Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Smart Cars

I just came back from a two-week trip in Germany and Austria. These Smart Cars are pretty common there, and always look so funny. I'm starting to see a handful around my area - in fact a neighbor around the corner just got one.

I saw this Smart Car parked in Vienna, Austria. I wonder if anyone has tried parking it like this in the U.S. and what would people think? Notice the cars are parked alongside a separate signed bike path. They have these separated bike lanes for bikes there. Some are separated with a curb, so no cars can enter it, which is nice. I saw a good amount of people biking while in Germany and Austria - most of them don't wear any cycling gear or helmets, and they do fine. I wonder what the accident/collision rate is for cyclists there? I also saw a lot of people walking, and not "needing" their cars with them to go everywhere. A lot of people use the subways and buses. You don't see massive traffic jams or clogged city streets like you do here. Of course, gas is more expensive there. But also, cities are more compact and you can get places easily via walking and public transportation. Another thing I liked was seeing they still have the old street cars running. D.C. evidently used to have them as their main transportation, but those were stopped in the 1960' mom used to talk about catching the street cars to go places. D.C. is talking about bringing those back on certain streets, but of course, it takes away from car lanes. Supposedly, there are plans for a demonstration line that will start running either on H Street or the Anacostia area, as of next year. It'll be interesting to see if it will work, and whether you really can "go back" to old transportation modes. Perhaps it would work well on certain streets and grow from there, depending on ridership.

Of course, I opt for bicycles as the top transportation mode. :) I took this picture of some businessmen conversing in Vienna, one of whom had arrived by bicycle - you can see his thin briefcase on the rack.