Monthly Archives: August 2021

Why I Prefer Greenville SC to Asheville NC

By Dom Nozzi

My girlfriend and I moved from Boulder CO in 2020 due to the extremely high cost of housing in that city. After quite a bit of research and comparison of what we believed were desirable cities to move to, we opted for Asheville NC. However, after a few months living in that city, we discovered that there are a number of important downsides for living in Asheville and a number of important upsides for living in Greenville South Carolina.

We decided there are too many interstate highways in the Asheville urban area. Partly due to these highways, we decided there is too much noise pollution in Asheville. The noise pollution problem is also created by an unusually large number of very loud motor vehicles in Asheville, as well as an out-of-control fire department in that city.

Speaking as someone who is mostly on the political Left, I came to learn that there are too many “Regressive Left” zombies in Asheville (ie, “wokesters,” “cultural Marxists,” “Social Justice Warriors,” “Black Lives Matter” virtue signalers).

Greenville, by comparison, is more bike friendly and walk friendly than Asheville — particularly in the town center.

Housing is more expensive in Asheville than in Greenville.

Greenville has had sufficient leadership in elected local office to have removed a highway bridge that obscured a waterfall, and accomplished the nation’s best road diet transformation of its main street. Asheville does not seem to have the leadership to do those things.

Greenville is less infected with “safety-ism” than Asheville. Asheville has a concern for safety that is so extreme that it degrades quality of life.

Greenville has more traditional architecture in its town center and more Craftsman homes than Asheville. This is true both for homes built decades ago, as well as new-build homes and other buildings.

The cost of living is lower in Greenville.

Finally, Greenville is served by passenger rail. Asheville is not.

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A Measure of a Quality City

By Dom Nozzi

A measure of a quality city: The more inconvenient it is to drive and park a car, the more wonderful the city. This goes a long way toward explaining why the town centers of American cities – which are characterized by a century-long effort to convenience cars – are nearly universally awful.

Yet another example of our being our own worst enemies is how we focus on the convenience of cars and forget what walking or bicycling or transit users need. This is understandable, tragically, because in our car dependent world, we are forced to drive everywhere, which compels us to single-mindedly urge our city officials to design our cities under the ruinous assumption that every trip we make will be by car. This thinking is self-fulfilling, as each effort to make it easier to drive a car is an effort that inevitably makes it harder to travel by walking, cycling, or transit. It is, in other words, a zero-sum game. A downwardly spiraling vicious cycle.

Oh, and there is no turning back, either. Nearly all cities have reached a tipping point. A point of no return.

That is not quite true.

We WILL eventually stop fouling our own nest and return to designing for people instead of cars. But that day remains a long way off. It will only arrive when we bankrupt ourselves in our century-long efforts to make cars happy.

Or face similar crises that force us to regain our sanity.

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The Point of No Return

By Dom Nozzi

We have passed the point of no return.

Nearly all of us aggressively support having all roads and highways (except the road our house is on) widened, and all parking lots expanded. Nearly all of us are forced to demand the ruinous enlargement of roads and parking because our only way of getting anywhere is to use a gigantic metal, motorized box. We are trapped in a vicious cycle — a downward spiral –where we are obligated to demand bigger roads and bigger parking lots because we wrongly think that getting that will ease the infuriating (and inevitable) congestion we get stuck in every day of our stressed, angry lives, which results in an on-going recruitment of more and more advocates for bigger car infrastructure.

Nearly all of us oppose effective ways to reduce the problem. For example, most all of us angrily reject adopting user fees such as a “vehicle miles traveled” fee or parking meters to price parking (both of which introduce a lot more fairness regarding how transportation is paid for).

In other words, nearly all of us despise socialism EXCEPT when it comes to transportation.

It does not matter how educated you are, what your religious beliefs are, what your ethnic status is, or what your income is.

The one slim hope we have to escape this ruinous spiral — which is unlikely in our lifetimes — is to see the cost to widen/maintain/use roads and parking lots become very expensive. Currently and tellingly, almost no road or parking space requires a user fee (ie, no parking meters or tolls). This is one of countless ways our society begs — and therefore obligates — people to drive a car everywhere. The result is inevitable: our cities are overloaded with stroads and massive, nearly unused asphalt parking lots (and almost no narrow streets or woonerfs).

The public realm has become so degraded in our unending efforts to create a paradise for motorists (which translates into a hellscape for people) that huge numbers of us cocoon ourselves with a privatopia inside their exceptionally well-appointed homes.

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Traffic Calming in Greenville SC

By Dom Nozzi

Regarding speed humps…

I am possibly the biggest advocate in South Carolina for using traffic calming devices on streets, as I believe slowing cars is one of the most important things we can do in cities for better safety, quality of life, reduction in low-value motor vehicle trips, and noise reduction.

Speed humps, however, are a very problematic tool for slowing cars. On the list of bad ideas for slowing cars, speed limit signs are at top of the list for being the worst. Stop signs are about as bad. And humps are #3 for being a bad tool.

Here is why humps are a bad idea:

They punish motorists even if the motorist is driving fairly slowly.

They can damage vehicles.

They create noise pollution for neighborhoods.

They create problems for emergency response vehicles.

They are annoying for cyclists.

When spaced improperly, they promote “jackrabbit” driving (ie, frequent slowing and speeding between humps).

An important reason why many cities such as Greenville use (or overuse) humps so often (there are way too many humps in Greenville) is that they are very quick and low-cost to install. Which makes them an easy way for elected officials to satisfy neighbors concerned about speeding vehicles.

However, the best way, by far, to slow motor vehicles is not to use “vertical” interventions such as humps, but to use “horizontal” interventions. Examples of horizontal interventions include:

1.       Road diets, where excessive street lanes are removed. The most common diet is going from 4 lanes to 3.

2.       Landscaped or hard-surface bulb-outs (usually used to frame on-street parking or create a mid-block pedestrian crossing). Many bulb-outs are admirably used on Greenville’s Main Street.

3.       Chicanes, which are a form of bulb-out that obligates motorists to move in a slower, weaving, more attentive pattern.

4.       Traffic circles and roundabouts.

5.       Installing on-street parking on streets without such parking.

6.       Installing formally-aligned street trees abutting the street to create a sense of enclosure and human scale.

Each of these horizontal interventions is much more conducive to bicycling and emergency response vehicles than vertical interventions such as humps. They are also much better at creating a safe environment for walking. As well as created the much-needed human scale and sense of place that is lost when we oversize streets and intersections.

On my list of top priorities for Greenville to become a better city, traffic calming is near the top of the list. But calming needs, again, to be achieved with horizontal rather than vertical interventions.

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