So, basically, in general, the fewer cars people own the better it is for local economies.
So, basically, in general, the fewer cars people own the better it is for local economies.
I earned my Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City. When asked my discipline, I simply say “rhetoric” because that’s entirely true, and it’s a shorter answer than explaining I also took courses in communications, linguistics, and political science because, well, you know, rhetoric is a really big thing encompassing all of human communication and therefore all of human action, and so I ended up studying why it’s important for students in the humanities and social sciences to write publicly.
I’m the quintessential interdisciplinary academic animal.
Let me suggest another discipline that ought to be considered in planning the “equitable” city (or any other kind of city that strikes your rhetorical fancy): culture studies.
Because … the study of culture explains things that, say, engineering cannot (just as engineering explains things culture cannot). One of the things that culture studies explains is why, for example, the Dutch ride bicycles so much for basic transportation. I have argued many times (with success?) that their mode share has less to do with infrastructure (especially the terrible stuff in Amsterdam) and more to do with culture (I don’t agree with the spin of this article, but the importance of culture comes shining through).
So listen up urban planners: culture studies. Check into it.
It’s tough to be a pedestrian.
But three cities are getting grants to make walking safer. From the USA Today article:
Every two hours, on average, a pedestrian is killed. One is injured every seven minutes.
“This is not something that just happens in some other place,” David Friedman, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), said in an interview. “That’s somebody’s child, somebody’s grandchild, somebody’s grandparent.”
As more and more people choose to walk, federal transportation safety experts are trying to figure out how best to keep them safe.
On Friday, the NHTSA and the Federal Highway Administration will award grants totaling $1.6 million to Louisville, Philadelphia and New York for public education and enforcement programs designed to improve pedestrian safety.
The hope is that programs developed in those cities will eventually serve as models for other cities, Friedman said.
While the article almost certainly does not mention all the strategies under consideration, the ones mentioned seem to me to be more of the same ol’ same ol’. In other words: More pasting of stuff onto a car-centric system. Examples: pedestrian education, designated safe walking routes, better enforcement of crosswalk laws, police training, and social media alerts about dangerous areas.
It is the system itself — the car-centricity — that’s the problem. It’s the culture that believes that streets are for cars, not people, that’s the problem.
We have to be willing, as a culture, to inconvenience motorists more.
Something I saw this morning on my way to work (I was on my bicycle):
Heading east into the rising sun on Elm this morning, I came upon a policeman starting his campus bicycle patrol. I was controlling the lane for an extra reason this morning: The shadows at the edge of the road can hide you from motorists squinting into the sun. As I passed the officer, I saw him in my mirror pull into traffic, also heading east — hugging the gutter so tightly that he appeared almost attached to it.
Something I saw this morning on my way to work (I was on foot):
A woman in normal clothes riding a “townie” bicycle (i.e. upright seating, fenders, chain guard, rack) on Walnut. She stopped at the light at Kimbrough. Then she continued east on Walnut avoiding the door zone. And she didn’t dip to the right in areas where there were no parked cars.
Live in a place like this…
…and use 1/3 the energy of a suburban home.
It’s like getting a raise
In the bicycle advocacy world, I am a traffic safety advocate as opposed to a participation advocate.
Participation advocate: A person whose primary goal is increasing the number of people who ride bicycles (aka. mode share). A participation advocate’s primary measure of success in advocacy is increased mode share.
Traffic safety advocate: A person whose primary goal is teaching and encouraging those who ride bicycles to drive their bicycles in traffic as traffic. A traffic safety advocate’s primary measure of success in advocacy is change in bicyclists’ behaviors.
Obviously, there are many advocates who cross this dichotomy and many others who would reject the dichotomy or offer other dichotomies. I point out this dichotomy because I like it, and I fall squarely on the traffic safety side of things. I do not care if another person takes up bicycling. I care that the ones already on the streets drive safely. If mode share can be increased in ways that promote traffic safety, the rules of safe movement, and proper driving behavior, then that’s wonderful.
That’s not to say I do not spend money elsewhere. I do because I must in some cases. But I work hard to limit those cases.
I have not yet visited the new(ish) Farmers Market of the Ozarks. I’m not likely to go anytime soon. It’s a suburban amenity. If I spend money there, it’s a vote for placing such businesses outside the urban core. And I don’t go to the Greater Springfield Farmers Market for the same reason.
I do go to the C-Street Market on Commercial Street.
I’d rather walk, however, to one downtown. It’s time for Springfield to seriously consider the attractiveness of a permanent downtown market — especially as developers continue to build loft apartments (and student housing) and the population continues to grow.
Check out these 10 characteristics of successful city markets. Everyone of them could be reproduced downtown through an infill redevelopment project. Here’s a truncated list from the article:
And go visit the Soulard Farmers Market in St. Louis. It meets all ten characteristics from the article. It’s a hang-out, a destination. How cool would that be here in #downtownSGF?
One of these is illegal, considered an eye-sore, and will be removed asap. The other — not so much.
(The following is an edited and expanded version of something I wrote last year for another venue.)
Next month we’ll mark one year of life in downtown Springfield living in the Union Biscuit Lofts on Market Ave. So my wife and I have had plenty of opportunity to walk the streets and observe the goings-on. We’ve had plenty of opportunity to live our lives and deal with all the pleasures and frustrations of living downtown.
On balance: This is the best move we have ever made. I now wish we had done it a long time ago — even with raising a child. Part of what this blog will do in the months ahead is examine our experiences in the context of an apparent return to American cities.
Now, let’s get on with the point of this post. There is a lot of retail space under development downtown, yet there’s much space still sitting (embarrassingly) vacant. As empty-nest baby boomers, there are a few things we’d like to see fill some of those spaces based on what we’re not finding within walking distance (because one of the big reasons to live in a downtown is the whole walking thing). With all the loft development downtown (e.g. Heers and The U), it seems to me that the area is ripe for the economic pickings.
So here are a few preliminary suggestions (i.e. nowhere near an exhaustive list) in case you may be looking for a business idea:
In case you’re considering opening another cupcake shop, please, for the love of all that’s good and decent, please, let me talk you out of it. And coffee? We’re covered. Totally covered. Well covered. You can’t do better than the Mudhouse, Coffee Ethic, or Kingdom, so don’t even try. Bars, restaurants, and other entertainment venues? Covered (although it would be good to get the old GastroPub and Rebecca Grille spaces filled). Wedding shops? Covered. Event spaces? Totally, completely, thoroughly covered. Bicycle shops? Ditto.
Com’on, there are more and more people living downtown everyday. There are only so many weddings we can have and cupcakes we can eat. Let’s start thinking basic goods and services.
I gave a luncheon talk at the Midtown Library today about bicycling in traffic as traffic for basic transportation.
The big sound-bite: If it were difficult or dangerous, I wouldn’t be doing it.
That happens to be entirely true. I’m interested in neither difficulty nor danger.
The talk consisted mostly of explaining the rules of safe movement and why living a in a flat town with a grid street system creates natural bicycle friendliness.
Nope. Not talking bicycle mode share here.
Remember, today is the Carbon Trace re-launch. As I wrote earlier, the topics of this blog will now fit the broader context of urban life — especially in small to mid-sized cities.
Today, I’m talking the SATO48 Film Challenge.
I entered the contest — one of 110 teams this year – and actually managed to finish a film. Handed it in on time, too. The Moxie will be showing all the films April 25th to the 27th. Here’s a shameless self-promotion I cooked up:
The headline indicates something that I had no idea about before moving into a loft downtown almost a year ago: I used to find participating in civic sorts of things a bit of a chore. You work all day. Get home. Start relaxing, but only if you don’t have house chores (stop snickering). Cut the grass. Fix a window. Who wants to do anything after that.
Our move downtown has been the best move of our lives — for many more reasons than I had a first supposed. Carbon Trace will be about some of those reasons because I think Americans will need to begin moving into such living arrangements in greater numbers in the years ahead. That trend has already begun. I intend to follow it here.
One reason I will highlight today as the new direction of Carbon Trace begins: participation. When I’m not worn out with the job of living in a suburb, I find myself wanting to be out of Vandelay and in the streets doing something. I am energized by my new living arrangement.
I hope to capture the buzz of urban life on Carbon Trace. Bicycles will continue to play a role because mine will continue to get me where I want to go.
Oh, Vandelay is the name we gave our loft
Several things have been keeping me busy this winter. I’m right in the middle of doing an academic case study examining a successful civic journalism project. I have also been re-working all of my classes — something that is regularly necessary, especially as I notice generational changes in students. Further, I have been busy re-thinking Carbon Trace in light of many developments in my life, including moving toward a national focus in bicycle advocacy and a desire to place that advocacy in a broader context.
Today I announce the re-launch of Carbon Trace set for 15 April. The focus of this blog will change. Bicycling will remain an important topic within a broader context of urban life — especially in small to mid-sized cities.
Carbon Trace will become a driving force in a book project that I will announce later this summer.
Some changes you will see soon:
The bicycling stuff isn’t going away. Again, it will simply be wrapped in a bigger context.
A special plea to all my long-time readers: I will need your help with my book project. Crowd sourcing will be playing an important role. As I reveal the nature of the project, please pick up any ball that looks interesting to you and run with it
[As for Rhetorica: I will announce the re-launch of that blog later this spring. Its new project will be related. There is, after all, a rhetoric to everything ]
Rhetorica and Carbon Trace will be on an extended blogging hiatus until sometime in the spring.
This is mostly a career-related break. I have several projects and matters to attend to that are going to require my full attention.
Now, when I say full attention, that doesn’t mean I’m going dark. I’ll still be commenting on the various topics of interest related to my two blogs through Facebook and Twitter.
I know you’re all out there just clinging to the edges of your seats
Technorati Tags: cycling
R E S P E C T
If you have to get a song stuck in your head Respect is a good one
I’m also declaring “respect” the the Carbon Trace word of the year for 2014. As in:
By so declaring, I am making a pledge to work for cultural change to achieve the very respect noted in that graphic from I Am Traffic.
Check out the presentation from our founding meeting last year:
There’s a long road ahead to achieve that vision. Success is not assured.
--Andrew R. Cline. Ph.D. Associate Professor of Media & Journalism, Missouri State University