In our last blog posting the following sentiment was relayed: “…in proper locales like Congress, streetcars sharing lanes would reactivate the streetscape.”
That incited this expected reply from Mike Dahmus: “Nonsense. What it’ll do is prevent any more people from GETTING downtown, which will mean our level of activated streetscape will be stuck at its current, fairly low, ceiling. Please don’t fall for the Condonite slower-is-better theories – they work ONLY in cities where huge employment centers exist in the core that cannot go anywhere else. Even here in Austin that’s not true – the university and the capitol aren’t going to a suburban office park, but a lot of state workers could (already do in some cases), and most of the private sector employers could as well.”
We here at The Placemaking Institute very much anticipated these remarks and, although we’re not going to argue with you, Mike, we’re not gonna agree with you either. Here’s why: You’re position is quite honorably predicated solely on solving congestion while ours embraces the fact that one hallmark of a successful city is congestion; the more successful a city becomes, the more congested it will be. And, thus, congestion can never be solved but only managed.
In other words, those who try solving congestion are being Utopian
which, when broken down phonetically in Greek means “no place,” something ultimately unachievable – leaving one jousting with windmills and/or borrowing Thomas More’s horsehair shirt
for daily martyr usage. Because here in the real world “condoites” (or, as Faulkner called them, “cubic euphemists”) have been among some of the main players behind both keeping the rail discussion in general going over these past several years as well as the current “urban rail”/streetcar proposal being discussed. An argument can be made that, without their efforts, it wouldn’t even be on the table right now.
As all of us should know by now streetcars do virtually nothing in the short-term to mitigate congestion; rather, more than half of the reasoning behind implementing streetcars is to spur economic development via increasing density along targeted transportation corridors
. If implemented successfully, this will help expedite a much needed generational shift
that will better manage congestion in the long-term. With that said, the City should work with the cubic euphemists in order to come up with some sort of TIF
program ASAP, which would go a long way towards having rail pay for itself, making it much easier to implement additional phases.
But the fact of the matter remains that anybody’s argument regarding any of this may be moot: because that Red Line albatross plus the general sociopolitical tone of this country
in no way bodes well for the 2012 bond’s passage.