Friday, January 21st, 2011
Here’s a head’s up that I’m tentatively scheduled to be on WGN-AM in Chicago around 11:05am this Saturday talking about parking meters.
I was on Chicago Public Radio last week talking transportation and the mayoral election. I’ll embed the audio below. If the player doesn’t display for your, click here.
1. NY Times: Portraits from a Job Starved City – A powerful interactive feature with audio statements from people living in Rockford, Illinois.
2. Jason Tinkey: The New Provincials
Freeway Lane Miles
The Texas Transportation Institute just released its 2010 Urban Mobility Report. This data has been recently critiqued by CEOs for Cities and others. But even if you don’t like the way congestion is measured, there’s still a treasure trove of data in here.
Here’s one quick sample: the top ten urban areas for freeway lane miles per capita (per 1,000 population), for metro areas over one million in population
Looks like Kansas City has enough roads to last a lifetime. Cleveland and Ohio in particular look to be in a tough spot, as with a declining population the burden of maintaining all those roads will loom large.
The lowest per capita value? Chicago at 0.35.
What Makes a City Smart?
This video from Time has brief snippets of big city mayors giving their thoughts on smarter cities. (If the video doesn’t display, click here). It includes the mayors of LA, Chicago, and Philadephia.
World and National Roundup
The Observer: 25 Predictions for the Next 25 Years
El País: Bullet train, white elephant – An interesting article out of Madrid (in English) showing how the high speed rail debates are not limited to the US.
The US HSR debate appears to be taking a tilt to the anti-side, not just with Republican governors cancelling projects, but even the likes of the Washington Post editorial page saying Hit the brakes on California’s high-speed rail experiment.
Randy Simes: The Surprising Story of Sustainability in Seoul
NYT: State bankruptcy option is sought, quietly – Uh, oh.
Streetsblog: Cycling up 70% on London’s bike superhighways
Ed Glaeser: Why Green Energy Can’t Power a Job Engine
NY Magazine: Who is the greatest mayor of New York?
Michael Barone: The Great Lone Star Migration
Greg Meckstroth: The Midwest’s 21st Century ‘Place Proximity’ Asset
Detroit Free Press: Detroit’s profile grows as investors, young professionals return to city
Planetizen: Dreaming Detroit: Decline to Renaissance
John Hilkevitch: Transit is a sleeper issue in race for Chicago mayor
James Warren: Wisconsin Sounds Off, But Misses the Point
James Warren: President Hu’s Visit Proclaims a Rising Chicago
It’s very interesting to contrast these two consecutive columns by Warren, one chiding Wisconsin, the other an unabashed paean to Chicago. The Wisconsin column is an example of the type of journalism we need, pointing out the bigger picture and where the purely local thinking of regional leaders is missing the point. The Chicago column is everything that’s wrong with the Windy City. It is 100% right down the rails of the party line of Chicago and how incredibly wonderful it is, not a cloud in the sky. The 350,000 jobs we lost in the last four years? The fact that Chicago is trailing even US peers on most economic metrics ranging from GDP to personal incomes? Etc., etc. That doesn’t seem to factor in. The throwaway bit at the end about cuts seems more a product of Warren’s center-left PoV, a general indictment of cutting government, than of Chicago. This is why Chicago has been struggling. Because people aren’t asking the tough questions. They’d rather lord it over Wisconsin. Let’s take the log out of our own eye first. I’m glad to see the Tribune starting to step up. Let’s hope that new attitude starts getting spread around a bit more.
I do believe in Chicago’s transformation. I wasn’t here in the 70’s in 80’s so perhaps don’t fully appreciate it as viscerally as Warren, but even since my first arrival in 1992 it has been a massive change. That’s a bona fide, legitimate part of the story. Guys like Kass who are still stuck in 60’s “Machine” thinking are missing the boat on this one. There really is a huge amount to celebrate here. But the transformation is only part of the story, even if a big part. Too many people seem to think it’s the whole story. It’s too bad Warren couldn’t have applied the same magnifying glass he took to Wisconsin to Chicago.
Chicago’s Bus Tracker on Streetfilms
Streetfilms paid a visit to Chicago recently to profile bus tracker. They focus less on the system itself than on a project in Bucktown/Wicker Park to stream bus tracker data to monitors in local shops and such. Pretty cool. (If the video doesn’t display, click here).
A hilarious video on Copenhagenize. (If the video doesn’t display, click here). I believe this was a student project out of the Netherlands.
Copenhagenize the planet!
City of Gold
Here’s an interesting rap video about Detroit. (If the video doesn’t display, click here).
Thanks to Everett Keyser for sending this to me.
Ohio River Bridges Project Is Still a Boondoggle
Indiana and Kentucky have supposedly agreed on a plan to chop $500 million off the cost of the Ohio River Bridges Project in Louisville. Now the project will cost “only” $3.6 billion, or almost $3000 for every single man, woman, and child in the entire metro area – and a heckuva lot more than that once financing costs and user delay cost during two decades of construction are taken into account.
This project seems to be a quest for an answer to the question: How big a boondoggle does a highway project have to be before even the most fiscally conservative of politicians will go for a rethink? It’s amazing that leaders on both sides of the rivers continue to push for this plan that will be little more than a cash drain on the region. And a destructive one, obliterating a number of historic buildings in downtown Louisville and erecting an even more gigantic barrier across the riverfront.
There is a better way: 8664. This project will save a couple billion – and reconnect downtown Louisville with the river to boot. Much better, much much cheaper. What’s not to love? Go forward with the adjustment to move the pedestrian path the Big Four, then take the rest of the steps to make 8664 a reality.
By the way, the Star said this was a “Kentucky delegation” and didn’t mention any Southern Indiana representation. I noted one of the cost saving measures was downscoping the east end bridge. Did Kentucky pull a fast one on Mitch? The east end bridge goes through Louisville’s equivalent of Zionsville and the big money types there – who are hugely influential – have never and will never give up on cancelling that bridge outright or, failing that, reducing it as much as possible. This looks to me like Kentucky maneuvering for position moreso than cost savings. Watch out, Indiana.
The Economist had another fun map naming each state after the country that most closely approximates its state GDP.