31 October 2016

New BART traincars are kind of a big deal

Firstly - Happy Halloween!

Secondly - yay for the new BART train cars! Yesterday I made the trek from San Francisco to El Cerrito Del Norte Station (my grandparents' old station) to see the new "Fleet of the Future".

Frankly, the seats were really nice AND practical. Note the depth of cushioning. We could have declined to plastic seats. Image: Brian Stokle / Urban Life Signs
Although the new train did not move it moved the soul of this here transit advocate and enthusiast. I arrived at 11 AM - well after the prescribed start time - thinking I wouldn't get the toy train car. Luckily the woman in front of me told me that she really wanted a train car for her autistic son. A BART employee had assured her, moments earlier, that everyone would be getting squishy new toy fleet of the future train cars. And sure enough we all did! The atmosphere while waiting was full of effervescent anticipation. Sure I'd glanced at the train on my way into the station, but getting to actually walk into it was.... almost a religious experience.

Ok - it wasn't quite religious, but it was great. (Seeing the first viaduct pillars of the California High Speed Rail system in Madera County was a religious experience.) Remember, I'm a guy who's lived in three big cities - New York, Paris, and San Francisco. I've seen new train cars both in Paris and New York. So I was expecting something nice, but not profound. What I saw was a tad short of profound. So very good.

Many people waited in line to see the new train cars. Not sure if it was more for the toy or seeing the cars. Image: Brian Stokle / Urban Life Signs
Taking the escalator up, past the Del Norte mosaic walls, and then being greeted by BART ambassadors at all 9 doors of the three car train was a nice and welcoming touch. The first thing you notice is the train color is really white, but that will change with time.

Upon entry it's the seats in their bright blue and green that I noticed. I had to sit in them. And they are very comfy while being made of some miracle material that appears easy to wipe. Just the right amount of padding without swallowing you yet also seeming to be a durable padding.
Me holding my new BART "toy" at the center of the train where no pole exists. Note there are more straphangers at the center.  Image: Brian Stokle / Urban Life Signs
The three door configuration, although not complicated and nearly universal in other metro systems, seemed natural and not amazing - but I think we'll sense how great it is with how fast folks will get on and off trains.

14 October 2016

All the family I have known and met - lived through 250 years!

Talking about climate change, sea level rise, and their effects is easy. Getting folks, myself included, to actually act on this monumental challenge is the big obstacle.

One of the many challenges is getting a grasp on the long time horizons - if we don't reduce emissions now, the world will be flooded by 10 feet in 90 years.

After having a daughter I've thought a lot about what the world will look like in the year 2050 and 2100. I'll be alive in 2050, quite possibly, when I'll be 80 years old. However, my daughter will only be 38 years old. And in 2100, she'll be 88 years old. Three of my grandparents lived to 90 years or older, so there's a decent chance she might make it to then.

All this means that my daughter is very very likely to live in a VERY different world in 2100, or even in 2079 when she'll be eligible for Social Security benefits - assuming the program still exists.

Thinking further, I thought to myself, how can I and other people, better connect to the idea that the here an now affects the world in 25, 50, 100 and even 150 years from now. So I wondered, who in my family will I know and what years did they all live in.

As indicated in the chart below, my older grandfather was born in 1899, and my potential granddaughter will live to 2150 when she'll be 97.

The family I know will have spanned 251 years and five generations. 
Image: Brian Stokle/Urban Life Signs
So when we're talking about reducing emissions, and making tough decisions on how to get there - like eliminating all gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2030, remember that your children and grandchildren will be living past the year 2100 and trying to cope with a hot world, with flooded historic cities, with international refugees fleeing flooded cities.