08 April 2008

Don't Pigeonhole Aspects of City

A great streetcar post today over at Overhead Wire. Here is an excerpt, but read the whole thing:
...So while a bus might be more flexible, as a circulator and distributor, the streetcar serves a community organizing purpose. ...We need to stop thinking in our silos and think about and articulate all the benefits of certain investments from all standpoints, not just transportation and moving people. After all, that's all the highway engineers do and look what it gets us, big roads that move cars faster while killing street life.

5 comments:

Matt Hunter Ross said...

Nice post.

justforview said...

Thanks, The myriad aspects of the city are important in these decisions. Here it often is about economic growth (for both public and private sector interest) or transit, but there are wider reaching implications, positive and negative that seem unexplored. This article addresses the positive aspects of that and influenced my position.

I have said before that I am sort of indifferent to the streetcar proposal. I am not a property owner and have an easy enough time getting around without it, but given the idea of this being a starting point for something larger and the land use patterns that are possible I can support it.

The article mentions that when looking at the overall benefits and needs streetcars are great when appropriate. It also says that they are not the solution to everything. These struck me as significant in the case of Cincinnati. At least in directing the questions that could be asked. I think the negative implications are as yet under-explored.

I also thought that the idea of the corridor versus the node is interesting and wonder is there is more information about this. I would assume that it is dependent on the distance between stops. I can remember the streetcar line in Boston having somewhat of a corridor pattern, but not in all locations maybe because of the type of development along the line and the distance between stops.

CityKin said...

A subway discharges at points and is hidden the rest of the trip whereas from a streetcar the entire path is visible for observation. The stops are quite frequent, about every 2 blocks, so if you see someplace you want to visit, you just step off.

Pedestrians make a successful corridor, and the modern streetcars are the closest thing I have seen to a moving sidewalk. They are at sidewalk level and no thinking is required to walk onto one..

I really don't see the negatives, other than the cost. I don't think they hinder traffic, if that is what you mean.

Chris S said...

justforview, just for clarification, there really isn't a streetcar in Boston. Are you talking about the green line? If so, thats light rail, a quite different beast -- you couldn't run those heavy trains on the streets in the same way streetcars operate...

I too am curious what you see as the negatives besides costs? There is some lost opportunity cost for placing a fixed line in place (you can't put it in other places if you put it in one). But if you place your line wisely, you can mitigate some of this.

I don't own property anywhere near the proposed lines either, so I have no vested financial interest in a line, but I do have an interest in fostering walkable neighborhoods and putting some eyes on the street (with the lovely hoped for side effect of more residents in what is a stunningly beautiful neighborhood in parts)

justforview said...

I am not thinking of negatives that are inherent to streetcars, but as the article suggests looking beyond the transportation aspects. The picture painted with the numbers (multipliers and ridership) makes it seem like it is expected to solve all the problems of the city (is it justified?) and that there is no need to anticipate how it will affect the dynamics of growth or development (is it appropriate?). These are pretty ambiguous and a lot of value judgments can follow that I don't want to debate here, but some these bigger picture issues concern me.