Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday Morning Linkages

With CNU18 wrapped up and in the books, Kunstler summarizes and laments this frightening anecdote:
A New Urbanist developer had gotten a small project going for a traditional neighborhood. Despite the global financial clusterfuck, the developer was able to meet the payments of his commercial loan. But the FDIC sent bank examiners around America and they told the small regional banks that if they had more than twenty percent of their loans in commercial real estate (CRE) they would be put out of business. The banks were ordered to reduce their loads of CRE by calling in the loans and liquidating the assets. Ironically, the banks only called in their "performing" loans, the ones that were being regularly paid off, because they were ignoring and even concealing the ones that weren't being paid.
It's hard to do honest business in the wild west.
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The unwritten, incalculable tolls of driving are calculated:
"The 20-minute penalty for each hour spent driving ... is completely invisible to most drivers. But it is there lurking in the background, and at the end of the year, it adds up to about 45,000 deaths." (About 3,000 people in Canada and almost 42,000 in the United States die in motor vehicle accidents each year.)
The study's authors go on to conclude that just a few mph (or kph in this case) could drastically improve safety. Yet we still design roads for high speed driving and expect a little sign with a number on it will prevent fatalities. Some day my rage at an utterly failing transportation system might fully come through.
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Where we take sh!tty roads, widen them and compare them to the Champs Elysees in order to line pockets of whoever fit more traffic on, take a look at how much "traffic" Paris was able to get onto the Champs Elysees over the weekend:



That would be 2 million people to see, in effect, a weekend farmers market in Paris.

Just imagine. This could be Industrial Boulevard on some parallel universe created by your average run of the mill focus-grouped basic cable dramatic series.
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Although, I'm not a fan of his, Joel Garreau only confirmed my opinion of him with factually incorrect if not direct intellectual dishonesty in statements like this:

The automobile results in places with multiple urban cores like Los Angeles.

No, the automobile creates core-less places. Only when overlapped with historic, preserved context and alternative transportation framework do cores result. However, he does redeem himself arrived at a similar conclusion to one that I've been saying (which is the only reason he earns a link):
The dominant form... of transportation today [is] the networked computer. What does adding the networked computer get you? I think the answer is “the Santa-Fe-ing of the World.” This means the rise of places where the entire point of which is face-to-face contact. These places are concentrated and walkable, like villages. Some are embedded in the old downtowns – such as Adams Morgan in Washington, or The Left Bank of Paris, or the charming portions of what in London is referred to, somewhat narcissistically, as “The City.” Some are part of what have traditionally been regarded as suburbs or edge cities, such as Reston, Virginia, or Emeryville/Berkeley, California.
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At Dallas City Hall today, there will be a briefing of the long-term transportation planning efforts. I have to say that I like the new D2 option directly to Union Station. Why? Well, one it goes to Union Station. If high speed rail happens, it will go to Union Station which will then have a direct link to the airport via DART and TRE. Second, it runs in front of the Convention Center Hotel. Third, it runs on the surface of Canton/Young meaning it will be $200 million less than the previous Council-preferred option of running UNDER the CC Hotel. Many readers may not be aware of this, but Development Director Theresa O'Donnell deserves credit for this alignment and long-term awareness and understanding.