Archive for June, 2011

MyWHaT: More Good Than Harm

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment


Blogger Needs Break

After posting 725 posts since January 2010, I’m taking an approximately 2 week break from maintaining an almost daily posting on MyWHaT. It’s a vacation, but a vacation full of work, some of it related and some of it that pays the mortgage. (A few guest posts may squeak in.)

I also need more hammock time.

I’ve created a responsibility to myself to publish on a very regular, if not hyper-active rate, and it is difficult to shut-it-down. If you hear me utter the phrase, “I really need to write about…” quickly cut me off and shove a grissini in my mouth and buy me a beer. Or, scold me and send me to the nearest hammock to contemplate what I’ve done.

Do You Enjoy MyWHaT?

I do. I enjoy putting MyWHaT together. I like the writing, the editing and the aggregating of resources. There is also related work away from the blog that I enjoy, like connecting people, supporting cool ideas and leading discussions on community issues. But, it does take time; a lot more time than I want to admit to…I’ll only admit to 20 hours a week.

It helps that I have a core of underwriters and the generous support of a few readers. To be honest, I could use more. If you find MyWHaT entertaining or valuable, a donation of any amount is appreciated. Donations in the past have ranged from $5-$500 and the average is around $100. More importantly than the amount, a donation validates the effort behind MyWHaT and its value to the community; it makes me relax a little, smile more and feel like I’m at the least, doing more good than harm (Thanks for boost, RS).

MyWHaT: More Good Than Harm. :)

Thank you…see you on the streets and back here in 2 weeks…or so.

Ways to stay in touch


Most directly visited MyWHaT posts of all time:

Village of Elk Rapids Shows Off Some Sharrows

June 22, 2011 6 comments

Elk Rapids: Sharrows

Sharrow in Elk Rapids via The MyWHaT Roaming Reporter

This is the first year of the sharrow program and the village has placed them on all streets leading  into downtown, including the main drag River St. There are a total of 12 of them put in to meet the goal of a more welcoming community to people on bicycles. As far as we know, these are the first sharrows in Northern Michigan.

Kudos!  [Applause]


What’s a sharrow?

Where could Traverse City put them?

City, County And Area Recreational/Parkland Providers Want Your Input

June 22, 2011 Leave a comment


Through July 31st, Traverse City Area Public Schools (TCAPS) is inviting the community to participate in an online survey that is being conducted to determine what citizens name as priorities for recreation, parks, leisure needs, as well as opportunities in Grand Traverse County, TCAPS’ attendance area, and adjacent townships.

Online Community Survey To Identify Traverse Area Recreation Priorities

Grand Traverse County parks and recreation director, Jason Jones in an email introduced the following survey’s goal with:

Ovid said, “In our leisure we reveal what kind of people we are.”… The survey, and the work of our committee is to ask the questions about what kind of people we are, and to hopefully get the answers that will either tell us we are building a strong community through recreation, or what we can do better to reveal the best traits within our community most efficiently. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns related to this issue.

(GT Parks and Recreation Department at  (231) 922-4818 or

The committee he refers to consists of representatives from the Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation Department, the City of Traverse City, townships, TCAPS, YMCA, and other recreational providers have come together to form the Grand Traverse Athletic Collaborative Committee. The purpose of the Collaborative is to explore opportunities for organizing health, wellness, recreation, and leisure resources in more coordinated ways. The Committee is looking to better understand the recreational needs and interests of families, couples, and single persons who are residents of Grand Traverse County and TCAPS’ attendance area.

How you define recreation will inform your responses. I take a very inclusive and broad approach to recreation. A walk to work is both transportation and recreational. I don’t just recreate in parks. I tried to put that in my responses.

Help out… take the survey at the following

An Underpass And A Roundabout

June 21, 2011 4 comments

Video Tuesday

Multilevel roundabout in Houten, Netherlands by 

Raise the road a little and lower the separated trail a little to provide a well-lit, welcoming “underpass”. Then, provide some delineation and separate people on foot from people on wheels with a wide underpass that includes a sidewalk and you have an intersection most of us would enjoy using.


What If Public Space Was Designed Like An iPhone?

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Well Put

Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design.”

~ Dieter Rams, renowned industrial designer

I’m not a designer; I’m a consumer and I appreciate design that is intuitive, informative, sharp. Dieter Rams has inspired clean design that fits this idea for decades.

Design should not dominate things, should not dominate people. It should help people. That’s its role.” This applies to tiny gadgets as well as public spaces; entire cities.

Treat yourself for 7 minutes. This video will help you think today.

via BrainPickings (Thank you)


Ram’s Ten Principles of Good Design

  1. Good design is innovative
  2. Good design makes a product useful
  3. Good design is aesthetic
  4. Good design helps us to understand a product
  5. Good design is unobtrusive
  6. Good design is honest
  7. Good design is durable
  8. Good design is consequent to the last detail
  9. Good design is concerned with the environment
  10. Good design is as little design as possible

Suburban Ponzi Scheme, People In Conflict, Want Less Traffic Then Build Sidewalks (The Weekly Chatter)

June 17, 2011 1 comment

Unfortunate title: Cycles vs. Cars (N. Express). Unfortunate because it perpetuates the notion, however subtle, that people aren’t involved. It is the human animal that is moving about on a bicycle or in an automobile; we have limitations and breaking points. Missing from the article is reference to the role of infrastructure design. These conflicts are not happening in a vacuum and, as it is quickly becoming a mantra, infrastructure is not neutral.

We Ride On

The issue also includes a story of an asinine harassment of someone on a bike by no other than officer Joseph Soffredine who ticketed the rider for impeding traffic (N.Express). Note: it is legal to ride two abreast (MVC) and it’s unclear what traffic was being impeded (MVC) other than the officer stalking them. How silly.

But, not quite as silly as the national news about the cyclist too sexy to ride a bike…back to the 19th century with this one (TreeHugger) –>

Weekly Chatter

The first generation of suburbia we built on savings and investment, but we built the second — and maintained the first — using debt. Unprecedented levels of debt. “

From the latter: Increasing sidewalk coverage on both sides of 30 percent of all streets to coverage on both sides of 70 percent of all streets was estimated to result in a 3.4 percent decrease in VMT and a 4.9 percent decrease in CO2.


To Wrap

Go to the beach.

Graphic Friday: Mind The Gaps

June 17, 2011 1 comment

Graphic Friday

Sent in via Team Haas

Be careful crossing the alleyways. Mind the Gaps.

The Crank Returns: 14th And Division

June 16, 2011 5 comments

Update: M’Lynn sent me a breakdown of the events and her injuries:

My head light was turned on and blinking. My tail light was on and blinking. An extra light on my backpack was on and blinking. I was wearing a florescent green shirt. In other words I was extremely visible to anybody who were to look both directions before pushing the accelerator. I turned hard, and was ultimately sideswiped instead of going under the vehicle. My fine bicycle was not damaged in any way. The suv hit me. It didn’t touch my bike. I have two fractured vertebrae im my spine ~ M’Lynn Hartwell, Director of Possibilities

Cranky Thursday

(Dangerous by Design in Traverse City)

Almost a week ago community friend and consummate community advocate M’Lynn Hartwell attempted to connect to the multi-use trail along Division St. at the 14th Street intersection. She was riding a bicycle equipped with lights and other safety features. She serves on the Cherry Capital Cycling Club’s Safety and Education Team; she knows what she is doing. She looks both ways.

Does this communicate dismount?

Her trip was cut short while crossing 14th in the crosswalk with a green pedestrian light. A women driving south on Division St. made a left turn onto 14th St. right into M’Lynn. The driver later exclaimed, ” I just didn’t see her.”

I’m sure she didn’t.

The intersection’s design and function doesn’t encourage her to do so. It is built for speed and the engineering catch-all “efficient” movement of traffic (read, motorized traffic, not the all-inclusive recognition that traffic comes in many forms). It isn’t built for safety as a priority regardless of our mode of transportation, let alone for those in a crosswalk. An engineer will likely disagree with me. Fine. I invite them to take a 20 minute walk around the intersection with me, perhaps with their shoe laces tied together to mimic the most vulnerable. Then, if they want, they can still argue with me about this intersection’s “safety features.” Mind you, I don’t blame individual engineers for how it is built; it is built to standard and within a system that prioritizes in the order of: 1) Traffic speed 2) Traffic volume 3) Safety 4) Cost

I do mind when they adamantly defend that system and resist change.

To top M’Lynn’s day off, the officer who showed up on the scene was of the opinion that both parties were at fault. He claimed she wasn’t allowed to ride a bicycle in a crosswalk and shouldn’t have been there. Excuse me? Under Michigan Vehicle Code 257.660c, the operation of bicycle upon sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk #3 reads: 

An individual lawfully operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk has all of the rights and responsibilities applicable to a pedestrian using that sidewalk or crosswalk.

Last I checked, operating a bicycle involves pedaling. I’m not a lawyer. I’m not aware of any odd reading of this passage. Anyone? And, despite Michigan’s weak rules about driver-pedestrian conflicts (we basically just can’t hit them) this case seems to be pretty obvious-someone did get hit.

Don't trust the design

This is important. M’Lynn gets hit. A women admits not seeing her. Both were told they were at fault. One drives away with a small ding in her car. The other limps away with lifetime back issue. It’s disgusting.

We need to keep this situation in mind when future construction is proposed. We need to recall that one alternative to a roundabout here was to create 6 lanes of traffic heading west by adding another left turning lane. I walked-off 80 feet that people are being asked to now cross from north/south across 14th Street. These intersections need to be narrowing the crossings, not widening them.

As a friend likes to say in nutty situations: god-damn-shit. We’ve inherited a load of it and we won’t fix it over night, but we do need to stop defending it, ignoring it and/or enabling it.


Dangerous by Design: 14th and Division

Above, an extra wide and smooth turning radius built for taking the corner at speed while looking over our left shoulder as we drive into a crosswalk. Below,  75-80 feet of exposed crossing awaits you with people turning right on red and left turns being made in between pockets of on coming traffic. A high stress zone for all.

Approaching the intersection there is little evidence that we are welcome to be here unless we are in an automobile, below. Further below, the human-less context is communicated to us when we are in automobiles and assists us in “not being aware” and “not seeing” what we expect not to be there. Take away: people will be there. You can not engineer people out of the context; design for them.

And, don’t block the crosswalk…thank you. (Note: these gentleman did apologize)

In Joy And Sorrow, The Sharing Of Public Space

June 16, 2011 1 comment

A connected community: some of us intimately, others of us complete strangers.

A community coming together. Reflection. Support. Celebration.

In memory • Carly Jean Lewis • 6.15.94 – 6.14.11

2 Wheel Technique On Display

June 15, 2011 1 comment

A visual shout out for Jonathan Pool and the 2 Wheel Technique crew who reclaimed Union St. nicely last Saturday at the Dandy Horse Bike Fest and Bike Swap in Traverse City. You can learn to do this too! It isn’t all about popping wheelies, track-stands and the impossible, either…a lot of what Jonathan teaches is about balance and confidence building that translates really well when riding with motorized traffic.

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