WXXI AM News

Transportation

Bus driving guitarist looks back on career with many turns

Apr 30, 2018

  

Guitarist Lawrence Johnson recorded the complete works of early-nineteenth century composer Fernando Sor – using equipment that the guitarist got in a trade for a Volkswagen.  He recalls, "I found out this guy and this girl, they were married – and he decided he didn’t like her anymore and he left her and took her car. But he was also a recording nut, and so he had this Revox 77.  So I said: I got a car if you want it, but I need that Revox 77. So, I got it." 

We talk about the future of transit, and if we'll see a carless future. Some say cars are on the way out - they aren't environmentally friendly or economical. Others say that's a ways away - we're not connected enough as communities to rely on bikes and public transit.

We talk to people who have made the switch from cars to bikes, and people who've switched back from bikes to cars about how transit works for them. In studio:

  • Adrian Martin, cyclist
  • Kristin Small, public interest lawyer
  • Christine Corrado, freelance writer, philanthropy consultant, and community activist
  • John Hoffman, English teacher

Would you ride in a driverless car? GM says its driverless car could be in fleets by next year. But some polls show Americans are still skeptical about the idea of this technology. Are driverless cars safe? Who would be liable in an accident? Advocates of driverless cars say they could benefit the environment and improve everyday lifestyles.

We talk about our future as drivers…or riders. Our guests:

Leaders in Upstate New York say they need more attention – and more funding – to bolster transit options. For most cities that are not New York City, that means bus lines. RTS chief Bill Carpenter says the money has remained steady, but the needs have increased, and Rochesterians want better options. So what could RTS do with a big increase in funding? What should they do? And what about other cities that are considering not just buses, but other ideas?

Our guests discuss it:

Are urbanists trying to push cars out of American cities? A recent piece in The Urban Phoenix, which was created by a Rochesterian, argues that cars will always be king in this country, but we need to strike a much better balance. The piece was hailed by urbanists and mocked by some who saw it as an attack on the automobile.

So what does a balanced mode of transportation truly look like, and are we close to achieving it? Our guests:

For some, traveling throughout Rochester using anything but a car is unthinkable. For others, it’s a necessity, a way of life or a hope. According to national surveys and studies, including one from the Brookings Institution, people want more walkable cities in the US. In addition, Brookings found more than half of millennials surveyed want to live places where they don’t need access to a car.

Examining transportation and mobility issues is the focus of a film series called Rochester Street Films. The first event in the series this year takes place on March 15 with a focus on: “Moving Beyond the Automobile.” On this edition of Need to Know, leaders from the non-profit Reconnect Rochester (producer of Rochester Street Films) and filmmakers involved in the educational movie series discuss their short films and the work needed to create a community connecting all people through a robust transportation network.

How does transportation intersect with poverty? Peter Nabozny, with the Center for Governmental Research, published a series of articles to find the answer. He explored bus commutes, car ownership, sprawl, and what can be done to improve matters.

We discuss what he found, and what can change to offer more opportunity for those living in poverty in Rochester. Our guests:

  • Peter Nabozny, associate principal for the Center for Governmental Research
  • Brenda Massie, Innovation and Strategic Initiatives for the City of Rochester, and board member and secretary for Reconnect Rochester

Buffalo is rolling out a new bicycle master plan for 300 miles of bike lanes -- tripling the current amount. What about Rochester?

We check in on the local Bike Master Plan that is up for review this year. And we explore Bike Week, which includes the film Bikes vs. Cars at the Little Theatre. Our guests:

Sam Schwartz is probably the leading expert on traffic in the country, and he happens to be the guy who coined the term "gridlock."

Schwartz has a new book out that attempts to move the discussion of traffic, cars, and multi-modal approaches into the future. He is in Rochester for a Wednesday night event at The Little Theatre, but first he's our guest on Connections. In studio:

ROCHESTER GENESEE REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

If you’re a person who frequently rides buses and subways, particularly during peak hours, then you may have been called the “S” word. You stand in the crammed aisle and hold on to a strap or handrail so that you don’t fall down. History has it you’re a Straphanger.

It’s an old term, from the 19th century, currently used in places like New York City and London. Straphanger is also the title of a book written by Taras Grescoe, a worldly, avid transit user. 

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