Monthly Archives: December 2017

NIMBY Screamers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

By Dom Nozzi

September 16, 2017

Ironically, those people who scream the loudest that developers will not ever develop European charm are the very same people who ALSO scream that developers must (1) PROVIDE MORE PARKING!!!!!!! (2) PROVIDE MORE OPEN SPACE AND HUGE SETBACKS!!!! (3) ONLY ALLOW PROJECTS THAT HAVE VERY, VERY LOW SUBURBAN DENSITIES!!!!!!!!!!! (4) DON’T BUILD BUILDINGS TALLER THAN ONE STORY!!!!!

Each of those screaming demands make it impossible for a developer in Boulder to build European charm.

So what do such people want? European charm? If so, stop screaming for things that make that charm impossible.

There is zero reason why Boulder cannot require new development in Boulder to be built with European charm.

EXCEPT the reason that so many Boulder citizens apparently hate European charm even though they say otherwise.

Which is it, screamers? Do you want European charm or not?

Who needs enemies when we have ourselves?

Tremosine Italy

 

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Filed under Politics, Road Diet, Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design, Walking

Knoxville TN Road Diet

August 2017

Compare these two photos of Cumberland Avenue – a “before” photo, shot by a News Sentinel photographer several years ago, and an “after” photo taken this morning (August 2017).

With the reconstruction of Cumberland mostly completed, visitors will notice wider sidewalks, turn lanes at intersections, and a landscaped median. About 100 trees will be planted this fall, further greening up The Strip.

The massed utility poles are gone, too. Decorative LED streetlights have replaced the standard roadway lights on wooden poles.

Plus, new development and private investment – totaling more than $190 million – are changing the look and increasing the vibrancy of The Strip.

For details, click on this link to read a City Blog post:

http://bit.ly/2wTkFeV

Join Gov. Bill Haslam, the City team and Cumberland merchants and stakeholders at 4 p.m. today, Baker Center, for the official ribbon-cutting for the new Cumberland!

Knoxville TN road diet

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Filed under Road Diet, Sprawl, Suburbia, Urban Design, Walking

Should We Stop Growth or Promote Quality Development in Boulder?

By Dom Nozzi

September 10, 2017

In Boulder, Colorado, it is quite common to hear the suggestion that we must stop growth in our community to protect our quality of life.

In response, I point out that there are no realistic, humane, ethical, or constitutional ways to “stop growth.”

Given that, the key to our avoiding wasting time and energy is to ensure that the growth that does come to our community is quality growth. Growth that is sustainable and promotes human happiness.

As an aside, it needs to be pointed out that in very expensive cities such as Boulder, Colorado, there has long been an effective way to slow population growth. Slow growth in expensive cities occurs because of the extreme expense of living in the expensive city. Many cannot move to the expensive city because they cannot afford to.

The problem is the form of growth we allow, not the growth itself.

The car-oriented growth so many American cities have mandated in our land use plans, zoning regulations, and transportation spending for the past century cannot sustain growth and strongly undermines a quality human habitat.

Boulder, were I live, can accommodate more development, but Boulder’s plans and regulations are not crafted to ensure that future growth be done in a way that is sustainable or in a way that promotes quality community design (in part because there has been too much focus on trying to stop the growth rather than ensure that it is done well).

And in part because too much of what Boulder’s plans and regulations strive to achieve is happy motoring, rather than happy people. Big city vs small town ambiance

 

In most instances, the perception that places such as Boulder have “too much growth” is based on a motorist perception that the roads or parking lots are too crowded. The ruinous solution for too many has been to almost single-mindedly fight to stop growth, and to fight for “sufficient” road and parking capacity. In other words, free-flowing car traffic and easy parking have tragically been equated with much of our quality of life.

In my opinion and that of many of my colleagues, happy car design is a recipe for destroying quality of life and sustainability. This is in large part due to the fact that happy car design leads to a problem experienced by all US cities over the past century: the problem of gigantism: roads and intersections and parking lots and commercial buildings too big, and communities and neighborhoods and destinations too dispersed.

We must instead return to the timeless tradition of designing for walkable, human scaled dimensions. Boulder (and other American communities) must end its decades-long fight to promote happy car design in its roads, intersections and parking if it expects to stop being its own worst enemy, and instead have a quality, sustainable future.

A future of happy people rather than happy cars.

 

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Filed under Politics, Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design, Walking

Traveling by Train is So Civilized

By Dom Nozzi

September 7, 2017

Train travel is so civilized.

Car travel in a car-dependent society is barbarism. And a symptom of a society without a future.

I’m expressing how I feel when I ride a train in Europe and compare that experience to the extremely common rage and frustration that millions and millions of American motorists feel on a regular basis when they drive on American roads. Many drivers are stuck in rush hour traffic nearly every day and feel anything but fun or peacefulness, as some motorists claim they experience when driving.

The curious claim that driving is “fun” and “peaceful” sounds more like what we see in a TV commercial for a Ford.

Nearly always, when I am on a train, by contrast, I think to myself how civilized the experience seems. Personally, I don’t recall ever thinking that in a car. I guess some people feel that way in their hyper-expensive, plush car interiors with tinted glass and expensive sound systems, but the more luxury one experiences inside a car, the more isolated one tends to be from your fellow citizens. tra

Hypothetically, car travel CAN be somewhat enjoyable (even though I cannot, in a car, walk around or interact with my fellow citizens). But that experience tends to be rare for most Americans, who regularly drive in lower-cost cars on ugly, treeless, strip commercial roads (and isolated from others in their metal boxes). Roads that tend to be crowded and therefore frustrating and environmentally and regionally damaging due to the fact that so many are obligated to drive for nearly all of their trips. And by the fact that cars consume so much space (which makes for crowding even when the number of travelers is small).

One thing I notice, personally, is that on the rare occasions when I drive, I tend to feel a lot of rage and frustration toward others (feelings that are the opposite of what I tend to feel when biking or walking). That rage and frustration is very rare in my life because driving is rare for me, and is mostly caused by the large size of cars, which crowds roads and therefore tends to induce frustrating slowdowns.

In my 35 years of academic and professional work in transportation planning, I have read countless books and reports describing the road rage and bad mood that driving a car induces in people. I don’t recall ever reading about how driving puts people in a good mood. Or makes them feel peaceful. Or feel like they are having fun.

In my experience, even happy, mild-mannered people become angry demons when behind the wheel of a car.

I also notice that on the rare occasions when I am on a train or biking on roads filled with bicyclists (such as during a “critical mass” bike ride or when bicycling side by side with hundreds of other cyclists in a great many cities in Europe), nearly everyone around me seems to be sharing my joy and happiness.

I see a lot of smiles. And fun-loving, friendly people.

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