Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Facebookin' Debates

Kevin at Fortworthology posted onto the page's facebook the plan of a few FW neighborhoods and their intention to put their local neighborhood thoroughfare onto a road diet.  They wish to take a four lane road down to one lane each way with a shared, central turning lane.  In other words, they saw what the Near Southside did with Magnolia Avenue and want the exact same thing:  a calmer, safer, revitalized road with increased investment, stewardship, and land value.  Those commies.  Then, on the facebook page, a journalist decided to opine with this beauty:

 Neighborhoods do not govern major thoroughfares. Thank goodness

Now, I have my sympathetic moments towards the failings of bottom up planning in the Platonic sense that most citizens are poorly informed regarding urban issues and processes.  However, in the case of transportation, the "experts" are informed even worse.  Yet continue doing as they're doing and are the reason for the mis- and dis-information filling the citizenry.

When it comes to neighborhoods, I am in favor of bottom-up citizen driven planning because nobody is more of an expert in a local neighborhood than those who live it every day.  When regional thoroughfares clash with local neighborhoods clash, we start to get in a murky gray area between the two.  Similarly, along that Platonic narrative, it implies the "elite" have to be more competent than the rabble.  However, when top down is more broken than bottom up, we have to favor bottom up.  This is precisely the reason why the initial guerrilla urbanism efforts of the Better Block struck a nerve.  Because it was citizens taking power back from top down bureaucrats unwilling or unable to meet the needs of the citizenry in favor of more of the same, which is profoundly broken.

Because I'm incapable (or unwilling) to not opine myself and because I'm actually versed in these subjects, particularly the precise areas of how and where transportation planning and policy is broken, I had to respond in kind:

Neighborhoods (taxpayers and actual stakeholders in the health and well-being of their surrounding environment) NOT having any say b/c a road is on a thoroughfare plan thus under the jurisdiction of people whose interest is not in living on or near dangerously fast, failing roads but rather solely in widening roads into faster, more dangerous, and spectacularly failing roads (out of corruption or incompetence in how cities actually function) is exactly how we got into this local, state, and national infrastructural deficit of extensive infrastructure without the tax base to sustain it.

Thank God.  And by "God," I mean transportation/thoroughfare planners who wield taxpayer money and decisions affecting the taxpayer/stakeholder's neighborhoods as if they're all the Gods rolled into one and embodied.  And like Greek Gods, they're angry and smitey.  Cities be damned to the depths of hell.  Also known as, exactly what they've become.