Transition Whatcom

A week or two I started a thread with the same title in the Whatcom 2020 Initiative group, and it has been suggested that this discussion be wider than just that group, which I agree with. Here is part of the original thread, plus more from me:

If we want to reduce our carbon output 80% by 2020, one thing that needs to go soon are cars. I'm starting this discussion thread dedicated to ideas for future transportation options and improvements in Bellingham and Whatcom County, and hopefully together we can come up with some viable ideas and eventually take them to the city planners. I like to be ambitious in my goals, because it can be a great way of getting needed changes made.

For some light reading, here's an article from a few months ago or more: The Myth of the Efficient Car

One thing I would love to see is bikes getting top priority on streets, and somehow (this is where ideas are needed!) creating a system where there are less intersections that require stopping at. I believe that needing to follow the rules of the (car) road on a bike, which includes a lot of stopping and restarting, is one thing that prevents more people from going by bike more often.

I should add that, when I'm talking about transportation issues, I am never thinking about things such as electric cars, because in my mind, that is out of the question. I understand that a lot of people are hooked on the idea of keeping their cars in some way, but I see that point of view mostly as a hindrance in making major headway toward sustainability and resilience. I know it is a major undertaking, but what much of the problem today is is the layout of communities, and what we should be doing is figuring out how to restructure our communities so that cars are simply not needed. This means reducing distances to everything and making things far more local (to the neighborhood level).

(I wrote this relatively quickly and these thoughts are not complete, and I will add more later after more of a discussion starts.)

I know that with our collective thoughts, we can figure out a far better way to go in the future. Then we need to take action and make things happen in reality.

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Would there be any interest for this proposed meeting in inviting someone from the Bellingham Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission, to get some background history on the city's efforts in alternative transportation?
David - If I'm available during the time of the meeting I'll attend.
There is an online site that some folks have used to help schedule the meetings. Its at doodle.com.

Sounds good re Rob's suggestion for member from Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission for background.

I hear up in Blaine, some of the farmers have started to bring their goats to the Farmers Market!
The goat pooh is treated as a valuable resource of course....and I'm guessing downtown NYC still has their horses on the streets....

David Waugh said:
I also think it's time for a meeting to get our minds working more and to meet with one another. I can coordinate it, but I wouldn't mind some help on organizing the meeting itself. I'll aim for a week night in the first week of November.
David Waugh said:
I also think it's time for a meeting to get our minds working more and to meet with one another. I can coordinate it, but I wouldn't mind some help on organizing the meeting itself. I'll aim for a week night in the first week of November.

FYI, our next big TW meeting on Nov. 15 will be called "Let's Walk the Walk" and will be about putting our commitment into real action. This interactive event will provide ways to connect with others in your area, and will be a springboard for some exciting transition projects. Transportation could be one of the topics/projects that gets discussed.
The latest issue of Whatcom Watch may be of interest to those of you looking at Transportation issues.

The story is on "The Benefits of Limited Waterfront Parking" by Wes Frysztacki.

"...Unfortunately, the transportation component of the EIS document does not include such words. “Walkability” and “bicycle-friendly” are not to be found. Those EIS pages do mention parking and do identify significant vehicle-related traffic impacts.

One gets the impression that those associated with the port’s EIS process view “walkability” and “bicycle-friendly” as arbitrary urban design attributes, not fundamental modes of transportation. It appears a determination was made that walking is something you do after you drive to the waterfront and park your car. Cycling is something you do after you remove the bungee cords strapping your bicycle to your SUV. Consequently, everyone needs a guaranteed parking space, including pedestrians and cyclists.

Guaranteed parking guarantees driving. Driving guarantees traffic impacts. Traffic impacts guarantee an environment that is not the “walkability” and “bicycle-friendly” environment many of us would like to envision for The Waterfront District.

The function of the transportation component of Bellingham’s Waterfront District EIS became predominantly one where how many parking spaces are needed was calculated. Answer: 12,892 parking spaces.

The negative impacts of all those walkers and cyclists driving to Bellingham’s Waterfront District was determined. Answer: 14 of 18 off-site intersections will be close to or exceeding their capacity.

Next, the mitigation action needed to offset the damage done by all of those walkers and cyclists driving to Bellingham’s Waterfront District was identified. Answer: the mitigation action is to tell the city of Bellingham the “bad news” – mitigating traffic impacts is the city’s responsibility..."

The author of this article is involved in "the newly-formed Bellingham Sustainable Transportation Roundtable. Anyone interested in joining BSTR is welcome to contact Wes at wf@weslin.net ."
Thanks for posting that article. I'm going to find out more about the Bellingham Sustainable Transportation Roundtable and join if I can. One thing I kept thinking to myself as I read the article was that the people who are making these plans for the waterfront are very unaware of peak oil and related issues; the plans are indeed frar too car-centric. The plans need to be changed. One of the first things that comes to my mind when I think of the redevelopment of the waterfront is that it is a chance for us to build something new for the future the way it really should be.
Thanks David for keep up with this! Maybe the 'Bellingham Sustainable Transportation Roundtable' will be interested in hosting a group on our Transition Whatcom site to share their process.

I find it interesting that the most likely Rising Sea Level is not being considered in the planning also.

The very ocean-aware community on Maui had community volunteers draw a blue line on the land & roads where a specific rise in sea level would actually be, this was one of the events for the Jan 24 -350 ppm climate awareness.
Heather K said:
I find it interesting that the most likely Rising Sea Level is not being considered in the planning also.

That's another thing that I think of right away. It's scary how so many of the people in charge of planning things in this country and around the world are ignoring, downplaying, or just don't know about such vital things. I wrote to Wes and expressed my interest in joining BSTR and also asked for more information about it. I mentioned Transition Whatcom as well.
Heather K said:
I find it interesting that the most likely Rising Sea Level is not being considered in the planning also.

The very ocean-aware community on Maui had community volunteers draw a blue line on the land & roads where a specific rise in sea level would actually be, this was one of the events for the Jan 24 -350 ppm climate awareness.

Exactly, Heather! Bellingham's own Climate Plan has a map showing that line of where the expected sea level rise will be around the waterfront. Based on outdated info, it will probably be higher. Yet, I don't see evidence that those planning for the waterfront are taking it seriously into consideration.
I may have missed it in the thread, but I really dislike riding my bike next to fast, noisy cars and trucks. I'm not a street biker/fast biker type... I ride slow and like to look around me. I would like to just be able to take a trail where I want to go! It might mean working with people who live along potential "back trails" and if permission could be granted, just put in some trails and forget about trying to get government to have anything to do with it.
Perhaps we could get Jim McCabe.
Rob Olason said:
Would there be any interest for this proposed meeting in inviting someone from the Bellingham Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Commission, to get some background history on the city's efforts in alternative transportation?
This is what I know so far: Bellingham Sustainable Transportation Roundtable was very active in assisting in the formation of Bellingham's new Transportation Commission, and three of the new Transportation Commission appointees are BSTR members. They are awaiting the first meeting of the Transportation Commission to see what needs to be done next.

So, I'd like to know, should we wait to see they decide, or should we meet as we had previously planned so that we can get to know each other and start to talk about these issues (perhaps just an informal sort of meeting as we wait to learn more)? I don't know when I will learn more about BSTR (probably soon), or when the first TC meeting will be.
Here's another resource to examine as we think about alternative Transporation. From Pat Murhpy's "New Solutions" report on "The Smart Jitney: Rapid, Realistic Transport." This is a chapter in Pat Murphy's book, "Plan C," but is also available as a pdf download.

"After World War II the country made transportation via the private car the top priority at the expense of public transportation. The private car, regardless of its convenience, can no longer serve as the principle mode of people transport. Its high cost, the depleting of fossil fuels, and climate deterioration – along with high rates of deaths and injuries – make it unacceptable. A Smart Jitney ridesharing system could be developed rapidly, and provide for a very sizable (50-75%) reduction of gasoline consumed and greenhouse gases generated by transportation."

http://www.communitysolution.org/pdfs/NS12.pdf

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