Sunday, March 17, 2013
Broadcast Times: Sunday, 7am on AM 820 and 9pm on 93.9FM
Scientists are trying to develop a detailed map of the human brain. For some scientists, the goal isn't just to map the brain; it's to crack the mystery of consciousness.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Lurking in the ground beneath our feet, waiting in their burrows for the first signs of spring are tens of millions of cicadas.
After 17 years, cicadas are expected to emerge and overwhelm a large swath of land from Virginia to Connecticut — climbing up trees, flying in swarms and blanketing grassy areas so they crunch underfoot.
Friday, December 21, 2012
(Tom Lisi, New York) More than iconic, the New York City subway map is a coat of arms for a way of life. It's a tool for 5 million riders a day. It hangs in the Museum of Modern Art. And, occasionally, it changes.
The most iconic edition remains the most controversial. Designer Massimo Vignelli's clean modern lines and bold colors changed the branding of the subway in 1972 and elevated the map to the level of modern art. It also distorts geography. His map lasted just seven years before confused passengers convinced the MTA to replace it. Vignelli still staunchly defends his design, and in doing so, has offered some choice observations about other versions.
We present some of his comments to you, as recorded during a talk Vignelli gave earlier this year at the New York City Transit Museum.
“There’s too much information. The greatest thing about the London map, if you’ve ever seen it, is that they stick to the subway, the underground. Therefore, there’s no reference to above. In New York, they wanted to put everything. It was too much.”
“This is more a diagram, but again the details are very fragmented information. You see, all these boxes here, they fragmented the legibility of the line. The express [train] they made in a different way. So it’s too much going on...It could be simplified...Fragmentation is a disease of people that do not know how to design diagrams.”
1979 map, which replaced the Vignelli map:
“This is the map that came after our map. If you have to have abstract geography, why do you have it in any case? Why [sic] have it at all?
"And look at here [pointing to curved path of train line at lower Manhattan]. Who cares if the subway has to make a [turn] like that? I’m going, we’re all going, from Point A to Point B. How we get there is the conductor’s problem, not mine.”
2008 Subway Map
“We belong to a culture of balloons. [The designers] grow up with comic books, and this is what happens. There’s balloons all over the place. It’s ridiculous.”
His own map from 1972:
“Every line a different color, every stop a dot.”
When the NY MTA hired Vignelli to develop a new plan for subterranean navigation, he was tasked with streamlining the wayfinding process for riders and bringing New York into the future.
Train routes were straightened into neat angles to make a tidy diagram out of the actual snarl of criss-crossing tunnels. Forty years later, graphic designers still laud Vignelli's map as a triumph.
However beautiful, it is geographically abstract, bearing only inadvertent resemblance to the actual street grid above.
For example, the Vignelli map portrays the 50th St stop on the Seventh Ave line, now the 1 train, to be west of the 50th St stop on the Eighth Avenue line, now part of the C and E, confusing New Yorkers with hardened mental pictures of the city in their mind and sending tourists wandering westward into Hells Kitchen hunting for non-existent subway stops. Just seven years after it was released, the MTA replaced Vignelli's “diagram,” as he calls it (because maps only represent geography) with a more traditional map.
But, Vignelli is back in the subway diagram business. With the help of a new design team, he created “The Weekender,” a digital interactive subway map directly inspired by the 1972 hand-drawn diagram.
2012 “The Weekender”
“It doesn’t make any sense to print a map anymore. In a digital era, a map should be a digital map. All this information could become alive at the moment. So basically, The Weekender... will, should, become the regular map for all the stations. No more printed map. Printed maps are a trap for tourists.”.
“The blinking dots... are terrific. When you think actually, that there’s all this work in subway all the time, you get an idea of the complexity of the job, and what it means to run a transit system. It’s great. It’s a passion.”
Thursday, November 08, 2012
To protect New York City’s subway system, all transit shut down in advance of the storm. But then the under-river subway tunnels flooded, and the MTA had to convey to riders what was and wasn’t running.
That’s Chuck Gordanier's job, and he began booting up his Mac before the storm even ended.
He’s a manager at the transit agency. His task was -- and is -- to quickly translate the continuous service changes into a stripped-down map. So he began subtracting subway lines and stations. At first he thought the result was almost too harsh.
"But then once I saw this I thought ‘hey, that kind of fits the mood, doesn’t it?’" he said. "So I just kept stripping it down, taking everything off. The ferries weren’t going, why should they be there? The parks were closed, remember? So why should the parks be there? So I just took out everything that wasn’t actually happening and ended up with this."
'This' is the subway recovery map, and it’s a stark contrast to the normal one. No perks, like neighborhood names, landmarks, or even the street grid. Just colored lines on a gray and white background showing what’s operational, and shaded out lines showing what isn’t. Gordanier’s been working 14-hour days to keep the map current. As in: power’s been restored to lower Manhattan? Color in the 1 train. The Joralemon Tunnel’s been pumped dry? Color in the four and five. Lather, rinse, repeat.
"When I had it done," he said, "and it was right, then we’d put it on the website right away and we’d roll out a quickie print version to post." Gordanier says it’s a matter of turning on and off some of the 50-plus layers that make up the map. He demonstrates how to power up the G line. "First I've got to find the G train layer," he said, clicking the mouse to unlock it. "There’s the G train--see that, 30 percent? Boing. There it is. Full strength."
(He got to do that for real Wednesday, when it began running again.)
Gordanier says he’ll keep updating the MTA’s subway recovery service map until things get back to normal. Until then, it’s a work in progress.
"Today, later," he said, "it will probably be different."
Example: two hours before this story aired on WNYC, the MTA restored full service on the L line.
Monday, July 16, 2012
(Matt Berger and Katie Long -- Marketplace) America is a nation of drivers, particularly when it comes to how we get to work.
Across the country, the vast majority of us commute by car, and most of the time we’re alone, according to the latest data from the Census Bureau. But in some pockets of the U.S. there's a growing population of commuters taking public transportation, carpooling, walking, and even riding a bike.
Here's what they wrote about the findings:
Using data from the 2010 survey (view data), we identified the number of people in each state who drive alone, carpool, and take public transportation. From the 2008 survey (view data), we identified the number of people in each state who walk or ride a bike.
Then we added up the total number of people represented in both surveys to determine the "total commuter population" for each state; There is a margin of error we didn't account for, maybe some people who still commute by horse-and-buggy, and the surveys are from different years, but you get the idea. A quick calculation gave us the share of commuters in each category by state.
I drive alone
In 43 states, more than three-quarters of the commuter population drive alone to work. Only New York was significantly lower -- with almost half of Empire State commuters saying they get work in other ways. The least carpool-friendly states by percent are Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
Share the road
Hawaii and Alaska lead the nation in carpool commuting. About 14 percent of their commuter populations share a ride to work. Most states reported somewhere between 8 percent and 11 percent in this commuter category.
More of us take the bus
Not surprisingly, states with major metropolitan populations and large public transit systems have the highest use of public transit: New York leads by a wide margin with about 28 percent of its commuter population taking a train, subway or bus. Massachusetts and Illinois came in at a distant second and third with about 9 percent of their respective commuter populations taking public transportation.
Meanwhile Alabama, Arkansas, Maine, and Mississippi are among 17 states with less than 1 percent of their commuter population on public transit.
Foot-powered commuters are few
In our data set, bicycling and walking remain the least-popular methods for commuting to work. No state reported more than 5 percent of their commuter population on bikes. Thanks to its bike-friendly city of Portland, the state of Oregon topped the list - but still its bike population is only about 4.63 percent of the total. The majority of states didn’t break 1 percent in this category (Full disclosure, this is how I get to work).
Those who walk to work, meanwhile, are more common than bike-to-work commuters in almost every state, but still represent only a small slice of each state's commuter population. New York had the second-highest number of walking commuters, along with the other top states – Alaska (#1), Vermont (#3) and Montana (#4).
Monday, June 25, 2012
Back in May, WNYC asked listeners to help us map out the city's best underground music by snapping shots and sending in video clips of favorite subway performances. And you delivered. We've made a map from the submissions, which include a classical-rock violinist playing in the West 4th Street-Washington Square station, a group of opera singers in Times Square and a trio covering Stevie Wonder on the Upper East Side.
Monday, June 18, 2012
NBC's fall season will offer the Olympic games, the return of "Sunday Night Football" and new episodes of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit." Check out WNYC's "SVU" map to see where Benson, Stabler and the gang have been around town.
Monday, June 11, 2012
The new HBO series "Girls" follows four women in their early 20s who are living in New York City -- Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Shoshanna -- along with their friend, Adam. The crew hangs out at Brooklyn watering holes like Weather Up and Washington Commons and at city landmarks like the High Line. Help us map out where to find the "Girls" in the city by sending in a spot you've seen in the series.
Monday, June 04, 2012
Keens Steakhouse, Sing Sing and the Empire State Building are just a few of the dozens of references made to 1960s New York in "Mad Men." Help us map out city spots mentioned throughout the five seasons of the show.
Monday, May 21, 2012
Help us discover the city's best underground music by snapping a shot or sending us a video clip of your favorite subway performance.
Friday, May 18, 2012
Which would you say is a worse commute: New York to Honolulu, or L.A. to San Juan, Puerto Rico? About 25 people fly each of those super commute routes every week.
There are about 43,000 people who commute by plane, census data show. Here's a map of the plane routes to the top 12 air-commuting U.S. cities. Hover your mouse over the colored lines to see how many people fly a given route to work each week.
See our earlier radio report on super-commuters to get to know the people who make these treks.
In case you were wondering:
The top five super commutes (all modes) in the U.S. (2009 data):
1) Tucson to Phoenix, AZ 3.6% of workforce (54,400 total)
2) Houston to Dallas, TX 3.3% (44,300 total)
3) Dallas-Fort Worth to Houston, TX 2.7% (51,900 total)
4) Austin to Dallas, TX 2.4% (32,400 total)
5) San Diego to Los Angeles, CA 2.2% (78,300 total)
Listen to this week's Marketplace Money story here:
Friday, April 27, 2012
UPDATE 06/11/2012: We have received over 500 submissions. We have submitted 151 locations of abandoned bikes to the City of New York. They won't accept more at this time unless we call each bike in, one by one. Here's that story, with a new map you can use to update or help us call those in.
For now if you want a derelict bike removed, be sure it meets the criteria below, and then call it in to 311.
ORIGINAL POST: Bike carcasses are a common site around New York City -- a dented frame chained to a street sign, wheels pilfered, seat long ago appropriated, rusted chain and remnants blighting even the swankiest of sidewalks like a broken window. What's a citizen to do?
We are no longer taking submissions.
Or email a picture to email@example.com and we'll add it to this map:
In late 2010, the Department of Sanitation of NY was given jurisdiction to remove derelict bikes (they also remove derelict automobiles) from public property like street signs. In January of this year, that power was extended to bike racks too. In 18 months, 40 have been snipped free to make room for functioning bikes to park.
The process is clunky: you call 311, must answer a series of questions confirming the condition of the bike, and explain to what it is locked, then you are transferred to a Specialist who takes the claim. DSNY then tags the bike, and seven days later returns to claim it as abandoned, removes and recycles it.
Forgive us this quick bit of math to make a point. There are about 500,000 occasional bike riders in New York City (they ride several times a month according to an NYC estimate). The bicycle advocacy group Transportation Alternatives estimates 200,000 daily riders. There's no official daily estimate for bike ridership, but the DOT counts six busy locations once a year for a snapshot, and at those six hotspots alone there are almost 19,000 commuting bike riders a day. There are a bit over 13,000 official Department of Transportation bike racks in NYC.
Some racks hold more bikes than others (let's say around two to ten). Many buildings also have bike storage or private bike racks, and of course there's the more common street sign, railing or, unfortunately for at least one city initiative, a tree to chain a bike to. So there's space to lock up in New York, but not enough prime space. Especially near busy subway stations where racks fill up, abandoned bikes are in the way.
What counts as an abandoned bike? That is determined by these criteria set by the DSNY. Three of the five must be met to be removed:
- appears to be crushed or unusable
- parts are missing other than seat or front wheel
- bicycle has a flat or missing tires
- the handlebars or pedals are damaged, or existing forks, frames or rims are bent
- 75 percent or more of the bicycle is rusted
The bike must be locked to public property including: light poles, bus stop signs, parking meters, trees, tree pit railings and bike racks.
DSNY says they receive many calls about possible abandoned bikes, "but upon inspection by our field supervisor a large percentage of the bicycles don’t meet the criteria to be classified as derelict."
ADD TO THE MAP
So if you spot an abandoned bike, snap a picture and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the location feature on your phone or camera is enabled for photos, we can pinpoint the exact location right away. Otherwise, include information in your email about where the bike is and what else you know about it, and we'll manually put it on the map.
We'll also add it to the open-source database maintained by SeeClickFix for non-emergency, civic issues. There, you can comment on and update information about abandoned bikes in your area in the days and weeks to come.
The map here is fully embeddable, too. Just use the link on the map itself.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The recession officially ended in June of 2009, but the country is still reeling from a 9.1 percent unemployment rate. Certain areas of the country have seen a gradual recovery, while others continue to struggle or are actually losing jobs. The Rust Belt, which struggled with unemployment before the economic collapse, has seen unemployment dropping. Conversely, the South was prosperous before the recession, with some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but now six southern states have the highest unemployment rates in the country.
Friday, September 16, 2011
UPDATED --Just took the MTA's new weekender map, which is now live, for a test ride. Instead of a confusing array of notices, now, if you go on the website, you're treated to a cool graphic with flashing lights that immediately tells you what's up with YOUR subway.
NYC MTA Chief Jay Walder made no bones when he took over the nation's largest transit authority that the old weekend service announcements were completely confusing. You had to scan your way through reams of papers, find your line, check your blackberry to figure what what dates were coming, and stand there scratching your head. While your train passed you by because you were spending so much time figuring it all out. So one of Walder's relatively early acts was to overhaul the signage.
But it turns out the notices are still totally confusing. You still have to scan through reams of paper and to figure out which lines are out on the weekends. (Answer: many. Expect to be disrupted.)
Now, the MTA is tacitly acknowledging it can do better. Beginning this afternoon, its website, mta.info will display a pretty, interactive subway map with flashing feature alerts. Users, the MTA promises, will able to click on stops and lines for more information.
Information on service disruptions is particularly important for weekend users, who, because many are not commuting to work, are more likely to be choosing between transit and other options. Some percentage, if it's too confusing, will just give up and take a car or a cab.
The map (photo at top of post) is based on the old, 1970's Massimo Vignelli subway map -- which hangs in the Museum of Modern Art.
The new map is literally, a work of art.
Friday, September 16, 2011
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority will debut a new subway map on its website called The Weekender. It will show weekend service disruptions as blinking lights and allow riders to search for problem areas by station, line or borough.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Out-of-towners in Downtown Brooklyn can now use 78 new directional signs to keep from getting lost in the borough. The signs are complete with colorful maps, points of interest and quotes paying homage to Brooklyn residents. The last one was installed a few weeks ago.
Friday, May 27, 2011
“Top Gun” on the roof of the Intrepid. "The Brother from Another Planet" on the banks of the East River. "Ghostbusters" in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. Nothing says summer like outdoor movies — and this year the city has a rich, diverse offering of free and low-cost flicks. Choose one from WNYC's interactive map here, then grab a friend, pack a picnic dinner and check out a film under the city stars.
Friday, May 27, 2011
The crackdown on cyclists who break NYC traffic law is widespread around the city and not targeted at any one neighborhood or offense, according to results from our crowdsourcing project.
Monday, April 11, 2011
(New York -- Ilya Maritz, WNYC) Last winter New York City endured the third snowiest season on record, and the City doled out more than 4,500 tickets for snow and ice violations. Building owners are required to shovel the sidewalks in front of their properties, if they don't, they risk a $150 ticket.
Ice-coated sidewalks in New York can be dangerous for pedestrians, not just the residents of the property, in some cases forcing them to walk in the snowy streets.
While blizzards typically dump snow fairly evenly across the city, tickets for failing to clear snow and ice are spread unevenly, according to an analysis by WNYC.
More than 1/3 of all tickets were handed out in the Bronx. Manhattan, where apartment buildings predominate, had only 1 percent of the violations.
The most ticketed block in the city was a tree-lined residential strip in the Bronx with two- and three-story homes. Freeman Street — between Union and Prospect avenues — tallied an astonishing 41 violations for failure to clear snow from the sidewalk including several that neighbors say have fallen into foreclosure.
"It's no maintenance man, it's no owner, it's nothing," said Mac, who lives in one of the buildings and only provided his first name.
He said he hasn't paid rent there in over a year, and there's no hot water. No surprise, then, that the sidewalk wasn't shoveled.
"I think the Sanitation [Department] made this building a part of their training route for training new employees how to put tickets on the building," Mac said, "because they know they gonna guarantee a ticket over here."
For the full story of Freeman street and NYC snow and ice violations, go to WNYC.
KEY: Each pin marks an address receiving at least one snow/ice violation this past winter, between 12/27/2010 and 2/25/2011. Citations dismissed as of April 1, 2011 are omitted, and some violations shown may yet be dismissed. Source: NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings/Environmental Control Board