All the news that’s fit for you (I)

30 10 2009

“Cars could someday find themselves in the same struggle for acceptance as cigarettes”:

“The hop-on, hop-off nature of streetcars increases walkability, allowing you to ditch your car and wine and dine downtown with ease. The good news is that Dallas is pushing ahead with plans for a downtown streetcar network. Just last week, the Transportation and Environment Committee began reviewing a proposed route. ‘This would just be the beginning of a network that would bring neighborhoods together. It would give downtown the vitality you see in Zurich'”:

“With a unique approach Odense Municipality has submitted a masterplan for sustainable transport solutions that are intended to lead the way towards the goal of CO2-neutrality in 2025…The aim is to change habits…Overall the ambition is to have 60% more bike rides and 60% fewer traffic deaths in 2025, to increase the travels by public transport with 200%, to reduce driving in the city with 25%, to have 75% less people burdened by harmful pollution and 90% less burdened by traffic noise. The Plan for Traffic and Mobility is expected to be adopted before the summer 2009”:

“President Obama billed the $8 billion in stimulus funds for high-speed rail as the ‘first step’ toward a nationwide system of European-style bullet trains linking the nation’s largest cities. But now his administration must take the second step: figuring out how and where to spend the cash among more than $50 billion worth of proposals from across the country. It is a tricky endeavor. If Federal Railroad Administration officials pick too many projects, they risk spreading the cash too thin, leaving little tangible evidence to point to when it comes time to ask for the next round of federal investment. Choose only one or two larger projects, and they could alienate needed political allies that hail from states that are overlooked. Any near-term failures — either in moving too slowly or picking the wrong projects — could threaten to derail the larger effort”:

“Rendell argues that a nation-wide high speed rail network is critical and called for a ‘dedicated federal government capital budget’ to fund the program. ‘We have just been nibbling at infrastructure,’ Rendell argued. Rendell sees a dedicated ‘infrastructure bank,’ which would ‘take the politics out of transportation decisions,’ funneling funds to high speed rail, transportation rehabilitation, and transportation improvement projects. Rendell noted that the American Society of Civil Engineers said the U.S. needs to invest $2.2 trillion to ensure the country’s future competitiveness. In addition to strengthening the U.S. competitive position, Rendell argues that high speed rail would help restore the U.S. construction and manufacturing base, and ‘bring millions or tens of millions of jobs and new factories.’ Rendell compared current opposition to a country-wide high speed rail network to the early opposition against the Erie Canal. He noted that the $9 billion investment in the Erie Canal was repaid within nine years, and the investment helped revolutionize the U.S. economy”:

“More than two-thirds of Houstonians are ready for tighter land-use restrictions in the wake of several high-profile conflicts between developers and neighborhoods in recent years, according to a Houston Chronicle poll. Out of 601 people surveyed between Oct. 12 and 15, 71 percent said they strongly or somewhat agree that ‘Houston should enact tougher land use restrictions'”:

A new blog comment posting?

28 10 2009

Of ours can be found here (believe it or not the author misquotes the actual headline of the blog that he’s drawing his entire article from which, according to us here at THE Placemaking Institute, is only a sure sign of intellectual flaccidity)

(Malcolm X: “Don’t let the power structure maneuver you into a time-wasting battle with others when you could be involved in something that’s constructive and getting a real job done.”)

Commonsense? Re-fenestrated! (I)

26 10 2009

Sorry for the relatively extreme lengthiness between postings.  But for the past couplathree weeks I’ve been virtually sequestering myself from old school 3-D human interaction in order to discover and grasp the circumstances of this newfangled albeit 2-D business called blogging – all those available RSS feeds, and who the heck knew what a widget was, never mind what it could do for your life!  And don’t you even get me started on CSS!  I’ve even been Twittered!  (Uh oh no, although I’ve promised myself adherence to brevity with these posts of mine, here I already go oh so post-modernly digressing; let’s get me straight to the matter at hand:)

Since we last convened I’ve been thinking, and tremendously, about what we learned a priori from such illustriously learned entities as The Public Purpose and The Heritage Foundation and The Texas Public Policy Foundation, specifically ingeniously stupendously counterintuitive conclusions like: one, we as a society should be driving more; two, increasing urban density will only increase the amount of vehicle miles driven per capita; three, smart growth is to blame for the most recent market failure; four, that the fundamental problem with transit is that it is an illusion bereft of reason and that nothing can be done to provide genuine transit choice; five, we should not take advantage of fallow/underused infrastructure like railways to improve our transportation systems[i]; and thus, finally, our multi-modality should solely be confined to building more and more auto-centric roadways, tollroads and flyovers, each bigger than the last one, in order to relieve congestion and mitigate smog.

But after delving into TTI’s statistical universe?

“Bosh!” is all this Most Senior Fellow can now exclaim, “Bosh I say!”  For beyond reams and reams[ii] of statistics, below are just some of the things he has found in The Texas Transportation Institute’s analytical summations[iii] regarding our present topic:

  • Providing more options for how a trip is made, the time of travel and the way that transportation service is paid for may be a useful mobility improvement framework for urban areas. For many trips and in many cities, the alternatives for a peak period trip are to travel earlier or later, avoid the trip or travel in congestion. Given the range of choices that Americans enjoy in many other aspects of daily life, these are relatively few and not entirely satisfying options[iv] (feel free to inquire of my thoughts regarding “choice” and the “American” “Dream”:)
  • In growing areas adding capacity of all types is essential to handle the growing demand and avoid rapidly rising congestion[v]
  • Commute trips generally cluster around the most congested peak periods and are from the same origin to the same destination at the same time of day. These factors make commute trips by carpooling, vanpooling, public transit, bicycling and walking more likely[vi]
  • Peak period public transportation service during congested hours can improve the transportation capacity, provide options for travel mode and allow those without a vehicle to gain access to jobs, school, medical facilities, and other destinations. In the case of public transportation lines that do not intersect roads, the service can be particularly reliable as they are not affected by the collisions and vehicle breakdowns that plague the roadway system and are not as affected by weather, road work, and other unreliability-producing events[vii]
  • Transit, like ridesharing, park-and-ride lots and high-occupancy vehicle lanes, typically have a greater effect on the congestion statistics in a corridor, rather than across a region. Transit and these other elements “compete” very well with the single-occupant vehicle in serving dense activity centers and congested travel corridors[viii]
  • (Smart Growth) characteristics can be incorporated into new developments so that new economic development does not generate the same amount of traffic volume as existing developments[ix]. Among the tools that can be employed are better management of arterial street access, incorporating bicycle and pedestrian elements, better parking strategies, assessing transportation impact before a development is approved for construction, and encouraging more diverse development patterns[x]

And now…for the coup de grace

  • If a region’s vehicle-miles of travel were to increase by five percent per year, roadway lane-miles would need to increase by five percent each year to maintain the initial congestion level[xi]
  • This analysis shows that it would be almost impossible to attempt to maintain a constant congestion level with road construction only. Over the past 2 decades, less than 50 percent of the needed mileage was actually added. This means that it would require at least twice the level of current-day road expansion funding to attempt this road construction strategy. An even larger problem would be to find suitable roads that can be widened, or areas where roads can be added, year after year[xii]

So, let’s proceed getting our facts straight here: Pro-road/Anti-Transit Choice lobbyists like Wendell Cox (in sidebar John Stuart Mill wonders: “[Is this man’s] eminence due to the flatness of the surrounding landscape?”) and his ilk draw most if not all of their statistical ammunition from TTI as the foundation for their arguments; yet TTI’s very own analyses of their very own statistical universe directly contradict those conclusions being fabricated (ahem, allegedly) by Anti-Choice lobbyists.  (forthrights George Orwell: “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”)

Right now you are asking yourself, “What, exactly, does this Most Senior Fellow mean?”

Good question.  Very good question.  Well, he means a deliberate attempt is being made to divert an argument with a logical fallacy (in Greek, Ignoratio elenchi which, for Aristotle at least, amounts to ignorance of logic).  Nowadays we call this a “red herring.”  While it has no place whatsoever in any serious debate, it does allow us to make the following generalized assertion about those who tend towards employing this so-called debating tactic: “Its usage indicates the medieval kind of mind that first comes up with a conclusion and then does everything in their power to reach that foregone conclusion, putting every premise of theirs up for immediate dismissal[xiii].” If these people know what they are doing, shame on them.  And if they don’t know what they are doing, then shame on them as well.  Why?  Because those who “achieve” extreme so-called professional Tayloristic specification should know the exact parameters of the universe they are confining themselves to.  That’s why.

According to Karl Marx, many of what a group calls “truths” may have very little or no basis in fact.  Instead, the group’s “truths” are often fabricated to favor that group’s economic interests and further its economic aims.  So while capitalists construct an ideology that serves capitalists, those with progressive tendencies construct ideologies that serve the greater good.  In other words, ideological debate is less an inquiry into facts than a battle for Power via what amounts to propaganda campaigns at the expense of Democracy and The Public Good.  (You can rest assured that we here at THE Placemaking Institute, beyond being a non-partisan entity, are adherents to a strict dogma of Anti-Ism-Ist-Ism[xiv].)

But for those of you who are still sniffling at my reference to Marx?  Here’s a little something from Adam Smith himself for you to try on for size:

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order [the capitalist class], ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention.  It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

Oh heck, will you just look at this?  So much for my promises of brevity!  Sorry for all that reading!  I guess this is what happens when one can mindlessly type faster than one thinks.  And so I’ll abruptly close this here argument of mine with an Irish proverb that’s as apt as it is old: “Bullshit a baker and you get a bun; bullshit a bullshitter and you get none.”  Good day.  (Bernard Shaw: “Any rebel has an obligation to replace the conventions he destroys with better ones.”  Most Senior Fellow: “I know, Bernie, I know, and I’m gonna get to that soon, Bernie, so willya get off my back already?”)

[i] “Sometimes, the more traditional approach of simply adding more capacity is not possible or not desirable. However, improvements can still be made by increasing the efficiency of the existing system. These treatments are particularly effective in three ways. They are relatively low cost and high benefit which is efficient from a funding perspective. They can usually be implemented quickly and can be tailored to individual situations making them more useful because they are flexible.”

[ii] and by reams and reams I mean REAMS so AD INFINITUM you don’t even know!

[iii] “Congestion has spread to more cities to more of the road system and trips in cities to more time during the day and to more days of the week (and) . . . congestion problems (are) grow(ing) at about the rate of one population group every 10 or 15 years. So in the time it takes to enact solutions for one size of problem, congestion has worsened.”

[ix] Portland is one area where the multiple performance measures help illustrate the effect of the transportation and land use policies that are being pursued to create a denser urban area that is better served by public transportation[ix]

[xiii] David Parvo, Most Senior Fellow of THE Placemaking Institute

[xiv]Eliphas Levy: “To want without desiring, there is the secret of power.”

Please, bear with me…

24 10 2009

…as I continue figuring things out…

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