Showing posts from May, 2017

The artlessness of climate change policy

President Trump is expected any day now to withdraw the United States from the 2015 convention on climate change known as the Paris agreement. That leaves 194 countries and the European Union in the agreement, but everyone knows the United States is the most important member--the most advanced economy, a major producer of greenhouse gases, and a country that likes to think of itself as a "shining city on a hill" role model for the rest of the world. The practical importance of U.S. withdrawal is likely to be substantial, although with so many political and ecological factors in play as well as interactions between them it is also hard to specify. Two models canvassed by the Associated Press estimated the climate impact at between 0.1 and 0.3 degrees Celsius of additional warming ("What Happens"). That would be pretty important, although you wouldn't know it from the simple numbers, it being hard to get excited about 0.1 of anything. Sigh.

The mechanics of clim…

CR's new bus routes in effect July 31

The Cedar Rapids City Council this week approved route and schedule changes for the bus system, and while not the "major shakeup" ballyhooed by the Gazette headline writer, it's the biggest change since 2002. As I argued in March, the changes are positive--substantial room for improvement remains, but it's not clear to me that more extensive revisions are possible at this time.

Jarrett Walker, a prominent transportation consultant and the author of Human Transit: How Clearer Thinking about Public Transit Can Enrich Our Communities and Our Lives (Island, 2011), notes that transit agencies are expected to maximize ridership numbers and coverage area while keeping operating costs on the budget. The natural opposition of these goals means choices have to be made: both the frequency of buses needed to attract riders and the circuitous routes needed to cover territory cost money, and the more circuitous the route the less attractive riding the bus is to people who have the…

Where's the sleet?: MPO Ride 2017

Last weekend's 4th annual tour of recent bicycle infrastructure in the metropolitan area featured a range of projects oriented to trail riders, bicycle commuters, and in some cases both. Those of us accustomed to the foul weather that has accompanied recent MPO rides were pleasantly surprised by the sunshine and pleasant breezes ("More like RAGBRAI, without pie," said one awed participant). Linn County Trails Association's chief trail counter John Wauer counted 49 riders in the morning, which was at least triple last year's delegation. Though this had to make it more logistically challenging for ride leaders, it was good to get the good news out to more people.

We gathered at the New Bo City Market, along with a huge group gathered to walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. So great to see people taking advantage of the weather and Cedar Rapids's increasing walkability to work for a good cause!

First stop was along F Avenue NE, near the new athle…

Bike to Work Week Diary 2017

Monday, May 15, 2017 Bike to Work Week is upon us! And this year marks nearly a decade since Cedar Rapids began to promote cycling in our community. The years have seen installation of bike lanes, trail construction, one-way-to-two-way street conversions and public celebrations. This year was particularly poignant because it is the last year for Mayor Ron Corbett, who's not running for re-election and whose eight years have seen all these pro-cycling changes.
Monday dawned warmer than it's been the last few Bike to Work Weeks, which helped the celebratory early morning mood outside Red's Public House as the official proclamation was read by Mayor Corbett and City Council member Ann Poe.
Ron Griffith of the Bicycle Advisory Committee responded to the announcement by thanking Mayor Corbett for his years of service and reminding him he's always welcome back in future Bike to Work Weeks. About 25 or 30 of us then set off on the traditional post-proclamation ride of 3+ miles…

Mayor's book tour testing waters for statehouse run

Cedar Rapids mayor Ron Corbett talked more philosophy than electoral politics when he sold and signed copies of his newly-published book, Beyond Promises (CreateSpace, 2017), the story of his life in and out of politics, written in collaboration with Rick and Jody Smith. The event was held at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, in a section of the main stacks near a large window overlooking Greene Square and, beyond it, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art. The library was constructed during Corbett's administration, Greene Square was thoroughly remodeled, and the exterior art museum had a major facelift, so whether intended or not, the venue was a powerful indicator of how far Cedar Rapids has come in Corbett's eight years as mayor.

A small (50-60 by my inexpert count) and friendly crowd attended.

Corbett stressed the importance of a collaborative approach. Drawing on his background in sports--he was a star running back at Cornell College--he said team victories mattered far more tha…