Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ASK THE BORED: Fond remembrances of the Bicentennial Park Snow Schlong (2016), and this: "The failure of cities to plow sidewalks is utterly indicative of the way they view pedestrians."

Our first Great White Death Event of 2017 was little more than a dusting, but there'll surely be at least one snowfall sufficient to produce stirring and innovative public art ... and for the mayor and BOW to obliterate it.

Bicentennial Park Snow Schlong proves conclusively that public art can be turgid, indeed.

Mayor Jeff Gahan Presents: The Bicentennial Snow Schlong Remix.

Bicentennial Park Snow Schlong: Or, when City Hall stamped out public art (literally).

You'll search the Down Low Bunker top to bottom and never find an occupant with a sense of humor, except when Commander Duggins tells one of his patented "on the links with the oligarchs" fart jokes.

Meanwhile ... there's a way to tell if you have good neighbors.

ONE WAY TO TELL IF YOU HAVE GOOD NEIGHBORS, by Rachel Quednau (Strong Towns)

 ... During this snowy season, it is very easy to figure out who your attentive and caring neighbors are: They're the people who shovel. Shoveling clearly shows how present property owners are and how connected they are to their neighborhood. As I walked down the street after that big snowfall, I could immediately tell which apartments were vacant and which landlords lived far away from their properties (my area is mostly commercial and residential rentals).

The surface parking lots were by far the worst. I'd bet their owners only visit these lots a couple times a year. And why would they visit more often? They're just managing a piece of asphalt. So not only are parking lots bad neighbors because they waste precious space in our towns, contribute negligible property taxes, and create space vacuums, they also leave dangerous sidewalks around them.

Winter walking's not easy. Not only does our Board of Public Works and Safety make no special efforts to make winter walking easier, it also tolerates snow removal (especially from surface parking lots) that makes the problem worse. The VFW downtown is a persistent offender.

When neighbors are present and connected with one another, the whole community benefits; when they're not, it's a loss for everyone.

Of course, there's another solution to the problem of shoveling: make local governments responsible for plowing sidewalks, just like they're responsible for plowing roads and streets. As I wrote in an article about winter walking last year, "The failure of cities to plow sidewalks is utterly indicative of the way they view pedestrians." If cities wanted to prioritize a more affordable mode of transportation than driving—more affordable for government and more affordable for resident—plowing sidewalks would be a small step to getting more people out walking.

Stop looking at me like I'm a space alien, Warren.

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