While busways may not be as cool as LRT and HSR lines, regional rail networks or subways they certainly seem to have a place in addressing suburban poverty. How so? By helping carless/low income workers get around better. At any rate, here is a specific US example of the busway benefit.
image: BeyondDC via Flickr/CC
“When you are poor, geography matters,” says National Public Radio’s Pam Fessler after a visit to Washington, D.C.’s doorstep, Bethesda, Maryland. She was on the road with one of the author’s of Confronting Suburban Poverty looking into the reality.
Last year the Urban Land Institute produced a document with a half dozen case studies of communities doing sprawl repair, adding transit infrastructure, and undertaking suburban retrofits. It’s nice to see these projects because it seems logical that a better designed community offers its residents some insurance against difficulty compared to poorly thought out, low density, car-dependent ones, the kind that are everywhere. These projects and their various components represent at least a good attempt at adapting the lived-in North American landscape to an emergent future which doesn’t really support the things that made suburbia possible any more, namely E-Z money and cheap energy.
Our relatively limited experience of these refitted places is that they rely too much on retail and ironically, cars. What will happen to the major continental chains like Starbucks or The Gap as we move forward is not fully clear. They and their global supply chains may contract along with everything else. A coffee bar an upstairs tenant can walk to doesn’t mean much if the windows are boarded up. One of our interns was in Toronto’s Liberty Village this weekend. Liberty Village is not so much a refitted suburb as a refitted industrial area but it models many of the same attributes as ULI’s case studies. “Don’t know when I’ve ever seen so many luxury SUVs, Minis, Japanese sports cars, German sedans in one place, ever,” said our intern. The very success and enjoyability of the area’s renovated buildings, its retail opportunities and so forth attracts loads of people, many of whom arrive by car even though there’s multiple possibilities for arrival by public transit.
Shifting Suburbs: reinventing infrastructure for compact development
uli.org 56 page .pdf file
image: dead shopping mall by Augustawiki via Wikimedia Commons
That snapping, crunching sound you’ve been hearing of late is not just from the femurs of unfortunate horses participating in the chuckwagon races in Calgary. No, it’s a much bigger vehicular wreck called Barclays. The latter is a massive British bank recently revealed to have rigged what is called LIBOR. This is the rate of interest at which banks lend each other money.
It’s a big one kids, …again! Yet another looting-from-the-top-down failure of morality in the global banking system with bad implications for society at large. It really will never end with these institutions until there is nothing left to loot. It isn’t like younger managers are drawn to careers in finance so that twenty years from now when they have risen to the top they will lower their wages and bonuses is it?
The only good news we can see is that this one is not open to interpretation. The dishonesty is plain and in clear sight now. Baltimore is one of the American cities that, along with state governments and public agencies, has done business with Barclays. Baltimore has now taken the lead in a massive lawsuit to recover what amounts to money stolen from their taxpayers. Incredible, since much of the Great Recession has been expressed in the US in the form of cutbacks to state and municipal services. Money that should have gone to public agencies, their services and employees, is in the coffers at Barclays.