Even notice how a plethora of yard signs suddenly pop-up like dandelions at street intersections on Friday evenings, only to disappear by Monday morning? Those are the result of gremlins putting up signs when they know full well that building or zoning enforcement offices are closed over weekends.
The same often holds true for portable signs, a-frame signs, banners, flags, streamers, and other sorts of gaudy advertising. Fortunately, when Monday morning rolls around these signs have slithered back into the dark recesses, only for the whole process to repeat itself the following Friday.
Unfortunately, while they are in place, these often illegal signs are quite unsightly and can be a danger to visibility at intersections if improper placed or over-sized.
Short of having enforcement officers working overtime on weekends, policing such activities isn’t an easy task. Perhaps a good civics lesson is one option, but it is doubtful that will have a major impact in the long haul. The legal process may have a far greater impact, if those injured in accidents as a result of visibility constraints from these illegal signs were to take the gremlins and/or the firms who advertise on the signs to court. Not the most efficient way to regulate bad behavior, when all it may lead to is the signs being moved away from street corners.
Any other ideas/suggestions on how to handle the weekend sign gremlins would be welcome.
This electrical substation in suburban Chicago (Elk Grove Village) is an excellent example of how, with a little effort, utility infrastructure can be designed to be aesthetically pleasing and blend well with its surroundings. Well done!
The impressive 99 story Pertamina Tower in Jakarta, Indonesia will not only be super tall at 530 meters (or 1,744 feet) when it is completed in 2020, but it is designed to be a net-zero energy user. Wind turbines in the V-shaped pistachio-shaped void between the building facades at the top quarter of the tower will supply energy to the skyscraper.
In honour of Arbor Day 2014 (tomorrow, Friday, April 25th), I thought it would be interesting to highlight the Tree Campus USA program conducted by the Arbor Day Foundation. Started in 2008 and similar to Tree City USA, this program recognizes those collegiate campuses who protect, maintain, and grow their tree infrastructure. The University of Michigan was the first designated Tree Campus in the United States. Six years later, more than 190 schools participate in this worthwhile program.
There are five standards required for being designated a Tree Campus:
- Campus Tree Advisory Committee
- Campus Tree Care Plan
- Campus Tree Program with Dedicated Annual Expenditures
- Arbor Day Observance
- Service Learning Project
The list below shows the states with at least four college campuses participating in the program. Congratulations to Illinois, New York, Ohio for leading the pack. Sadly, while home to the first university to be designated as a Tree Campus, Michigan only has three participating schools – Calvin College, University of Michigan, and Western Michigan University.
- Illinois = 14
- New York = 13
- Ohio =11
- Georgia = 9
- Pennsylvania = 9
- Texas = 9
- Florida = 8
- Indiana = 8
- California = 7
- Nebraska = 7
- Minnesota = 6
- North Carolina = 6
- Oklahoma = 6
- South Carolina = 6
- Iowa = 5
- Kentucky =5
- Louisiana = 5
- Missouri = 5
- Colorado = 4
- Washington = 4
- Wisconsin = 4
I have just wrapped up reading the fine book, Pedaling Revolution, by author Jeff Mapes. The subtitle of How Cyclists are Changing American Cities best describes the premise of his book, as Mr. Mapes thoughtfully explores the promises and pitfalls cycling advocacy in America. As an avid cycling proponent myself, I can certainly relate to many of the issues he describes. Even though the book was published approximately five years ago, it is largely up to date on the state of affairs in cycling and presents an interesting history of cycling and the bike culture; cycling advocacy in Europe (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and London); cycling advocacy efforts in the United States; as well as specific advocacy efforts in iconic cycling cities like Davis, Madison, Portland, New York City, Boulder, Eugene, and Chicago.
I greatly enjoyed reading Pedaling Revolution and it will certainly be an important part of my bicycling advocate library. Here are a few dandy quotes gleaned from the book for your enjoyment:
- “…very little is said about the huge subsides received by motorists that far outweigh any freebies received by cyclists. The largest is free–or cheap—parking.” (page 19)
- “For all the ire directed at urban cyclists, most people do have a fondness for bikes themselves.” (page 20)
- “We were, it seems, the last generation of children who headed out into the neighborhood with no more guidance than to be home by dinner.” (page 31)
- “…just as war is too important to be left to generals, so highways are too important to be left to highway engineers.” (page 48)
- “…suburban sit-coms like ‘The Brady Bunch’ were replaced by shows like ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘Friends,’ which celebrated city living.” (page 50)
- “If you’re the kind of cyclist used to riding in American cities, it doesn’t take long for Amsterdam’s bike magic to wash over you. Here you feel like part of the majority, not an oddball.” ( page 63)
- “Amsterdam had to be the quietest big city I’d ever visited.” ( page 76)
- “Critical Mass is kind of an anarchical ride for all.” (page 104)
- “One of the spiels I give is about slowing down. We think we have to cram our lives full, 24-7, but there’s something about giving yourself some extra time. I realized that nobody would think it remarkable if he went to a gym for forty-five minutes every morning and then rushed downtown in a car. Yet doing an eighteen-mile commute through suburbia is weird.” (page 113)
- “Somehow, in Portland at least, bicyclists have become part of that great American melting pot.” (page 168)
- “Sometimes we have to use cars, but that does not mean they have to dominate our lives. Instead it should be dominated by human interactions…” (page 179)
- In America, we spend more on dental research than traffic safety research.” (page 208)
The last quote is quite shocking and should stand as a clear wake-up call that our priorities are bass ackwards.
- “Unfortunately, walking to the far end of a shopping center is about as much exercise as too many people are getting in modern America, which seems to be on an extended “Super Size Me” experiment.” (page 229)
- “She has decidely moved from the sedentary majority to the active minority.” (page 241)
- “…sometimes I feel like the hardest part about using my bike to get around town is the comments I get from people who think I’m just plain weird for doing so.” (page 244)
Amen to that last quote, brother.
The discount department stores listed below represent memories of the golden age of sprawl (if there is such a thing as a golden age for sprawl). Many of these were local and/or regional chains that grew out of a full-line department store in order to compete with the national discounters. For example, in my hometown of Indianapolis, Ayr-Way was started by L.S. Ayres. They eventually had stores all over Indiana and much of Kentucky.
Personally, I recall many trips with my parents to the Ayr-Way stores in Nora or Augusta, which are both on the far northside of Indianapolis. These two stores, as with the entire Ayr-Way chain, were later absorbed and converted into Target. Due to heavy competition from Walmart, Target, and Meijer, many of these chains are long gone and the only reminder are sad, shuttered/abandoned units along an old commercial highway. Others are now occupied by flea markets or second-hand stores.
See how many you many of these stores you remember and please feel free to forward any others that I might have missed. The list does NOT include five and dime stores like Ben Franklin, McCrory, G.C. Murphy, Kresge, Kress, or Woolworth, as those were a different retail niche, though some of those chains did start successful discount department stores like Kmart, Murphy Mart and Woolco.
Here’s the list with links to their history and the year they were closed or taken over. The ones I have shopped at are shown in italics.
One of my favorite bicycle advocacy catch phrases is “One less car!” In celebration of this worthy and sustainable effort, Kathy and I spent yesterday (Saturday) accomplishing all our errands on our bicycles. Between us, we totaled more than 27 miles of travel on our bicycles, riding to places like the florist, Kohl’s, the bank, my apartment, her house, Douglas J, the Trek store, and other businesses in the area.
All in all, it was a very rewarding experience that we intend to duplicate over and over again, thus removing our two cars from the local roadways on those days where we ride about town instead of driving. Combined with our regular bike commuting to/from work, we are hoping to eventually limit our car usage solely to longer trips, inclement weather (particularly in winter) or travel-related purposes.
Considering 50 percent of all trips are three miles or less in length, just imagine the positive impacts that could occur if each and every one of us dedicated just one day per week or one day per month to run all our errands by bicycle…or by transit…or by foot. Such an act would lower our individual and collective carbon footprint, improve our health, reduce congestion, demonstrate sustainability to others, and serve as a positive reminder that not all transportation must be done by the almighty automobile. Will you join us?
Here are some great satellite images from Honolulu, Hawaii; Long Beach, California; Los Angeles, California; Mazatlan, Mexico, Oakland California; Tacoma, Washington; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Enjoy!
Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, HA – Source: commons.wikimedia.org
Long Beach, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org
Los Angeles, CA – Source: en.wikipedia.org
Mazatlan, Mexico – Source: mazatlantoday.com
Oakland, CA – Source: unknown
Tacoma, WA – Source: aeerialarchives.com
Vancouver, BC – Source: urbanlifesigns.blogspot.com
Canal Bridges in Copenhagen – Source: copenhagenize.com
Above and below are both photographs and/or artist’s renderings of some of the graceful and stylish bicycle bridges that can be found in Denmark. While these bridges may not have the dynamic boldness of those posted previously from the Netherlands, they are sleek, artistic, handsome, and functional in their own right. Particularly likable is the way these bridges fit aesthetically into their surroundings without being overpowering. Enjoy!
Brygge Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: kimbach.org
Inderhavns (retractable) Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: dak.dk
Abuen Bridge in Copenhagen – Source: demotix.com
Cable-stayed bridge under development in Odense – Source: cycling-embassy.dk
Woven Bridge in Copenhagen – Source mlrp.dk
For those out there that think Detroit’s a lost cause, the magnificent Dequindre Cut Greenway is an example of why you are wrong. Constructed along an abandoned below-grade rail corridor, the 1.35 mile greenway links some of Detroit’s coolest features – including the scenic 2.5 mile long RiverWalk, the vibrant Eastern Market, and the trendy Villages. Combine those with a world-class greenway for cyclists and pedestrians and some seriously hip graffiti artwork and you have the recipe for a Midwestern version of New York City’s High Line or Atlanta’s Belt Line.
Kudos to all those individuals and organizations involved in making the Dequindre Cut a post-industrial success story that truly is “a cut above” most other nonmotorized trails.