Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Jacksonville Then and Now

This time from Jacksonville, Florida. It looks like the Hamrock Hotel is a pretty upscale place, with all them nice new Ford motorcars out front!

The only old building left is vacant, abandoned, and falling apart. And as usual, business and buildings have been replaced with parking lots and vacant lots. There's one big new building. But no reason to be on the city street anymore. Just four lanes of traffic to drive by quickly and lots of parking. One-hundred years of American progress.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Snow Tires

Make snow tires with zip-ties? I haven't tried this, but it's not a bad idea, cheap and easy to remove.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Change is Bad

I like then-and-now shots of life in America.

This one of downtown Poughkeepsie, NY, isn't as dramatic or depressing a change as was Newburgh, but is it really to much to ask for things to be better today than they were 99 years ago? Apparently, when it comes to our downtowns, the answer is yes.
Then there were businesses and streetcars and pretty brick streets with wide sidewalks (and people using them). Then they narrowed the sidewalk, removed the nice street lights, paved over the bricks and streetcar tracks, and replaced handsome buildings with ugly buildings. Now the street is wide and smooth enough to accommodate parked cars, parked right in front of vacant store fronts.

My point isn't that change is bad (though it often is), but that we can choose how we want our cities to look and live. And a lot of bad choices have been made. All in the name of "progress."

The old picture is nice enough that it's worth going to the Shorpy website to see the full-sized image.

Friday, December 17, 2010

10 reasons why you shouldn't drive

Because it's not ethical. Don't take my word. Take the word of bicyclist Randy Cohen, the New York Times's Ethicist. After you click through, you're looking for The Ethicist from 12/17/10.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

New Yorkers For Urban Cars, United

New Yorkers For Urban Cars, United!

"Moses was Right!"

NY FUC-U knows that New York's car-hating bike-loving liberals are destroying our freedom and way of life. This war on real New Yorkers must stop. Yesterday they closed Broadway; today they want bike lanes; tomorrow they want your car! And the worst part is they won't even drive it. They goofballs will probably just decorate it and turn it into some goddamned pocket park!

I, a fat stooge in a suit, have had enough! I am tired of liberals and poor people (would they be poor if they weren't liberal? Ask yourself that!) who are too stupid to buy a car like normal people do.

It's not enough to stop their so-called progress. No we must think bigger to develop the kind of city we must one: one where cars rule, pedestrians wait at red lights, and parking is free for everybody!

Certainly we need more room for cars. This is especially important today, as cars are much bigger than they were when the city was build in 1776:

1) Let us put the road back in Washington Square Park. Moses was right. The traffic has nowhere to go! This impertinent housewife inspired "experiment" in closing a park to cars has seen more than 50 years of failure. Clearly NY FUC-U are correct in demanding car access returns to Washington Square Park.

2) NY FUC-U wants to see the elimination of bike lanes. This would result in an additional 3 feet of space in existing lanes for unexpected serving. We could save lives by designing our road so drivers can text and drink coffee. Think of the children. Where bike lanes cannot be eliminated, the lanes should be merged with bus lanes and privatized.

3) Bikes should be required to bike in the opposite direction of traffic. This way bikes going the wrong way would be less troublesome.

4) Reopen Broadway to cars. While it would be best to do this without telling the people enjoying this public space, some street furniture should be removed to avoid damaging paint jobs. What is the point of so-called "public" space if cars can't drive through it? If we don't reopen Broadway, we send a message to all New Yorkers than life is possible without cars filling every bit of public space. It is a slippery slope, indeed!

5) Restart the Lower Manhattan Expressway with money being wasted on the 2nd Avenue Subway. This plan, still vital to the success of New York City, would put a beautiful 10-lane expressway through Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Cars need to get from the Holland Tunnel to the Manhattan Bridge.

6) A redesigned Central Park. NY FUC-U wants to see the most efficient mixed use Central Park. Ever wonder why so many poor people live north of the park? Because the money can't get to them. Clearly cars also need to go through Central Park faster. To achieve this goal, NY FUC-U demands consideration of our plan to extend Sixth and Seventh Avenue from 59th Street to Harlem, perhaps with pedestrian overpasses. (See pic on right of the new "People's Park®") Queens Blvd, which is too perfect to change, would serve as a perfect roll model for North Sixth and Seventh Avenues.

7) Everyone agrees the biggest problem of Central Park, except for bicycles, is that it's too wide. The most valuable real estate in the city is not on the tax rolls. The park could be even more "green" with a nice field of grass between 6th and 7th Avenues? How much damn grass do you need? Probably less if you weren't smoking it all the time.

8) You can't stop progress. We already have the space, we're just not using it! Central Park should be developed by big-box stores. Minor public subsidies could pay for needed infrastructure improvement, such as free parking.

Not only is there plenty of room for parking, but this is a way to bring real minimum-wage retail jobs back into the city. Currently poor people have to drive to North Bergen, New Jersey for the best bargains at New York's nearest Walmart. Central Park is a much more convenient. NY FUC-U recognizes the class issues inherent in redeveloping Central Park. Poor people need to shop for the cheapest possible goods at all times. Rich people and hipsters enjoy the park because they have the money to spend time doing nothing.

Get a job, you bums!

It is time for the rich to give something to the poor. And nobody says giving like Walmart.

God Bless and Merry Christmas,
New Yorkers For Urban Cars, United

p.s. Of course we have a facebook page. Won't you "like"?

New Yorkers for Urban Cars, United!

Tired of being in inconsequential third-rate blogger, I have decided to switch sides and through my lot in with the winning team: those wise people who understand how essential cars, fast streets, and parking is to enjoyable urban life. I hereby announce the creation of my own shadowy organization (I vehemently deny all rumors about the Saudi origins of our endowment. What slander!).

Bikelane Backlash

A friend of mine writes:
What do you make of the city council bike lane hearings with DOT? I find it deeply disheartening that facts hold no sway. Some bonhead council member can say to Janette: you never consulted the community, and she'll patiently give the dates of all the times she did consult the community, and the council member will simply repeat his ludicrous assertion, unswayed by fact. I'm reconsidering this whole democracy thing.
Generally, I stick my fingers in my ears and go "laa laaaa laaa laaaa laaaa" until it goes away. It reminds me of Republicans. Simply ignore the facts and keep repeating what you want people to believe. Eventually, many of them will.

My other thoughts are:

1) We got a few very good years out of Janette Sadik-Khan. Honestly, that might be all we get for the next decade. But the city is still better off for it (once the Queensplaza bike path is finished and we can keep that gate on the Manhattan side open, I'll be content for a while).

2) Democracy does not bring bike lanes. Benevolent dictators do. It is why I love Bloomberg.

3) I'm afraid of real backlash from the next mayor. I don't want somebody running in opposition to bike lanes winning the election.

4) To rectify #3, I propose somebody start a serious organization dedicated to paving through the middle of Central Park to extend 6th Ave from 59th St to Harlem. Pedestrian overpasses will be built so people can continue to enjoy the park as before. And make sure to use whatever arguments people against bike lanes are using.

The goal is to create serious backlash to this proposal (a lot like Moses, Jane Jacobs, and Washington Square Park in 1958). If "populist" politicians want something to rally against, we need to give them something other than bike lanes.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Ed Koch Bridge?

First the Triborough, and now the Queensboro?! Before they rename these bridges, shouldn't there be angry public meetings with cranky old men shaking their fists?

I like Koch, but should any bridge to Queensplaza and Long Island City really have a name so similar to crotch?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Slight Improvement on Triborough/RFK Bridge

The smallest of the four sets of stairs has been ramped. It was that little annoying one that left you about 50 feet from the next staircase, not far enough enough to bike to just far enough to be kind of annoying to walk. The other three sets of stairs are still there and not going anywhere.

Other than that, the bridge seemed in good shape. I took both sides of the bridge to and from Manhattan and they were both clear and free of homeless squatters.

Maybe I should set the bar higher.