First, a Prologue. We here at A Town Square are in a CDC quarantine: we had spent time in the wonderful cities of Madrid and Valencia, left at the last possible moment as the Spanish nation locked itself down, and arrived in the US to be told that we would be spending a couple of … Continue reading Our Grid of Streets, Blocks, and Buildings, And at Last, No Cars….
As I have endlessly noted here, our city of Rochester adopted the scorched earth policy for automobility at an early moment: streetcars removed in 1941, subway demolished in 1956, expressways as our emerald necklace in the 1950s, a mid-century Inner Loop that strangled our central city, demolition of everything possible downtown in favor of parking, … Continue reading Rearranging the Grid
For a long time, I have found myself wondering about a simple question: how much do we spend every year on our roads and bridges? Is it a lot? Is it not very much? Essentially: are we putting our tax dollars to work in the best way we can when it comes to securing and … Continue reading Check your Wallet….
Where do I walk? Why do I have to walk in the aisles with the cars? Why are there so few trees? What was here before? I can’t find my car. Why did this place flood? Seems like a long walk to the store. Do you think it’s safe at night? Doesn’t anyone park here … Continue reading Wish You Were Here?
We are all now well schooled in the notion that Portland, Oregon is the model of current 21st century urbanism in America. Portland, at sunrise. It is a city known for its excellent transportation infrastructure, its many walkable neighborhoods, its tree lined streets, great parks, lovely historic resources, and the liberal and open culture that … Continue reading Portland: Can there be a detour ahead?
I have just finished reading Dan Albert’s wonderful history of the car, entitled “Are We There Yet: The American Automobile Past, Present, and Driverless.” I recommend that you spend some time with this excellent work of social, technological and cultural history. As I read, I was struck by two significant facts. First: car makers make … Continue reading We Aren’t There Yet
We’ve just enjoyed a screening of Stephen Low’s wonderful documentary entitled “The Trolley” here in our city. The theater was packed, and while Mr. Low’s film compellingly advocates in favor of streetcars, in fact defines them as critical to our urban future, I heard no voices expressing doubt about his point of view. Bring on … Continue reading Playing with Trains
Tomorrow evening here in Rochester, our city's very active and helpful transportation advocacy group, Reconnect Rochester, will screen Canadian Stephen Low's brief (46 minutes) documentary entitled "The Trolley." We had the good fortune to see this film in an IMAX theater in Ottawa last year, and Low tells a powerful tale of trolleys as essential … Continue reading A Double Decker Surprise
Here in our city, we live on a street that is a prime conduit for zooming rush-hour traffic attempting to avoid congestion. The phenomenon is called rat running, and we have some pretty fast rats. We yell at the drivers, we write letters to the City, we try to organize our neighbors, but the street … Continue reading Rat Running, City Streets and the Urban Grid
While it is true that Prime Minister Modi just dedicated two GIANT expressways in a city where the car is pretty much completely obsolete, it is also true that this last week the Magenta Line on Delhi's Metro Network was opened, with 25 stations. The system is new, clean, well designed, and very heavily … Continue reading In Delhi, but not in a car