Friday, July 21, 2017

In the court of physics... you lose, letter to the editor

Dear bicyclists, I don’t want to kill you.. but you’re making that really difficult.

Please look both ways before you cross a street. I do when I'm a pedestrian, when I'm riding my bike or when I'm driving. 

You may have to slow down... I know that's inefficient ... I know you lose energy and you need to pedal harder to get that speed back... I know you hate to do that... but really... slow down ... look both ways... it's a good habit to get into.

Pedestrian crosswalks are not bike lanes.  Please do not ride in a pedestrian crosswalk. Please do not use your cel phone while riding in the pedestrian crosswalk.


Please do not assume I can see you on your electric bike doing 20 mph in the pedestrian crosswalk when the sun is coming straight into my eyes (hint- if every car has the sun visor down there’s a reason).

Even the bears move slow walking across Main street… be as smart as a bear.

and bears haven’t read the right of way in crosswalk law

News flash- turn signals do matter. There are some nifty bike helmets with LED turn signals now- buy one- it costs way less than that bike you’re riding.

While we’re at it… not all cars are equipped with backup cameras. A vintage truck backing out of an angled parking spot cannot see your 6 year old on a bicycle.

Wouldn’t the Rio Grande bike path be a better choice than the streets of Aspen when riding with your kids?  We desperately need to follow the German example of a “bicycle only” autobahn but even our excellent bike/pedestrian paths don’t keep bicyclists out of the roundabout. That is a tragedy waiting to happen. Of course there was the Lance wannabe who almost got clotheslined by my dogs' leash when he raced through the red light at Main and Monarch… but I assume he has a Darwin award by now. Dear bicyclist, please do not compete for a Darwin award.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Floppsy, Moppsy and Facepalm Letter to the editor

Just in case you don’t remember one year ago the  “one roof proposal” for City Hall was $20 million dollars cheaper and an estimated 10 years less time to complete and the Armory become a community center instead of a  shoe horn City Hall.

After a lot of shouting ”Taj MaHALL!” and finger pointing the more expensive more disruptive less efficient less “green” solution was adopted. The same anti-Taj contingent  are now complaining that we shouldn’t borrow money to build the new City Hall. Wellllll, we had a cheaper solution and that was considered too hubristic for “small” government. We had a more efficient carbon footprint under one roof but that was less important than square footage footprint. We had a less disruptive solution but that was…. horrors…. less disruptive. We actually voted that we wanted a community center more than an aging Armory wearing a skin tight City Hall spandex refurbishment onesie and that people’s vote was tossed aside (insert the word deplorable as you will).

Flip. Flop. Want to know why it’s so difficult to get anything done in Aspen? Flip. Flop. Flippety floppity flipperooni floppsy woppsy doodle all day. You can’t make this stuff up.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

plus ça change.... letter to the editor

Traffic. Oh what do we do about traffic?

A modest proposal:  shut down 82, McLain Flats and Independence to all traffic for 24 hours. Shut. It. Down. No deliveries. No down valley workforce. No tourists.  No warning- just put up the barricades. Let’s just take a look at who is “local”. Then we can ask each other if the few who remain can sustain for more than 24 hours without deliveries, out of town workers, tourists- without the $ all of these bring. Pay the wages of everyone who missed work that day out of the City Coffers. Track the sales tax on that one day and extrapolate revenues for a decade of lean living. Put Dr. Baxter’s toll booth up on the Castle Creek bridge the day after. No charge to enter you just have to pay to leave.

Think I’m joking? Did I forget to add my $500K consultancy fee?

Traffic is a symptom. It’s a symptom of economic success. It’s also an indicator of our lack of sustainability, inability to scale, and lack of foresight.

1. Complete all roadwork during off season and off peak traffic hours. The prettiest curbs in the world don’t make up for potholes to China. A 4 hour trip from Monarch and Main to the Airport was due to the roundabout shut down to 1 lane during the XGames.

2. Stage equipment as close to the point of need as possible (Parks and Recreation I’m looking right at you when I say that)

3. A public transport shuttle direct from baggage claim into Ruby Park in Aspen.  Don’t mewl about not having a grant to cover this… we have the buses we just need the will to use our available resources to address an obvious need.

4. Restrict delivery hours... 3 am to 7 am. We do it with grooming the mountain we can do it with supplying the town. Offer white noise headphones to all downtown penthouse owners.

5. For pities sake- expand the bus service to serve the down valley worker.  This means buses after 2 am so restaurant staff can get home without driving. Better yet make these “quiet buses” and kick off anyone who is drunk, obnoxious,  and making any noise other than snoring.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Deal with it.

Who cares if Climate Change is man made?  That Diesel already left the barn. Regardless if you think humans changed the weather to our disadvantage the question remains can we change the weather to our advantage? Weather patterns which threaten the basics of breathable air, potable water, and fertile soil mean we need to adapt or die.  Sure, we all die, but a planet wide event means more than my death or your death - it endangers us as a species. Extinction doesn’t target by political ideology, nationality, or religion. Evolution doesn’t care about the deck chairs on the Titanic. Iceberg ahead. Deal with it.

We’re good at adapting.  I remember the threat of worldwide famine in the 60’s and 70’s- miracle rice got us out of that one. You can go into the DNA record and trace our current population to about 1000 individuals. We might be able to blame that on a super volcano. Pretty good comeback to 7 billion in mere 70,000 years if I do say so myself. The drought of 4000 years ago burnt walled cities to the ground but produced a lighter fast sailing society based on pillaging and global trade. Global trade facilitated pandemics from plague to influenza and yet here we still are with antibiotics and immunization systems. There have been a lot of “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” moments. 

Perhaps you think that weather is too large a challenge? After all adapting to weather is different than micro managing weather. We manage weather on small scale inside our greenhouses and homes but can we motivate the hive mind to tackle it on a large scale?

As a species we have a unique advantage.  We’ve sped up DNA the transfer of multigenerational memory with one spectacular invention : writing. Our knowledge, our observations, our successes and failures can be recorded and passed from generation to generation. Yes, we have destroyed libraries and wiped out databases but somehow we always search to rebuild that knowledge. It is a deep human need to learn from our past, imagine different futures, and pass that on to the next generation. Can we learn from our past to recognize a threat and use our imagination to craft a solution?

Cassandra or Chicken Little? I’d love to be wrong and the sky is not falling, the icecaps are not melting, desertification isn’t increasing, microbursts aren’t happening, February wasn’t a month of snowmelt, and the songbirds haven’t left my balcony.  Cassandra’s prophecies were spot on and her reward was to be mocked, ignored and murdered. Nope, rather not be Cassandra.  I’d much rather we thought of ourselves as  a team and worked together to sustain ourselves on our home planet.

(bonus podcast on evolution : David Sloan Wilson)

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Car-mmonsense, letter to the editor

I attended Tony Dutzik’s presentation on transportation and mobility Wednesday. After a nod to Henry Ford and the first “transportation revolution”

This actually happened in a Hotel Pool on Main Street a few years back....

we heard about the usual suspects: self driving cars, bikeshare, car pooling, on demand apps…

RFTA's concrete eggs where the money went instead of developing a transit app 

or RFTA vending machines at bus stops.

and the final solution… ban the private car from the city limits.

The biggest bumps in the road to a car-less future were  “the service worker or other low income folks.” We were told that the social engineering was too broad a topic for the presentation.

Really??? Luckily there were no projectiles for me to throw and I haven’t body slammed anyone since a brief stint as a nose guard for a women’s football team in college.

Self driving cars are easy just try inventing a self repairing sewer line.  Ban everyone without a commercial license plate and you ban blue collar. You ban the construction worker’s truck. You ban the electrician’s van. You ban the maid’s car of cleaning supplies. You ban every independent contractor and freelancer who travels with their shop on their back.

Sure if service workers could afford to live in town it would be a different story but the average cost of a single family home in Aspen last year was $6.2 mill- not a lot of service industry workers can handle that mortgage. Sooo…. you ban the commuters who keep our “quaint little mountain town” running.

Terminal Täsch outside of Zermatt where you park your car

The intro to “transportation and mobility” was Henry Ford and the Model T;  but the Model T wasn’t just about car vs horse or an assembly line Ford also increased the wages of his employees so they could buy the car they were building.

Start there- improve quality of life and revitalize the community or all that vitality will find someplace easier and more welcoming to thrive.  Just talk to the Pitkin County workers in the temporary digs in Basalt- the new County offices which are being built in Aspen do not hold as much appeal as a short commute to Basalt. Our priorities should not be fewer cars. Our priorities should be more time with your family and more time enjoying this fantastic valley.

"Density makes all of these systems work better" but density doesn't make the quality of life in the Roaring Fork Valley better.  We need to find solutions which do not compromise the best of what we already have.