City Pride by Norman Rockwell
I recently saw this print in an antique store. It is a reminder that there was a time when automobile traffic was widely accepted as an intruder (copenhagenize).
Engage & Represent
If nothing else, the data from Traverse City’s city clerk’s office for the off-year election of 2009 reveals an untapped potential for young adults to influence the direction of the city. Granted, not reflective of all elections, but I hazard to guess the percentages remain true.
Of eligible voters, those under 50 years old represent 58% of the electorate and, thanks to a 9% voter turnout in that age group, only 24% of the total vote. The under 40 crowd represent 42% of the potential voters and only 6% of the 40 and under crowd cast a vote in 2009.
It is a tad surprising that the under 50 crowd is as large as it is. For all of the talk that Traverse City is a retirement community, the numbers here don’t support it. The City has a good mix and a healthy young adult populace. They simply aren’t that engaged.
As the November election begins (absentee ballots go out
soon today) the candidates for local office are looking at these numbers and seeing who has voted over the last several elections. They know by name, address and age whether you are a likely voter. This is how newbies prioritize their outreach and efforts and this information informs incumbents on how to frame their decisions on the councils that they now occupy. This needs to cause everyone to ask some introspective questions:
Am I relevant to these candidates?
Why would they listen to my concerns?
2009 Voting Data by Age Groups for Traverse City
|Age||Voted||Possible||Percent Voted||Percent of Electorate|
EDITOR’S NOTE: In a future post, I’m interested in exploring the differences in concerns and issues between the age groups. It’d also be instructive to explore the commonalities. I suspect that for the latter there are far more than might be imagined. If you have some perspective of the subject, please leave a comment or send me a message. It’d be greatly appreciated.
Wednesday, October 5th at 7:50am & 3:13pm
The Walking School Bus runs every Wednesday & Friday morning (7:50am) and afternoon (3:13pm) through the rest of the school year.
Why? Safe Routes to Schools are important for everyone because:
- Healthier little people, means healthier big people
- Increased health lowers healthcare costs for everyone
- Active living increases productivity at school & work
- More people walking or biking to school reduces traffic congestion and pollution
- It is fun
Graphic via Bikes Belong
EDITOR’S NOTE: Guest contributor Lee Maynard is the trail planner and program director for TART Trails, an underwriter of MyWHaT. You may discover more about the Walk to Schools program or contact Lee through the TART Trails website.
I received my annual insurance newsletter from Liberty Mutual recently. On the back page is a spread touting the safety of roundabouts. It is a reminder that it will be increasingly difficult for local politicians to fight consideration and ultimate construction of modern roundabouts as the insurance industry becomes increasingly involved.
In the end, it’s not about what one elected official likes or dislikes, it is about what saves lives and, particularly for the insurance industry, reduces payouts.
The MyWHaT Roundabout Resource Page Continues to be updated.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated and reposted May 11, 2012.
Cut down the conflicts, minimize the ones remaining and improve the roadway experience for everyone involved–Simple!
Seems like sound advice for any number of intersections.
Here in Traverse City, we have yet attempted to carry a bike lane through the intersection. Almost every bike lane we have ends at a minimum 20-feet plus before the intersection and the one that does reach an intersection, on Woodmere at 8th St., pinches bicyclists between a curb and turning automobiles with nowhere else to go…(advice: take the lane or cross as a pedestrian).
We can do better, the models are out there.
mocked up Google Streetview of Woodmere Ave.
If we think we don’t have the time and money to do it right, what makes you think we have the time and money to do it over?”
– Dr. Mark Nicholson of Billings, Montana, speaking in favor of a Complete Streets policy
At the request of one of the MyWHaT underwriters, TART Trails, a reminder that Glenn Loomis will begin a Walking School Bus this Wednesday. For more information call or email Lee at 231.941.4300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The high public cost of sprawl explained with one the premier sprawl models (Edmonton Journal) goes well with the history and manufacturing of the cul-de-sac (AtlanticCities) FYI: it had little to do with the “free-market.”
A lot of people feel that they want to live in a cul-de-sac, they feel like it’s a safer place to be. The reality is yes, you’re safer – if you never leave your cul-de-sac. But if you actually move around town like a normal person, your town as a whole is much more dangerous.”
- Chi-town connecting transit options with bike share (ChiTribune) while Cleveland goes Complete and Green (Cleveland)
- Motorists are pushed to DIY street treatments for respect in Portland (BikePortland) and in Toronto, they are in anger from crazy pedestrians? (Huff Post-CA) Hey, at least we now have car friendly ketchup (Fox)
- Another shocking reminder to avoid the door zone (Cyclelicious) and a reminder to motorists why people on bikes ride in the lane (BostonBiker)
Dear Motorists: I Don’t Ride With Your Convenience As My Top Priority
- Down in Detroit, M-Bike asks about the delay our car culture is causing people on bicycles and raises the issue of rolling stops (M-Bike)
- Long boards are a form of transportation too…well, not quite yet in Grand Haven (GH Tribune)
- And, is reality TV killing neighborhood gossip? (NewYork) In one small town, maybe not so much, but the tone certainly has changed (NYTimes)
- Walking to cure depression (YouTube)
- RT BCN: People who walk or bike spend more at retail establishments.
- RT RogerQuimbly: I’m starting to wonder what else Mr Albert so-called Einstein got wrong.
RT eahuber: Couples are 40% more likely to divorce if one partner has a commute > 45 minutes long. God, I love Harper’s Index.
@mkirschenbaum: ”Always ask the next question.”
- RT jamesschwartz:
@lwh Good point. Every time a car driver is admitted to the hospital for a head injury, we should bill them if they weren’t wearing a helmet
This is fascinating: changing Detroit one inch at a time by selling a single inch at a time. Participants buy micro land for $1 a square inch & then turn on the creativity. By joining other investors they create microhoods like Hello World and Plymouth. (I think there are adaptions possible, perhaps short of actual purchasing, for local projects like the Bayfront Plan–how many inches are in Clinch Park?)
This TEDxDetroit talk by the creators explains it:
Have a weekend.
Adapted from a San Diego’s DOT Slide
* The Complete Streets Coalition forming through the Grand Vision held a public primer on road conversions this past Tuesday. Resources requested out of that presentation will be hosted at the coalition’s webpage. Local streets discussed at the meeting were Garfield Ave. (a prime candidate for a road conversion) and TC’s 4-lane section of 8th Street between Woodmere Ave. and Lake St. (a candidate with challenges).
A Connection Between the Train Ride and the Tunnel
(More of a ramble than a crank)
Two issues of late are representative of the frustrations that come with 1) being engaged in city matters and 2) giving a damn about the outcome beyond ones own self-interest. I’m referring to the issues revolving around the train ride down at Clinch Park and the pedestrian tunnel just west of there.
Below, I’ve adapted an email response to a city commissioner that addresses the sticky history & situation of both the train ride and the tunnel. Again, full disclosure, I sit on the Parks and Recreation Commission and have participated in the working committees of the bayfront planning process since February of 2010. I stand by my recommendation to remove the train from the bayfront and I stand by my opposition to the tunnel. In one case, honoring the process and, in the latter, questioning it. That doesn’t mean I can’t move forward with either of them included.
There is an interesting connection between the two issues: the train ride is very likely to be included in the bayfront improvements because the city commission was swayed by an organized & vocal group that failed to engage in the initial decision-making process. The ride was removed during last year’s public process and at the recommendation of the lead agent for the Bayfront Plan, the parks and recreation commission. The tunnel, however, was included in the Baytfront Plan and is now a long-shot for implementation due to an unexpected, though not surprising, price tag attached to it. It also had/has a somewhat vocal opposition, though not organized.
My contention all along was that the tunnel made it into the Bayfront Plan without much working group discussion; it was primarily included because of its presence in the TIF-97 plan (PDF) and the internal staff deal with the proposed hotel. Despite strong discomfort with its inclusion, I sucked it up and didn’t raise extreme opposition in the working group because it was clear that the effort would be wasted energy. At the time, there was a deadline. I didn’t realize at the time that a scheme was right around the corner involving The Hotel Indigo. When it did get fast tracked, I offered my perspective on the matter at both the Downtown Development Authority and City Commission meetings. I understood that many people wanted to see the tunnel, but the investment was being analysed with very optimistic information considering the need to have an attractive & comfortable tunnel. What many of the decision makers didn’t seem to understand was that tunnels are last resorts, not first priorities.
My questioning was focused on the premise that it shouldn’t be a priority (putting the “park” back in the “parkway” should be), but if it was the DDA/Commission’s choice to fund it, then the City needed to realistically fund it in the $2.4 to 3 million range to design and build it right. There are no points for vindication with the latest revelation that it will indeed cost much more than proposed (RE).
Perhaps the tunnel was a good idea 20 years ago when we didn’t have the understanding that we could actually calm Grandview Parkway. Last year, URS was hired in large part because of the reputation of their traffic engineer, Ian Lockwood, and his success in other cities calming major corridors over the past decade. It is one thing to imagine what $1.1-million (originally proposed tunnel budget) could do to calm Grand View parkway, let alone the $2.1 +/- now being proposed. That type of money could go a long way (Plan for TC) in transforming the section from Hall St. to Park St.
(Note: I emphasize imagining it happening, because there is no guarantee that a calmer corridor or more comfortable access to the bayfront is the priority of the DDA or the City.)
The Train Ride
The latest declaration by the City Commission on the train ride illustrates that the 2010 extension of the “Your Bay Your Say” and the work by the Parks and Recreation Commission on the matter will always be at the whims of political interpretation and judgement. If you serve on a board or volunteer committee for the City, the unfortunate lesson is that your leadership can easily be overturned by a small group of angry citizens who shout at the most opportune moment. Sometimes, the content of their argument is valuable, and other times it is full of entitlement and myopic interest. We elect leaders who we trust will critically think about the issues and not be easily swayed by a vocal minority. It can be a bit messy, but we are not, nor do we have the tools to be, a direct democracy. We elect and appoint representatives largely based on their ability to make informed decisions.
City plans need to be able to grow and change with time and different priorities, however, the outcomes still need to honor the previous work and not continually reinvent plans in relative short-terms. Regarding the train ride, it’s still unclear how the City Commission will honor both the previous work and the re-inclusion of the train ride. To date, they have played both sides. At a point in the very near future, clarity from the City is needed on the process to be honored.
More broadly, as we move forward, City Commissioners need to expect that with a project like the Bayfront Plan that there will always be a vocal minority willing to derail a specific detail; they may even be willing to derail the entire project. Sometimes, the 11th hour crew’s arguments have valid and unavoidable merits, other times they are simply resistant to change and simply dropped the ball during the planning stages. The train ride issue falls into the latter category for me, because there were ample opportunities for the public to be engaged and speak out against any parts of the plan long before we entered this final implementation stage. From my experience of going to almost 30 of the 40 public meetings, the response to the train ride’s removal was mostly indifference.
There is no clear public will that has been expressed; it has been a mixed response with one faction just being louder, more forceful and having the advantage of it being an election year (RE). I can respect all that, but the broader goals of the Bayfront Plan still remain.
The Big However & Moving Forward
However…We are where we are and we are now re-evaluating everything down at Clinch. This is at further expense, delay and risk of missed-opportunities to include the train ride. So be it; suck it up mister.
Contrast that with the tunnel, which has a built-in opportunity to be re-evaluated because the City Commission and the DDA need to sign off on the design. The City now knows that it will cost considerably more than what was first promised, that the scenarios don’t match up like they used to (Hotel Where’d You Go?) and we are more aware that other key features from the Bayfront Plan may be a bigger priority.
The tunnel can stay in the Bayfront Plan and if we transform Grandview parkway the community may decide that we don’t need it. If the DDA and the City Commission move forward with the tunnel they should look again at the design and see where any improvements to Grand View could simultaneously be made. It’d be a shame to rip the road up, temporarily move it into the Open Space, put it back and still in the end be left with the same old road.
As far as the train, it would be a shame to go through the hundreds of hours of public involvement to reinvent the bayfront and end up with the same old, same old down at Clinch.