Wednesday, March 3, 2010

When Will We Try To Be Better?

One of the things that has perturbed me about the City-Data forum that I frequent is the propensity of the "local experts" to reply to posts with answers to questions that weren't asked. One of the most common ploys is to respond to queries about things to do in Lexington ,other that the usual college pub crawls and night spots, with a typical "Head to Louisville" or "Go to Cincinnati". Those two cities are always touted as being much better than Lexington and the so called "experts" have usually come from somewhere else (and may have moved back).

But everything in larger cities is not always better.

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area does have a lot going for it yet even they seem to fail to put all the pieces together. Cincinnati has resoundingly endorsed a streetcar line. It will run from downtown, through the Over-the-Rhine district and near the University of Cincinnati and then back downtown. Cincinnatians have wrangled federal funds to plan a Cross-Ohio high speed rail line as part of the Mid -West Initiative. And... there is nothing in between. No commuter rail, no regional rail, none of the other pieces that will make it all work, no seamless mass transportation across the area.

Louisville is not any farther along. Their airport is more centrally located and can be accessed by transit, but a city bus is no way to get to and from an airport. Commuter rail and regional rail is brought up on occasion but, other than trying to use existing rail facilities, nothing comes of it. And, a streetcar, why I think that Kentuckians would rather walk than go back to streetcars.

These progressive communities have done little or no preparation work for the coming energy reset, where relying on a fossil fueled vehicle will be a crap shoot. I hear you say it-"We will be using electric autos, soon"- but it won't be soon enough to do any good.

For everyone to switch to an electric auto will be like everybody buying a $50 thousand car in the next couple of years, if they would be available. I don't see that happening any time soon.

Charging your car will take all night when utility rates are low(called off-peak rates), but if everybody is charging at that time then it becomes a peak generating and consumption time. There will be no off-peak rates. Charging your car while it is parked during the day(while at work presumably) will bring its own set of difficulties and extra parking fees. There will be no such thing as free parking.

Commute distances of more than 40 miles will be a thing of the past. Even with an auxiliary generating engine, a commute which would use both the electric charge and fossil fuel is counter productive. People will live closer to where they work and higher densities will mean even higher costs for the parking of a vehicle.

The larger, more progressive cities of Cincinnati and Louisville do have a lot going on for the average young professional-the so called "creative class"- yet the don't seem to be preparing for those that this class will need just a few years down the road. And I don't see Lexington doing any better.

Lexington should try to be less like theses progressive cities and more like a city that wants to be better than they are. When are going to begin?


D Morse said...

Fair criticism.

-Dave in Louisville

Anonymous said...

Lexington is in a much better position relative to the transition than either lousiville or cincy - that is our problem - we will be attractive to large numbers of refugees - ok if we admit and plan, not if we dont....