Monday, October 15, 2007
This week’s reading is extremely applicable. It can help us to re envision Ithaca and develop a sustainable 10 year plan for public transit in Ithaca. Ithaca as well as the surrounding cities and towns are extremely scenic. There is so much to see in Ithaca and so many places that could potentially serve as transit hubs. An above ground transit system that is fully integrated and non intrusive could be designed to fit the character of Ithaca and surrounding areas. It could connect Ithaca to surrounding hubs and make Ithaca a much more desirable place to be. As a college student I love the idea of incorporating a more developed transit system. I think that it would be extremely exciting to experience not only Ithaca but surrounding communities as well.
Transportation has always been an interest in my life. When I was young, all I wanted to do was be an engineer on a train. Though I have now moved on to being an actual engineer, my interest in trains stays. This past summer, I was fortunate to have saved up enough money to afford to travel around in
My first gripe, which goes back to my youthful love of trains, is how pitiful the train system in the
My second gripe, though still on trains, is with city transportation. I grew up on
My third and final rant is on bicycle transportation. I would be terrified to ride a bike anywhere in
WHEN: Wednesday, October 17, 2007, 5-7pm
WHERE: Sibley 211
Pizza and Refreshments will be served!
New York – A Documentary: The City and the World
PBS documentary on the history of New York City, deals with Urban Renewal,urban decline and the role of Robert Moses, and includes the opposition to Moses led by people like Jane Jacobs. Focuses mostly on urban renewal, historic preservation and planning-related topics.
UC = Unintended consequence
Creation/Extension/Modification of Heavy Rail
UC: Large investment = heavy commitment to the technology for a long time. Are we close to developing better technologies to heavy rail, or is it worth the large investment that may take decades to pay dividends?
UC: Incompatibility with existing rail structures. High upfront cost locks adopters into the technology for many years requiring us to ask, “If we are going to make a large upfront investment in a new technology, is this technology the best?”
Dedicated lanes/preferential treatment for trams and buses
UC: Creation of a situation where roads are freed up for drivers. The more successful the program becomes, the more enticing it is to drive, because the roads are becoming freer of cars. Policy potentially is limited in the effect it can have because its own success could work against itself.
Integration of payment among different modes of public transport in a city
UC: Other than a little extra administrative headache/cost, this seems like a wise idea without much downside.
Coordinating land use and transit
UC: Any restrictive land use policy runs the risk of being seen as anti-business. The use of categorizing land parcels to restrict parking for example may sit poorly with some business owners and may have a serious affect on that cities ability to attract and keep important businesses.
Use of low-carriage trams
UC: Difficult to see a downside here.
UC: Restricting parking = expensive parking... yes always, unless gov't eminent domains all private parking. "Hmm mmm hummm mummm". Yes I'm humming the old Soviet National Anthem. Only the wealthy will be driving and parking. Earth-firsters don’t care, but what about you social justicers?
UC: Does allowing graffiti artists a legal palette for their work discourage graffiti from spreading, or are you creating more graffiti artists. Very difficult to answer. Best way is likely trial and error.
Restricting larger truck traffic
UC: Again, this measure comes at a cost of being seen as very business unfriendly. Quite probably, this puts downtown businesses at a further disadvantage to suburban stores that already have shipping/transportation/parking advantages over thier inner city competition.
General idea of making it more expensive to own a car
UC: Again, this puts the environment before concerns of social equality. Why do the suggestions that make the most sense always screw the poor?
The preceeding analysis can be seen as a glass-half-empty view. The intent is to the contrary. The more likely you are to ask yourself, "Self, can you live with this consequence of this policy?" and answer "Yes I can", the more credible the policy decision becomes.
I read chapter 10 of Ecocities which is on “Tools to fit the task.” What the author was trying to do was to illustrate several ways in which to make a city more ecologically friendly. He began with first introducing the idea of ecocity zoning. This is the process through which a city is mapped out and particular attention is paid to green areas. Zoning is described as “simply a means of letting people know what they can build and where and what sorts of activities are allowed there.”(248) In other words, it’s a way of setting a basis for the control of development so that buildings and communities are built in the most supportive way possible. Poor zoning can be corrected in six ways: planning around making everything walkable and within walking distance, creating pleasant places for pedestrians to walk and congregate, 3-D thinking allowing buildings to go up rather than out, looking at the whole system instead of the singular building, long term results, and last but not least creating agricultural open spaces. These all point to shifting a community from a car dependent and covered landscape to a more useful one such as agriculture.
There are several ways to make a community more ecological. Most cities are just built up around a main street where people drive their cars to get to and take little account of the land they are building on. To a developer, as long as they won’t get sued for building on that land, it’s ok by them. They pay no particular attention to natural aspects such as streams or old trees and couldn’t care less if these sites were destroyed. To properly develop a city, however, these sites need to be observed and emphasized and will allow more spaces for people to wander around in and relax at and will bring more people into a place where they could spend money.
Along this same idea of preserving nature is the idea of “transfer of development rights.” This is basically a land trust and allows a property holder to sell off the land, but still keep the right to build on it even after it’s sold. This allows for a piece of land to be sold without fearing that this land will be developed on, not only creating more green areas but also promoting more dense buildings as the other structures will need to make up for this lost space. There is also the idea of using TDR as a credit system allowing a developer to allocate certain pieces of land in return for more lenient building restrictions such as building a few stories higher. I think this is a very good way of getting companies to realize the advantages of preserving natural space. It also provides a way of getting this land without actually having to fight for it because if providing this open space allows for denser construction, then the developer would opt to provide green space in return for a higher return on his construction.
All these ideas center around policy changes. The rational behind enacting policy changes is that they should be able to enforce productive and sustainable development without having to sacrifice much or anything. They not only provide increased business but also can create a more lively atmosphere and improve the lifestyles of the community’s residents. It would be great if developers would do this on their own, but the trend is to build in the least difficult way possible and often there is a sacrifice in quality for profit. Policy makes it unlawful to violate the building code and forces developers to build ecologically and the result should be a more vibrant city.