 mph. There are also, though, slightly slower rail lines (90 mph to 125 mph) in the network, going to Columbus, Ohio, Des Moines, Omaha, Green Bay. What about Louisville?
A thinner conventional (i.e., slower) line on the map juts down from Indianapolis. But at least we re on the map. However, another map that shows progress highlights has no Louisville not even the promising Louisville-Frankfort-Lexington train.
Everyone insists it s being studied, and why not? Imagine preparing a presentation in your railroad seat on the way to Frankfort versus trying to rehearse while driving. Imagine sleeping off an exciting Kentucky football win in the train car versus driving home at night after imbibing way too much happiness.
It makes so much sense it induces headaches. But not as big a headache as maneuvering through all that construction on Interstate- 64 just east of the Gene Snyder Expressway that has been going on, it seems, since Adolph Rupp coached the Wild Cats. To be fair, it gets complicated.
For one thing, under the 2008 reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA), states are now responsible for all routes shorter than 750 miles. That means construction, maintenance, repair, improvements and operations. And a bulk of that cost would go to rewiring crossing gates that have been calibrated for freight trains approaching at 60 miles per hour.
A passenger train at 80 mph would hit the crossing 33 percent faster, before the gates had a chance to come all the way down. With the burden falling on the Commonwealth, I m not sure Kentucky has even bothered to look at it, says Amtrak s Magliari. He did say that Amtrak is currently working with Indiana s Department of Transportation and legislature to fund regular, more frequent service between Indianapolis and Chicago, starting in November.
There might be an opportunity to extend that service to Louisville, Magliari says, if Kentucky were interested. That interest is clearly dampened by the thing that brings nearly all progress to a halt these days: money! And the Bridges Project gets most of the loose change.
And so we wait. I recently took the train to a business meeting in Chicago partly because air travel is so unpleasant, tiring and expensive; and partly because I just wanted to relive the experience of my youth. The roomette I purchased made the overnight travel bearable.
The meal service on board was excellent. The cab ride to my downtown Chicago hotel was 15 minutes and $8 from Union Station rather than 120 minutes and $50 from O Hare Airport. And on my return trip, when a rainstorm of Biblical proportions flooded Chicago s Kennedy Expressway and flights were being delayed and cancelled, my train pulled out of Union Station right on time.
But I had to drive to Cincinnati to catch the train. I couldn t even take a bus to the train because, for some reason, Amtrak doesn t offer that (though it does offer a bus to Indianapolis to catch the same train). The mayor s Vision Louisville program is an exercise in envisioning how life here could look in 25 years.
Among the committees is a Connectivity Committee examining improving the overall connectivity through parks, transit and bike/pedestrian networks, chaired by Shively Mayor Sherry Conner. But mayor s spokesman Chris Poynter told me the focus of the city is more on inner-city connectivity, not so much on connecting Louisville to Chicago or New York. I d say that right now, there s not an outcry, Poynter said.
The vision is more focused on how we connect within the circumference of the metropolitan area. Of course, vision can go forward and also backward. Right now, Louisville s vision seems to be glued to the rear view mirror, on The Great Gatsby.
Because, yes, the book The Great Gatsby in 1925 referenced a Louisville that was an important Midwestern train hub, the kind of city where: In June, Daisy married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private rail cars, and hired a whole floor of the Seelbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But the movie The Great Gatsby in 2013 can only reflect on that Louisville of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.
We ve gotten all silly about the movie, treating it as if this is still the Louisville where four private rail cars will transport 100 people down from Chicago for a wedding. But the fact is, we re not that Louisville anymore, unless we want to be. Today, the Buchanan party from Chicago would have to get off the train in Indianapolis and onto a Greyhound bus for the rest of the trip.
Because the train doesn t stop here anymore.
- STEVE McQUEEN AKA HARVEY MUSHMAN RIDES AGAIN ... - A great article from 1971 unearthed from the Sports Illustrated archives Steve McQueen discussing desert bike riding with Bud Ekins & Malcolm Smith, Racing in the 12 Hours of Sebring with Pete Revson, The Great Escape, his son Chad, and much more. McQueen even recalls exactly when he was bitten by the off-road bug Well, I was riding along Sepulveda with Dennis Hopper when we saw these guys bopping and bumping through the weeds near there, off the road. It was Keenan Wynn and another guy on these strange machines, dirt bikes they called them.
We asked Keenan if he could climb that cliff. Watch this, he says. Varoom!
Right up to the top. Dennis and I were standing there with our eyes out to here. The very next day I went out and bought me a 500-cc Triumph dirt bike.
Read on friends, read on. - Steve McQueen riding his Husqvarna 400 motorcycle. Below is an article from SI magazine, 1971. - By Robert F. Jones By any name, Steve McQueen gets all revved up over dirt bikes.
Slamming one across the California Desert is now his Great Escape. The opening scene: California s Mojave Desert at high noon. Dead silence.
Through the shimmering heat waves, Mount San Jacinto seems to writhe on the horizon like a dying brontosaurus. The spines of the cactus at foreground right are in sharp focus, the gleaming spearpoints of a vegetable army. In the shadow of a boulder, sudden movement.
A Gila monster raises its beadwork head and flicks its tongue, alert to the distant sound that is just beginning to insinuate itself into the desert s quiet. A sudden, ululating whine, the invading noise rapidly gains strength as four distorted dots on the horizon weave closer. The dots take on color and shape s they approach: a quartet of red and chrome motorcycles, stunting and racketing through the puckerbushes, their riders vaulting the ridges and slaloming through the cactus at 70 mph.
Their ominous, mechanical verve sends the Gila monster descendant of the dinosaurs scuttling for shelter. The camers zooms in on the lead rider s face, sun-blackened and jut-jawed under his helmet. Up music and credits: hold onto your popcorn, folks Harvey Mushman rides again!
That scenario, or one like it, takes place nearly every weekend in the desert surrounding Palm Springs. Harvey Mushman is the ocassional pseudonym of Steve McQueen, movie actor and motor sportsman, when he goes a-racing. His companions on those fast, racking transits of the wasteland often include the best of the desert-riding breed: Bud Ekins or Roger Riddell, Mert Lawwill or Malcolm Smith.
Now and then a smaller figure on a smaller bike trails behind, slower but only a touch less skillful in his handling of the desert s harsh nuance Chad McQueen, the actor s 10-year-old son. - June 13th, 1971 Steve McQueen riding his Husqvarna 400 motorcycle in the Mojave Desert Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images - To the serious student (or critic) of motor sports, a movie actor might appear to be an odd choice to illustrate the game of desert riding. Actors. after all, are notorious in their appetite for publicity, and even those who appear in racing fils usually have stuntmen do most of their driving.
But Steve McQueen s racing credentials are quite in order. Last year he proved competence as a sports car endurance racer by placing second in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Aided by the considerable talents of Pete Revson as his co-driver, McQueen drove his half of the race impressively, mixing it up nicely in the corners and clocking lap times within seven seconds of Revson.
What s more, McQueen was driving with his clutch foot in a cast he had broken his left leg just one week earlier in bike race at Elsinore, Calif. The cast itself cracked during the first 20 minutes of the race It hurt, Steve recalls, and that took a lot of strength away, but mainly it complicated the problems of downshifting through the corners. Add to that the fact that the McQueen-Revson car was an obsolete Porsche 908, much slower in the straightaways than the top-line Porsche 917s and Ferrari 512s.
and McQueen s finish was even more remarkable. Mario Andretti, who won the race in a five-liter Ferrari, had to shift cars to do so. (His own machine broke down shortly before the end and he commanded another team car that was lying third at the time. At that, Mario only won by 23.8 seconds.) The motor sports Establishment was scared foofless that I was going to win, McQueen says now with a grin.
I m told that Chris Economaki was tearing his hair out and moaning, My Gog, not a movie actor, not a movie actor! But why not? An actor with a rather limited repertoire, McQueen has done a lot to popularize the motor sports he regards as his avocation.
In his film Le Mans the romantic cliches of most racing movies are largely avoided, and the kinetic truths of high-speed sports car competition come across with a commanding fidelity. The driving sequences, particularly the crashes of a Ferrari and McQueen s Porsche 917 (actually a Lola with a Porsche body on the frame), are clearly the best and most realistic ever shot. When they viewed a rough cut of the film at Daytona earlier this year, drivers Jackie Oliver and Vic Elford could find no fault with the footage.
Seeing those shunts in slow motion makes you want to hit the brakes, allowed Oliver quite a recommendation from a driver who rarely hits his own. - The 65ft jump that Steve McQueen s stuntman (and riding buddy) Bud Ekins performed on a 1962 Triumph TR6 650cc motorcycle in The Great Escape almost defied the laws of gravity. It was a heavy bike a special ramp was built for Ekins to accomplish the jump over the barbed-wire fence. via - McQueen s climactic motorcycle scene in The Great Escape , a 1962 film about Allied POWs in a World War II stalag, was in reality a paean to dirt racing.
His slides, jumps, wheelies and even the ultimate endo (end-over-end spill) showed a vast audience just what the weekend bike freak sees and does at a motocross event. It was a revelation to the uninitiated. Most bike flicks in the past concentrated on the outlaw crap, McQueen says, with some heat.
Hell s Angels and all of that stuff, which is about as far away from the real world of motorcycle racing as I am from Lionel Barrymore. Brando s movie The Wild One in the early 1950s set motorcycle racing back about 200 years. The real grind of the American Motorcycle Association s championship circuit is well expressed in Bruce Brown s superlative bike flick On Any Sunday , which McQueen financed to the tune of $313,000, and the film goes a long way toward rectifying that earlier setback.
It shows McQueen s sometime riding buddy Mert Lawwill trucking his Harley-Davidson from track to track San Francisco to Columbus to Daytona and back to the Coast, to Sacramento in defense of his No.
1 plate (which he loses to Gene Romero ultimately). Mainly, though, the Brown-McQueen effort conveys the agility and exuberance of bike riding, particularly off the road, so emphatically that the already swollen market of motorcycle buyers will probably explode as a result. Insurance hangups have forced McQueen out of sports car racing, but no one can keep him off the motorcycles.
I can t really say I m sorry that I don t race sports cars anymore, he mused recently at his Palm Springs home. Two tidy Porsche 911s were parked in the driveway, along with six motorcycles. He studied them for a moment.
There s something awfully final about automobile racing. I learned that when we were shooting Le Mans, if I hadn t learned it earlier driving. If you foul up in a car often enough, it s Adios City.
Bikes can hurt you sure enough, kill you too, but there s not as high a fatality rate in bike racing as in cars. I guess it s the slower speeds and the absence of fire. If you lose it on a bike, you re clear of the machine when and if it burns.
Minus some hide, of course, and dinged up pretty good around the arms and legs and head and shoulders. But basically you re intact. If you decelerate a car from 200 miles an hour to zero in like 10 yards, which is what happens if you hit a tree on a road course or the wall at Indy, you come out kind of compressed.
And if you get knocked out in even a minor shunt and the car starts to burn well, like I said, it s kind of final. - - McQueen himself is kind of final about his role as a motor sportsman. Look, I m an actor, not a racer. I love bikes for the fun they give me, not the money they might have given me.
You can t earn more than $80,000 a year racing bikes, and you work your tail off doing even that, races every weekend for seven months of the year and from coast to coast. I think that if I d started young enough in motorcycle racing, I could have been ranked, says the actor, now 41. I ve won my share of races, and I ve lost them, too.
I was in heavy competition with Scooter Patrick for the course lap record at Phoenix, and finally I did it I set the record. But it ll be broken. That s how it goes and how it should go.
Sport is not like art. There is no best in sports, only getting betters. McQueen s interest in motorcycles dates back to 1950, when he bought his first bike, a mean old 1946 Indian Chief.
I remember how proud I was of it I right away went over to see this girl I was dating to show it to her. When she saw it, she said, You don t expect me to ride around with you on that? Well, I sure enough did.
The girl went but the bike stayed. Those were hungry days for McQueen the entertainer. A tough kid growing up in wartime L.A., he had done time in the Chino, Calif.
reformatory ( It was the competitive urge, I think, and I converted it into stealing cars ) . The Marine Corps and a stretch in the Merchant Marine straightened him out and showed him much more of the world Actors Studio, followed by many stage roles, large and small, confirmed him in the direction of drama. - That s a young Chad McQueen going for a ride with dad during the filming of the movie Le Mans in 1970. Chad even went for a ride with Steve in the #20 Porsche 917 that his dad drove in the film.
Chad was even allowed to sit in Steve s lap and hold onto the steering wheel for a short trip down the track. Nigel Smuckatelli - But fast cars and motorcycles remained an alternate mode of expression. During the late 1950s he took off on a bike trip through Cuba.
We were quite a group, he recalls. An actor, a poet and a guy who was just plain nuts, or maybe we all were. Hurricane Audrey was sloshing around on the East Coast while we zipped down to Florida.
Then we ran from Havana to Santiago, about 967 or so kilometers, as I recall. Batista and Castro were shooting it out down there in the Sierra Maestra, and there were uniforms everywhere. I was still a little wild in those days, particularly when I was on the juice.
So what happens? I get thrown in the calabozo. I sent a telegram to Neile Adams, my girl, to send money so s I could get out.
Well, she later married me, but that time she said no. It wasn t so bad. The guard was a friendly dude, and he d let me out of the cell so we could have lunch together cheese and onions and wine and that hot sun with the smell of the manzanita and the sewers.
I suppose that s the great romantic lure of the motorcycle it s a key to adventure. Thus far McQueen s machines had all been street iron, outsized, over-chromed jobs that were a terror on the highways but stick-in-the-muds off the road. He learned about dirt riding quite dramatically.
You know that cliff that leads down from Mulholland to Sepulveda? he asks. Well, I was riding along Sepulveda with Dennis Hopper when we saw these guys bopping and bumping through the weeds near there, off the road.
It was Keenan Wynn and another guy on these strange machines, dirt bikes they called them. We asked Keenan if he could climb that cliff. Watch this, he says.
Varoom! Right up to the top. Dennis and I were standing there with our eyes out to here.
The very next day I went out and bought me a 500-cc Triumph dirt bike. - June 13th, 1971 Steve McQueen riding his Husqvarna 400 motorcycle in the Mojave Desert Photo by Heinz Kluetmeier/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images - Competition quickly followed club races, hare-and-hound chases across the Southern California wastelands, point-to-points and snow racing in the High Sierra. It s rugged riding, McQueen allows. I remember one snow race up in the Sierra where I lost it just as I was coming up on this ragged old pine tree.
One of the broken-off branches slammed right into my mouth. I was standing there spitting out bark and blood when a course official came up. Are my teeth still in there?
I asked him. I didn t want to waste any time taking off my gloves, so he felt around and said that they were loose but still there. I was just dumb enough to jump back on the bike and finish the race.
Wow! He shakes his head, grinning. McQueen has also ridden in the real enduros, races like Las Vegas Mint 400 and the Baja 1,000 from Ensenada to La Paz.
In last year s Elsinore Grand Prix, a race through that small mountain-slope town and its surrounding gulches northeast of San Diego, McQueen was one of 1,500 entrants. As Harvey Mushman, he started well back in the pack but managed finally to snake, bump and vault his way to 10th place overall, while his friend Malcolm Smith was lapping the field for an easy victory. In my book Malcolm s the best all-round racer in the world right now, says Steve.
He s a gold medal winner in the Internationals, but he still runs all of it hare-and-hound, trials, long distance. He s a fine mechanic, and he gets the most out of a bike. He s got a bad right leg, though he s not going to tell you about it.
I want him to put a brace on it. If he breaks it again, it s going to be Adios City. - Steve McQueen, Mert Lawwill, and Malcolm Smith in Bruce Brown s On Any Sunday - Intense as his own competitive instincts are, McQueen has found them changing under the influence of the desert he respects that sternest of geographical gurus, though he is well aware of its quirky vulnerability. Cleat marks left by George Patton s tanks, training in the desert nearly 30 years ago, are still visible, but rain may follow the new tracks of a dune buggy or a dirt bike and turn imprints into washes.
Too many desert freaks, whether cyclists or truck drivers, leave their junk lying around where they dropped it, beer cans, aluminum foil, bottles, the whole undegradable lot, where even a simple tire track ruins the esthetics of this austere, previously wild desert world. You end up pushing farther and farther into the boonies, McQueen observes, trying to escape from other people and their noise and their crap, but then they see your tracks and they follow you. It s the problem that confronts all of us in a jam-packed world.
Who are we running away from? Answer: us. It s crazy, but what s the solution?
Dirt riders are discouraged from much of the desert area of California by new laws enacted as a result of the current wave of ecological awareness, but a number of motorcycle parks have been established, mainly around Los Angeles, to give bike people an outlet. This is only a stopgap solution, but McQueen approves of it, for the moment. As for the desert, I first began to understand it as a living thing back in my wilder days, he says.
I was interested in the Indians, and they had given me some peyote. This was way back before the drug culture got started, and people were still serious about the philosophical aspect of the hallucinogens rather than just kicks. Anyway, the peyote really hit me.
I took off into the desert on my bike, bound and determined to whip it. I ran flat out, straight into the desert I was all ego, challenging every bump and every gulch. I don t know how many endos I turned, plenty of them.
The cactus ripped me up, the rocks chewed on my hide, I had sand in my nose and kangaroo rats in my ears. I rode until the bike ran out of gas, and after that I just lay there. It was dead quiet, night falling and my bike making these little crackling noises as the metal cooled and settled.
I knew then that not only could I never whip the desert, but that the whole thought of trying to whip it was the most ridiculous idea in the world. - Steve McQueen, Mert Lawwill, and Malcolm Smith in Bruce Brown s On Any Sunday - On this day there was no thought of whipping anything except city-style boredom. McQueen had driven up to Palm Springs from his L.A. offices (he runs a plastics company in addition to his celluloid affairs) to spend a weekend with Chad and a couple of riding pals before embarking on his next film.
The movie, Junior Bonner , about a down-and-out rodeo rider splendid McQueen casting is directed by Sam Peckinpah, a man with a good eye for such currently unpopular human qualities as toughness, loyalty and contempt for death. McQueen s desert hideaway, standing on a sun-scorched ridge overlooking the wealth and desiccation of Palm Springs, is some decorator s dream come surrealistically true. There are kongoni skulls and zebra skin pillows, the mounted head of a Boone and Crockett-class bighorn sheep, a gold-plated Winchester .30-30 presentation model hanging on one wall ( much better than that silly little sawed-off Winchester I used in Wanted Dead or Alive Steve muses, spin cocking the rifle absently).
The refrigerator is full of Cold Duck, Almaden burgundy, Coors beer and Gatorade this is a dry climate. In the house, at least, it is also a somewhat sad one. McQueen is separated from his wife.
We ve got our problems, he admits freely, and we re trying to work them out. Looking down into the desert from the poolside, McQueen points to the north. I used to have a little shack out there in the flats cost me only $102 a month, and I was perfectly happy with it.
It was on a wash, and you could just jump on the bike and disappear into the giggle weeds. Oh, well. Chad is riding around the swimming pool on a bicycle, doing 50-yard wheelies and other stunts, clearly nudging his father to hurry up and get with it for the afternoon motorcycle ride.
In everything but his cycle skills Chad is a striking contrast to his father dark and open rather than blond and curt. He wears braces over his uninhibited smile and has none of that exasperating cocksurety so common to actors children. - Actor Steve McQueen and his Triumph desert bike in their native habitat. Cycle World Magazine, June 1964 via - I ve tried to raise him as a real kid, Steve explains.
He likes to ride in the desert and he bought his own bike, a Yamaha 60-cc Mini Enduro, out of his own pocket money. But his schoolwork has to be good if he s going to ride. I grounded him for eight weeks earlier this year when his grades got sloppy.
He s shaped up nice since then. Christ, riding has got to be good for a kid. I was stealing cars at his age.
It is egg-frying hot around the pool. Even the water temperature is an incredible 92 degrees thanks to the searing sun, and no one but Chad wants to ride until the shadow of Mount San Jacinto gets a bit taller. McQueen s other guests are content to lie lizard-like in the sun until then.
Roger Riddell is a lean, longhaired dirt rider from L.A. who has taken time off from the two-wheel wars to beat the promotional drums for Bruce Brown s motorcycle movie. Morris Langbord is dark and hawk-beaked, an environmental lighting specialist when he is not racing through the desert.
One can only suppose that environmental lighting is a euphemism for comedy Langbord certainly brightens his surroundings with a ready, quippy wit. Just now, in response to a jocular put-down by Riddell, he has dumped a glass of ice cubes on Roger s chest with an admonishment to cool it. Dirt-rider tough, Riddell scarcely flinches.
The thirsty sun evaporates the ice in two minutes flat. - Steve McQueen, Bud Ekins and the legendary Chevy-powered Hurst Baja Boot, only 2 were ever made. - The talk touches, desultorily, upon the topics important to motorcycle men: famous spills and fractures; the relative worth of various shock absorbers, gearboxes and tread-shaping techniques. Hey, Morris, says McQueen. The next time you go by Bud Ekins shop I want you to do something for me.
You know that 1924 Indian Chief I restored the one with the side hack? Well, Bud clipped the wheels off of it from me the original wheels. Every time I come over, he hides them and I can t steal them back.
Maybe if you . No way, says Morris. Do your own salvage jobs.
My picture s up in too many post offices already. Yakety-yak, but their eyes keep watching the sun as it slopes toward the mountain. Finally the angle is just about right.
O.K., says McQueen, hitching up his Levi s like an old gunfighter. Time for a ride. Let s get it on. - Bud Ekins owned and operated a successful Triumph dealership in Sherman Oaks, CA.
He had become something of a hero to Hollywood s young movie actors, who would often hang out at his shop. One of those actors was Steve McQueen. When McQueen bought an off-road motorcycle, Ekins, then the absolute master of Southern California off-road motorcycle racing, coached him in bike control on the desert washes and fir trails of the area.
McQueen, in turn, got Ekins stuntman jobs in the film industry. They quickly became very close friends and their attention turned to racing and collecting cars and bikes. via - The closing scene: four bikes in the desert.
The interplay of the riders as they weave and leap their machines, like stampeding impala. It is a series of interlocking races, or fragments of races, with each rider picking up, without an exchange of words, on the challenge of the next patch of ground. Roger spots a tricky wash with an approach route made even trickier by a staggered stand of manzanita, and as he swerves his bike toward it, Steve and Morris take up the chase.
There is only one route over the lip of the wash, and each man tries to reach it first, with Chad in vain but straining pursuit. Collision seems imminent, but Roger gets there just a wheel on top, and the others slip grudgingly into line for the jump. On the next extemporaneous heat McQueen wins the sprint into a sandy corner, and Roger, having come in too deep and now unable to pass, lays his bike on its side and slides clear of the corner in a swirl of spokes and dirt.
As he gets to his feet, the alert concern of his companions gives way abruptly to raucous, chivying laughter. Hey, man, you blew it, man, you road-hog, that ll learn ya! Roger flips them the bird, restarts the bike and the chase is on once more.
At one point Chad loses a plug over his gearbox and is sprayed with oil. Yuccchh! he screams, shuddering as he tries to wipe the oil off.
I can t stand it! It is a strange moment, embarrassing to the men. Chad is, after all, still a little boy, with a kid s sudden incomprehensible hang-ups.
Steve reassures him that oil doesn t hurt and tells him that if he s going to own a bike, he s got to make sure that everything on it is buttoned up tight before he rides it. They stuff a chunk of cloth into the hole and roar off once again. The desert is covered with animal signs.
Jackrabbits and ground squirrels have been this way, and there are the tracks of a long-loping coyote. As the day cools, the hawks come out, broad-winged buteos with undersides as pale as the desert sky, swinging in search of dinner. Coveys of Gambel s quail call from the cool spots.
There used to be antelope around here, says Riddell during one of the breaks, but the railroad finished them in one year. They were afraid to cross the tracks, so the herd split up and finally died out. It sounds ominously like a metaphor but meaning what?
McQueen looks serious during the exchange, perhaps recalling that long-ago run he had made in hopes of conquering the desert, but then he flashes the happy, movie-star grin. What ll we do for dinner tonight? How s about Mexican food?
Margaritas, frijoles refritos, enchiladas, peppers Yeah, says Morris, and after that a 50-gallon drum of Maalox. The long shot that follows puts it all together: four bikes in silhouette, running toward the scattered golden lights of Palm Springs. No music, just the fading, up-and-down cacophony of the engines.
Harvey Mushman rides again. And again and again. - RELATED TSY POSTS: STEVE MCQUEEN, RICHARD AVEDON & RUTH ANSEL | HARPER S BAZAAR, 1965 STEVE McQUEEN DOIN IT IN THE DIRT | TRIUMPH DESERT BIKE BY BUD EKINS STEVE McQUEEN s 1971 HUSKY 400 CROSS UP FOR AUCTION | BUY IT NOW! STEVE McQUEEN s 1971 HUSKY 400 CROSS UP FOR AUCTION | BUY IT NOW!
STEVE McQUEEN REVIEWS THE HOTTEST NEW GT s | 1966 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED STEVE McQUEEN 66 POPULAR SCIENCE | WHAT I LIKE IN A BIKE AND WHY STEVE McQUEEN | LE MANS & BEYOND GRATUITOUS 1970s RACING GOODNESS STEVE McQUEEN | HOLLYWOOD S ANTI-HERO & TRUE SON OF LIBERTY REQUIRED VIEWING BULLITT | THE GRANDDADDY OF CAR CHASE SCENES THE TSY FRIDAY FADE | STEVE MCQUEEN S DUNE BUGGY DAYS HUSQVARNA | THE SCREAMIN SWEDE THAT STARTED A RACING REVOLUTION 1970 12 HOURS OF SEBRING RACE | STEVE McQUEEN S BRUSH WITH VICTORY - The Sports Illustrated Archives Harvey On The Lam -
- Students on the pull | This is Hull and East Riding WITH beads of sweat dripping down their foreheads, students from Hull College managed to pull an Army truck weighing ten tonnes. The event, at the KC Stadium, was organised as part of the college's health and wellbeing week and the teams were provided with a truck by Wenlock Barracks in Anlaby Road, west Hull. keep on trucking: College students, from left, Luke Teal, Steven Woodward, Reece Preston, Sean Stephenson, Connor Purdue and Tom Nicklin.
Picture: Jack Harland Lieutenant Nic Usher said the public service students were "incredibly enthusiastic". He said: "They really got into the spirit of it all and were in teams of six pulling the truck 30 metres. "It took about 50 seconds each time but the winning team did it in 39 seconds. "If we managed to plant the idea of the Army being a good career option in the minds of any of the students, then we've done our job. "Fitness is very important for operations in the Army and we were more than happy to be involved in the charity truck pull." Among the students who took part were Luke Teal, Steven Woodward, Reece Preston, Sean Stephenson, Connor Purdue and Tom Nicklin. Staff Sergeant Mark Gill, of the Army Careers Office in Hull, said: "The event was all part of us reaching out to students and there was quite a lot of interest on the day about joining the Army. "There were about 80 young people taking part and they were all more geared up for the truck pull than any other normal activity." The pull was organised in two weeks.
Jade Dalton, course leader for level two in public services at the college, was one of the organisers.
She said: "We even managed to get some of the travel and tourism students involved, which was brilliant. "At the end, the tutors' team took part and I thought my legs would turn to jelly.
It looked a lot easier and we hope to do it again in the summer."
- The Pedal Powered Poet: Windswept Santa Fe Trail.The ride was splendid. Trucking along at a quick kick. I listened to my live recordings of Tumbleweed Wanderers, Cellojoe, Mama Crow, Dad's stories and my own spoken word.
The wind was blowing steady east to west. I was pedal to the metal going directly east. The wind definitely makes a difference even though I was sailing along.
There were interesting silos, fields, signs, cows, horses, abandoned buildings, farmlets, trains. Yet it still seemed very boring. Maybe it was loneliness.
I stopped in a spot to relieve myself after the first 20 miles of pedaling. A good little pull out that wasn't a turn with substantial tree, bush and foliage to hide in. As I emerged from my hideout I saw a boy on a bike riding toward me.
He must have thought it strange to see me hop out of a bush. I waved him down. Collin is headed West, and I warned him that it was going to be treacherously cold, perhaps miserable trying to cross the Rockies.
I looked over his gear while he told me how he suffers a flat a day. Realizing how little this guy had to prepare himself, he didn't have a long sleeve shirt, two fleece jackets? Will that save you?
Needless to say I was worried. Then he started telling me how little fun it's been, how rough sleeping in ditches is because there is nowhere else to stay. So I told him he could come with me and it would be more fun.
He could see the mountains far in the distance behind me though. The Great Divide and the accomplishment of riding the whole way, coast to coast beckoned. He said, "that is the only reason to do a ride like this isn't it?" No, frankly.
And I thought it would be a nice thing to say I've done like so many others before me...after me, but I am on a different Route. The wind had been at his back the whole time and he soon blew away towards Pueblo. I carried on not giving up an exciting opportunity like he did.
He told me to go with him and I said no, so we parted ways. That is the way to do it, be clear at the start... We are going in opposite directions, say la vie.
I am glad I have all this gear, I would hate to feel as unprepared as he looked. The next 24 miles were then especially lonely and boring. Except the bits that had road construction and those were way too exhilarating for my personal comfort.
Probably where I picked up whatever popped my tire as I slowly deflated and rolled the last mile into Rocky Ford. I walked my bike on the tree root rumpled sidewalk to a gas station. Laid it down on it's side and quickly changed the tire while talking to Floyd.
I asked him how close there was to camp, "12 miles east... " "Ok. Think I will make there before dark?" "Hell no, I mean... no way." Proving myself proficient at least at changing tires I accepted a ride to La Junta.
Floyd dropped me off at the KOA and even paid for my campspot which was an astonishing price of $24! And it was crappy, smelled of cow crud, smelled worse than my socks! But I was grateful for a safe place, where the camp hosts would watch my tent because it was basically next door to the only walmart for 50 miles in either direction and thus a little sketchy.
Floyd was a nice guy and warned me like two others had earlier in the day to be very careful. Just about everyone I have talked to has warned me, watch yourself, don't go down random roads, don't camp anywhere. They had me scared.
Spent an uneventful night, played guitar, wrote, and slept. Pretty cold. Tucked in tightly.
Hoping it doesn't get any colder and it does right before dawn. When Phil would have unconsciously stopped resisting me and be huddled right next to me keeping me warm. Woke up sick of it.
Wind blowing thunderously in my ears. Sore, stiff, feeling rough. Didn't even take a shower, when I could've, because I don't have a towel and it was still cold.
I drank their free coffee and devised a plan. Also used the nice KOA people's air compressor on my tire. Ride to Lamar or hitch to Lamar?
If the wind is blowing east and I am going south I will only be blown over.... I think. Hitched a ride with Bogar who was driving a Gypsum product truck.
We strapped my bike on top of a pile of sheet rock and off we went. He was a pleasant conversationalist and it made the scenery ten times better to be moving faster. He dropped me in Lamar, I stuck my bike back together and rode down S 287.
I stopped at the park and talked to El on the phone which made me feel better about the strange ways people keep warning me. Felt silly not realizing that they are projecting their fear on me. Fear is a tool, I feel it's use when necessary and respond accordingly.
Also helped me figure out why people keep asking me if I am on the lam. I guess that would be a glamourous reason to wear cool boots and a leather visor like a poker dealer. No I am not running from the law.
One conversation with a woman at a grocery store went down like this. "why did you leave? Are you pregnant?" I just laugh. Before I could answer... "what did he do to you?!" I had to tell her there is no him, and I didn't leave I am going.
Kinda like El told me today. I am not a human doing, I am a human being. After swinging on the swings I rode to the south edge of town.
Bought the cheapest burrito on the menu at a Mexican place and the server Chris brought me out a generous heap of chips and salsa to boot. Talked to Effie on the phone, also very good to have a conversation that doesn't start or end with "you are crazy, aren't ya?" Then I rode to an RV Park. The wind blowing straight into my left ear.
I feel like I am leaning against it to keep my bike upright. A big rig goes by the wind stops and starts again making it look like I am a drunk rider as I steady my course. Brad the owner showed me where to pitch my tent.
When I inquired about payment he said it wasn't costing him a thing. Very luckily for me. It is still cold, but not dangerously, just uncomfortably.
And I am huddled up in my tent by the little light of my iPhone wishing I was drinking beer somewhere. With all these different factors weighing upon me, I have sat down to decide. I will probably hitch hike to Amarillo tomorrow.
And get on with the more pleasant part of the journey.
- Troy Pecka: Small Fleet Owner Still Loves the Business | Haul Produce Troy Pecka has been in the trucking business for nearly a quarter of a century and has pretty much seen it all, or at least come fairly close to it. There is something to be said for someone who started out trucking out as a 19-year-old, and now owns his own small fleet at the ripe old age of 43. The owner of Troy Pecka Trucking Inc.
doesn t have the time to get behind the wheel of a big rig anymore as much as he d like, in part because he s dealing with all the rules and regulations to keep the drivers of his 15 trucks and three leased owner operators doing what they do best truck. Troy is following in the footsteps of his dad who started trucking at age 18 and didn t stop until his was 76. Troy s small fleet, based in East Grand Forks, MN, specializes in hauling a lot of loads of frozen foods and fresh red potatoes to the Southwestern and Southeastern USA.
Return trips lean heavily towards mixed fresh produce going into Edmonton, Alberta. When asked what rules and regulations in trucking he disliked most, Troy would not commit to any particular ones. All of these things increase your cost of operation, he notes.
There could be the refusal of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to delete inspection reports from a driver s record, even after that driver is found not guilty by the courts. Or how about the FMCSA s flawed enforcement program in CSA s Safety Management Systems. There have been reports of safe drivers being listed as unsafe in the system.
Another example, could be the Federal highway legislation passed last July. It calls for the FMCSA to require electric on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all heavy duty trucks. Many in trucking are concerned it will lead to driver harrasment by authorities.
This could involve electronic recording of a driver s hours of service, vehicle location (through a GPS), with information available to law enforcement. It is examples such as these which makes it more difficult to get good qualified drivers. He says the older drivers are leaving the industry and there are not nearly enough young drivers coming on board.
After all, long haul trucking certainly is not an 8 to 5 job. Despite all the government red tape, Troy still enjoys the business. He just doesn t have the time to truck as much as he used to, although taking command of one of his big rigs to someplace like Fargo isn t out of the question.
I just can t get it (driving) out of my blood, he states. One of his favorite trucks (pictured) is a 2007 red conventional Kenworth. It houses a 475 hp Caterpillar diesel, riding on a 260-inch wheelbase with a 13-speed transmission.
He also like the 72- sleeper featuring all the amenities.
It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer housing a Thermo King reefer unit.
Tags: Caterpillar, cost of operation, feature, FMCSA, hours of service, Kenworth, loads, Thermo King, Troy Pecka, Utility
- Truck News - Blog: Riding shotgun with a paraplegic truck driver As I ve written in the past, one of the things that makes the trucking industry so compelling to write about is its people. The Canadian trucking industry is comprised of hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life. And practically every one of them has an interesting story to tell.
Let me introduce you to Mike Dingler, an owner/operator with International Truckload Services (ITS) in Belleville, Ont. Mike works the nightshift, running drop-and-hook domestic loads between ITS in Belleville and customers in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton and Brantford to the west and Cornwall and Brockville in the east. What s extraordinary about Mike, is that he does all this despite being confined to a wheelchair.
I recently spent an evening with Mike, as we ran a load of paper from ITS s Belleville yard up to the space it leases from Maritime-Ontario in Brantford and then back to Belleville with an assortment of general freight. I ll be telling his story in the June issues of Truck News and Truck West . But when I have a good story to tell, I have a really hard time keeping it to myself even just temporarily - so I ll share a few details with those of you who frequent this blog.
Mike is 44 years old and has always been mechanically inclined, spending his younger days tearing down engines, transmissions and other components and then carefully reassembling them. He lived on a farm in Durham Region and was comfortable operating heavy trucks and farm equipment from a young age. At the age of 20, he fell asleep while driving a pick-up truck with a load of wood and careened 151 feet off a dead-end road before a large tree abruptly stopped the truck in its tracks.
I never broke one bone in my body but it tore the main aorta from my heart. I don t remember anything, he told me. Mike was airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital and once stabilized, sent to the renowned Lyndhurst Centre for rehab.
They were to teach him how to use his wheelchair, but after several weeks of being put off by doctors, Mike called a buddy to come pick him up. He left the rehab centre and learned how to get around in the wheelchair on his own. Since then, Mike s been getting by on a $1,000 monthly disability cheque and doing odd jobs to make ends meet.
He decided he wanted to earn a better living, get off disability and improve his lifestyle. So, he did what most of us would consider unthinkable and decided to pursue a career in trucking. Of course it wasn t easy.
There are few, if any, paraplegic truck drivers out there, so off-the-shelf driving aids weren t readily available. Mike found a 2004 Freightliner with a Meritor automatic transmission on Kijiji and traded his pick-up truck for it in a straight-up swap. He then built his own hydraulic lift system to get him in and out of the truck and installed controls allowing him to work the throttle and brake by hand.
Mike then had to get the entire system approved by the MTO. Next up, he needed a job. Mike went to work with Musket Transportation but when the contract he was serving went away, he moved on to ITS.
Chris McMillan, field operations manager with ITS, told me Mike quickly proved his abilities during the road test. Belleville has some really interesting corners and after the first hard right-hander at the bridge downtown, I knew that Mike would be a great addition to the ITS family, Chris told me. Still, the company wasn t planning to treat Mike any differently than any other company driver or owner/operator.
Nor did Mike want special treatment. Mike s been working at ITS for a couple months now and by all accounts is doing a great job. He does his own pre-trip inspections and even more remarkably, most of his own maintenance, including oil changes.
He has a forklift in his shop to which he s attached a platform to the forks so he can raise himself up to whatever height is necessary to perform maintenance and repairs. He has also welded together two creepers, so he can get underneath the truck without his feet dragging along the ground. It s a good thing too, as repairs have been plentiful.
In his first weeks with the truck, the starter, clutch and air compressor all needed replacing. Welcome to life as an owner/operator, Mike. Mike can couple and uncouple the trailers, but many yards park the trailers so closely together that he can t get to the landing gear in his wheelchair.
He has hired his cousin to come along with him to handle coupling and uncoupling. His assistant also earns his keep by running into any offices that aren t wheelchair-accessible to pick up the required paperwork. What s unique about Mike is not only the fact he s a paraplegic truck driver, but also the fact he goes about his business with a consistently positive attitude.
He s thrilled to be on the road and realizes he s lucky to be alive. He hopes to one day get daytime work with ITS, but he ll bide his time and earn it just like everyone else has to. He really doesn t feel like anyone owes him a thing.
His outlook is refreshing and invigorating. This blog was intended to be a short glimpse into Mike s life a teaser, really for the feature coming out in the June issues of Truck News and Truck West . I failed to keep it short, but believe me, I could go on much longer and I will do so in the print edition.
This is a story you don t want to miss. Meanwhile, I want to hear your stories. Do you know any professional drivers with disabilities?
How have they overcome the challenges that are inherent to the job?
- Trucker Kills 7-Year-Old in East Harlem; NYPD and Media Eye ... A 7-year-old boy was killed by a truck driver this morning while walking to school in East Harlem. While no charges were filed against the driver, police and media are focused on the actions of a crossing guard, who was reportedly on a break when the crash occurred. Trucks over 55 feet are not allowed on NYC surface streets without a permit.
According to reports, the truck driver who killed Amar Diarrassouba was driving on a street that is not a designated truck route. He was not charged. Photo: 1010 WINS via Gothamist Amar Diarrassouba and his 10-year-old brother were crossing First Avenue at E.
117th Street, east to west, when, according to reports, the westbound driver of a tractor-trailer ran over the younger boy while turning right from 117th to First. The driver was stopped by witnesses some distance away. The Post writes: It was crazy.
I saw a man chasing the truck on 119th Street, said neighborhood resident Vinny Brasero, 49. I saw the boy, there was just so much blood, I knew he wasn t going to make it. I couldn t even get too close because when I saw he wasn t moving and all that blood, it didn t look good.
The victim s big brother was hysterical, crying at the scene, according to Brasero. I was crying a little bit because I have kids, he added. East 117th Street is a narrow, one-way street.
It is not a truck route. Trucks exceeding 55 feet in length, like the one involved in this crash, are not allowed on surface streets without a permit. McClane trucking, which apparently owns the truck, is based in Texas.
Trucks registered outside New York are exempt from the state s crossover mirror requirement. It appears from a Post photo that the truck is not equipped with the mirrors, which allow truck drivers to see what is directly in front of them. Of all the factors that contributed to this fatality massive trucks allowed on city streets, a loophole in a state law, the truck driver s failure to yield to two kids while driving on a neighborhood street not designated for trucks reports say authorities are investigating why a crossing guard stationed at the intersection was not present at the time of the crash.
Naturally, this is the detail the city press corps has zeroed in on. While NYPD focused on the crossing guard, police defended the driver. From DNAinfo: Tractor trailers often have to make very wide turns, said a police spokesman at the scene.
It s possible, given the height of the vehicle and the kind of turn he had to make, that he just didn t see the kid. Trucks registered outside New York are not required to have crossover mirrors, which allow drivers to see what's in front of them. Photo: Post And the Daily News: Apparently he didn t see them, NYPD spokesman Joseph Cavitolo said of the driver, who was not charged.
Civilians on the scene exhibited a firmer grasp of the elements of the crash than NYPD. Again, from the News: Hugo Skinner, 46, said the truck had no business being on 117th St. He said trucks should be traveling on 116th St., which is a two-way street.
This is not a commercial street, he said. This is a local street. It s something that s completely ignored.
And the Post: Brasero complained that truck traffic is too dangerous for 117th and First: This block, 117th, has become a truck route and it s too narrow a street. Why don t they use 116th Street? This fatal crash occurred in the 25th Precinct.
To voice your concerns about neighborhood traffic safety directly to Deputy Inspector Nilda Hofmann, the commanding officer, go to the next precinct community council meeting. The 25th Precinct council meetings happen at 6:30 p.m. on the last Wednesday of the month at various locations.
Call 212-860-6526 for information. The City Council district where Amar Diarrassouba was killed is represented by Melissa Mark-Viverito. Though Mark-Viverito is one of the council s strongest voices for street safety, it never hurts to alert an elected to dangerous conditions.
Mark-Viverito can be reached at 212-788-6960, [email protected] and @MMViverito.
- Trucking Blog Trucking blog that brings you life on the road and new content of this website. You'll see the result of good times and bad times from drivers, truckers wives, and those who desire to drive and from my own adventures out on the road posted right here in the Trucking Blog. You'll also read interesting or weird questions and informative answers from me and more often from my dedicated soldiers who are here more regularly to share their wisdom, insight and experience.
I think you will find this interesting and informative so be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed by click on the orange button. Oct 07, 2012 College grad 3rd generation trucker I owned a truck repair facility in southwest Detroit. November 2005, Without checking background, I rented the building to person who held dog fights.
Permalink -- click for full blog post " College grad 3rd generation trucker" Oct 06, 2012 Gleason TN CDL school graduate need advice and/or job I graduated from truck driving school in Feb. of 2009. In March of 2009I gt my one and only DUI in my personal vehicle.
During this, I found out my Permalink -- click for full blog post "Gleason TN CDL school graduate need advice and/or job" Oct 06, 2012 Achieving Better Health As A Trucker Making better choices can help you achieve better health as a trucker. The lifestyle at most trucking companies is pretty sedentary as a driver. Here is some advice for better health Permalink -- click for full blog post "Achieving Better Health As A Trucker" Oct 06, 2012 Me and my buddy are thinking bout making that move......O/O Teams I appreciate this site cause while i'm on here reading and my team partner is on the road looking at magazine for O/O Teams i have imformation to pass Permalink -- click for full blog post "Me and my buddy are thinking bout making that move......O/O Teams" Oct 05, 2012 Quit Complaining Quit complaining about being alone.
Get off the pot or suck it up! If you can't live your life 98% of it walking alone, don't marry a truck driver, because Permalink -- click for full blog post "Quit Complaining" Oct 04, 2012 Worried wife My husband is going back to the road tomorrow after almost 3 years , the reason he left it for the first time is because he had a really bad accident on Permalink -- click for full blog post "Worried wife" Oct 04, 2012 what is the smoothest riding daycab what is the smoothest riding daycab Permalink -- click for full blog post "what is the smoothest riding daycab" Oct 04, 2012 Two DWIs from over 10 years ago plus Marijuana poss from 2yr ago will a trucking company hire? I recently graduated from a trucking school.
I have my cdl w/ hazmat and tanker endorsements. The problem I'm having , like most, is finding someone that Permalink -- click for full blog post "Two DWIs from over 10 years ago plus Marijuana poss from 2yr ago will a trucking company hire?" Oct 04, 2012 Driver seeking a Class B Truck with Air brakes to use for walk around and driving test. I have 30 years experience driving Propane tanker Bobtails for Propane companies.
I lost CDL 2 years ago due to serious illness and not passing DOT Medical. Permalink -- click for full blog post "Driver seeking a Class B Truck with Air brakes to use for walk around and driving test." Oct 04, 2012 When sliding tandems, how much weight does one hole represent? How much weight is adjusted moving tandems per hole Permalink -- click for full blog post "When sliding tandems, how much weight does one hole represent?" Oct 03, 2012 seeking team to drive pulling refer Want experience last 5 years prefer married team haul reefer and fede Permalink -- click for full blog post "seeking team to drive pulling refer" Oct 03, 2012 Things Lookin' Up I am super excited to be writing this on the Trucker's Wives forum of lifeasatrucker.com!!
I have some really great news about my husband's trucking Permalink -- click for full blog post "Things Lookin' Up" Oct 03, 2012 all about being a drive wife i think this is the site ,u have posted my advise a couple of times. I'm a trucker wife for 49 yrs. He is in nfld tonight i fell ,ihave bone disease, Permalink -- click for full blog post "all about being a drive wife" Oct 02, 2012 Local and OTR Flatbed Job's now open.
I have local and OTR flatbed positions open immediately must fill. Information Below. Onsite Carrier for National Steel Company Run Midwest/East Coast Permalink -- click for full blog post "Local and OTR Flatbed Job's now open." Oct 02, 2012 Every weekend to three days in four to six weeks I am a 31 year old stay at home mom of four kids ages 9, 7, and twins 5.
My wonderful 32 year old husband of 11 years has been driving for 9 years. For Permalink -- click for full blog post "Every weekend to three days in four to six weeks" Oct 01, 2012 Why do some truckers put toy trucks on their flatbeds? I am just wondering if it is just a joke or is there a reason.
Thanks Permalink -- click for full blog post "Why do some truckers put toy trucks on their flatbeds?" Oct 01, 2012 Can someone who transports hazardous materials have a rider in the truck with them? Can someone who transports hazardous materials have a rider in the truck with them Permalink -- click for full blog post "Can someone who transports hazardous materials have a rider in the truck with them?" Oct 01, 2012 Can i drive for millis with a 11 year old felon. Can i drive for Millis.
Please Help Permalink -- click for full blog post "Can i drive for millis with a 11 year old felon." Sep 30, 2012 Tips for Being Away From Family Tips for being away from family in a long distance relationships. Like being proactive in improving communication and maintaining each other's interest. Permalink -- click for full blog post "Tips for Being Away From Family" Sep 30, 2012 quickest route ct to ky Best quickest route from ct to ky mileage and direction Permalink -- click for full blog post "quickest route ct to ky" Sep 30, 2012 Life As A Trucker's Wife - Ready for change I'm finding after several years with a trucker that some patterns have been established.
First, it's the perfect world for a trucker. He's able to remain Permalink -- click for full blog post "Life As A Trucker's Wife - Ready for change" Sep 30, 2012 This might be something to post on your site I did a ton of cold calling a few weeks ago to a lot of the major carriers and this is what I came up with. This will be very useful for those seeking Permalink -- click for full blog post "This might be something to post on your site" Sep 29, 2012 ScorpGRRL I am a trucker's wife..well, almost.
lol we are engaged. Been together for over 4 years and have a total of 3 kids. He has a daughter from a previous relationship Permalink -- click for full blog post "ScorpGRRL" Sep 28, 2012 Employer Inquiries from Pospective Employers What protects a driver from retaliation from your current employer when they are contacted for your background check information? _________________________________________ Permalink -- click for full blog post "Employer Inquiries from Pospective Employers" Sep 28, 2012 will a company like werner hire me if my license was supended?
Ok so about a year ago I was running late getting my daughter to school. I was doing about ten over and got pulled over. I was unable to pay the ticket Permalink -- click for full blog post "will a company like werner hire me if my license was supended?" Sep 28, 2012 Sunny I'm Sunny.
My husband has recently become a truck driver, and is gone for months on end. It's pretty hard, eh? Anyway, I'm 28, no children, sadly--but Permalink -- click for full blog post "Sunny" Sep 27, 2012 CoastalTravelUS Radio / Internet Radio on Live365.com Hervy, i'm not a trucker but I understand how important the trucking industry is to our country.
I have a internet radio station called CoastalTravelUS Permalink -- click for full blog post "CoastalTravelUS Radio / Internet Radio on Live365.com" Sep 27, 2012 have 3 prevenatives, who hires with only 6 months experience also terminated with swift.. they do fax history when terminated to potential employers..found a few but insurance does the final approval.. any company that Permalink -- click for full blog post "have 3 prevenatives, who hires with only 6 months experience also" Sep 27, 2012 A look inside of the truck stop shower Several have asked about truck stop showers so I put this page together with some info and a few pics about the truck stop showers.
Permalink -- click for full blog post "A look inside of the truck stop shower" Sep 27, 2012 What will happen if you have an intrastate cdl and you get caught driving out of state?
If I have an Oklahoma class A instrastate cdl and I got caught in Texas driving what would happen?
Also im 20 with clean driving record Permalink -- click for full blog post "What will happen if you have an intrastate cdl and you get caught driving out of state?"
- Trucking Tonnage Declines in October 2012 - Hurricane Sandy Effect? Econintersect : The American Trucking Associations (ATA) trucking index fell sharply 3.8% in October - and ATA backward revisions now have the trucking index falling 4.7% over the last 3 months. The index now is at the lowest level since May 2011. Compared with October 2011, seasonally adjusted tonnage was down 2.1% - a contraction year-over-year .
It should be noted that jobs grew in October in the trucking industry. From the press release: Clearly Hurricane Sandy negatively impacted October s tonnage reading, ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. However, it is impossible for us to determine the exact impact.
Follow up: "Costello noted that a large drop in fuel shipments into the affected area likely put downward pressure on October s tonnage level since fuel is heavy freight, in addition to reductions in other freight. I d expect some positive impact on truck tonnage as the rebuilding starts in the areas impacted by Sandy, although that boost may only be modest in November and December, he said. Excluding the Hurricane impacts, I still think truck tonnage is decelerating along with factory output and consumer spending on tangible-goods." /images/z truck.jpg Econintersect tries to validate data across data sources.
It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry grew 0.3% month-over-month (red line) and trucking jobs indexed to Jan 2000 = 100 is continuing to show steady improvement (blue line). Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted significantly. However, long term trends are showing a steady growth.
Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation.
Steven Hansen source: ATA
- What Cyclists Need to Know about Trucks : Beezodog's Place By Keri November 30, 2008 Source: Commute Orlando Trucks have huge blind spots. Truck drivers cannot see little things in their huge blind spots. Large vehicles off-track when turning, so they will appear to be going straight and often swing wide before making a right turn.
Commute Orlando Cyclists hit by turning trucks is a repeating news story which highlights the most serious deficiency in our system education of cyclists. Sometimes these crashes are caused by the truck driver passing a cyclist prior to turning right, but very often they are caused by the cyclist passing the truck on the right. In both cases, the cyclist has the power to avoid the crash.
Here s how YOU can keep this from happening to you: Do not stop at an intersection on the right side of a truck. If you have already stopped in a bike lane and a big rig pulls up next to you, don t assume the driver has seen you. Get off your bike and move it to safety (your life is worth the inconvenience) .
It s better to stop in the middle of the general traffic lane if you arrive first. (In many cases it s safer to stop in the line of traffic than to pass the queue.) Do not linger next to a truck on any side, in any lane. If you are riding near the same speed, slow until you are behind the truck. (This is taught to motorcyclists, it applies to all vehicle drivers, even car drivers!) If a truck passes you, slow down and let it get ahead of you ASAP. If you are approaching an intersection, merge to the left and ride near the center line to avoid the moving blind spot (see Left Cross in the Blind Spot).
If you are in a bike lane and passing stopped traffic, do not pass a truck unless you can be clear of it before approaching any intersections or driveways and before traffic begins moving again. (This is a case where bike lanes offer a false sense of security that can get a cyclist killed.) Or, just don t pass a truck on the right at all. And be cautious when passing on the left, too. Trucks make wide turns.
They cannot physically make a right turn from the right curb, so they will often leave a large, inviting opening on their right prior to a turn. They will also move straight into the intersection before starting to turn. When a truck turns right across your path, it is almost impossible to escape its rear wheels.
So don t get caught in a spot where this can happen! Be aware of what kind of situation can lead to a potential crash and avoid it. Here s an example of how blind-spot awareness saved my life last year.
A plan view of all blind spots (the rear no-zone is expanded for highway-speed following distance). From AAA Driving Survival. Commute Orlando I was riding North on Magnolia through downtown.
I was in the bike lane. Approaching Concord, I saw a slow-moving truck in the right traffic lane. I slowed and hung back.
We continued to Colonial, where the light was red. The bike lane is properly-striped to the left of the right-turn-only lane, so it would be correct for me to ride in it to the intersection. But the truck was in the right thru-lane and I don t ride next to trucks.
I decided to pull into the thru-lane behind it. Just as the truck reached the Colonial intersection, the light turned green. The truck driver turned on his right turn signal and turned right across the bike lane and the right-turn-only lane.
Yes, he made an illegal turn. He probably checked his mirror for cars in the turn lane, but he would not have seen me. He never did see me, I nonchalantly passed him on the left and went on my way.
But it was not lost on me what would have happened had I made a different decision. And I wondered how many other cyclists would have made the same decision. Acute awareness of vehicle blind spots was taught to me in motorcycle safety school.
Perhaps if bicycle advocates and the bike industry put as much emphasis on education as the motorcycle industry does, I wouldn t keep seeing articles like the following: Here are 2 crashes from this month. Both of these cyclists were very fortunate to survive.
11/25/08 Elderly bicyclist injured in crash with big rig The cyclist and the big rig were both stopped in the street waiting for a train to pass prior to the crash. Once the train passed, the big rig made a right turn from Lemon Avenue onto a side street, striking the still stationary bicyclist.
Note: the satellite view shows what appears to be a wide curb lane. Wide curb lanes allow cyclists to ride on the right of traffic, but cyclists should still be cautious about passing stopped traffic. If you suddenly find yourself in a situation where traffic is stopped and you are next to a big rig.
Get off your bike and get off the road.
11/18/08 Cyclist Down: Fillmore and Fulton The cyclist s description: I was cruising down Fulton eastbound and saw the truck ahead of me. I sped up a bit so I d stay within range of his rearview mirrors. If I were too far back, the box part of the truck would block me.
We approached the intersection and I was keeping an eye on his turn signal because I was passing the cars. I was going about 20 and there was no turn signal. As I came towards the intersection, I saw he was turning and hit the brakes.
I skidded into the side of the truck and he kept turning, which pulled me under. Note: Fulton street has downhill bike lanes which are dangerous because cyclists can travel at motoring speeds. Any time you are traveling at downhill speed, you should be in the traffic lane.
You need way more room to maneuver than a bike lane provides. If you are traveling faster than traffic, it is safer to pull into the traffic lane and slow to the speed of that traffic than to fly past it on the right. This allows you to easily pass right-turning vehicles on the left, instead of being hit by them as they cross your path.
Here are 4 more that have happened in the last 14 months. These cyclists were not so lucky. (All of these crashes involved cyclists in bike lanes.) John Allen lists a bunch more in this article about mindless passing on the right (and how bad bike facilities encourage it while we educators are trying to discourage it). When you know how to be safe around trucks, it won t happen to you!
UPDATE: Here is a video for cyclists by the Portland Water Bureau. I also found this video from the trucking industry. This is aimed at motorists and highway driving, but it has some good blind spot images in it.
This entry was posted on November 30, 2008 at 2:04 pm and is filed under Bicycle Statistics, Bike Facilities, Cycling Education, In the News, Safety, Smart Moves. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Related posts: Safety Tips for Bicycles Source: FMCSA > Share The Road Safely Program > Bicyclists...
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- 'bikes-vs-trucks' battles fading?
Advocates say so - Bike PortlandCan they share interests, too? (Photos J. Maus/BikePortland) The long, cold war between Portland's bike/pedestrian advocates and its freight advocates might finally be thawing, people involved in recent talks say. The latest evidence: Trucking advocates have signed on to soften a set of state rules that might have essentially blocked all new bike lanes, road diets and crosswalk upgrades on state-owned commercial streets such as Lombard Street through St.
Johns, Powell Boulevard through Southeast Portland and the Tualatin Valley Highway through downtown Beaverton and Hillsboro. After two years of discussion, freight and bike/pedestrian experts have settled on a revised state rule that explicitly allows road changes as long as they don't physically block the passage of wide freight loads. The BTA's Gerik Kransky (L) has sought to build relationships with freight advocates like Corky Collier (R).
Corky Collier, a freight advocate working in Portland since 2004, said communication between bike and truck experts has clearly been improving. "On a range of 10, maybe it was a 4 in the past, but now it's more like a 7 or an 8," Collier said Wednesday. He credited the improvement to solid personal relationships among a few key players. That's one reason Bicycle Transportation Alliance Advocacy Director Gerik Kransky has been attending the city's freight committee meetings, 7:30 a.m.
on the first Thursday of each month, since 2010. The fruits of those labors were on display back in December when Kransky worked with Collier's support to restore funding cuts for active transportation when the two served together on the City of Portland's Budget Advisory Committee. "Having a few friends goes a long way," Kransky said. The state law currently being interpreted is known as the "hole in the air" rule, because it seeks to ensure that wide freight loads mobile home components, wind turbine blades, large machinery will always be able to use state highways "unless safety or access considerations require the reduction." SE Powell Boulevard would continue to prioritize wide freight loads under a proposed implementation of state law.
From a biking perspective, there are serious problems with the law, passed with little fanfare by Oregon's legislature in 2003. For example, it's far from obvious that wide-load freight should be a top transportation priority on a street that runs right through central Hillsboro Tualatin Valley Highway, which just this month was named by the BTA as a top prospect for a "world-class bikeway." Other roads affected include Route 99 East through central Milwaukie and Route 99 West through central Tigard, as well as U.S.
30 northwest of Portland and all the region's freeways. Still, the law is the law, bike advocates involved in the process say and freight advocates have agreed to significant compromises in its interpretation, including potential reduction of auto travel lanes, restriping to create bike lanes, and narrowly defining the affected streets.
For example, the MLK-Grand couplet through central Portland was one potential corridor that would have been prioritized for wide-load freight traffic. But Metro transportation engineer Anthony Buczek said he'd successfully argued for a clarification that because that couplet is controlled by the City of Portland rather than the state, it would be exempt from the rule. Buczek was also among several who pushed for the addition of a bike lane to not be considered a reduction of freight capacity.
As for the TV Highway, Kransky said he ensured that the proposed rules explicitly state that reducing the number of auto travel lanes in order to add a buffered bike lane, for example does not constitute a reduction in freight capacity, either. An off-road path along the highway would also remain feasible, Kransky added. "They see the opportunity ... to have a lot of pedestrian and bike advocates understand the needs of freight movement.
Hopefully that's a two-way street." Anthony Buczek, Metro transportation engineer "The policy, I think, is a big improvement from where it was," Buczek said Tuesday. "My sense is that all sides really were committed." The Oregon Transportation Commission is accepting comments on the proposed rules until July 15. Among the significant issues is whether low pedestrian bump-outs can be installed without interfering with freight passage. And as talk continues about ways to improve North Lombard Street, it's not yet clear how these state rules might tie the hands of city planners.
Buczek, the Metro engineer, said freight experts are also eager to persuade active transportation experts that trucking is both important and complicated. "They see freight marginalized in a lot of ways, whether you agree with that or not," Buczek said. "So they see the opportunity to have more modes at the table, to have a lot of pedestrian and bike advocates understand the needs of freight movement. Hopefully that's a two-way street: that we get freight advocates understanding better the needs of pedestrians and bicyclists." Email This Post Posted on June 26th, 2013 at 12:00 pm. Filed under Advocacy, Front Page and tagged with , bike/truck safety, freight.
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