This is a scathing opinion piece looking at the negative influences of space and place, specifically cars and car culture. Corwin argues passionately against the takeover of cars in to the city space and how it is anything BUT enriching. It is full of examples of what NOT to do, and therefore offers suggestions on how to solve it.
Our experiences driving cars in this city are, for the most part, fleeting. We drive somewhere, we get out of the car, we close the door, and we walk away. But to think that we can escape the world that cars have created as easily as we escape the car itself is foolish. In fact, when we leave our cars, we walk into that world. We have to live in that putrid mess.
Let’s talk about how Los Angeles is a city where construction projects can fence off whole blocks, including the sidewalks, without offering people on foot an alternative. Let’s talk about how when that happens, no one even considers converting one of the two car lanes into a temporary sidewalk, because dear god, that might cause slight inconvenience to people in cars. And let’s talk about how ironic it is that inconveniencing people in cars is the end of the world, but doing the same to people on foot is a non-issue. Then let’s talk about how when frustrated walkers decide to use the car lane rather than take the ridiculous detour, the city’s totally acceptable solution to that problem is not to concede space to those people, but rather to bolt permanent, metal signs into the middle of the sidewalk to keep them from doing so. That is cancer.
Up first: A gong hanging under a U-shaped bike rack that acts as an impromptu musical instrument. “I ride my bike around the city a lot, so I’m always using bike racks,” Zisiadis says. “There’s just this very funny space underneath them, empty and unutilized. It was an opportunity for micro-interaction: The things that we do every single day, all the time, are the largest opportunity for positively affecting people’s lives.”
The Federal government, as well as places like Seattle, WA, right now are pushing for more freeways, bridges, and car-focused infrastructure, but bikes may be a better solution with a faster return on investment:
…In reality, bike and pedestrian infrastructure projects generate more than just peace of mind. They also generate 46% more jobs than car-only road projects, according to a new study.
Streetsblog points us to the University of Massachusetts study, which evaluated job opportunities created by 58 infrastructure projects in 11 U.S. states. The result: Cycling projects create a total of 11.4 local jobs for each $1 million spent. Pedestrian-only projects create a little less employment, with an average of 10 jobs for the same amount of money. Multi-use trails create 9.6 jobs per $1 million–but road-only projects generate just 7.8 jobs per $1 million.
A similar study that examined infrastructure projects in Baltimore, Maryland came up with similar results: Pedestrian and bike infrastructure projects create 11 to 14 jobs per $1 million of spending while road infrastructure initiatives create just seven jobs per $1 million of spending.
This never would have occurred to me, so I’m glad that there is somebody out there looking at some of the economic perks to encouraging bicycling. Bikes are also obviously a great investment for cities because they promote exercise, connection with one’s environment and community, and lower pollution, all lowering cost of living there.
"When you’re riding a bike and breathing deeply, something about the blood flowing fast and oxygen flooding your system heightens the senses — especially the sense of smell, it seems. Sometimes that’s a good thing. Not always. Here’s a map of sensational sniffs discovered along the western legs of the Burke-Gilman Trail during commutes between Shilshole and Fremont. –Brian Cantwell"