Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Metropolitan Transportation Plan Meeting: A Person Reaction

NOB HILL--I went to the Metropolitan Transportation Plan meeting Tuesday night at the Unitarian Church. Perhaps it is just too big a topic for a two-hour meeting. It is one of those 'trains, planes, and automobiles' subjects overlaid on the human denominators of walking and biking. The primary emphasis of the presenter, Mark Fenton from Massachusetts, was the health benefits derived from these human-powered means of getting around. Making our neighborhoods walkable and bikeable was the thrust of the whole meeting.

Who could be against such a concept? Well apparently a lot of people. There was a kind of a guerrilla movement quality to much of the discussion. I do know from personal experience that even getting a crosswalk in the Nob Hill area is impossible...not difficult, IMPOSSIBLE. After all, cars have right too.

This kind of auto/pedestrian dichotomy is exactly the kind of thinking that goes on in ABQ's department of traffic engineering. No crosswalks. They told me that according to research crosswalks were more dangerous than running across the street. They hope that the bump-outs currently under construction will make the dash even easier.

But wait a minute...I thought engineers were problem-solvers. So said Mark Fenton at the meeting. He started talking about Tucson's Speedway Blvd. MaryAnn and I are familiar with that particular thoroughfare: six lanes of fast-moving traffic that serves as the main east-west surface street for most of Tucson. One peculiar feature of that aptly named arterial is that it has signaled crosswalks!

Fenton explained that the traffic engineers timed them to be in sequence with the rest of the traffic lights. What a concept! And then the pedestrians have to stop on the median and push another button and wait a few seconds to cross the other half of the street...because that signal is sequenced with the lights for traffic flowing in the other direction. Engineers as problem-solvers.....hmmm.

I continue to be impressed with City Councilor (and Council President) Debbie O'Malley. Smart, unpretentious, and dedicated to actually using government to make life better for all of us, she is on my list of people I'd like to see as Mayor someday.

Scott Hale came up and introduced himself. What a treat! Scott comments on many of my Duke City Fix posts and I was so happy to meet him in person. I was especially appreciative of his sharing in one of his comments of a somewhat embarrassing but extremely instructive experience in getting disoriented even in familiar areas.

The last highlight of the evening had to be the snow coming down. What a wonderful way to go home...


chantal said...

Thanks for going and sharing your experience, Jon!

Scott said...

The real story is that I noticed the sandals as I was watching the snow build outside--should have known they could only belong to a DCF scribe. It was a pleasure to meet you in person as I always appreciate the fresh perspective and viewpoints offered by you and the rest of the folks that contribute to DCF.

I ran into the Councilor again tonight. You're right, she is impressive. Astute, realistic and savvy in a way that's novel around these parts. It's great to see a political representative that leaves egocentric at the door, listens, cajoles, and somehow helps move things toward a productive outcome. That's so rare around here I think we better start studying her "mystery moves"--they can't be legal.

Or, perhaps it's just common sense and that's kinda hard to get used to!