Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Trains & Boats & Planes: Bicycles, Cars, & Parking Lots.

  Wandering the byways of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, I find most striking the street scenes with people, younger and older, walking, bicycling, running, playing. Buses--a few.  Cars--not many. And, surprizingly, parking lots and parking spaces--few and far between. What's going on?

  New developments there include central train stations serving thousands of people travelling throughout the Eurozone, through the lowlands to the Alps, through the Chunnel to Britain via trains.  Newer developments include building for centralized civic centers for government, libraries, concert halls, sports arenas, and public transportation--all within walking distance of each other. Parking lots? Not many. 

Dixie fire in Northern California, July-August 2021.

The wildfire in Northern California has burned 490,000 acres
and is now the second largest in state history. (NYT, 8.9.2021,
David Swanson/Reuters)

  What are we thinking by planning, building, and refurbishing parking lots in Connecticut? What Are we thinking-- "Build them and they will come"? 

  When I see photos with flames incinerating lush and healthy areas of California--like this one of the Dixie fire; and hear that citizens park their emergency kits and shoes near the door for quick flight if needed (for both fires and earthquakes, I am mystified. I think of California's (still) jammed freeways (even with its strict emissions and anti-pollution measures), and of the harrowing experience of driving, let alone walking or bicycling, in many parts of that state. Even in our green and pleasant Connecticut. our residents take pride in the number of family cars parked in their yards. And I try to fathom our rationale for excess over Safety. Life. Sanity.  

   Are we looking for a free pass? Are we looking to end up with the most cars and toys and thereby "win." Win what?  ... Would that win be worth more cars and parking lots? 

  Or is there a better way. Transportation fixes are in some of our long-term plans in Connecticut. As our population growth inevitably increases with availability of marijuana and an increasingly favorable business climate, will transportation and land-use fixes come soon enough to protect and preserve our beautiful landscape.

  Let's look at ourselves and consider some options. Very simply: Shall we build more parking lots?  Build them and cars will come.  

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