Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Linkages Derides Incompetence

Part 3 of the DFW plaza post coming soon, but first, the news of the day, but just after this new draft logo:

Austin is cracking down on jaywalking. Because THAT is the right way to go about it (slidewhistle). It is not in anyway a complete dereliction, dismissal, and abdication of responsibility to create a safe public realm, especially in transportation. Pedestrians are a menace to society and a real pain to clean their innards from the grill of my car.

The best part, THE BEST part, and by the best I mean the most tragic and incompetent is the comparison of the two maps on that link. The first shows where the ticketing is occuring, primarily in central areas, downtown, South Congress, and near the UT campus. Ya know, the kind of places where pedestrianization can and should be encouraged on top of the inevitability of it anyway.

Then look at the second map, where pedestrians have been killed. Scattered, on arterials and low pedestrian areas. Of course, we're talking about the epicenter of TxDOT and road lobbying. So if we can just demonize the pedestrian and force everyone into cars, even those that can't afford it, then we can get back to building roads and lining pockets from the siphoning of taxpayer money. As if there was any threat to this particular march of folly anyway.

Seriously, everyone involved in this policy at the City of Austin should be fired immediately. But who am I to say? Just someone that understands that increased pedestrianization is safer for everyone, better for business, and makes for a more sustainable/affordable city that also maintains more citizen money within the local economy I suppose.
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In related news, a NASA engineer, perhaps bored with reduced responsibilities after the gutting of NASA posts for Greater Greater Washington the costs on both road and rail subsidies and finds the combo of indirect and direct costs of road subsidy is greater than that of rail subsidy. This also takes not into account either long-term maintenance costs of crumbling road infrastructure due to the nature of it as a decentralizing agent, nor the returns on these various subsidies (road case)/investment (rail case) by way of more dense development. One centralizes and aggregates, the other decentralizes and cannibalizes. This is how it works folks.
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Lastly, if you wanted to know where the cutting edge was in urban design, it is here. It also just so happens to be the cutting edge in the study of the life sciences. Mehaffy and Salingaros are disciples/proteges of Chris Alexander and have since picked up his proliferation. The future of thought is happening at this nexus between life sciences, computing, and urbanism. And you wonder why I use so many metaphors of computer science, biology, ecology, etc.?? A quote:

In natural systems, this kind of bottom-up evolution turns out to be essential for the creation of sustainability. There is reason to think this is no less essential in urban systems. In fact, our work persuades us that any urban configuration that has not evolved — has not been computed step-by-step using adaptive adjustments — is probably dysfunctional and unsustainable. It will have to be propped up by enormous and unsustainable energy and resource expenditures. Examples include regularly-spaced high-rise buildings in a Le Corbusier type of pattern (i.e. “towers in the park”) as well as suburban sprawl of cookie-cutter houses. These are both template-based models imposed from above, and they do not manifest an efficiently optimized self-organized pattern of the kind we are describing.

Point being, urbanism is not about the imposition of arbitrary and abstract forms dreamt by Corbusier, et al. In fact, it is ENTIRELY about providing the framework for life to exist on its own. And that comes from proper transportation systems, the interconnectivity and interaction between development and said transportation system, and building positive supply-demand feedback loops through demand-side implementation. Interconnectivity = opportunity = desirability = demand = density. This stuff doesn't need a rocket science to quantify it...errr, maybe it does (see: above).