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Old 10-27-2009, 12:01 PM   #41
Justin7
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

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I sound like a broken record, but I think you're all wrong. We should design cities for cars. Hidden, tucked away, as unobtrusive as possible... but we should design for them. Make cities accessible, easy to navigate, with large parking depots tucked away, wrapped around or under buildings...

For the past month I have been without a car. Instead of a 20 minute drive to work at a cost of under a dollar in gas, I now have a 45 minute ordeal, complete with pushing, shoving, switching trains, shuttle buses, and 15 minutes of walking. It costs me $4/day instead of $0.70 in gas. I work only 3 miles from where I live.

We should all be working to make cars more affordable, more efficient, and to make gas cheaper. Driving should not be treated as some privilege of the rich, when it is a harsh daily reality for so many blue collar workers.

Urban planners should come down from their ivory towers and talk to the four Mexicans that show up at my office every day at 6pm to clean, they drive down in their 1990s Toyota Corollas from Saugus. There is no affordable public transit option for them. Why make their life miserable? They are here til after midnight - what T will take them home? Why impede the economy and the free flow of people in and out of the city?

Cars are not the enemy, the failure to plan and build appropriately for cars is the enemy.

Why aren't architects and planners using their tremendous creative talents to address this issue? Why do they continue to push a grand car-less vision that is incongruous with reality?
Your problem: Your public transit experience was not convenient or affordable.

Your solution: Improve convenience and affordability of car travel.

I know that simple logic can be elusive, but come on, you must be able to see the absurd jump you made here.
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:36 PM   #42
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

Does the math in that post even consider the initial cost of buying a car, parking, insurance, maintenance, etc? I think the prices tend to get closer together once you actually include the real costs of car ownership and use.
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:06 PM   #43
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

Please remember, not everyone lives in the city. Some of us born there choose after 30 years of loud fire engines, gunshots, piss poor schools, looking at the slum next door, and getting asked for "fitty cent" on the train that the suburbs aren't all evil and that having an acre of land is not that bad. Cars are not going away anytime soon. Hate to sound like a contrarian. No politician in their right mind is going to go to the Federal Highway Administration and ask for money to change part of the Artery into a transit tunnel, when just up to a few weeks ago they were trying to keep a straight face about building a tunnel to facilitate a "one seat ride" from Dudley to Logan.

I live in Marshfield, close enough to the water, it is nice. My commuting options when I have to go to Boston are 40 to 60 minutes driving at near off peak to the Back Bay or conforming to a train schedule from Greenbush that takes 60 minutes to South Station plus another 25 to the Pru, plus the 15 minutes each way from the commuter rail station. On top of that $4.00 to park, $13.00 round trip for the train, and $2.00 for each way for subway carfare. I like $5.50 to $6.00 in gas a nearly paid for car and the freedom to work when I want and not to tied to a spread out train schedule.

About the North/South Raillink. Who is going to use it other than someone going from NYC to Portland? Does anyone really need to go from Attleboro to within a reasonable walking distance of the Reading train station, and if they do, can they keep their wits about them in a two hour+ commute each day when the car can do it in far less time? A rail connection under the city would be great but will it be one of those Bullet Train stations in Japan that only got built becuse some committee chair lived there? They have got depots the size of Worcester's Union Station for towns the size of Southborough only to make a politician happy. Do we want that? Can we afford it? Do we want to end the car use in Boston and have an Omega Man Boylston Street?
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Old 10-27-2009, 06:29 PM   #44
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

Again, no one is suggesting making it impossible to drive a car in the city.

What people are bitching about is how current planning is making it difficult/impossible to be a pedestrian in large swaths of the city. That is what needs to change.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:04 PM   #45
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

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What people are bitching about is how current planning is making it difficult/impossible to be a pedestrian in large swaths of the city.
Large swaths? Do enlighten. I've been just about everywhere in Boston and to be frank that statement is the biggest jump in logic I've read thus far.
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:26 PM   #46
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

West End. Seaport. I would consider both large swaths and both decidedly pedestrian unfriendly.
I'm even tempted to include the Greenway as well, due to the surface "roads" you need to cross to get to it.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:22 PM   #47
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

I agree with the Seaport, but I'm sure while the Back Bay was being filled and house development was spread out that it was fairly pedestrian unfriendly due to the wind and the openess.

Kearney Square is one area in the core that needs traffic calming. Cars coming and going to the Charlestown Bridge get the Rutherford Avenue speed mentality too early. It may take a flattened German tourist walking the Freedom Trail to get the city motivated to change things there.

I walked the Greenway recently, it is a lot more pedestrian friendly than it used to be. Don't you think? Lots of crosswalks, lots of sidewalks. Better than the gymp dungeon that used to be there.
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Old 10-27-2009, 08:41 PM   #48
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

What constitutes more pedestrian friendly? Smaller blocks in the Seaport? Wider sidewalks? Traffic calming?

Have you been to downtown Providence? Big sidewalks, small city blocks, restrictive traffic measures, no sunlight, no people. Take Johnson and Wales out of Downcity and Tuesday afternnon there looks like Federal Street on a Sunday morning.
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Old 10-27-2009, 09:48 PM   #49
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

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Kearney Square is one area in the core that needs traffic calming. Cars coming and going to the Charlestown Bridge get the Rutherford Avenue speed mentality too early.
This might be a good place to remove the traffic lights and replace them with a small roundabout that forces cars to make multiple slow, sharp turns to pass through the intersection. Plant large trees or a statue or both in the middle of the roundabout. Crosswalks would then cross only two lanes at a time, and pedestrians could dominate them through sheer numbers (as in Harvard Square).

The same thing should be done at the City Square end of the bridge in Charlestown.

Last edited by Ron Newman; 10-27-2009 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 10-27-2009, 10:47 PM   #50
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

One problem with the rotary idea is that the intersection is at an angle. I don't know of many rotaries with that kind of slope. You also may not have the radius to support a circle to handle that amount of traffic. Any land takings to support a rotary could endanger area buildings and bring Chapter 91 into effect over parts of the site.

Also, with the rotary, who is going to stop to let pedestrians cross? A rotary with signals would back up traffic into Everett every morning.
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Old 10-27-2009, 11:31 PM   #51
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

I wouldn't take any land or buildings whatsoever, I'd just drop the rotary into the center of the existing intersection. I think the Powderhouse rotary in Somerville works pretty well, and it has 6 streets to deal with.
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Old 10-28-2009, 01:59 PM   #52
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

I think Boston does a lot of things right but what we've done poorly and what we've omitted to do get more attention.

I think Boston does small projects well and I know it sounds like a cliche by now, but Boston manages scale very well. Some larger projects (Seaport, Surface Artery, Silver Line) have been hallmarks of terribly missed opportunities.

I'd say that the one big project that went well was the Big Dig (Ted Williams Tunnel, Zakim Bridge and the suppression of 93). The Surface Artery is, so far as I can see, something that I'd like to get a do-over on. But I think people forget how utterly miserable it was to have to get to Logan from anyplace west of town -- that mile and a half from the end of the Pike to the tunnel could take an hour. The other day I drove from 128 to Logan in about 20 minutes (off peak). I'd categorize that as an enormous success.

Other great developments:
Prudential Center and Copley Place (as well as the redesigned Copley Square)
Neighborhood Gentrification (South End, JP, Somerville, parts of Southie and Dot)
The rise of small farmers markets that have popped up in the past few years
Christian Science Center
Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market
Redevelopment along the waterfront
Expansion of the Red Line to Arlington and out to Braintree
The Hancock Tower
Additions to the MFA
The ICA
The Aquarium (though dated now)
Post Office Square
Gradual in-fill along Cambridge Street in front of Charles River Park.

This will probably label me a heretic, but I also think South Bay Shopping Center is a great convenience for people whose neighborhoods were underserved by a major grocery chain or other big box retailers.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:10 PM   #53
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

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Boston manages scale very well
Actually, I'd say the number one problem Boston has in terms of urban development is that it actually has not managed scale well at all since at least the Second World War. There's a slimy continuum extending from the West End to the Seaport. Even the redevelopment of Quincy Market resulted in a homogeneous superblock configuration.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:26 PM   #54
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

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Expansion of the Red Line to Arlington and out to Braintree
Don't tell Arlington.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:46 PM   #55
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

The three Quincy Market buildings have been 'superblocks' ever since they were built in the 1820s. The 1970s redevelopment did not change their footprints, other than adding glassed-in extensions to the main builidng.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:53 PM   #56
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

^^ I believe (though I could be wrong) that the buildings were segregated into more individual stalls rather than the ye' olde strip mall facade now present.
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Old 10-28-2009, 02:57 PM   #57
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

Yes, and not only that, but there were actual streets running between them as opposed to ye olde cobblestone outdoor mall hallways with uniform pushcarts and vendor licenses controlled by ye olde management company.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:01 PM   #58
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

^^To be fair, that arrangement wasn't working out too well for them by the late 50's. It was either this or demolition.

Although you put forth an interesting idea.

Bring back auto traffic to Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market. Hmm....
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:03 PM   #59
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

Not auto traffic per se, but it would be nice if it were more of a public space with a wider variety of uses/vendors. It might even help tip the tourist/local balance back in favor of the latter.
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Old 10-28-2009, 03:14 PM   #60
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Re: Can Boston do anything right?

I've asked this before, but is there really that much pent-up demand of local entrepreneurs just waiting to jump in the market but are being priced out by chains/greedy landlords?
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