Image courtesy NRDC.
Last night at the Uptown Community Planners meeting there were some good presentations about the pitfalls of density. The presenters say that Smart Growth isn’t smart because it brings more traffic, more air pollution, overcrowding of parks, more parking problems, and noise conflicts. Normally I’d agree because it sounds logical, but the whole point of Smart Growth is to offer more community services like public transport, bike lanes, and greater integration of park areas. Services are the smart side of any growth plan because services help mitigate the negatives of growth impacts. If people feel safe riding their bike to the store, they could choose it over a smog-producing car. To feel safe, they need a clearly allocated lane to the store. But if there are no safe paths, they will always choose their car. Services = smart growth.
Our planners are doing a pretty good job of identifying services, but they need to call out these services in their plan and list all the smart services offered in conjunction with maps and zoning plans. To alay the fears of long-time community dwellers used to larger open space and less traffic they need to show increased bus schedules, and open spaces allocated for future parks. They need to work with the people at TripTracker who are seeing huge increases in recorded bike trips and get the word out how people will choose bicycles for short trips over cars if given the opportunity. And our urban planners need a solid roll-out plan once the services are up and running so the community knows the services are available and actually uses them. This is the last part of any good plan, and sometimes it gets forgotten and then everyone thinks the planning failed. It didn't fail, it just didn't rolled out properly and then it takes forever for people to get on board and use the services.
BTW, if anyone participated in bike to work day this year, SANDAG would like feedback via their survey. Friday 7/20 is the last day to fill it out. If you do complete it, you will be entered into their drawing for a great prize. (Zoo tix or Spa days.)
From their email:
Thank you for your participation in Bike to Work 2012. We had a record-breaking Bike to Work Day, with more than 7,200 cyclists participating. Overall, there were 18,202 bike trips recorded in TripTracker in May, totaling 137,700 miles, enough for 5.5 trips around the earth. We are excited about the results and thank you for making them a reality!