January 22, 2008
Internet Strengthens Cities?
An article from Wired Magazine suggests that the Internet is a sort of social super-glue, facilitating connections between people. As a result, they want more face-to-face contact and find it in cities.
In big cities, our communication tools are especially helpful because they keep us from getting lost in the crowd (which is not something you worry about in a one-street town). There are even services that tell you where your friends are by locating their cell signals.
Facebook, the new urban planning tool :-)
January 22, 2008 12:27 AM
Jason Barbour Says:
I'm not on Facebook, it's too Orwellian for my tastes.
Having said that, I'd say the Internet is mixed-bag: the good side is it's easy to publish content and opinions. The bad side is... it's easy to publish content and opinions! It's good to talk to others that share common interests and views, getting into virtual arguments with them isn't.
I've attended some "get-togethers" for some of the the websites I frequent (including Portland Transport), and I'd say it's been a beneficial experience for everyone. The people that disagree online meet in person, shake hands, and occasionally someone says something along the lines of "...even though I disagree I can understand your point of view on the subject...," and you'd never know these are people that are philosophically different from each other. However, this type of contact has to happen and be agreed upon by everyone in order to make it effective.
From the article: Email makes it quicker and easier to reach your colleagues — you don't have to interrupt them, and messages are easy to process. But email doesn't stop you from wanting facetime, too.
I actually agree - besides, it makes it easier for people who are concerned about interrupting someone. Also, e-mail is standard, just about everyone who's online has at least one address they check periodically, and it's doesn't require or expect instant communication the same way a phone call or instant messaging system does. How many people have answered e-mails where the only reason for the e-mail is 'are you attending the meeting at (this day and time)?,' or on a more personal level '...I was wondering if we can meet (here on this day)....'
Also from the article:Air travel is at record highs.
And so has local travel in this country... a December 4, 2007 press release on the American Public Transit Assoc. website says third quarter 2007 ridership is up 2 percent over third quarter 2006 ridership. (Please note the release says bus ridership was up only one-tenth of a percent, nationwide. So it's not just the Portland region that's experiencing flat bus ridership.) Maybe online schedules, trip planning, and the like are being discussed in people's e-mails and are part of the reason for the increase (?).
January 28, 2008 3:09 PM
tony hausner Says:
Not sure how to post comments, questions to this site. I am in maryland and involved in efforts to plan light rail system here. I have a couple of requests. One situation we are facing is possible light rail on some urban streets. I am interested in seeing videos of what it looks like in portland on neighborhood streets with light rail. Would like to gather community experiences in planning for light rail, options considered, and experiences after light rail was built. please contact me if you can help answer. firstname.lastname@example.org
January 28, 2008 3:48 PM
Bob R. Says:
Hi Tony -
I've sent you a private email regarding your request.
January 28, 2008 8:10 PM
It's good to talk to others that share common interests and views, getting into virtual arguments with them isn't.
I agree 100%. As much as I like boards like this, I'm both pro-car and pro-transit, both in balance and moderation. On all sites I find people who are so extremist it's difficult to take them seriously.
At the same time, the extremists cause me to re-evaluate my views, and make certain that I have the details needed to make my point of view work.
I grew up watching Buffalo, NY build it's subway. Yeah, it's a short line, but a ton of people use it per mile. More than Portland. I used it regularly, even alone (through the 'ghetto') from about 12 on. I have nothing but praise for it, espescially since I didn't even live near it until college, it was just convenient to park and ride.
Through college, I had very mediocre bus service throughout NY state while I had no car. In Buffalo, at least I had the subway a few blocks away. It didn't get me to work, but it got me to the store, out for the weekends, to friends houses, etc.
Then, San Diego. I lived in the suburbs and the city. In the city, I'd drive when needed for work, and buses and the trolley covered the rest. It was really nice. I could go to and from downtown for $2, and the buses ran late which is a nice perk. The trolley connected a lot of useful areas, although not the airport, not the beaches, none of uptown, and none of the business parks. It was nice for tourists, but not so useful for most locals.
Now, PDX. It's a great mass transit system, with some shortfalls. The buses in the outer suburbs can be infrequent, inconvenient, and slow. That's a trade that has to be made when evaluating a place to live. Tualatin is nice, but you have to know moving in it's no Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, or Downtown. You'll get buses, and soon, the commuter rail to Beaverton.
The only complaint I have about light rail here is the slowness through downtown. I think the best option is to grade separate if it's in any way possible. If not, give it exclusive one-way use of side streets, keep it off major roads, and don't build traffic generators facing the light rail from a parking perspective. Put it on the surrounding streets.
At the same time, *.eggs!=basket
(In other words, don't put all your eggs in one basket.)
LRT is a great addition, but you have to continue to invest in it as part of a system. It's not an end-all, it's just a good part of a full system of connections.