Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wide streets = Fast Cars = Unsafe areas for pedestrians

The ongoing obsession by a majority of cities and towns to create plans, standards and to build roads whose size is beyond any needed capacity is hazardous to the safety of it's people. The codes requiring overly wide streets are usually written by traffic engineers or by the "bigger is better" crowd. Neither focuses on the safety issues of pedestrians and children related to neighborhood streets. For example, we live next to a boulevard street that is designed for at least 2 lanes each way (they're not striped - that's another matter). I don't have an exact number, but from everday observation, the traffic count is extremely low and nowhere near the service level that would demand such a wide street system. The issue here is that because the street is overly wide, automobiles travel very fast on it - as it's perceived by drivers to be safe to do so ( no matter the posted speed limit signs). Adding insult to injury the street has no sidewalks adjacent to the curbs - so adults and children must walk or ride their bikes in the traffic lanes. A short sighted County engineer, planner, or official made this decision to build a road like this with no regard to PEOPLE, to safety.

I've been to enough public meetings to know that some will say, "Well the road is there for cars! Those people shouldn't be using it at all, or they should walk in the grassy area next to the road..." The statements are correct, but incomplete. Roads, since the Roman days have been built to provide transportation. The word "transportation" being interpreted broadly. Therefore local streets should be designed for both pedestrian and vehicle traffic. The issue here is that local land planners, engineers, and elected officials decided some time ago that they don't really give a damn whether citizen's have a safe place to walk. Their only thought is automobiles and the movement thereof. I don't blame the traffic engineers as that's their job - they move traffic - find the best most efficient way to move traffic. Who's to blame? Politicians, appointed officials, City Planners and ultimately us.

There's so much to be said about land planning and the obsession with Cities focus on cars - rather than on serving people - and how these issues reveal themselves. We'll talk more later.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Use of 3D in Evaluating Design

My first introduction into 3D came as I worked as an assistant land planner for Metroplex Engineering Corporation in Denton, Texas. The year was 1986. We had purchased an HP mainframe system and a Holgien Civil Engineering program to run on it. Within months I'd figured out that using a few commands it was possible to see the sites we've designed in perspective, and that it was possible to change the view. Fast forward to 1996. I had just left the Navy and had purchased LightWave3D as quickly as possible I learned the program and began marketing my newly found skill to architects and engineers.

Within a few months I had my first architectural job, an exterior shot of an office building.
Upon seeing the rendering the client immediately saw that he didn't like the roof the builder had designed. He had the builder change the design and saved several thousand dollars and hours, days or weeks of frustration dealing with a problem he would never have seen had it not been for a rendering. 3D modeling and rendering as a design tool is very effective for builders,
architects, developers, engineers - it let's customers see the finished product with little investment.

The renderings above demonstrates a Dr Pepper "can" used as a sign at a proposed baseball field. Several views were developed to illustrate the effectiveness from different areas of the park.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Taking Care of your Stuff

Scott Bourne and Andy Ihnatko have created a site to help you get your digital life in order. Well worth the read. In fact I recommend subscribing using your favorite RSS Reader.

Congress and AIG: Really? Really!

Watching the Sunday morning news shows this morning I had to laugh - you know, one of those "I can't believe you're this stupid" laugh. All of the politicians, leaders, journalists are so outraged, so angry about the AIG fiasco. I'm angry too - but not at AIG. I'm angry at our "leaders" in Congress who wrote a bailout bill that would allow bonuses like these to be given in the first place. These Congressmen knew what they were doing when they wrote this bailout. They knew bonuses would be given with our hard earned money, our sweat, our lives. They knew that performance bonuses would be given to people to reward them for driving their company into the basement.

I suppose that Congress thinks the American people are too stupid to understand that they are the theives in this situation. Congress was aware that AIG had a contractural agreement to pay bonuses if money was available to do so. If cash was available, then the company had a legal responsibility to pay bonuses (as the agreement would have assumed that AIG had money because it performed well). You see, it didn't matter where that money came from, whether it was from real company performance or the fact that our respected "entreprenuerial" leaders on the Hill handed them several billion dollars to save their asses.

Therein is the problem: Government beaurocrats and elected folk don't have a clue to the implications of bailing out failing companies. This is no different, in many ways, to the failure of welfare to create responsible working citizens. Generally people, when given everything they need, will not strive to change their current situation. Why should they? They're being rewarded for failing. Why succeed?

It would have been disaster to let the banks, etcetera fail, but I have a sinking feeling that all the bailouts have done is to delay the inevitable company failures and to enrage the populace in the process.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Snow in Memphis

A very small creek, actually a tiny meandering drainage channel, bisects the property where our apartment is located. The tributary is usually ignored, but given 8 inches of snow, looks absolutely wonderful.
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Listening to 1776 by McCullough, I'm dumbfounded by my lack of appreciation for what our founders lived through to give us this great and wonderful nation.