“Where Your Gas Dollar Goes?” Not local, that’s for sure…That, and more, in the Annual Chatter Wrap-Up
Every Friday I post a series of links to stories, studies and seemingly miss-matched what-not in a series I call the Weekly Chatter. It began simply as a way to archive interesting material found during the week. Some of this material would make excellent follow-up pieces, however there just isn’t enough time in a typical week. It’s actually one my favorite posts to throw together.
After quickly perusing the series of Weekly Chatter posts, I came up with this collection from the past year. It’s not a best-of list, as it is more of a “this popped out at me again” list. Other links could just as easily jumped out.
Annual Chatter Wrap-Up
- Needed: a design movement to progress with livability ,including working health goals into planning.
- 3 car garages down, front porches up…Latest Census Highlights.
- The three types of cyclists show, once again, a need for more bicycle infrastructure.
- Study shows bicycling is safe, however we have a lot to do to make it better and comparatively safer…first must deal with the reality:
“Cars are such a powerful industry and such a normalized part of our daily lives that even acknowledging the hazards a vehicle presents to anyone other than its occupants is essentially taboo.“
If I ride
- Building community resilience without even changing your clothes.
- Percent of Walking/biking compared to spending –>
- An engineer asks: How and who should set speed limits? Can it be changed?
Sprawl-ville from space: the Big Picture
- Cyclists as an indicator species for healthy cities?
- Cyclists are better shoppers! “vitality of commercial enterprises = access by car” is out-of-date.
- We do it anyway, so why not design it that way. Designer Jae Min Lim mimics human tendency to cut corners. —->
- MDOT director Kurk Steudle’s letter to employees explaining new Complete Streets. ( Legislative analysis (PDF))
The transportation world is changing. We can face this change fearfully, or with confidence. In my five years as director, we have faced many challenges, adapted to change, and are a better organization for doing so. I am confident we can rise to the challenge of implementing the new Complete Streets law – in letter and spirit – and emerge a stronger organization, and ultimately, a better state.” ~Kurk Steudle
There’s Nothing Local About Filling It Up
(via Krios Consulting)
Have a New Year!
Memory Lane: Last February, TC neighbors made a stir with over 200 comments sent to the city commission in support of making the 2010 8th St. reconstruction a complete project. Many MyWHaT readers shared their comments here, where we published pull quotes from them in two parts.
The community wasn’t able to change the scope of that project and it’s questionable if we changed the attitude in how to approach future projects. Still, even if the impacts were intangible, notice was taken that there is an active, engaged and articulate public that wants to move forward in building the city we need for the next 30 years, not the one we had 30 years ago. We need more of the energy that these comments represent. See you in 2011.
Letters & public comments concerning 8th Street were a highlight of 2010. We get it: "Communities that surrender to cars do not thrive."—
MyWHaT/Gary L. Howe (@glhjr) December 30, 2010
The following from Holland, MI is appreciated. It’s only paint, but it communicates clearly the intent and provides space for dismounting and general ‘situating’.
However, I’m not exactly seeing how these racks would be used. Does the bike just hang off the curb? Is there only one contact point on the front wheel? Looks like a road-trip is in order.
Images sent in by @jimbruckb. (Ding. Ding. James!)
The majority of the 70,000 plus hits (over 200 unique readers per day) that have landed at MyWHaT this year have done so via the homepage, however, certain posts rose to the top this year through direct hits. That typically happens through topic searches, posts being featured on other BLOGS or by links shared in the cloud. Thank you for sharing.
I was looking at those and found it interesting to see what has registered and what hasn’t with MyWHaT readers.
Does the list match your experience? Are any posts missing?
The Top 15 MyWHaT Posts
Guest contributor’s indicated by an * and rolling over the links.
(Did you adopt a commissioner? )
(Number 1 is a bit anti-climatic, but it was picked up by a few national BLOGS & tweeted like mad….I guess, it’s what you get for reading Physics Central. Plus, parking is “hot” right now. )
- most popular outside of n. Michigan, Are you a sidewalk rider?
- most shared Shop Local First: The breakdown
- most contained anger, Car advocates, beginning to rally
- wish this was viewed more, Dude, where’s my sharrow?
- the least viewed, All in favor of a ‘people cannon’?
- most viewed quote, Roundabouts Don’t Cause Chaos, People Do.
Comments: we welcome your comments, please don’t be shy. The more questions, perspectives and general participation we have here the better. What’s on your mind?
Weekly Chatter Short
A few, of the many, folks that tweet that consistently get my attention.
Achieving genuine happiness may require bringing about a transformation in your outlook and way of thinking.—
Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) December 21, 2010
Drink coffee, eat sweets, happy holidays.
…to TART Trails for making a fitting choice!
Despite your new job, Lee, we hope you can still write a guest post or two for MyWHaT in 2011.
A more elaborate description of last night’s Recreational Authority Board’s meeting about Silver Dr./South Campus Entrance was requested a couple of times today. I guess a couple of tweets weren’t enough. What follows are highly selective and incomplete notes, observations and perspectives from
last Tuesday night’s meeting, mostly following the time-line of last night’s meeting as I wrote in my notes..my apologies if it’s a little disjointed. In my defense, I’m on vacation-light.
The meeting begins with a breakdown by the board’s executive director, Benjamin Marentette, which includes that this project is now proposed for two phases. It lacks a plan/funding for phase II~we just have a picture and some preliminary engineering numbers. Phase II involves how to move people not in a car through the corridor.
The total cost for everything (as designed) is $925,000. The rec authority has $132,000 committed, but not released to the project. This is the main question: to release or not to release the money. Other money already committed: The City has contributed $165,000 and there is a federal grant through MDOT for $375,000 on the table for a total $660,00. That leaves a $345,000 shortfall for the project. In some great wisdom, there’s a push to complete the motorized traffic part of the project without the non-motorized part. Most of the audience is here to ask that to change.
Who made the choice to move ahead in 2 phases without a plan? I’ve inquired and have been involved with the street project for at least the last 6 months and I still don’t know who is driving the 2011 construction without it first being a complete project. Up to this point, the pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure has been left aside to complete the road; to complete anything. The idea of phasing it in I & II is a relative new addition and runs counter to the master plan for the City and the rec authority property. I agree with Mayor Chris Bzdok’s comments: if the cost is an impediment, the right city bodies need to ask for the lowest cost solution.
- Board member Tim Hughes raises an interesting point about donors to the barns property. Their may be a negative impact if an incomplete project moves through without a way to complete the rest of the project. If the recreational authority is perceived as simply helping to build a one-dimensional road through parkland, there may be people in the community who will take a wait and see approach before donating more funds. (I wouldn’t have thought of that, good point.)
- Jennifer Jaffe, also a planning commission representative, reminds the board that there are different master plans related to this project and all of them call for accessibility for people to be part of street projects. She says something that if we build it without providing access for all, we are throwing out those public processes. She asked for more time to figure out funding and design, while at the same time correcting many inaccuracies in revisionist history by other board members. Mainly, that the scope of this project has changed substantially from the time when it was simply providing an entrance to TBA-ISD, so talking about the original cost of $280,000 for a basic road is irrelevant. As well, the City is really in no chance of losing the property if they don’t build the street. The contract called for a road design be submitted, which is done. The title is already transferred, so that is not a concern.
- Brian Bourdages echoes Jaffe’s call to take the time to do the project correctly. He hasn’t heard anyone say the board is racing to meet a deadline. A mix of discussion reveals that the only real date that is a known entity is February 22 which is the deadline for submitting the project to the state to be able to complete it in 2011.
- Ralph Sofferdine, also a city commissioner, is his typical self. He keeps referring to the many “years” that he has worked on this (and every other project) and I can only think: that is part of the problem. With Sofferdine, we have a city commissioner/community leader who continually accepts incomplete projects and feels that people on foot, on bicycles and other wheeled devices, like wheelchairs, are simply a special interest to be considered, but not necessarily in need of treating as a priority. A parting shot is directed at “bicycle folks“ to “put dreams on the back table and face reality.“ No comment.
- Rec Authority chair, Ross Biederman, tries to match Sofferdine’s call for affirmative action on the road construction by chiming in with the contribution that he doesn’t want to “hold this project hostage to a pedestrian and bicycle entrance.” At the same time, he doesn’t think the $345,000 is all that much money and seems open to pursuing options.
- Michael Groleau explains that his vote to not release the funds at a previous meeting was to make sure they have the time to do this right. He is pleased with the progress made in one month and would like to see more time and energy spent to be certain they get the best plan they can get. “I would like to give this a month to allow the people here to make their best case for funding and design alternatives,” he said. Adding, “I would like to hold off on issuing support for phase 1.“
I feel the same way as Biederman’s last comment expressing that it’s not much money, only I’d add another perspective. Perhaps the $375,000 fed/state money needs to be seen as not that much money considering all the strings and time-lines attached to it. At a certain point, Traverse City will need to fund its own streets so that we can have control of our community. Would people donate for a street built solely to move cars? No, and it’s ludicrous to ask, but yet some think that it’s perfectly fine to ask the community to fund complete streets above and beyond the taxes that we already pay.
In the end, the Recreational Authority chooses not to release the $132,000 for the project. I agree with this non-action. Instead, they created a task force to work with stakeholders, staff and anyone else interested to see how to decrease the cost and raise more money to complete the project. I feel that most of them understand that access for people is not a special request, it’s simply how this street must be built: in one phase. Currently, the City has an incomplete plan and the rec authority, rightly, are being champion representatives of the community by demanding a higher standard from the onset.
They have a meeting on February 6th where in all likelihood Silver Dr. will be once again be on the agenda. By then, the City may once again be rescued by a generous and well-connected community that is able to find the needed funds and pool together to consider less expensive designs. Or, we may have not moved much from where we are today. As city engineer Tim Lodge noted, it makes no difference to him and engineering. They handle changes and requests all the same. If the board chooses not to fund the project as designed, then, as Lodge said earlier, “we will deal with it and move on.”
There were also comments made by representatives from TART Trails, a doctor from Munson, SEEDS, The commons and from members of the community. I didn’t keep complete notes on those comments, but everyone who spoke, spoke in favor of completing the project in phase I. As someone said, Phase I and Done.
I agree: Phase I and Done.
EDITOR’S NOTE: For the rest of the year I’m going to slack. I’ll return to full publishing splendor a full 365 days since the launch date last January 4th. Over the next 2 weeks I’ll still post, but mainly images, tweets, interesting links and some recycled material.
On the last note, if you want to suggest a memorable post you saw on MyWHaT this past year, let me know. As well, if you have a more forward-looking personality, please comment on subjects that you’d like seen covered in 2011.
South Campus Dr. remains on hold. Recreational Authority wisely chose to delay releasing $ to find a way to a complete project-have 1 month—
MyWHaT/Gary L. Howe (@glhjr) December 22, 2010
South Campus Dr. 2011 plan is short $$$ and short priority for people. Rec Authority board is being a leader in correcting that.—
MyWHaT/Gary L. Howe (@glhjr) December 22, 2010
Streets are public spaces for everyone. If you don't have $$ for complete project, then your project isn't ready for show time.—
MyWHaT/Gary L. Howe (@glhjr) December 22, 2010
It’s not that bad out here, come on, let’s go.
(Thanks Ty and Carter. Ding! Ding!)
On tonight’s city commission agenda is a discussion about the snow removal policy. I sent in a few low-cost/no cost ideas to the city manager to improve snow removal in the city—we can experiment.
Snow removal ideas:
- Clear communication that snow removal for pedestrians is a priority. It would be encouraging to know that the city manager ranks this as a priority and has communicated that throughout the City workforce. And, does so every autumn.
- Incentives provided for “beyond the call of duty” maintenance. A lot of the rough spots in town could be solved by more attention and commitment to detail with a trusty shovel. How do we create the culture and incentives for that to take place? Stop the machine, jump out and shovel away the snow.
- Provide shovels to employees (to keep in trucks) and at difficult spots around town (for anyone to use). If there is a shovel handy (and sand) we could develop a cultural of citizen involvement where everyone contributed. I know there have been several times that I said, “if only I had a shovel with me.” TART Trails does this with brooms along the trails; they don’t lose as many brooms as you’d think.
- An annual, consistent and creative public campaign that speaks to the importance of the community working together to make the city accessible for everyone during the winter. Find some communications money.
- A volunteer notification service via email letting people know when sidewalks need to be cleared (to avoid fines, paying for the city to clear).
- A way for neighbors to report poor conditions. The use and encouragement of a hot-line or online tool to report problem or neglected areas. (www.SeeClickFix.com is a free and easy to use system)
- An organized volunteer program for citizens to take ownership of certain difficult places in the city. We have people volunteer to adopt highways, why not sidewalks?
- Enforcement of current policy and consideration of establishing fines for not maintaining a sidewalk. Saline, MI’s policy is below. The City could actually make money on this.
- Collection of model features from different snow removal policies, as put together by the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center. You can view that online at: http://www.walkinginfo.org/faqs/answer.cfm?id=4125
- A broken link exists in the attachment to Madison, WI’s policies. You can read their policy at http://www.cityofmadison.com/residents/winter/snowice/
- SALINE, MICHIGAN’s FINES: “People who fail to comply with the ordinance will be issued a Civil Infraction Violation. Civil Infraction Violation fines are $25 for the first offense, $50 for a second repeat offense within one year, and $100 for a third and each subsequent repeat offense within one year. In addition, the City may clear sidewalks, and the property owner will be charged for the work performed. The minimum fee for the City to remove the snow is $75 per visit and $30 per visit to treat ice. Costs to clear your sidewalk are in addition to the civil infraction violation fine. Property owners may not be notified in advance of the City clearing their sidewalks.”