Friday, May 28, 2010

Seattle Is Allowing Backyard Cottages In Order To Preserve The Rural Countryside

Via SCC: Using backyard cottages to absorb density while maintaining neighborhood character
...architect John Stoeck, who is building a backyard cottage, told Keen, "I want to preserve rural areas around Seattle, and I don't want the suburbs continuing to march on without any limits. One way to do that is to add more density to these inner-city neighborhoods."

Via USAToday: Seattle's backyard cottages make a dent in housing need

Seattle tried a pilot program first and in the post-survery discovered most homeowners had no idea their neighbors had added a backyard cottage. Seattle is allowing these stand-alone ADU's because they:
  • provide additional housing options to renters
  • give families the option to be close to an elderly parent or adult child
  • reduce traffic congestion
  • reduce pollution
  • provide additional income for struggling home owners
  • increase urban density rather than suburban sprawl

NYT has a profile of one example: Converting a Garage Outside Seattle Into a Tiny Home

Perhaps Traverse City's "articulate young people" should change their language and ask for backyard cottages rather than accessory dwelling units.

It is disappointing that The Grand Vision makes no mention of accessory dwelling units as one tool to fight sprawl.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shut Down Lake Ave

I maintain that if Traverse City is serious about traffic calming then the first step is to put up barriers to close the interesection of Lake Ave and Eighth St and then let the Braess paradox go to work.

View Larger Map

The latest example again comes from New York when a congested thoroughfare was closed and congestion improved.

See the NYT: What if They Closed 42d Street and Nobody Noticed?

I've mentioned this concept before: Understanding Traffic With Braess' Paradox And The Nash Equilibrium

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

MyNorth Interviews The Founder Of Rent-A-Chicken

Unfortunately our neighbors in the Soo have illegally banned city chickens, but the movement is thriving in Traverse City.

I love this idea of renting the chickens then returning them to the farm in the fall. Plus, since you're renting if you accidentally get a rooster instead of a hen you should be able to make the exchange to the more city-friendly gender.

See: Rent-a-Chicken in Traverse City Makes Urban Farming Child’s Play

And a reminder that the first Coop Loop is June 12th.

Density And Economy

It has been known for many years that dense urbanism creates more economic prosperity and wealth. The thinking was more people -> more ideas -> more businesses -> more employees -> more shoppers -> more people -> etc.

A recent study in London demonstrates concretely that a mode diverse social network correlates to greater wealth for an area. See SciAm: Diverse Personal Networks Linked to Strong Local Economy

What this tells me is that if a city wants to innovate, prosper, and thrive then it needs to encourage in-fill development and dense downtowns.

Carmel, IN is doing this. A suburb. Instead of building an industrial park or designating a "green zone"; it built trails, multi-use buildings and condominiums in the core, and replaced traffic lights with roundabouts.

If a suburb in Indiana can make these changes then surely Traverse City can.

See Urbanophile: Next American Suburb: Carmel, Indiana

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tent Caterpillars

Everyone in Traverse City seems to be talking about the tent caterpillar-alypse.

"And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords".

See the R-E: Crawlers creep in; Expert advises patience

Wikipedia: Tent caterpillar

What I find interesting is that the dominant deciduous forest trees are the last to leaf out and it makes me wonder if this is not only an adaptation to late-season freeze damage but to also let the fast growing trees sacrifice themselves to the caterpillars? So when the white oaks, walnuts, and ash tree finally complete their leaf out the insects have already gorged themselves on maples.

Friday, May 14, 2010

"If Disney World had a Foodland, it might look a little like Traverse City"

Thank you Midwest Living, I think. Is that a compliment?

See: Best Midwest Food Towns: #2 Traverse City: an established food reputation

However, the population of Traverse City is around 14,000 - the region has 142,000 people. And Radish closed because no one wants to buy salad by the pound.

The article mentions that Traverse City is missing culinary diversity, and that is true, there are a preponderance of brew pubs, but with eateries such as Zakey and the Soul Hole opening I have hope that there will be a trend to more diverse cuisine.

How Seattle Adds Bike Lanes

See BikingBis: Arterial street in Seattle to become more bicycle friendly

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Biking Safety

"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it. If you live." -Mark Twain

When people (women predominantly) are asked why they don't bike more they respond that it is because it is not safe. See Infrastructurist: Why More Women Don’t Ride Bikes (And What We Can Do About It)

In NYC one person decided to try something novel on their bicycle in the interest of safety - obeying traffic laws: Braking Away
But in the last few years, bicycling has become an accepted and much safer way to get around the city. Bike lanes abound, putting cars, trucks and vans at least a couple of feet farther from me. On the many paths along the rivers I can find breezy quiet and truly fresh air.

Perhaps looking for a new challenge, I’ve been attempting something unexpected in New York City bike-riding behavior: I stop for red lights.

And Vancouver has found that by protecting bicyclists it leads to more people on bikes. See: Protected Bike Lanes Increase Cycling by 30% on Vancouver's Burrard Bridge (Video)

What this means to Traverse City is that the bicycle advocates are right. For a safe and healthy community we need bike lanes wherever we can get them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

US Bike Route 35

The Adventure Cycling Association has proposed a network of bicycle routes across the United States. USBR 35 is a north-south bicycle corridor that will eventually go from Sault Ste Marie to Mississippi. In Michigan the proposed route will parallel Lake Michigan then cut through Traverse City.

For more on the Michigan section see: Meet Paul VandenBosch: Developing USBR 35 Along Lake Michigan