Friday, August 27, 2010

The Seattle Times has taken on a distinctly anti-bicyclist tone of late. A column a couple of days ago found a local flavor columnists complaining about the city councils proposal of a special tax improvement district to build a bike and pedestrian path south of downtown along the waterfront to the west seattle bridge.
This type of provincialist, 'we can't fix our transportation dystopia so let's all stay stuck in traffic' view is highly myopic.

my response to the Times:

In Joni Balter's most recent editorial, she disparages Seattle's move towards creation of a special tax improvement district to benefit active transportation infrastructure. She is against making it easier to walk, jog, and bike around the city.

The recent acrimony displayed by some of the Seattle Times' columnists on the issues of increasing transportation choices for Seattlites is appalling.

The development of a special tax improvement district (TID) should not be misleadingly framed as 'police versus pedestrians' argument.TID's are not police versus peds, it is not bikes versus cars, this TID is Seattle united against congestion and pollution and for increasing public liveability. That Seattle would even consider a TID is our city admitting we have a problem with pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly streetscapes that can be improved.

Tax improvement districts that earmark funds for active transportation projects have been cleared by the governor and state legislature as appropriate and timely to fund needed projects that drives cities out from under the toxic cloud of our current transportation model.

At the Federal level, the US Department of Transportation has also shifted official federal policy. New transportation directives REQUIRE cities and states to more equitably treat all modes of transportation, not just private motoring and freight, in the development of transportation infrastructure.

State and federal transportation officials endorse the shift in the transportation modality of the country, SDOT has positive plans for Seattle. Why are Seattlites are stuck sucking on the tailpipe of provincialist denial?

Joni Balter's column ignores the benefits Seattle or any city can reap for its citizens quality of life from encouraging a shift towards more active transportation. A move towards making it easier for Seattlites to get around under their own power and enjoy outdoor activities along public thoroughfares will have positive effects on:

Senior mobility, endemic obesity, childhood onset diabetes, air quality, water pollution in the sound (the largest polluter of Puget Sound is the private automobile), and intangible increases in quality of life. In the long run this shift to a liveable city will pay back to Seattle thru decreases in expenditures related to these serious and chronic social ills.

This is not a question of police or pedestrians. Seattle cannot continue the provincial denial of how to create a more liveable, walkable, active Seattle. This special tax improvement district should be met with laudatory approval by the Seattle Times and its columnists, not derision.

Monday, August 23, 2010

someone asked recently, about leaving for a bicycle tour with absolutely no money.

Having done a lot of travelling with very little money in my youth, i thought a little about it,

and had this to say:

"Advice from a long time dirtbag -

that sounds like more of the vagabond thing. you're going to get hungry quick, and stall out shortly thereafter.

if you are good at dumpster diving, and living like a derelict in ditches, you'll be fine for a while. look for the grocery stores in the nice neighborhoods.

The day labor thing is tougher than you would expect and there is a lot of social pecking order at day job lots - a person passing thru does NOT typically make out well in the day laborer lineup.

A restaurant with a lot of customers, and a help wanted sign in a small town will sometimes be good for a free meal and twenty bucks if you can wash dishes or short order line cook, could lead to a few days or a few months of work, depends on how you play it.

you could always beg, or busk, or twist balloon sculptures. I've had good results with a harmonica, but I'm a good harmonica player. Busking for a few dollars on Layafette Square in New Orleans remains one of my indelible memories.

asking for help or getting hitched up with a travelling bicycle cult wouldn't be so bad either.

Realistically, i wouldn't tour in the US with a budget of less than 10 bucks a day and I'm used to living on the cheap.

Avoiding anything premade or beverages in bottles, you could do it even cheaper.

of course, with a credit card, and the ability to make a few minimum payments by internet from a small bank account, you could tour VERY cheaply, like 15 bucks a MONTH -until you had to pay more than the vigorish."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

time to look beyond the windshield

A letter to the editor of mine got published online at Seattle Times' NW was a response to Seattle Times columnist Nicole Brodeur's negative commentary about bike lanes and traffic calming.

"Nicole Brodeur’s latest column about Seattle’s road work on 125th inflates unfounded claims about road diets and falsely inflames a bikes-vs.-cars argument.

The road rechannelization project along 125th is part of a voter-supported bridging-the-gap-commitment to public livability that predates the current mayor. Road diets have not been shown to “halve the traffic flow” — city studies of the roughly two dozen road-dieted corridors show no such ill effects.

Road rechannelizations are a net positive for all road users by improving overall road safety. A pedestrian crossing at 125th is currently tenuous, but the city cannot stripe an unregulated crosswalk across 125th because of the motor-vehicle traffic. The city has had to remove crosswalks from four-lane roads without signal lights because motorists made these road configurations unsafe.

Encouraging active transportation in walkable, bikeable neighborhoods has far-reaching positive effects on public health, senior independence, obesity and child-onset diabetes in addition to widely recognized positive environmental impacts.

This street divides the neighborhood in its current configuration. The city and voters are committed to rebuilding livable neighborhoods. A road rechannelization of 125th is merited for public safety. Motorists don’t have carte blanche to speed recklessly down a four-lane road just because it leads to an interstate!

This is not a specious “bikes-vs.-cars” discussion and I hope Brodeur appraises herself of the actual results when the city works to improve road safety for all, not just the Mario Andrettis and their commute.

It’s time to look beyond the windshield."