Since when are fire trucks incapable of backing up?


As anyone who has worked with fire departments to review the proposed design of new buildings/developments will attest, they hate projects that require a fire truck to back up more than 50-75 feet. Why this is, has never been clearly explained to me, other than veiled references to safety concerns. Granted, there are unfortunate examples of deaths (usually other emergency personnel) being pinned between fire vehicles listed on the internet. Secondly, for lengthy hook and ladder trucks, I completely understand.  

The problem is that planners, architects, and engineers are being expected tolerate altered site plans and building designs that essentially loop the entire facility with impervious hard surfaces so that firefighters won’t have to back up any fire truck. Even when pervious grass surfaces are proposed concerns have been raised because they look too much like a play area

I, as much as the next person appreciate the valor and courage it takes to be a firefighter. But, somehow, that same bravery disappears when if comes to putting a fire truck into reverse. Frankly it has gotten so bad, that one has to wonder why manufacturers even bother with including reverse on the vehicles in the first place. Even today’s fire stations are designed and built as enormous drive-thru’s. Long gone are the days of backing into the station except in the most crowded inner city locations.

With modern rear camera technology, backing up a fire truck should be a cinch compared to the past when a spotter was necessary. Furthermore, such a technology combined with warning beeps should virtually eliminate the dangers. Will accidents still happen? Most certainly, but the same is true with adding more drives, lanes, curb cuts, and driveways around buildings. The key is to manage and minimize the risk while not being unreasonable in the application of safety protocols.

Hopefully, rear camera or similar autonomous vehicle technologies will resolve this problem sooner versus later and allow buildings to be designed for people once again.

Am I wrong or whining too much about this issue? What do you think?

Posted in adaptive reuse, architecture, infrastructure, land use, planning, spatial design, transportation, urban planning, zoning | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

“Bigotsburg of the week” – Forrest City, Arkansas

Forrest City is located along Interstate 40 in east-central Arkansas. It probably more appropriately deserves the title of “Bigotsburg of the Nation,” instead of “Jewel of the Delta,” given that it is named after Nathaniel Bedford Forrest. Mr. Forrest was not only a Confederate general, but worse yet, he was an early member and the first Grand Dragon of the infamous Ku Klux Klan.

How any community could name itself after the leader of this despicable organization is beyond me. But then, to keep the name all these years despite its connotations with racism and bigotry is all-the-more inexcusable!  The only jewel Forrest City should be nicknamed is bloodstone, given the evil and pain he inflicted on African-Americans both during and after the Civil War. Shame on you Forrest City, it is time to change your community’s name!

Posted in Advocacy, cities, culture, diversity, geography, history, inclusiveness, racism | Tagged | 1 Comment

Bigotsburg of the week – Shreveport, Louisiana


How many times has it been repeatedly demonstrated that urban highway construction projects have far too often been used as a tool for so-called “urban renewal?” Urban renewal in this context meaning an illicit tool for bulldozing historically African-American, Latino, as well as other poor and minority neighborhoods.

Well, apparently the Shreveport city leaders couldn’t be bothered by such historical guidance, as this week they okayed a much-maligned plan to blitzkrieg a new segment of interstate highway I-49 through portions of the historic African-American Allendale neighborhood on the city’s near northside.

This past spring, Strong Towns published an excellent series of articles detailing the folly of such a decision. Apparently, the powers that be do not care…or do not read.  They certainly are not learning from history.

Countless examples from across the nation in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and beyond show minority neighborhoods disproportionately impacted by urban highway projects under in the guise of urban renewal or economic development. Instead, inner city neighborhoods are shattered and the social and economic fabric of the city is torn apart.

Unfortunately for Shreveport, city leaders may have to learn the hard way, that scarring your city for cars has a lot more negative consequences than positive ones. It’s frustrating that they have to harm the citizens of Allendale (and frankly the health of the entire city) while learning this hard lesson, especially when all they have to do is look at Buffalo, Syracuse, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, Los Angeles, Jacksonville, Birmingham, St. Louis, and countless other cities to see the outcome will not be rosy…unless economic development and transportation improvement weren’t the real intent in the first place.

Posted in Advocacy, cities, culture, diversity, geography, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, planning, politics, poverty, racism, social equity, spatial design, transportation, urban planning | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

North American high-rise construction crane boomtowns

Toronto – Source:

The following cities have ten (10) or more high-rise construction cranes operating in them based on the July 2017 semi-annual census conducted by Rider Levett Bucknall,

  1. Toronto = 72
  2. Seattle = 58
  3. Los Angeles = 36
  4. Denver = 35
  5. Chicago = 34
  6. Portland = 32
  7. Calgary = 29
  8. San Francisco = 22
  9. Washington = 20
  10. New York City = 18
  11. Honolulu = 10
Posted in Canada, cities, geography, infrastructure, land use, North America, planning, skylines, skyscrapers, Statistics, urban planning | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Russian cities that arose from the Gulag era

Magadan, Russia – Source:

Below is a list of some of the larger cities that were founded, built, or significantly enhanced through Gulag-era forced labor. If the city was founded during the Soviet Union’s Gulag era, the date is provided in parenthesis. Otherwise, the city was greater enlarged or industrialized by forced labor during this period. The 2010 population of each city is also provided.

  • Magnitogorsk = 407,775 – steel making center
  • Syktyvkar = 235,006 – administrative and cultural center
  • Noril’sk (1935) = 175,365 – nickle mining city
  • Ukhta (1929) = 99,591 – oil production city
  • Magadan (1930) = 95,982 – gold mining city and transportation node
  • Vorkuta (1936) = 70,548 – coal mining city
  • Pechora (1932) = 43,105
  • Inta = 32,080 – coal mining city

These cities will forever remain as solemn testaments to the back-breaking labor and horrific living conditions that awaited those who were sent to forced labor/prison camps during the Soviet era, as well as the achievements made by these prisoners, despite the many perils they endured.

Ukhta, Russia – Source:


  • Applebaum, Anne – Gulag: A History
  • for each city and its population
Posted in Asia, cities, culture, Europe, geography, human rights, humanity, land use, Mining, pictures, place names, politics, Statistics | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Bigotsburgs of the week” – three cities with the most Confederate monuments

Little Rock – Source:

Given the ongoing battles over removal of Confederate monuments, statues, and similar memorials, a review was conducted through of how those symbols are geographically dispersed across the country. This research shows that the city with the most still displayed is Little Rock, Arkansas. There appear to be 20 Confederate monuments, statues, and memorials displayed within the city and its surrounding suburbs.

Sad as that number for Little Rock may be, the city with the second most, is Washington, DC and its suburbs in Maryland and Virginia with 14, including eight (8) statues alone inside the United States Capitol Building! This fact is appalling and should be very disturbing and offensive to all Americans. How can statues dedicated to those who fought against our nation be allowed to be on display inside our nation’s Capitol Building is beyond all logic.

The city in third place, with 12 such monuments and memorials is Nashville, Tennessee. In all three cases, the total does not include schools, roads, parks, buildings, or entire municipalities with names tied to the Confederacy.

Given how the majority of Americans celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall and the removal of statues of Lenin and Stalin across Eastern Europe, it is distressing that so many don’t also equate these Confederate symbols with oppression. For that is exactly what the Confederacy was, a nation specifically established to continue the oppression of our fellow human beings. Such a society should not be celebrated nor put on a pedestal, especially inside the capitol building of the nation that defeated it.

Posted in cities, culture, diversity, education, geography, history, human rights, inclusiveness, politics, racism, social equity | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Biogotsburg of the Week” – Gardendale, Alabama


This week’s golden middle finger award goes to Gardendale, Alabama,  a suburb north of Birmingham. Gardendale is the kind of place where if you don’t like the racial compostion of the school district, you simply create your own. Way to teach diversity, equality, and social equity to your students, Gardendale!  NOT!

Posted in Advocacy, Cities, civility, culture, diversity, education, humanity, inclusiveness, racism, social equity | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment