Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Humpday Linkages

A couple of noteworthy items:

Copenhagen has released their official bi-annual cycling report. Though it is intentially not a dense or unwieldy document, it is heavy on legitimate public surveys and very specific, quantifiable goals and targets for the city to meet. Meaning, city staff has a direction, a purpose to guide them.

A couple of quick notes gleaned from it: CPH had 3 fatalities. Down from 5 the previous year. DFW as a whole would probably feel as though that's a good week.

Secondly, the League of American bicyclists did some quick math conversions from Kronor & Kilos to Dollars & Miles regarding Copenhagen's Socio-economic report. The CPH report, converted into dollars and miles, found a $0.41 gain for every mile cycled and a $0.20 loss for every mile driven. Let's parse that:

Therefore, it is stating that every mile connection is worth a dollar. Because of the cost of infrastructure (to build and maintain) as well as the operations and maintenance costs on the user, a mile drive is worth $0.80. In other words, a $0.20 drain on the economy. Bikes, being cheap for users, cheap to implement, and nearly harmless to infrastructure is worth $1.41, adding $0.41 to the economy.

As we've discussed in the past, interconnections are what make the economy go. It is how innovation happens and how goods are exchanged. Making these entirely by car is the way to exsanguinate, or bleed to death, as the local economy loses $0.20 for every mile. A car-centric city is a heavy tax burden to bear. One that I doubt any will survive more than a few decades.

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His post and my presentation references a street type matrix that inherently understands the dual purpose nature of public streets: of link and place. Therefore there is a continuum of street types. Are they high link (move a lot of people) or low link (move very few people)? Are they high place, high value? Or low value?

This was a tool suggested by Stephen Marshall in his book Streets & Patterns and provides a new and better model for transportation planning. The way we limit our street types today ensures that they are one or the other. They can't be both. Otherwise the pedestrians, trees, and other various amenities in High Place streets become hazards.

The result is a destructive tension built into the transportation and real estate system. Real estate value WANTS to be near High Link roads, but not too close, and therefore development patterns tend to take a defensive posture, internalizing rather than integrating with the larger world.

Imagine if all the various cells and organs in your body decided to just do their own thing. You'd turn into more of an ooze and less of a sentient, living organism. Kind of like sprawl smeared across the landscape.

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Interesting concept here: the Austin Center for Design is a non-profit focused on education, homelessness, and poverty. The way I understand it, they aim to equip and empower the less fortunate to be entrepreneurs. I think this might be a future direction of instutions like libraries, which at their core are hubs of information exchange regardless of medium (ie books). All of us in the community are both teachers and students in a variety of subjects of our interest. I once suggested to a city (with very low percentage of educated adults) something similar but couldn't find any case studies that actually executed it. Here's one.