Category Archives: Travel

Amtrak accident at Foster Bridge (Maple Rd and Huron River Dr) in Ann Arbor

 From Cynthia Hodges on Facebook:

Train hit a semi carrying kayaks at Foster Bridge Maple Rd Huron River Dr. Truck driver jumped out of cab before impact. We came upon it right after it happened…doesn't look like anyone was hurt.

This happened at about 1:00pm on Saturday, May 25, 2013, according to

Photo credit: Cynthia Hodges.


UPDATE: The Ann Arbor Chronicle has a longer account of what happened. "Apparently the semi driver realized too late that his rig would not or should not fit on the Foster Road bridge, so he backed up right into the path of the train."

UPDATE: WWJ 950 reports that no one was hurt.

More on the Foster Road Bridge from Arborwiki.


MinnPost: Mapping the “Nice Ride” bicycles in Minneapolis has an excellent visualization of the "Nice Ride" bike system in Minneapolis. They took GPS data from 40+ bikes in that system and mapped out where they were going on a typical day in the system. Here's a snapshot from mid-afternoon ; the base map grid shows the most commonly used routes.

The system began in Minneapolis two years ago. With the St. Paul expansion, there are now 146 stations with 1,328 bikes available stretching between Minneapolis’ Uptown and St. Paul's West Side.

Daily, weekly or annual subscriptions are required, allowing free rides of up to 30 minutes, with trip fees added after the first half-hour.


Minneapolis-nice-ride-map-minnpost-captureMinnPost has released the software they used to do this on Github; look for the minnpost-nice-ride project.

Detroit to Chicago via Amtrak, 1988 – Super 8 video

Please enjoy this video from Youtube user “trainluvr” in glorious Super 8 showing the trip from Detroit to Chicago on Amtrak. The whole journey takes just 8 minutes, 16 seconds in time lapse. For a detailed log of every location in the trip, see this Trainsim thread, Amtrak Cab Ride Timelapse. Ypsilanti is at 0:58, Ann Arbor is at 1:06, Battle Creek at 2:49, Niles at 5:40 and Chicago at 7:34.

United Airlines grounded by computer systems crash, 17 June 2011

United Airlines is down because of a computer systems crash. Details are minimal as to what has actually happened. Here’s some sources.

Chicago: Chicago Breaking News puts the start of the problems at 7:15 p.m. Central (8:15 p.m. Eastern) and reports major problems at O’Hare. A later update attributes the first official announcement of the problem as coming from the FAA, not from United.

Flyertalk forums: Major Systems Outage Impacting United’s Airport and Online Operations details problems into the night affecting United locations nationwide.

Web site, at 1:13 a.m. Eastern, the error is “Sorry, your request could not be processed due to system error. Please click the link below to check the flight status.” Later, a statement, unsigned, undated:

This evening, United Airlines experienced a computer outage interrupting the airline’s flight departures, airport processing and reservations systems. As a result, customers may experience difficulties completing transactions at and United reservations. Our technology team is working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. We apologize for the disruption being caused to travelers at affected airports and we are seeking to resume operations as quickly as possible.

In 2009, a similar problem, perhaps:

FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said that United had ordered a ground stop of its planes on its own that ended at 7:55 a.m. The problem began about 5:15 a.m., she said.
United had told the FAA that it was a computer issue that made the airline unable to check in people for flights and resulted in an inability to get final flight information to the cockpit, Cory said.
“I only remember in my 10 years one other time” that computer glitches have caused this much trouble with flights, Cory said.

A second report shows a similar system-wide glitch in 2007, here reported by CNET:

A total of 24 domestic flights were canceled, and 268 domestic and international flights were delayed by an average of one and half hours, according to United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski Janikowski.
“We do not know the cause of the outage, and it’s something that we will investigate. The computer outage affected the systems that United uses to dispatch flights for departure,” Janikowski said in an e-mailed statement.

Read more:
Make that twice in 10 years.

For some musical interlude, enjoy “United Breaks Guitars” from 2009.

Interurban newsletters

Some titles available in Google Books; there's certain to be more.

Electric Railway Journal.  v.33, 1906. v.42, 1913. v.45, 1915.

Street Railway Journal. v.21, 1903.

Electric Railway Service (Detroit United Lines). 1917. This last one is remarkable as an in-house PR newsletter, full of editorials railing against the Detroit Evening News, and with notably precise accounting for the delays (and causes thereof) on streetcar lines. "The Lying Evening News Still Continues to Lie" was a headline from 1914.

Print archives include the Plymouth (Michigan) Historical Museum, with a finder's aid available, and the University of Michigan Transportation History Collection.

How far away is “within walking distance”?

Done chronologically, based on a question by Ryan Burns.

London, 1859. 

Of these the unsentimental Gaylad was exceedingly enamoured and indeed there were few northcountry feasts within walking distance — that is to say within fifteen miles each way – whereat the whole of the reading party did not make their appearance in order to witness "the sports"; and not always to witness only.  (The Foster Brothers, James Payn)

Harper's Magazine, 1884

Frazer Falls and the Chute are within walking distance, being each about five miles from the hotels while the wonderful Trou is four miles farther off and is popular place for picnics.

Ann Arbor, 2010

What hotels are in the area and are they within walking distance of Michigan Stadium? 
There are no hotels within walking distance. The Campus Inn and Bell Tower are directly on campus. (note: Campus Inn is about 1.5 miles away.)

Things I wish I had written, September 2010 edition

A travel guide from here to South Bend via US-12, with roadside geology and history; ditto, the road south on US-23 and its cross-section through the surface of the earth towards Bowling Green.

A look out the window of the Oxford Shuttle, a bus that goes around the University of Michigan central campus.

A reprise of the "top 10 internet cafes" post from 2006, updated with a lot of 2010 details.

10 bed and breakfasts in the area, plus a long list more, all based on first hand research.

Where to watch the Michigan-Notre Dame Game anywhere in the country, with notes on which of the places serve Michigan beers.

Which little place between here and Amherst, Mass. serves a mean Michigan dog, and what exactly do they mean by Michigan dogs there?

How to ship a shipping container on the Great Lakes, and how to float one downstream from Ann Arbor to the sea or up the lakes to the UP.  Portaging might be hard, especially with low water.

There will be a chance to write all these again, but sometimes the idea is overtaken by events, and then you have to have a new idea.