Monday, August 24, 2009

Thoughts On Some Current Controversies

Several things have come to mind today that relate to some current events.

There has been a great controversy about the overhead wires either being shown(or not) in the pretty renderings of the Newtown Pike Extension. Several people have their shorts in a wad about the subject and compare a simple set of poles and wires along the new roadway to the gigantic transmission lines being placed on Euclid and Woodland. I personally have a greater disdain for the wide right of way and lack of urban businesses facing this new "urban" thoroughfare. The setbacks for any buildings along here are NOT what an urban roadway should be.

The mistakes being made on this road are the same that were made with the widening of Vine St forty years ago. Wide travel lanes, buildings set away from the street, facilities for pedestrians, but no reason for them to be there and the traffic lights timed to quickly get the autos past the things that they are not interested in. In other words, a raceway from the Interstate to UK (and I do believe that UK will begin expanding the campus to the west in the near future).

One mistake that they are making anew is the omission of the possibility of a fixed guideway transit mode, and I do mean a streetcar line. From UK to the BCTC campus, then over to Transy and on through downtown to UK again. In any case, with or without a streetcar facility, I don't feel that this project ends in a "complete street" in any sense of the concept.

The placement of the utility line overhead is said to ruin the aesthetics of the road and will ruin the streetscape. A fellow blogger, who is a transit consultant, is currently in Vienna and reports that to the Europeans the overhead wires are just part of the charm. I shall simply state that due to all the other errors in the design, the wires overhead is the least offensive.

On another note, that of growing our food locally and very close to home, I came across this bit of information from Seattle.

The Seattle City Council has relaxed its rules about requiring a permit to place anything in the parking strip. The parking strip is what we call a utility strip, that area of grass between the sidewalk and the curb. They now no longer prohibit growing food in the parking strip and many Seattlelites are jumping at the chance.

Lexington's usual utility strips are a bit narrow for something like this, most are only 5 1/2 feet wide, with the wider ones in the more affluent neighborhoods or along the newer boulevards. It also appears the Seattle does not have a street tree requirement and they are the more sunny area of the front yard. One of the photos in the linked article shows a few rows of corn growing in the strip and right at an intersection. I wonder how they keep that sight triangle clear. Low vegetables in raised beds are one thing but the more vertical or climbing stuff must be a problem.

Not only is Seattle using the streets, but portions of the city parks and creating local farmers markets in neighborhoods, thereby not only growing it locally but selling and eating it locally. I have seen, on two occasions, the kitchen staff of Natasha's walk out to the herbs that they had growing in the street tree planter bed, and cut some of the fresh stuff for the dishes being cooked. You can't get any fresher than that.

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