Showing posts from August, 2017

Three futures for Mound View

When Imagine Mound View, Corridor Urbanism's street fair-cum-tactical urbanism event, occurs in early September, it will bring people to one of Cedar Rapids' most historic, walkable and centrally-located neighborhoods. The event is intended to highlight the potential of this area, and to promote principles consistent with prosperity, inclusion and resilience. But what will actually happen in Mound View over the next 25-100 years will result from the uncoordinated decisions and actions of many people and institutions, much of them taken in an environment currently unpredictable.
Mound View is the historic name of a working-class neighborhood on Cedar Rapids' northeast side. Its official boundaries are 1st Avenue, 20th Street/Prairie Drive, K Avenue and Oakland Road/College Drive. These are mostly intuitive boundaries, but K and Oakland don't really demarcate anything, so it may make more sense to include the area between Mount Mercy University and the interstate in our…

Urbanism review

I've been invited to give a number of public talks this summer and fall, and at least a couple of them will allow me to spread the word about urbanist design. Urbanism (sometimes new urbanism, but it's not new anymore) is the set of ideas I along with many non-planners first encountered in the 1990s with James Howard Kunstler's critique of post-war development, The Geography of Nowhere (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1993).

Kunstler's thorough, slashing prose made such intuitive sense to me that I wonder if I've always been an urbanist, and only lacked the conceptual vocabulary to articulate it. Not everyone swallows the premises of the urbanist argument so quickly, however, as I was reminded last fall when one of my students praised Cedar Rapids's Collins Road strip for having every store you could possibly want. I look at an endless sea of franchises arrayed thusly...

...and I see unwalkable form and hideous appearance, not to mention the intensity of infrastructur…

Welcome to college!

Without really meaning to, I've found I write an education piece about this time every year, which seems appropriate as America heads back to school. Since I wrote on K-12 policy earlier this summer, let's talk about the kind of school where I teach: college.

So you're going to college? Good for you! Having taught full-time at the college level for thirty years, it seems like a natural environment for me, but in the contexts of most people's lives it is a rather weird interlude, not to mention an expensive one. What I would like is for it to be a worthwhile experience.

From my perspective "on the inside," there are many misconceptions about college which can diminish your experience. A cranky column in Sunday's Cedar Rapids Gazette by northeast Iowa writer Sandra Reicks contains a bunch. From the column:
College campuses are heavily tilted toward liberalism. That's why most parents sending a child with conservative leanings off the college have had &q…

Cedar Rapids rolls out bus line changes

Cedar Rapids' rollout of new bus routes and schedules this week produced some confusion but also some positive comments from riders. It will take longer to see whether the mostly minor changes will attract new riders.

The changes fall into three categories:

First, previously-circuitous routes have been straightened somewhat with edges cut off where there was extremely low ridership. For example, two routes that formerly looped around and about the southeast side...

...have been combined into one (eliminated portions represented by dashes).

I think more direct trips will be less frustrating for regular riders, and maybe more inviting for potential riders. Note, though, that the new, continuous eastbound run along high-traffic Mt. Vernon Road has no westbound equivalent, and that the loop up to Washington High School is a bit of a diversion. This is nonetheless about as good as it can be with current resources in a small, non-dense city.

These route changes flummoxed a few riders th…