Monday, February 29, 2016

Editorial: The problem with automated traffic enforcement

A red light camera cluster in Long Beach, CA
I have a serious hate-hate relationship with the idea of automated traffic enforcement. I hate the fact that safety is abdicated to the all mighty dollar. I hate the fact that despite just about every major independent traffic study demonstrating that automated enforcement actually results in more accidents, municipalities still use automated enforcement because they have adapted their budgets to count upon that stream of revenue. I hate the fact that the very presence of automated enforcement often contributes further to congestion as the presence of signs even hinting at the possibility of cameras makes people drive like their IQs have been cut in half. The truth is that automated enforcement does not work as a traffic calming or driving safety measure. Many municipalities are finally starting to wise up to that fact and some have even started to remove their traffic enforcement cameras when the revenue promised by the companies that install and manage the cameras never actually materializes and additional administrative costs are incurred by people fighting the tickets.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Long Term Test: 2007 Honda S2000 post# 6

Sixth update
Current Miles: 79,431

Not a lot has happened with the S2000 within the last few months. I had to replace the rear tires with a fresh set back in December in anticipation of El NiƱo, as my rear tires were nearly bald. I guess that is the price you pay for driving a rear-wheel drive sports car! Aside from a tire replacement, the S2000 has been running strong. A minor gas pedal squeak has reappeared, but it is nothing a little grease cannot fix. I have also recently discovered that my Pioneer head unit does, in fact, have native Pandora support. Coupled with T-Mobile's unlimited music streaming service, this has saved me on many a long drive.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Editorial: Goodnight, Sweet Prince

Earlier this month, Toyota announced that it was giving the axe to its youth oriented Scion brand in August of this year. What happened? This is supposed to a brand that is marketed towards the millennial generation which, in theory, should have been a very profitable gamble. Scion also prided itself on a very straight forward pricing plan (what you see on the window sticker is what you pay), which also meant that Scion vehicles were generally very well equipped without having to spend all day negotiating with a salesperson. People hate dealing with shady salespeople, so this should have been great, right? I will tell you what happened that led to Scion's demise, or at least what I believe to be the reasoning behind Toyota's decision.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Test Ride: 2016 CanAm Spyder RS-S

To be honest, I never understood the CamAm Spyder. It has all of the negatives of the motorcycle - the lack of crash protection, exposure to the elements, limited practicality, and excessive noise - with none of the benefits - outrageously quick acceleration, thrilling sensation of leaning into corners, ability to split lanes in California. For me, the Spyder always represented a segment of motorcycling that seemed too far outside of logical for me to really pay much attention to. Whenever I saw one on the road, I would generally roll my eyes and think to myself, "There goes another guy with more money than brains." So because of this, I had never really expressed much interest in giving the CanAm Spyder a test, even though their demo days seemed to be omnipresent no matter what city I lived in. This time around, at the International Motorcycle Show, I figured it was time to get over my prejudices and see if I could make sense of why people would find this thing even remotely appealing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Editorial: The lack of vision of local governments is why our roads are congested and terrible

I recently attended a meeting of my region's Council of Governments (COG), which is a body made up of the leaders of the region's cities and helps to set priorities and plans for programs in areas ranging from community development to pollution control to transportation planning. It is this last area that was of interest to me as I was there to speak on behalf of an advocacy group that was seeking discreet funding for active transportation projects. Listening to a few presentations on the already established priorities and the current state of various projects followed by debate on the recommendation to offer discreet funding for active transportation projects, it became immensely clear that this body is one of the key reasons why our roads in much of the area are often terribly congested.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Drawing Board: Lightweight RWD sedan

Imagine this but with two more doors and a fixed roof...
We haven't done one of these in a while, so lets take this opportunity in this new year and pontificate about a car that currently does not exist on the market.

From 2007 until 2012, my wife and I were proud owners of a hand-me-down 1999 Mazda Miata. It was a special edition car made in limited quantities and packed with lots of performance goodies like the then new 6-speed manual transmission and a limited slip differential between the rear wheels. The car was an absolute hoot to drive thanks to a curb weight of just 2,350 pounds. Its raw and tossable nature always made me wonder why Mazda never attempted to translate the chassis into other vehicles to add to the line-up. Just imagine what a treat it would be to have a light weight compact four-door sedan that offered all of the fun of the Miata, but significantly more practicality.

So that got me thinking, what would such a car really look like?