Archive for the ‘Driving’ Category

Shore Traffic Relief?

It’s nice to think about summer on such a cold January day, especially a nice long day on the beach. Unfortunately, said “down the shore” times inevitably include traffic. While there are no plans for the AC expressway, the NJ Turnpike Authority does have a proposal to begin widening the Garden State Parkway as early as July.

There are concerns about environmental and neighborhood impact, which can be shared and addressed in an open meeting tonight in Egg Harbor Township.

I hope they can compromise on a fairly earth friendly proposal and still gain the extra space. I’ve spent many, many hours sitting in shore traffic throughout my life, and think another lane would be a beautiful thing. Now if only we could do something about the toll plaza bottleneck syndrome.

SEPTA Biking, Part 2

It’s been a while since I wrote Part 1 of my adventures in attempting to de-car, and it’s been a long journey. Long as in: I still own a car. It’s ridiculous that I still owe more on my car than the blue book value, and that I can only get half of that if I sell it. This makes it very unappealing to sell it, since I would still have to pay off the remainder of the loan for a car I wouldn’t even own anymore.

As such, I’ve still been driving to work. I mean, if I still have to make the payments and still own the car, I might as well use it. This has left me feeling very cranky indeed. I enjoy my time on the train, slipping on my headphones to catch up on my podcasts and working on whatever knitting project I have in my bag.

Another consequence of still owning the car is that I don’t have the money to invest in a new folding bike. I already have a classic Schwinn with coaster brakes—while a very nice bike and great to ride around my neighborhood, it is totally not convenient for 1) bringing on the train (and risking that pesky 2-bikes-per-train rule), and 2) riding up and down the hills to and from the train station to my office building.

Please offer any advice or suggestions to the comments. I’m looking for anything that would help me out here!

Automaton Enforcer

Pay your traffic violations now, or a robo-van will nail your hiney to the wall. Or, rather, impound your car. Come next month something called “AutoVu” will hit the streets, scanning up to 3,600 license plates a day. If you have an unpaid fine your car will be booted and towed. If you’ve never experienced a booting or towing before, well, I’ll just say it might actually be more pleasant to literally have your hiney nailed to a wall than to try to get it back. Best, then, to pay up now.

I can’t help but wonder exactly how much Philadelphia is wasting on this newfangled thing. How much will it cost to run? Pay the operator? Reboot the database when it crashes? Hire tech support? Gas it up every day? The article linked says the city is owed $36 million in fines, but realistically how many of those will be unearthed and paid due to AutoVu? It can’t very well go into garages and driveways. I think the money poured into this effort would be better spent on, well, anything to help reduce the exorbitant homicide rate.

Oh, and how long before someone knocks the scanner off the top of the van? (photo)

Trader Joe’s: Now with Fresh Asphalt

I saw an asphalt company in the Trader Joe’s parking lot this morning. As I walked by en route to work, it looked as if the parking lot has been pretty well re-covered in fresh blacktop.

The asphalt was sufficiently odiferous to suggest it had been laid early this morning, and, if I’m remembering correctly about fresh blacktop, that would suggest the parking lot (or at least the lion’s share of it I saw freshly asphalted) may not be usable today.

If you walk to Trader Joe’s you’ll have no problems with access. (Whether or not the fumes knock you out is a whole other matter.) But, if you normally drive there, and if you were thinking of driving tjhere today for a grocery run, I’d suggest you call ahead to confirm the parking sitch.

Even God Doesn’t Like Driving in NJ

Because the weather has made it near impossible to breathe outside this week, I’ve been driving my husband to work in Camden instead of making him suffer while waiting for NJ Transit buses. This has been great: he buys me coffee, then I fill up on gas while I’m over there.

So this morning while stopped at a red light on north US-130, I noticed the church on the corner changed its sign. It now reads “God lets you make U-turns, but not on Rt 130!”

Not the most hysterically funny church sign, but it made me snort a little coffee through my nose.

Have you noticed any funny, cute, or interesting signs lately?

Yellow Means Go?

Driving west on Girard Avenue this morning, I slowed down to stop at a light that had turned yellow, and was promptly tapped. Loud honking ensued, and I looked in my rearview mirror to see a raving madwoman behind the wheel of the car behind me, shouting so much I only saw her teeth. During my stay at the red light, she continued to honk, scream, wave, yell and point at me, and as soon as the light changed to green she cut off the guy next to me to tear down the street.

I’ve lived in Philadelphia all my life, and I’ve had my license for six years. My husband doesn’t understand how I’m still bewildered by bad driving behavior.

I SEPTA Because I Care

My name’s Cory, and I drive an SUV.

That feels good to get off my chest.

My girlfriend Suzanne got me hooked on SEPTA. Previously, my experiences have been limited to, “I can’t pick you up, can you take the bus?” or “Our car broke down, how are you getting to school?” I’ve always had the luxury to drive wherever I needed to go. But, after rising gas prices, global warming, and my broken gas gauge beeping because it thought I had no gas, I figured it was time to take the plunge into public transportation. I bought a Monthly TransPass for June.

After taking trips to and from my school’s campus, a trip to University City, a really fun trip to Wilmington, and a future trip to restaurants around the city (gas money = food money in the grand scheme of things), my TransPass is almost half-way paid for, and it’s only 9 days into June. My car hasn’t moved from its primo parking spot directly in front of my rowhome, I’ve saved a lot of money on gas, and all this walking from station to station and stop to stop makes me feel good.

This wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Apparently, regular oil changes are actually necessary

I have a confession to make. I’m terrible about getting the oil changed in my car. Part of my problem is that I don’t drive much, so it takes a long time to travel the recommended 3,000 miles between oil changes. I realize that they say that you should do it 3,000 or every three months, but I’m at the point in life where I feel like three months passes every time I turn around, and I just don’t want to be changing my oil that fast.

But Monday, I decided that it had to be done and so I headed over to the Jiffy Lube at 10th and Spring Garden. I pulled in and they had space for me right away (I made sure to remove the sticker from my last oil change before I got out of the car, they didn’t need to know that I was 8 months overdue). I turned the car over to them, and headed inside to read a book while they worked. At one point, the guy who I had been dealing with came in and tried to sell me some extra services, but I firmly said no and he went back outside. When they were all done, I got back into my car and headed off towards the free car wash that had come with the oil change. Driving, I noticed something different immediately. My car was running a whole lot more smoothly. I didn’t have to punch the gas when I shifted from the clutch to the ignition, the transition was easy and gentle. I was floored. I guess there really is something to this regular oil change thing after all.

I would totally recommend that Jiffy Lube too, if you need a quick oil change in Center City. They were fast and efficient, and it came with a free basic carwash from the place over at 13th and Race. Not a bad deal.

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