• What Bill Rees Said

    As Kristin notes below, Vancouver Sun let Candadian eco-guru David Suzuki guest-edit an issue today. There’s lots of good stuff in there, but I think my favorite article in the day’s paper was this interview with UBC prof. Bill Rees—perhaps because his point of view reinforces my own biases: “It’s very difficult for a person living in a North American city to have a sound lifestyle, because the context in...
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  • Car-head

    (This is the first post in a new series.) In the fall of 2000, in broad daylight, I pedaled straight into the tail of a stationary Jeep Cherokee. The SUV, parked in a cycling lane, complained noisily: its alarm wailed. I dusted off my bike shorts (and ego) and checked the damage. The truck was unscathed, of course. My knee was lightly bruised where it had hit the ground. My...
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  • Spoke Plan, Washington

    The Full Draft of the Seattle Master Bicycle Plan was released last week. It’s deliciously chockfull of purple squares, blue triangles, and orange lines, which add up to new bicycle lanes and boulevards. Just as enticing are the plan’s goals of tripling the number of bicycle trips by 2017, while reducing by one-third the rate of crashes.But the full plan—the $240 million, 10-year version—lacks at least two critical elements to...
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  • The Bridge and Tunnel Crowd

    Even by the weird and hysterical standards of Seattle’s great viaduct debate, something very strange is going on. The weirdness has got to do with what I’ll call the “equity argument” — that our treatment of the viaduct should not discriminate against workers. Good. Fair enough. No doubt most of us agree: voters and policymakers should be attentive to ordinary- and lower-income folks when making decisions. But what’s strange is this: according to the...
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  • Sightline Does the Math on the Seattle Viaduct

    Sightline research director Clark Williams-Derry analyzes the Seattle viaduct debate and comes to a few simple conclusions: roads are expensive, rush hour is the worst problem, and the differences between short- and long-term consequences.
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  • The High Road?

    Good news! The Rose City has irked the Federal Highway Administration. Why? Because it’s, um, centering its new transportation plan around people instead of roads.   Metro is trying something different with the current plan update—giving the highest priority to projects that support the region’s goals for coping with growth, whether that means more roads, more transit or more bicycle lanes. The response from the FHA:   The highway agency scolded...
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  • Get On The Bus

    (This post is part of a series.) It seems like state and city politicians are still dead set on spending billions of dollars on Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct. (And just to be clear: I was wrong to declare the tunnel dead last week; the governor tried to put a stake in its heart, but city officials resurrected it as a 4-lane “hybrid” tunnel. And so, the saga continues…proving, yet again,...
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  • A Greener City With Less Red Tape

    Here’s a potentially good idea about which I’m rather ambivalent: rules requiring in-city developers to include robust landscaping features such as green roofs and vegetation-covered walls. It’s easy on the eyes, but it may not be smart public policy. To begin with, it’s unclear how much burden Seattle’s cutting-edge new rules would impose; and it’s unclear how much benefit they’d achieve. But if most developers are skeptical—and they are, at...
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  • Cultural Learnings of Minneapolis For Make Benefit Glorious Cities of Northwest

    I just returned from Christmas in a surprisingly balmy Minneapolis where I learned about a neat little tax shifting trick that could be a powerful technique for constraining sprawl. The best part is that it’s actually fairer than the current system. Here’s the scoop. In most places, homeowners pay a simple sewage or drainage rate (it’s often calculated as a percentage of water consumed). Minneapolis decided to break apart the sewage charge into two separate...
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  • Pimp Your Ride

    Each time I walk to a Flexcar in my neighborhood, I pass scores of parked private cars. I sometimes fantasize about strolling up to one of them, swiping my Flexcard over the dash, and driving away. I’d be debited automatically; my neighbor would be credited, less a slice for Flexcar. And I’d have a vastly larger pool of vehicles at my disposal. This fantasy is less fantastical than it may...
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