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About AronG

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    Fatherland St

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  1. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    The point isn't that transit is better and funner than driving (although I'd make that case too). The point is that above a certain population threshold, single-occupant cars become increasingly *geometrically* unfeasible. Lots of people love driving, and that's great, but there's just no way to engineer roads to allow enough cars to move around in the same area. And the longer we keep putting our resources into that effort, the more of our city's going to be covered in empty, dead asphalt, and the harder the transition's going to be later. Also, if you want to show crowded subways in China or India you need to compared them against the real alternative when they try to cram into individual cars. Which is 60-mile-long traffic jams that last 2 weeks. "Many drivers were able to move their vehicles only 1 km (0.6 mi) per day, and some drivers reported being stuck in the traffic jam for five days." That's not freedom, and I don't care how good the air conditioning is.
  2. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    Futzing with the interstates downtown will be a huge, expensive, and pointless mess. It would cost billions, cause years of disruption while construction is under way, and will ultimately have no effect on traffic by the time it opens in 2028 or whatever. Here's a $1.6 billion update in Houston that accomplished nothing. Here's another one in LA, same result. It's been demonstrated over and over again. There's no way to increase capacity on urban road networks by more than a small percentage, and even doing that takes so much time and money that it's irrelevant by the time it's complete. If the goal is to fix single-occupant car traffic, the only thing that works is to make people pay for access (toll lanes, congestion charges, etc.). It doesn't increase capacity to move people, but it provides a simple mechanism to keep traffic moving at the desired clip. If the goal is to actually increase our ability to move people around the city, we just have to focus somewhere other than interstates and single-occupant cars. There are plenty of ways to increase our capacity by an order of magnitude or more, but we will have to start addressing our development patterns. Until then we're just spending enormous amounts of money to build elaborate infrastructure for people to sit in traffic jams.
  3. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    Yeah, sometimes I like to imagine that we can all still debate ideas and somehow work together to choose a reasonable course, at least at the local level. Then I accidentally spend too much time in, say, a facebook thread about bird scooters. Comments inevitably devolve from menacing references to straight up jokes about killing. Good times. Nothing quite as hilarious as adding some more fellow human beings to the list of 6,000 pedestrians killed every year. Hardy har. Better make it 6,002 for these idiots. It's amazing what getting into a car does to the human psyche. I feel it too. Surround yourself with thousands of pounds of metal that goes 80 mph with a press of your foot and you feel like the world should revolve around you. Puny humans walking or biking are nothing but an impediment, threatening to inconvenience you to the horrible tune of slowing down. Every kink in the road should be straightened, every bottleneck removed.
  4. AronG

    The Gulch Projects

    I wish they would get the thing going, it's going to be an awesome catalyst on both sides of the tracks. If it's the property owners holding it up, they're shooting themselves in the foot. Any chance it's related to this:
  5. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    I've heard plenty of politicians mention telecommuting when transit comes up. It's a go to answer for several of them, but that's because it costs them nothing and provides a great talking point to avoid talking about real solutions. It's never going to be viable for more than a small slice of the job market, most of which require presence to interact with a physical product, collaborate with team members, provide face-to-face service/sales, etc. And as the city grows we have plenty of traffic outside commuting hours anyway (e.g. Green Hills during the weekend). Are we going to advocate telecommuting to your family barbecue too? To me it's a depressing idea anyway. Are we so defeated by the mess we've made of urban transportation that we're going to give up and advocate confining people to their homes? Everyone in their little box, interacting only through glowing screens? Cities are great because of the interactions between the people in them. We can enable and enrich those interactions, we just have admit that everyone getting around solo in a car isn't the answer. It's tough but not impossible to make that transition. Seattle is doing it.
  6. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    Diane Black and that whole ilk want to design our entire landscape around the part of people's day that they hate the most: their commute. Their plans would enable more people to sit in bigger traffic jams for longer than ever before. They give zero weight to considerations like quality of life, neighborhood connectivity, or livable communities. They'll accept any price to make the ring of suburbs one step larger, optimizing everything around getting a few more warm bodies from their subdivision garage to their corporate parking garage and back again with as little interruption as possible. They will happily keep adding lanes (and levels) to every interstate and road in middle Tennessee until every neighborhood is a tiny island surrounded and isolated by whizzing traffic. The only question is how long we're going to continue blundering forward with brain-dead Atlanta-style development before we look up for a minute and pay attention to the fact that it's a dead end.
  7. AronG

    Nashville Bits and Pieces

    The most ridiculous part of this article was the headline. Like, I seriously thought it was going to be satire. I don't know who told him we're supposed to be the model of 21st century walkability (or for that matter what 21st century walkability even is, vs. the older kind), but I'd like to suggest he make that format his calling card. Maybe his next one could be "Uber Is Supposed to Be the Model of Corporate Responsibility. I’m Not So Sure." Or "Hitler Was Supposed to Be the Model of Humane Charity. I’m Not So Sure. if you set aside the preposterous framing and his carefully maintained world-weary cynicism, a lot of what he said was true. I've often had the same thought about the Gulch (the streets are too wide and pedestrian traffic is surprisingly sparse). Lord knows we have a long way to go towards designing the city for people instead of cars. But Nashville today should be measured against Nashville of 1980, not Barcelona. We've made an incredible amount of progress in the last ten years, and if we maintain even half that pace over the next 10 years, places like the gulch are going to start to fill in with their own real, organic identity. I'm not really defensive about our shortcomings; I want to see them called out and addressed. But you have to differentiate between Nashville/New South problems and the ones that are essentially universal American problems. Can you really hold up Manhattan as the guiding light, then look down on Nashville for distinctions like "slurping up millennials and immigrants" who "migrate to the suburbs as soon as they have kids ", or "sorting the privileged from the powerless". Seriously? Look in an effing mirror buddy.
  8. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    Unfortunately I think that's a legacy of the 20th century urban interstate fetish that we'll be living with for many decades. They ripped up entire neighborhoods just to meet those sweet, sweet Interstate design standards. Gotta allow suburban commuters to shave every possible second to get in and out of the scary city center as fast as possible. People tried to resist the construction of 440 (here's where they lost their court case in 1981), but now it's been a fixture for 30 years and our land use has grown around it to the point that it's political suicide to bring up, say, converting it back to a surface route and reclaiming the 20 acres of land that are wasted on that turning radius. There are signs that some American cities have reached the point of questioning their downtown freeways, but so far the best examples (Boston and Seattle) spent billions to put them underground instead of just getting rid of them. Status quo's a b*tch.
  9. AronG

    CBD/SoBro/RutledgeHill/Rolling Mill Hill Projects

    Yeah that probably made sense 10 years ago. Now they should axe the height restrictions completely in the inner loop and target the band just outside for the whole sea of mid-rises thing. Music Row, Wedgewood Houston, etc.
  10. Restore the sidewalk, pave over the grass strips and put basketball goals on each side.
  11. AronG

    The Transportation and Mass Transit Megathread

    Not to be a broken record up in here, but adding interstate lanes in urban areas is a complete waste of time and money. Every marginal increase in capacity will induce a corresponding number of people to choose to live further away and commute further. The induced traffic quickly rises until the traffic jams return to the previous equilibrium, motivating people to prioritize living closer to where they work. In the meantime the enormous stretches of land paved over for interstate commuters will further isolate neighborhoods and makes the city more unpleasant to navigate by bike & foot.
  12. Every time they release a new rendering the towers get a little more generic. Value engineering I guess. At this point you could put them in a lineup with 1212 & 222 and they'd just be variations on a theme. Oh well, to me the best parts of this project are the pedestrian corridors and the way it addresses the streetscape, both of which are among the best in Nashville. As long as they don't start changing that part of it I'm still excited about it.
  13. AronG

    Nashville Bits and Pieces

    Electric vehicles are definitely the future, but there's still some truth to the point that subsidies are a significant factor driving current demand (and the car companys' short-term decisions). If we were to drop the subsidies, it's entirely possible that American companies would decrease their investment and then get left behind when the transition picks up steam. The sad part of it is that this has become a partisan issue when it should be a skate-where-the-puck-is-going issue that we can all agree about. Electric vehicles are already cheaper when you factor in total cost of ownership, because of the issues listed above (cheaper fuel, simpler, lower maintenance, etc), and they get cheaper and better every year. It's not rocket science to look at the graphs and realize that early movers on this will have a huge leg up 10 years from now. The dynamic is very similar to solar & wind energy vs. coal & gas. Smart countries are aggressively subsidizing them, and will reap the rewards. China is paying a bit more up front to replace hundreds of thousands of diesel buses with electric ones ( As a result they're building a huge head start in manufacturing them at scale and will be in a great position to dominate the industry and export them throughout the world in 2025 when the math has played out and every city is trying to buy them. If they get a similar head start on light vehicles, it will not be to our advantage. As with several current issues, the engineer in me really wishes we could set aside the politics on this one. Fat chance, I know, but putting this one through the ole trusty partisan grinder is going to cost us long term.
  14. Yeah this one will be attractive, and although the bachelorette party headquarters a couple blocks down will *not* be, it will at least provide even more foot traffic/street activation. Whatever happened to that development on the car lot in 5 points across from the library? Did they kill it based on the people that showed up at the meetings?
  15. The curb cuts are bad enough, but mailboxes embedded in the sidewalk? With the amount of the sidewalk budget that goes towards ADA compliance, that's a travesty.