Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Place At The Table

Remember when I and two other rollers participated in the Shape Sioux Falls Visual Survey? You don't because I didn't write about it. The Hooterville Mayor did.

Shape Sioux Falls visual survey was 200-ish pictures of cityscapes, flashed on a screen for 7 seconds each, so that the participant can rate the picture on a 10 point scale as visually pleasing.

As one MinusCar friendly person wrote to me, “I voted against any picture of a huge cement playground and voted for everything with bikes.”

1,500 people participated in the survey. A smashing success! Did more than 1,500 people vote last Tuesday in the city elections?

Now, the results are in.

Today The MinusCar Project advanced a baby step. I attended a Shape Sioux Falls Focus Group. I sat in a room of 10-ish people, council members, planners, developers, engineers, and me. We reviewed transportation and open space development related findings from the survey.

To say I eloquently argued my thoughts on sustainable development and the bicycle as a viable and necessary form of transportation would be an overstatement.

To say I said anything at all would be somewhat of an overstatement, I may have mumbled something once. I followed a piece of pithy plastic desktop wisdom my parents gave me a million years ago – “silence is the only successful substitute for stupidity.” Oops, my secret’s out.

The meeting was chock full of insights and interesting tidbits.

1. The single most favorite photo was a very nice picture of Falls Park. Rightly so!

2. 24 of the top 25 photos, to quote the consultant (after we viewed them), “no cars in sight.” Or this, from a slide, “[The] Most low-rated [photos]: exclusively auto-oriented.”

3. Interestingly, after all those no car photos, selected by all those 1,500 people, the meeting did manage to briefly degrade into how hard it is to drive through design like that.

4. I'm in a room and I hear someone refer to a section of street I wish was easier to cycle on as “my project” or “I designed that.” This is a good place to be.

5. The theoretical idea of a multi-building commercial development that a pedestrian could walk from building to building. REMARKABLE! Last week I watched 5, 14 year-old girls trying to get from the Empire Mall to the Empire East Mall. They had successfully crossed 100 yards or more of parking lot. I observed two of them run halfway across Louise before turning back to the curb and their 3 companions. They still had 100 more yards of parking lot if they ever got across. No wonder teenagers think they need cages.

6. The purpose of Shape Sioux Falls is to provide guidance as the city attempts to improve zoning ordinances. The dots were connected between this and the ability for developers to try new things. In some cases, more sustainable things. The evidence that developers should try new things is the visual survey. The actuality of developers trying new things after the zoning laws allow it is a whole ‘nother matter.

Yes, there was more, but we’re out of time. Good night everybody.

4/11 8:50am - I feel compelled to add that any sense conveyed through reading this that sustainability was at all a theme in this meeting would be an inaccurate. The sustainability theme was the template through which I viewed my presence at the meeting.


Snakebite said...

Good on you!

David said...

It about time you start making plans to run for public office. You have my vote!

mytzpyk said...

I can't. I listen to too many sermons and the music I listen to is unsavory.

thE_kErnEl said...

Thanks for doing your part, man. It will be interesting if/when/how the media handles the results. Will the city make the results public?

Dave said...

Looks like its time for me to run for Mayor. Advisor: Minus Car

Spoke-N-Sport said...

That is really cool. Thanks for the recap. And now I will be taking my vow of silence.

SD_pedalpower said...

Thanks for the recap and keeping on keeping on.