Better late than never?

The brilliant folks at Publicola have started a new thing called “Think Tank,” and I was fortunate to be asked to be one of the “thinkers” to respond to guest editorials. I can’t believe the response their getting. With all the stuff that is going on in the world it is satisfying to see so many people not just reading, but actually getting into the mix on these topics.

I arrived at the last topic late–a discussion about light rail to West Seattle. Jon Scholes put it well. Let’s put more people in West Seattle and see what happens. Now Jon and I could argue a blue streak about the tunnel, a favorite of many West Seattlites. But I think we agree that if we created lots more density in West Seattle the transportation mode issues would sort of take care of themselves.

Anyway that’s my “thought” for the tank.

Better late than never?

Never late is better?

Anyway, to echo Mr. Scholes and to agree with the underlying thought behind his earlier comment about land use, I’d say we ought to focus on land use rather than technology or mode. I think Mr. Engineer said something similar.

Put lots and lots of people in one place and wonderful things happen. I guess it’s the Burning Man theory of land use and transportation.

We spend way too much time dinking around with arguments about whether we build light rail or BRT or whatever. Things with wheels or tracks seem to capture our imagination. What’s important, though, is what is under our feet.

What is under your feet right now? Under my feet are three floors of people. Above me two more. I just took a walk down Summit Avenue and talked with the guys opening Analog Coffee. If I need caffeine between Arabica and Top Pot that’s where I’ll stop. Summit can support these small and growing businesses because there are scads of people on Capitol Hill.

Let’s stop fretting over how we get from place to place. That’ll take care of itself once we’re all there. And once we’re all there, we’ll realize, well, it’s all there, we don’t need to go anywhere at all.

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One Response to Better late than never?

  1. Matt the Engineer says:

    I agree completely. Our first priority should be to build communities where everything you need is a short walk from where you live. Only when we fail at that does transportation become important.

    Forgetting this strategy has brought us sprawl and a massive amount of concrete and pavement, and a huge fraction of our daily lives eaten up in moving ourselves around. Switching from cars to buses or from buses to trains may help they symptoms, but does not change the root cause of our problems.

    Once we put this priority in it’s rightful place the details become easy. We’ve been building cities like this throughout the history of cities. We will remember how to build our city right – and where it’s not perfect we can add transit.

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