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Archive for March, 2010

Excuse me, could you extract your transport-pod out of my bleeping lane!

March 31, 2010 Leave a comment

Ann Arbor police force & the time-honored entitlement of people parking cars where ever they feel like it. (photo: Greg)

As Traverse City begins to see more bike lanes added into the mix, we will undoubtedly begin to run into more of the entitlement problems many of us, yes all of us, have when driving motorized vehicles. One of these entitlement symptoms is thinking that we can park anywhere and that we need to park as close to the front door as possible. We block handicap ramps, we block other traffic, we park in bike lanes. With yet another useful online tool, we can begin archiving the license plate # of repeat offenders.

At www.MyBikeLane.com you can anonymously report the offense, the location and the offenders license plate number.  You can also leave a comment if you need some extra venting.

On the other side, you can look up someone’s license plate number to see if they’ve been caught before. Or, look up your own…

If any of you post something to My bike Lane, give MyWHaT a heads up.

Now that I’m think about it, where does Traverse City have bike lanes? Once I find one, I’ll look for some photos.

NOTE: Another online tool mentioned on MyWHaT is SeeClickFix

(Thank you to M’Lynn at Traverse Alive for sending this our way.)

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The down town tour: an educational loop

March 31, 2010 3 comments

Occasional guest writer, Bill Palladino takes us on a tour of downtown. The good, the bad, the ugly and the f-ing ugly.

Featuring the State Street trough,  traffic calming islands on Boardman Ave. and the questionable bike lanes on Front St.

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A bicycle advocate, a city engineer and a lobbiest walk into a room…

March 30, 2010 1 comment

…what do you get? A glimpse of the action at the League of Michigan Bicyclists Bike Summit in Lansing last Saturday. You might also get some complete streets. That was a key theme to this year’s summit and how to move the group’s direction beyond the public impression of just representing sport cyclists. Andy Clarke, Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists, asked as much in his keynote address; what can the league do to assist all bicycle riders-children, the elderly, families as well as the Lycra clad?

Lansing city council member Jessica Yorko describes the citizen led Complete Street ordinance passed by the city last August.

In Michigan, that clearly means embracing complete street legislation and providing support for local initiatives; key synergy already exists  between LMB and MI Complete Streets.

One role the above two groups aim to fill is facilitating the connections between regions while providing advocacy and education tools for citizen advocates. LMB Associate Director, John Lindenmayer is the main link between the two groups. In an email exchange after the summit, he replied about the role.

Over half of the Summit attendees attended the Complete Streets workshop.  It just goes to show that the time is ripe for this issue.”

Complete Streets is at the top of LMB’s advocacy agenda. As opposed to fighting for improved bicycle facilities, road by road, or even town by town, Michigan needs a comprehensive policy that will make accommodating bicyclists a routine practice whenever roadwork is done.

Michigan cities go for complete approach

Represented at the summit were people from Jackson, Flint, Midland, Detroit and Lansing, cities that have made strides towards changing local policies towards adopting complete streets.

In some sense, they are in the same boat as Traverse City where a dis-connect exists between what the public has repeatedly asked for and what is being implemented. Our local efforts are repeatedly weakened by vague policy, entrenched ways of doing business and lack of understanding of what it takes to make a city a home that values people and ‘place’ while still providing for sensible use of motorized vehicles.

Other Michigan cities might even have an advantage; many people I met from other cities see this as a friendly competition for attracting new businesses, young entrepreneurs and specific grant money. Northern Michigan might just be too comfortable to be bold and aggressive.

For  example, the city of Lansing needs to be held up as a model for passing a complete street ordinance last August. The ordinance was a result of over a year’s worth of feet-on-the-pavement education and signature collecting. In the Complete Streets panel discussion, Jessica Yorko explained the process of developing the ordinance, wide public support and the Walk and Bike Lansing! task force with citizen groups, neighborhood associations, Mid-Michigan Environmental Action Council, LMB and others. They currently have AARP of Michigan fully on-board doing a sidewalk & street survey for walkability measures of the city.

Bike lane built for two on Lansing's E. Kalamazoo St. In need of a little spring cleaning, but the city is made aware of it via SeeClickFix (photo: Gary L Howe)

After collecting nearly 5000 signatures with the intention of by-passing the city council and going directly to a referendum on the ordinance, the Lansing complete street ordinance (doc) was passed unanimously by a previously reluctant city council. They’re change of heart can be attributed directly to some of the old guard championing the energy and interests of the younger generation, but also just a heavy dose of common sense prevailing at the right moment.

Now, Lansing is working to achieve a non-motorized plan and network to carry the ordinance to implementation; directly involved and outspoken in support of this effort is the city’s traffic engineer, Andy Kilpatrick. His presentation at the bike summit was a what’s-what from the perspective of a city engineer. He described the particular obstacles he faces everyday in trying to implement more walkable and bike-able streets. Besides insight into the profession, he was clear in stating that at a certain point city residents need to get serious in finding, and supporting, candidates who share their vision for more inclusive streets. For him, a supportive council his job much easier.

(2011 for Traverse City commission, but there are current openings on the planning commission)

Recognize your allies, strengthen the network, remove obstacles

Which leads to the advice from the another presentation: Improving your advocacy skills. Jean Doss of J. Doss Consulting shared her never die attitude, her 10 Commandments of Public Policy Advocacy and made it very clear that at certain times it is crucial that you either “change their minds or change their faces“. She lobbys in the capital, but was clear that the rules of politics are similar no matter the level.

There was more, but this post is already too long. Congratulations to the League of Michigan Bicyclists, Michigan Complete Streets and host Peckham , Inc. for a successful day. There was plenty presented to spin the wheels further along.

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PSA gone wrong… very, very wrong

March 30, 2010 3 comments

Cartoon Tuesday

Oh, sometimes it just hurts to be a hedgehog

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Traverse City: sitting on it’s success, ignoring the future. Is it stuck?

March 29, 2010 6 comments

Monday morning rant

The headline is about all I want to say on this subject, for now–more later, however…

I’ll just admit that I’m frustrated with the lack of open-mindedness to change, lack of willingness to experiment and lack of ability by local luminaries to make a commitment to a decision and champion it. Most people who are influential in the city are tied to some sort of position and context that hinders their ability to stand up, recognize a great idea and run with it.

The current economy is based on innovation and is moving beyond basic function. Beautiful designs that are also functional are the key. They are the key to industry, business and they are key to designing place. If Northern Michigan sticks to the model of asking big questions and asking for leading edge solutions, only to settle for something from the Anywhere U.S.A Catalog, it will loose it’s ability to regenerate and remain vibrant.

TC and Northern Michigan in general are too often stifled by the politics, culture, economics…of it’s past. We can be presented with an innovative idea (for now it doesn’t matter what) and we immediately see the impossibility, despite being intrigued and borderline convinced. It’s unfortunate. We allow the small amount of doubt to dominate our decisions.

Doubt is good; it helps us question and evaluate. It need not run the show.

There is a whole world of ideas out there and we should no longer accept the Not Invented Here = Not Doable Here mentality. Guess what folks, Traverse City is not the only place on the map. It’s pretty nice here, but if we fail to move forward and adapt to a changing world we will no longer be able to be held up as a shining example of success for the state.

There are people here who share this frustration with me. Where are they?

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Be mindful, oh foolish one behind the wheel

March 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Monday’s Quote:

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.

–Albert Einstein

Quote is via Chapter 3 of Tom Vanderbilt‘s Traffic: Why we drive the way we do (and what it says about us).

This chapter, How our eyes and minds betray us on the road,  entertains the world of cognitive limitations ALL of us have when driving.

An overall theme of Traffic is that none of us are as good as driver’s as we think we are; we’re mostly lucky. And, it is made worse by kissing pretty girls (or talking to them on the cell phone) while driving.

Let’s be careful out there.

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Weekly Chatter: parking, walkability, affordable housing, good business all entwined

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

MyWHaT finally received some negative publicity on a local public forum; how flattering, a love-to-hate comment. Note: criticism & alternative perspectives are welcome anytime on this website…would love it actually.

Weekly Chatter:

Surprise, surprise: provide alternatives & development by being smart, strategic and intentional.

Co-Chair of T4 America and former Mayor of Meridian, Miss. testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in March with the following recommendations taken from the above report (Download the white-paper: Principles for Improving Transportation Options in Rural and Small Town Communities (pdf):

  • Invest in Main Streets
  • Empower Local Communities
  • Improve the Conditions and Safety of our Transportation System
  • Invest in Public Transportation
  • Preserve and Create Livable Communities
  • Move Goods Through Rural America

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