Roadscapes Wednesday: Urban Isolation


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

On this Roadscapes Wednesday, I am featuring a video from the Vimeo channel  about empty Los Angeles freeways!  The video features people on skateboards as they ride down empty streets and freeways in Los Angeles.  The video is a celebration about skateboard filmmaking, and making roads and highways be free of all traffic!  And if you like the scenes in the video below, Russell is selling prints on his website.  All proceeds will be donated to LA county animal shelters.  One crazy fact about the making of this video, people actually skateboarded down the freeways with traffic on them, don’t do that at home!

Go to Russell Houghten’s website at: RussellHoughten.com, enjoy the video!

And here is the same video, with the traffic in it!

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Why The New Alabama Welcome Sign Looks Too Bland


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For the past few years since 2003, when you entered the state of Alabama, you were greeted with the welcome sign that said “Alabama the Beautiful.”  The sign was in a fancy font and included the state’s official logo.  Here is what the sign looks like.

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Now, the Alabama Tourism Department and ALDOT have revealed a new welcome sign that will replace the sign you see now.  The slogan “Sweet Home Alabama” is the official marketing slogan in Alabama.  And in the new sign shown below, you unfortunately see the sign taking a huge step backwards when it comes to attractive state welcome signs.

From WSFA.

From WSFA.

I would like seeing Sweet Home Alabama being used on the state welcome signs, but I think a much better design could have been used to make the sign attractive.  The state is going to spend $61,000 to replace the welcome signs on every state highway entrance into Alabama.  But in my opinion, if you want to welcome visitors into a state like Alabama, you need to show a great first impression, and the first impression is the welcome sign, this new sign looks too bland.

From WSFA.

From WSFA.

Let’s compare this new welcome sign to the welcome signs seen in the states bordering Alabama.  Tennessee’s welcome sign looks beautiful.

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Mississippi is promoting the birthplace of America’s music, that is a good welcome sign.

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Florida’s welcome sign makes you think about the beach!  And yes, you see the open for business signs often in Florida.

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And Georgia, the 1996 Olympics happened nearly 20 years ago, it’s about time to choose something different for your welcome signs!  How about something celebrating The Walking Dead that is shot in Georgia?

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ALDOT and the marketing department, you could have put some more color into these signs!  Alabama is about to have the worst welcome sign of any state in America, and that is an embarrassment my friends!  I would keep the Sweet Home Alabama design, but choose a much different design that looks beautiful!  At least we are not going back to the welcome sign Alabama had about 20 years ago, this sign looked bad!

Alabama-welcome

Roadscapes Wednesday: Self-Driving Future Truck


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

As you know, most of us are literary attached to our smartphones!  So much so some drivers text or look at their phones while driving, just because we need to know that latest score, or what that celebrity just did to land in jail.  To all of those who look or work on their phones while driving, it can wait!

But what if you did not have to worry about driving while in front of the wheel, and you could read a tablet, text your friends, or play a game on your device, while your car is driving, itself!  Well, that scenario is coming soon, thanks to Mercedes-Benz.  The car company revealed a smart truck on the German Autobahn system.  In this video which was uploaded last week, it shows a smart truck driving down the A14, near the city of Magdeburg in Germany.  The truck has what the company calls Highway Pilot, which enables it to drive completely autonomously at speeds of up to 85 km/h (52 mph).

The human driver is able to switch control of the truck to the vehicle’s embedded system and ride hands-free as a passenger.  Yep, the driver can do whatever he wants, while the truck is driving itself.   The Highway Pilot uses a combination of vehicle-to-vehicle communication via Wi-Fi, lateral radar on both sides of the truck, and full range and short-range radar mounted on the front of the truck.  The truck also uses a front stereo camera, mounted just under its windshield.  The company calls it the Future Truck 2025, and they hope to have trucks on the road with this technology by 2025.

Yes, I actually think we will see self-driving cars and trucks by 2025, mostly because more and more people are using their smartphones while driving, and they are demanding a way to get to point A to point B, without hiring another driver.  So soon, we will be riding in cars that drives themselves, and I am excited and concerned at the same time.  For now, watch the video demonstrating the Smart Truck below!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Video Bashing Of The Tar And Gravel On AL-281


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

If you have noticed, we are taking it slowly this week since it’s the week of the 4th of July.  So for this Roadscapes, I am featuring a video where I bash ALDOT once again.  Many cyclists do not like the gravel placed on AL-281 or the Talladega Scenic Drive.  Every year during the Cheaha Challenge, cyclists have a hard time navigating then gravel, and on some parts of the road, most of the gravel has come off!  You expect the tar and gravel treatment on some less traveled county road, but not on a state highway!  Here are some pictures from me.

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So, I found this video where the person took the classic movie clip where Hitler yells at everyone, and he turns it into another bashing from this state’s DOT.  The video is a compliant about the tar and gravel treatment on AL-281.  For a state that has no social media presence or YouTube channel, by they way, every state’s DOT around Alabama has social media accounts and a YouTube channel, this video should serve a purpose for some major changes inside ALDOT, I have proposed changes, but nothing has happened.  So from the YouTube channel stan0614, enjoy the video!

Roadscapes Wednesday: Fix The Trust Fund


Roadscapes Geek Alabama

So think about this?  What happens when the Highway Trust Fund runs out?  In 64 days, we will find out what happens, unless Congress does something.  You see, the Highway Trust Fund has done things from building the Interstate Highway System to re-building that old bridge down the street.  Federal funding has accounted for approximately 45 percent of what state Departments of Transportation spend on highway and bridge capital improvements.  But without a fix to the trust fund, the trust fund will run out of money, as early as August, so I could celebrate my birthday with no funding to fix our roads, a brilliant move!  I want you to take a look at the chart below.

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Based on current spending and revenue trends, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the Highway Account of the Highway Trust Fund will encounter a shortfall before the end of fiscal year (FY) 2014.

  • The Highway Account began FY 2014 with approximately $1.6 billion in cash.
  • A $9.7 billion transfer from the General Fund to the Highway Account was processed shortly after the start of the fiscal year ($10.4 billion authorized in MAP-21, reduced by sequestration).
  • The cash balance has dropped by nearly $3.2 billion since the General Fund transfer occurred. As of April 25, 2014, the Highway Account cash balance was $8.7 billion.

And if you think having no money for the Highway Trust Fund is no big deal, then take a look at the economic impacts by looking at the chart below.

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Simply, we must fix the Highway Trust Fund!  And Congress needs to quit fighting each other and get the job done!  So the American Society Of Civil Engineers have launched Fix The Trust Fund.  The mission is simple, Congress must find a way to replace the funding troubles currently in place because the gas tax has not been raised in over 20 years.  What type of funding will be used to pay for our roads, I guess we will find out.  But we must fix the Highway Trust Fund, or get ready to pay more in gas and vehicle repairs, and more time stuck in traffic!

Learn more at: http://www.fixthetrustfund.org/

Sign a petition to have Congress agree on a long-tern solution to fixing the Highway Trust Fund at: http://www.change.org/petitions/tell-congress-to-fixthetrustfund-now