“When I have nothing to say….”

…my lips are sealed
Say something once
Why say it again?”


But thankfully, with the help of the fabulous interwebs, one can have nothing to say and still pretend to have something to say by copping what other people say. Watch me now: Apparently Alex Steffen was so bored this weekend he managed to crank out two great pieces, one on walkability:

The true test of walkability I think is this: Can you spend a pleasant half hour walking or on transit and end up at a variety of great places? The quality of having a feast of options available when you walk out your front door is what I starting to think of as “deep walkability.”

…A place that embraces deep walkability could almost be considered the very definition of a great city.

and one on green prosperity:  

Throughout much of the developed world, but especially in North America, the debate about sustainability is routinely framed as a trade-off between the environment and the economy. The problem is, no such trade-off exists…

The old economy is dead.

Connecting a few more dots on how transitioning to a green economy is a no brainer, first, we have Thomas Friedman prattling on again about green China (and as such, contradicting David Byrne, who couldn’t be more wrong about “why say it again?” when it comes to promoting massive cultural shifts):

We are either going to put in place a price on carbon and the right regulatory incentives to ensure that America is China’s main competitor/partner in the E.T. revolution, or we are going to gradually cede this industry to Beijing and the good jobs and energy security that would go with it.

And then there’s the new AP report that found stimulus spending on road construction has not led to gains in employment:

Ten months into President Barack Obama‘s first economic stimulus plan, a surge in spending on roads and bridges has had no effect on local unemployment and only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, an Associated Press analysis has found.

So on top of it being a bad long-term investment in terms of creating green prosperity, road building also appears to be a bad short term investment. Brilliant.

Meanwhile, we have learned that a stimulus dollar spent on transit provides about twice as many jobs as a dollar spent on highway infrastructure:

…for every billion dollars spent on public transportation projects, 16,419 job-months were created. A billion dollars spent on highway infrastructure projects created only 8,781 job-months.

I’ve got nothing to say about any of this.

2 Responses to ““When I have nothing to say….””

  1. Ross

    Regarding walkability:

    I like to think that there are three types of desirable terrain available to the urban hiker:

    1) Parkland. It is really nice when you can walk from your house to a nice park and experience nature (or something close to it). Folks in Manhattan are blessed.

    2) Nice architecture. This includes nice houses and nice landscaping, but does not necessarily mean expensive houses or buildings. Seattle has a huge amount of nice, middle class houses with interesting landscaping. The variety of houses and landscaping make for very pleasant walking. The small lots, with the houses close together make it much more interesting to walk in Seattle than in most of the suburbs.

    3) Small, independent shops. Seattle has more of this than it ever has. We are no Toronto, but we are much closer to this than we’ve ever been. It is interesting to see the churn as the urban part of the neighborhood goes through its changes. The U district has reinvented itself several times (going from a nice, hippy style, to rundown with chain stores, to its current mix, that has only a few chain stores and is heavy on the Asian influence). Other areas, like Fremont, were pretty boring thirty years but have settled into a nice groove. Ballard has lost its Scandinavian soul, especially on Market Street (which is too bad) but old Ballard is as nice a place as any in the city (surpassing Broadway, which has seen better days in my opinion). I could go on, of course (perhaps “favorite urban spots” would make a nice thread in itself).

    So, my point in all of this is that we not ignore the second type of urban environment. The folks who complain about urban density are often just cranks (“There is too much traffic now, it’s so crowded…”) but sometimes the change is not a positive one (or at best, there is a trade-off). As I’ve said before, much of the problem can be laid at the feet of the city, for requiring parking in new development. Replace a nice set of houses with duplexes (or nowadays town houses) and you often get lots of boring concrete. I have to applaud the efforts of the developers in the last ten years for making interesting places, despite the ridiculous parking requirements. It would be much easier on them (and much cheaper for everyone) if those stupid rules didn’t exist.

    Similarly, you could allow a lot more skinny houses, which would lead to more interesting landscaping, and house design. This is especially true on the outskirts of the city. Case in point: This street http://tinyurl.com/yddqnfb has, I believe, five new houses on it. They are big and are on huge lots. I think you could squeeze twice as many houses on there, and make things more interesting and more affordable. To be fair, this is on a busy street, so this may never be very walkable. However, check this one out: http://tinyurl.com/ydtocbc This is on a quiet street, that has a fair amount of trees and other houses. While I wouldn’t rate the neighborhood as great for walking, it isn’t bad (sort of a combination of interesting houses and old trees). But these new houses are ridiculous. They are huge, expensive (especially for this neighborhood) and take up most of the lot. You could have put five small houses in there and it would have looked a lot nicer (and it would have sold quicker). The end result, of course, is that more people would have lived in the neighborhood. More people means more shops, and suddenly the area becomes a lot more interesting.

  2. Fitness Monitors

    Fitness Monitors…

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