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Check out the attached video that shows the issues of a San Luis Obispo Parent riding with his son to School.

We as a city need to consider and create solutions for this.  City staff are aware of this stretch and the issues I believe… and are already working to create small changes for greater safety as quickly as possible… but the real change will come only when enough parents and other cyclists show up at City Council meetings to convince Council of the need and the priority.

montereybikebridge

I have a crazy bike bridge idea…. one that I pitched to some Cal Poly architecture students (and also some planning students) a few years ago.    I have recently suggested it to the City of SLO.

THE BACKSTORY:  SLO has been planning and building a long class one (off street) bike path that is known as the Railroad Safety Trail for many years now.   It extends from Orcutt road in the south up to the Railroad station… and from Cal Poly in the north down to the 101 freeway along California Blvd.    The section that is missing is between the 101 freeway and the Railroad station.  The City has been attempting to negotiate with the Railroad for an easement… but the Railroad has basically just said NO.

So the City of SLO public works dept has been working on various solutions that would make a safe connecting route for bikes across this middle section of town to each of the already completed sections of the RR safety trail.  So far it looks pretty good… except that a portion of the route will be on Pepper st… which includes a relatively steep section between Monterey street and Mill St.  Too steep for kids and anyone on a single speed or cruiser type bike.

The idea… is to span the small valley of Monterey st with a 1000 foot long bike bridge… which spans from Higuera st.  all the way up to Mill St…. most of which is actually just the roof of two skinny buildings built on half of what is now the east side of Pepper street.  Only a short section of this 1000 foot length would be an actual bike bridge…directly over Monterey st… the rest would be built on the roof of commercial space combined with maybe a small apartment or two… whatever.  It is a tad difficult to grasp at first… you have to imagine two buildings… one on either side of Monterey st… built on half the width of Pepper street… the roofs of which are at the level of the green line in the photo above… and then the bike path on top of those roofs.  The remainder of Pepper becomes an alley of sorts.  It is really low traffic usage now.  The new bridge would turn the steep hill… into a manageable 4% grade.  The new buildings would not block any views that the current railroad track already blocks.

The City would have to either partner up, sell or lease the land to a developer that would then build the buildings and the bike path. There would be an easement for the bike path across the buildings… and some sort of long term maintenance agreement.  It would be a tricky negotiation… but in the end it would eliminate the steep section of this portion of the RR safety trail across town.

From the south end of this bridge…  the path would continue as per the existing bicycle master plan which I don’t have space enough to go into here as it is fairly complicated… but it is already a plan and it will work.  Same goes for the northerly connection… but that section is quicker to describe.  Basically to the north.. Pepper continues as a bicycle blvd for two blocks… where there would be a new bike bridge over the RR tracks and the path then continues over to the south corner of the Highway Patrol building property on California… and then northerly between that Highway Patrol building and the RR tracks but on Highway Patrol Property.  From the Highway patrol property… the path becomes a “protected two way bike lane actually built on the west side of California blvd.   This section is protected by a barrier from the automobile traffic… and it continues across the existing wide automobile bridge over the 101 and connects with the existing RR safety trail just beyond the 101.

Interesting, yes… is it feasible… I dunno… but it would sure be fun to explore.

 

Design your own street!

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My friend Leslie Bloom from the San Luis Obispo County Bicycle Coalition just sent me this link to http://streetmix.net.  On this site you can design your own street.  it is a pretty fun and easy tool for visualizing street design.  Wow.  You can adjust the building height… the lane widths… the bike path width… etc etc.  A great tool for bicycle advocacy and city planners or anyone interested in creating better public places and streets.

A flowerpot at Lotusland

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Sometimes it is the most plain of things that you notice.  The lotus’s (sp?) are in bloom at Lotusland in Santa Barbara… so I spent the morning there with friends yesterday.  This little pot caught my eye because it is made from cheap talavera tiles from Mexico.  Anyone could make this with a little cement and tile and a handmade form.  There is a quality about it that is almost indescribable.  Maybe if we were speaking french I could describe it better… over a glass of wine and with bread torn from the bagette.  Yet that indescribable quality makes it.  It is not perfect… it shows the fact that it was handmade… It is beautiful but it is not fancy… and it has patina.  I want my entire life to be like this flowerpot.

 

oh… and did I mention the lotus’s are in bloom….

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I think Dr. Suess has been here:

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Huell Howser passed away earlier this month.  His entire library of “California’s Gold” episodes are now online because he donated his complete film catalog to Chapman University.

This episode talks about the first bikes in CA… long before cars. from 2004

Huell Howser on Bikes

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thanks to Copenhagenize for sending the link!

walkablecity

“Walkable City” is a fantastic new book by Jeff Speck on creating great cities and overcoming dated planning ideas.  For anyone interested in making more pedestrian, bicycle and transit oriented spaces it is a must read.  It is also a must read for anyone interested in what it takes to make your city “feel” better… or making places a better place to live.  Jeff Speck was a co-author of “suburban Nation” a few years back… also a great book.  I recommend this book to city council’s, bike/ped advocates, and city planners.

For more info:  http://jeffspeck.com

Click the YouTube link (see link just below) for a great TEDx talk on designing streets for all users.  By Mikael Colville-Andersen of Copenhagenize

http://youtu.be/pX8zZdLw7cs

 

San Luis Obispo is affected by various issues:  noise, wind, cal poly, downtown, airport, freeway, mountain sun shadow, train, traffic etc.  None of these are bad in and of themselves.  Everyone has things they don’t mind… and or are attracted or repelled by… and each of us are different.  My wife and I live near the train… doesn’t bother us.  We also have a certain amount of traffic noise…. but we weigh this against our proximity to services, the downtown lifestyle, and the great weather in our part of town (less wind).   It is a balance… and everyone is different.  This Noise map may help you decide what areas are good for you.  It is from 1990 I think.  I got it from the SLO General Plan.

This is a map showing where water meters have turned over frequently.  A water meter “turning over” means that someone has cancelled service on their meter… and another person has started service. This typically happens when one person moves out of a unit… and another moves in.  Tracking water meter turnover is a way of tracking unit turnover… how often people move in and out of a given unit.  So in the above map… the more red the color… the more frequently the turnover of units to new tenants or owners.  In some cases as much as 5 or 6 times in a two year period.

According to city-data.com the northern 93405 zip code section of San Luis Obispo is 36% owner occupied while the southern 93401 portion is 43% owner occupied housing.  Contrast this to a +/-60% owner occupied average state wide.

It would be interesting to know the evolution of this over time.  I know that in my own neighborhood Downtown… there are less and less rentals and more owner occupants ever year.  But this has only been happening for the last 10 years or so.  Prior to this my area was almost entirely rentals.  The areas seeing the largest increase in rentals appear to be those surrounding Cal Poly.

It is akin to squeezing a balloon… when the rentals leave one area… they pop up in another.  Cal Poly has suggested that they are interested in seeing all first and second year students live on campus.  This would be warmly received by the long term residents of SLO.

It is a two edged sword living in a college town.  I love the vibrancy, life, and financial stability that the college provides.  I also love having so many talented professors and the knowledge and experience they bring our city.  But the landlords that do not maintain their properties and the tenants that do not respect their neighbors act as a sort of cancer around town.  The neighborhoods most affected by lack of maintenance on the part of some owners and lack of control on the part of some tenants… are those on this heat map that appear the most red.

Most tenants are awesome I should comment…. it is usually only a percentage that cause issues.   90% these issues can be resolved through better lease language, better property management, and higher property maintenance standards on the part of landlords.

If you own a rental in town… this a basically a business you are profiting from.  I personally believe that businesses should be treated differently than residences.  Owner occupants usually care for their properties far better than landlords…. but when the landlords outnumber the owner occupants… and their lack of maintenance impacts the balance of the community so greatly… it becomes a serious issue for the  long term viability of that city.

Something we all need to think about.

The following article is from “the Economist”.  I feel that the generation that was raised with the automobile as center to their personal identity… ie the people that value their possessions, their car, their clothing brand, their house, as the statement of their identity and how they see themselves and compare/rate themselves to others….  well they are quickly being replaced by the next generation that doesn’t view themselves this way.  The next generations value things a lot differently.  This is in part due to the evolution of communication and the smartphone in particular.  Social interactions have replaced ego centric possessions as status to some degree… and it only appears to be accelerating.

SO here is the beginning of the article from the Economist… read more by clicking the link at the end.

The future of driving

Seeing the back of the car

In the rich world, people seem to be driving less than they used to

Sep 22nd 2012 | from the print edition of “the Economist”

 

“I’LL love and protect this car until death do us part,” says Toad, a 17-year-old loser whose life is briefly transformed by a “super fine” 1958 Chevy Impala in “American Graffiti”. The film follows him, his friends and their vehicles through a late summer night in early 1960s California: cruising the main drag, racing on the back streets and necking in back seats of machines which embody not just speed, prosperity and freedom but also adulthood, status and sex.

The movie was set in an age when owning wheels was a norm deeply desired and newly achievable. Since then car ownership has grown apace. There are now more than 1 billion cars in the world, and the number is likely to roughly double by 2020. They are cheaper, faster, safer and more comfortable than ever before.

Cars are integral to modern life. They account for 70% of all journeys not made on foot in the OECD, which includes most developed countries. In the European Union more than 12m people work in manufacturing and services related to cars and other vehicles, around 6% of the total employed population; the equivalent figure for America is 4.5% of private-sector employment, or 8m jobs. They dominate household economies too: aside from rent or mortgage payments, transport costs are the single biggest weekly outlay, and most of those costs normally come from cars.

Nearly 60m new cars were added to the world’s stock in 2011. People in Asia, Latin America and Africa are buying cars pretty much as fast as they can afford to, and as more can afford to, more will buy.

Til her daddy takes her T-Bird away

But in the rich world the car’s previously inexorable rise is stalling. A growing body of academics cite the possibility that both car ownership and vehicle-kilometres driven may be reaching saturation in developed countries—or even be on the wane, a notion known as “peak car”.

Recession and high fuel prices have markedly cut distances driven in many countries since 2008, including America, Britain, France and Sweden. But more profound and longer-run changes underlie recent trends. Most forecasts still predict that when the recovery comes, people will drive as much and in the same way as they ever have. But that may not be true.

As a general trend, car ownership and kilometres travelled have been increasing throughout the rich world since the 1950s. Short-term factors like the 1970s oil-price shock caused temporary dips, but vehicle use soon recovered.

The current fall in car use has doubtless been exacerbated by recession. But it seems to have started before the crisis. A March 2012 study for the Australian government—which has been at the forefront of international efforts to tease out peak-car issues—suggested that 20 countries in the rich world show a “saturating trend” to vehicle-kilometres travelled. After decades when each individual was on average travelling farther every year, growth per person has slowed distinctly, and in many cases stopped altogether.

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