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Planning Junkie

Geek of the Urban Sphere

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Another example of how hard it is to be a planner.

I understand new things can be scary. And it is always hard to see places where we have memories change or go away. But sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is what saves you. So… Historical Trolley Square in Salt Lake City got a facelift and all the internet trolls are up in arms over it. Too bad for them they weren’t concerned while there was still time for their concern to have any effect. Too bad they weren’t paying attention when there were public meetings they could have attended. No, they didn’t really pay much attention till a slanted article was written in the Salt Lake Tribune. According to the 80+ (and counting) comments, everyone loved Trolley Square just the way it was 20 or 30 years ago. And I don’t blame them, it looks like it was pretty cool.

Trolley Square 1970s

Though it looks like it was even cooler when it was actually about trolleys.

Like in 1912

And 1945

But in the last 30 years Trolley Square has been fading away. It is actually kind of amazing it is still around considering how much it HASN’T been thriving. These commenters seem to have forgotten what it has become. They can’t see that the new Whole Foods is not to blame for years of struggling shops, foreclosures, and deterioration. Instead,  the new grocery store might actually be the cure. They also don’t seem to notice that the new building replaced an ugly parking lot. The trolleys are still there, you just have to get out of your car to see them. What Trolley Square needs is tax dollars and to give people of the neighborhood a reason to go there. Even the commenters agreed that they haven’t been to Trolley Square in years. But they are still angered by someone trying to do something about it. How dare the city try to revitalize this historic part of the city? Why can’t they just leave well enough alone? As so many comments said, “It is a travesty.” But it is not the new grocery store that is the travesty. Giving new life to a dying neighborhood is not the travesty. Giving people a reason to go to Trolley Square for the first time in years is not the travesty. Providing a needed service for the surrounding area is not the travesty. The travesty is not even that they built a building that is not up to the design standards of Tribune readers.  It is these people who are in essence clinging to their dying kitten and all the while slaping the doctor for trying to “change” their baby.

I will take a new grocery store, and an organic one at that, over a parking lot next to a sad mall that no one frequents any day.

I have really got to do something about my commute.

Choose your poison: heart attack, lung disease, and now suicide!?!

“…another study, this one in South Korea, has demonstrated a link between suicide and high levels of particulate pollution. New Scientist also reports that “researchers who in the 1990s linked air pollution to asthma in a large group of Taiwanese children have now found that those with the condition were subsequently more likely to have killed themselves.”

It is amazing what they can prove in a study. On the other hand, no one ever tried to prove that biking causes suicide.

When I look up my city to see the State of My Air, big surprise…. there it is #7 in the Top 10 U.S. Cities Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution.

Great. This is just great.

This is cool.

Sometimes I forget that everyone does not feel the way I do.

It is really hard for me to understand how a bike sharing program could “threaten our personal freedoms” and means that you value the earth above citizens’ rights. But apparently Republican gubernatorial candidate in Colorado, Dan Maes understands it. How does my choice to ride a bike take away other people’s’ personal freedom? Don’t cyclist have the freedom to travel how they choose just like everyone else? It appears that B-cycle, is not just a great way to reduce traffic and improve overall travel conditions in Denver; it is really a liberal environmental agenda. I personally will admit, I probably do have an agenda. Maybe I promote safe bicycling because it is better for the body. Maybe I just think it is more fun than driving. Maybe it does have environmental elements, so what?

Ok, here is MY agenda:  use less foreign fuel, pollute less, save money, reduce obesity, get out of traffic, and be happy.

I am sorry if that takes away your freedom to pollute, be fat and unhappy. I guess I shouldn’t be so selfish.

To quote Ben Fried of Streetsblog:

“It goes like this: First they lull you into submission with the public bikes. Then they nullify the Bill of Rights, outlaw the English language, and strip away your American citizenship. Then they seize your SUV.”

And there you have it.

I can’t help it. I am an advocate for “people who ride bikes.”

Ride Your Bike : TreeHugger.

and I quote….. “If you live in the U.S., chances are good you own a bike. But how often do you use it? According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40 percent of all urban trips are less than two miles in distance. Yet almost 90 percent of them are made by car. So what makes us want to ride our bikes? And what state of mind (not to mention type of infrastructure) does it take to pick the pedals over the Peugot? Simply put, if we want our cities and towns to be more bike-friendly, we need more people on bicycles.

We’re not talking about spandex-clad “cyclists,” but more “people who ride bikes.” There’s a difference, because we’re not talking about sweating-for-50-miles cycling. We’re talking about rolling-to-the-corner-store biking, pedal-to-a-playdate biking, and glorious rolling-down-a-dusty-road-on-a-hot-summer-day biking. If we want to cut carbon emissions, decrease obesity, and stop air pollution, then we need more people-who-ride-bikes. If you’re ready to dust off your wheels and use them more often or you’re already a sucker for the saddle, this collection of tips, gear, and news will help you utilize that most efficient, that most green, that most pleasant of vehicles, the bicycle.”

This is old, but worth mentioning anyway.

Sometimes it starts to feel like everything is political. A city may appear to care about cyclists, spending valuable tax money on new bike lanes and programs. But then maybe they only did it to get votes. Ultimately they seem to appease whoever complains the loudest.

In December, Manhattan removed a popular stretch of bike lane that was the shortest way to Williamsburg Bridge. Department of Transportation spokesperson Seth Solomonow sent the following statement by way of explanation:

“A small portion of this lane is being removed as part of ongoing bike network adjustments in the area, which have included the recent addition of a barrier-protected connector lane on nearby Williamsburg Street and the completion of a unique, two-way protected lane on parallel Kent Avenue. We will continue to work with any community on ways we can make changes to our streets without compromising safety.”

This statement doesn’t explain how removing a highly used bike lane doesn’t compromise safety.

In this case the cyclists using the route did not take it sitting down. In fact, they took matters into their own hands. Not only did they repaint the bike lane in the middle of the night, they made a video proclaiming how if the lane was removed they would just put it back for their safety.