Urbification: Taking the sub out of Calif. suburbs

Walking. Bicycling. Alternatives to Driving Everywhere. Social justice. Alternatives to suburban boredom and waste. And the infrastructure and technology needed to get there.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

I wouldn't mind seeing this device installed in all cars to enable a variety of enforcement actions against dangerous drivers. After all, driving is a privilege, not a right.
Doug Kaye: "Now the state is burdened with a huge municipal bond debt that it can only pay from the general fund or by issuing new bonds. This, in turn, lowers the ratings of California's bonds, and things just get worse and worse. When I grew up in San Francisco, our public schools were #1. Now they're #50. We have some of the highest taxes, yet some of the lowest levels of service. Why the gap? Our debt. And it's just getting worse."

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

The crisis facing the bicycling facilities lobby is now coming to a head with the spectre of federal and state cutbacks. Thus, I was dismayed to see this report, where a subscriber to the Thunderhead Alliance email list was unsubscribed from that list after he criticized design of a Boston bike lane. The lane was placed well within a door zone, and last year, a bicyclist got doored, and fell into the street where she was killed by a passing bus. And yet, the head of Thunderhead Alliance attacked the critic as "blaming the victim or the bike lane" and not holding the motorist opening the door accountable. It's deplorable that Thunderhead apparently squelched a debate on this, when by all indications, the bike lane design was indeed a major contributor to the fatality. Perhaps someone affiliated with Thunderhead was responsible for advocating the placement of this bike lane in the first place? And now, a woman is dead, a major bicycling advocacy organization has squelched criticism about it, and the opponents of all bike lanes (not just unsafe ones) are having a field day.
Walt Seifert: "Current gas taxes don't even cover road maintenance needs, let alone costs of road widening and new construction." (via BATN)

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Motoko Rich, writing in The New York Times: "While many homeowners say the codes preserve neighborhood harmony and property values, a growing and vocal group of opponents say the way association rules are enforced is actually tearing apart communities.
Courtesy of Slashdot: News of a bamboo-frame bicycle.

Friday, July 25, 2003

To be fair, the game is stacked against fair and equitable use and maintenance of existing facilities, and tilted too far towards new facilities. That's why I agree with Larry Chinn too: "Costs should never be used as an argument against pedestrian and/or bicycle facilities because they are so miniscule compared to what we spend accomodating and subsidize private automobiles."
Curtis Russell, posting July 19 on the LAB list (but this message was, unfortunately, unarchived), states a sad and unfortunate truth: "Bike lanes are a national priority. Bike path photo ops are a national priority. Local fights against being legislated or ruled off the roads are a local matter."

Thursday, July 24, 2003

A noxious movement finds its spokesperson: "If you are a biker, please ride responsibly on a trail that has been provided for your entertainment, and for your own safety and the safety of others, please keep off the highways."
John Forester: "Basing decisions on popular opinion regarding bicycle transportation is as unreasonable a prospect as using popular opinion to decide on the thickness of the road surface base layer."
Gary Wesley tells all bicyclists to be nice to peds. "They are consuming even fewer resources than you."

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Western North Carolina road sign: "Resume safe speed." (via Ed Cone)

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Bruce Katz: "If first suburbs are to address their challenges and realize their potential, the complex web of federal and state policies that currently undermine older communities and unfairly support newer communities will need to be fundamentally altered." (via the CNU list)
LA Times (quoted by Planetizen): "The proliferation of pollution sources and regional growth as well as setbacks in the development of key smog control technologies are threatening to undo hard-won clean-air gains in the Los Angeles area...At the root of the problem, experts argue, are too many people driving too many cars, especially trucks and sport utility vehicles...Growth patterns in the suburbs, too, are causing smog problems."
Boston's Jane Holtz Kay: "In the name of economy (what else?) our preservation mayor has accepted a litter of artifacts whose assault on the cityscape destroys sightlines of vintage vistas and dominates historic neighborhoods and architectural districts. Take (please) the Nissan ad flags flapping in front of Back Bay Station obscuring the entry. Not only the gaudy advertisements or multiplying messages on the back of maps but their placement define Boston's nonplanned posturing."
San Jose Mercury News editorial: "If San Jose doesn't build high-density neighborhoods around its rail and eventual BART stations, then taxpayers are wasting the money they've voted to spend on these transit systems." (via BATN)
From the CABO mailing list: "The Tragic [Santa Monica] Farmers Market accident [sic] could have been prevented had the city kept on track with recommendations to designate Arizona Ave as a 'Bicycle Blvd', as indicated in a memorandum to the Santa Monica Planning Commission."

Monday, July 21, 2003

This is my first-ever blog post to Blogger from my Palm Tungsten C.

Friday, July 18, 2003

LA Times: "Weary of long commutes and shocked by the sticker prices of L.A.'s tonier addresses, home buyers have been reclaiming neighborhoods near the core." (via BATN)

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Something has to be done about this. I suspect it will be a combination of new restrictions on older drivers, as well as some sort of technology fix -- such as a wireless technology that has the ability to automatically shut off motor vehicle engines in pedestrian-only zones.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Much thanks to Planetizen, which recently listed Urbification (this blog) as one of the first blogs to focus on urban planning issues.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

The latest dispatch from the mobility-impaired public buying Segways is a doozy: "[The Segway] allows [Scott] Olson, who lost the lower part of his right leg in a motorcycle accident, greater comfort than walking. The only drawback: 'I want to go faster and squeal the tires,' said Olson, wearing a huge smile."

Monday, July 07, 2003

Andy Kunz, from the New Urbanism list, 7/5/03: "[What] we DON'T need is transit that is 'flexible to adapt to changing destinations of a dynamic, decentralized metropolis' (i.e. sprawl). Sprawl is characterized by constantly changing focus areas, new developments putting older ones out of business, shifting centers, continued growth to the perimeter while the centers die, etc. This is throw-away city building (sprawl). A fixed rail system gives focus to an area where real investment can take place and where that investment lasts for many years and keeps getting better with time. Fixed rail investments are one of the strongest community builders possible and is exactly what we do want to be promoting. Fixed rail systems help stablize an area and signal to real estate developers serious investment and a serious commitment to a fixed area, which in turn attracts serious long term investment, rather than the typical throw-away junk of sprawl. Fixed rail systems attract density to help make the rail systems maintain high ridership, helping to reshape an area from sprawl to compact, walkable, dense places. (Witness the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington growth and development over the past 20 years.) The only thing that 'should be viewed skeptically' is anything that comes from the so called think tanks and institutes who get their financing from the highway lobby."

Friday, July 04, 2003

Boston Globe: "The opening of the 11/2-mile Big Dig tunnel appears to have done little to shorten drive times for commuters south of the city...There are several reasons: For one, the new highway has attracted thousands more cars a day."

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Next time you're cursing congested freeway driving conditions, consider this, from Michael Ronkin, posted on the New Urbanism mailing list: "20% (or higher) of all Wal-Mart merchandise at any given moment is ON THE FREEWAY SYSTEM. They've learned that goods on shelves sell, but take up space, and goods in warehouses just sit there. So they've devised a system whereby the interstate system is part of their warehousing network, warehouses on the go as it were."