Posted tagged ‘Charlotte’

Cyclists’ Place in Public Space?

August 24, 2010

Charleston and Charlotte newspapers have been abuzz in recent weeks over the safety of bicyclists and their place in the public right-of-way.  The saddest news item among this is the death of neighborhood leader and cycling advocate, Edwin Gardner on a short, otherwise quiet street near his home.  Most stunning must be the vitriol spewed by drivers toward the occupation of roadway by unmotorized vehicles in Charlotte.  Articles such as this about the outpouring for Mr. Gardner were followed by a another reporting a petition to SCDOT by nearly two thousand people urging the addition of bike lanes on Maybank Highway once the road is resurfaced.

A melee in Charlotte began with an article titled “A Cycling Epidemic” in the Charlotte edition of Creative Loafing.  The oddity of the title should clue the reader that ensuing facts in support of the position constituted a piece best suited for The Colbert Report.  The cycling community nevertheless took the article seriously and offered a comprehensive rebuttal, followed by a rally of sorts around an event held by the publication.

The attention got the issue on the front page of Charlotte’s daily newspaper, The Observer. Online reader comments in response to the article “were so venom-filled they had to be cut off,” as noted by an editorial in The Observer three days later.  The editorial is titled “Cyclists, Motorists Alike Should Chill, Obey Laws.” Enough said?  Perhaps, yet The Observer published a story just another three days later – “Fall from Bike Spins LA Mayor into Cycle Advocate.

Resources for Planning and Leadership

June 17, 2010

A couple of outstanding resources have been published recently.  First, “The Ideal Workplace: How to Boost Productivity, Commitment, & Job Satisfaction” from Harvard Business Review OnPoint collects articles and stories from the past 20 years of HBR that should help you and your office circle the wagons as you re-emerge from the downward economic cycle.  Get it here.

Second is a special report from the Financial Times, “The Future of Cities: Regeneration.”  The venerable newspaper offers insights into urban planning and design and pulls no punches.  Topics range from vision to finance and fine arts to transit investment.  Discussions touch on Cairo, London, and New York. 

The first author gives both Charleston and Charlotte food for thought for disparate reasons, stating, “The best cities coexist with their history without destroying or obsessively preserving it (“Building on the Past Gives Hope for Future,” Edwin Heathcote, 19 May 2010).

One of the most architecturally striking cities in the world, Chicago is also stuffed with the kind of solid, everyday structures that allow change and adaptation and this keeps it open to innovation and change in a way other cities envy.  Detroit boasts similar architectural quality, (yet) the centre of Detroit is a tragedy on an awesome scale.  Detroit demonstrates the strange absence of any semblance of universal rules.  Cities are paradoxically robust and delicate, their complex systems infinitely adaptable yet also capable of stalling once prices are high enough.

An expert interviewed for the article “Funding and Social Capital Are Key Factors” (Rod Newing, ibid) “recommends the North Carolina model, where the state government reviews all issues (of municipal derivatives) and is conservative about the amount of debt that can be issued.

A third article will surely challenge practicing and aspiring leaders. “Wanted: A Strong Mayor with Vision to See off Rival Centers” (Rod Newing, ibid) asserts, “The mayor and local city government cannot work in isolation. The city vision cannot be restricted to its historical political boundary, but must encompass surrounding areas and the whole region.

While much of this special report cites a need for and encourages city planning, Newing closes his second article with sobering conclusions from Ged Drugan from Manchester Business School’s executive education center:

The megatrend driving regeneration of cities is our lifestyles, which will dictate both the physical fabric and the way we live within cities.  Lifestyles will drive evolution and regeneration of cities, rather than local government planning.

Find these articles on the Financial Times’ website.

Happy planning!