Tuesday, September 15

Help me stop John McCain from gutting transit

I just heard this alarming and outrageous news: Senator John McCain has just proposed 20 amendments to a transportation funding bill that have one common theme: breaking a federal promise to fund public transit projects.

Longstanding plans by communities all over the country - both urban and rural - to provide safe, clean transit, walking and bicycling options will be destroyed.

Senators will vote on these amendments today: Write your senators today and tell them to vote NO on these blatant anti-transit amendments - and to encourage their colleagues to do the same. Even if your Senator is a conservative (mine is), remind him of Portland, where a small investment in mass transit created billions of dollars of business revenue and dramatically increased the tax income from that area, easily paying for itself.

The project in Utah that these investments go to? A trolley.
Just like Portland.

Please write!

A Trader Joe's in my town would be an unending miracle of healthy goodness

They have healthy stuff, kinda like whole foods, only way yummier and for about half the price. You walk in, and the smell wafts over you... mmmm..... we need one in Utah. Desperately.

Tuesday, September 8

Love/Hate, Born Again

I'm reviving the "Why I Love and Hate Salt Lake City" series, partly just because it gives me something to talk about once a week or so. Today we're going to be discussing the suburbs, in no small part because we recently moved there. For more details about recent changes, talk to my wife.

Utah, in general, is primarily rural. Some 70% of the land is completely and totally undeveloped, for a variety of reasons, including National Parks and Forests, State Parks and Forests, intentionally undeveloped "green" space, Reservations, and a less that hospitable climate that makes some places absolutely unlivable no matter what. From there, about a third of the population lives in small towns, nothing over about 10,000 people. The rest is all crammed into one of two places: St. George (100k or so, mostly old retired people with a few college students mixed in), and the "Wasatch Front." Now, the Wasatch Front is HUGE. It encompasses five different valleys, as many counties, and about a hundred various cities and townships.

95% of which are Suburban. The deep city center is Urban, and you have a few distinct walkable Districts, but for the bulk of the populated area... it is pure suburbs.

UTA tries to accommodate, but when you are dealing with suburbs, mass transit fails. Miserably. There just aren't enough people within a particular zone to support the structure. it sucks. It's horrible. Worse, it means everyone drives. The idea of a family like mine going without a car is entirely foreign to just about everyone we meet. The pollution levels, the smog, the sheer expense of supporting an average of three cars per family...

In addition, it causes an insulated society, each individual distinct yet uniform, a group where many people don't even know their neighbors names. It is a significant portion of what caused the rampant consumerism of the last half century or so, and why we have declines in family values and moral guidance. Not to claim the high ground or anything. Cities are not even remotely close to perfect, but... they are a step closer to creating genuine community, which is one of the primary building blocks of society.

Sunday, September 6

Not much to say today (and a FREEBIE!)

I don't really have a lot to say today... it has been a nice, quiet Sunday, with not a lot going on. I'm sure there are things I could be posting about, but I just don't care at the moment. I do have something cool, though....


Partnering with Living Love Photos, we are able to offer a free 8' x 10' print for anyone who comes in, is patient, and helps the photographer learn his way around his new studio. Just go to his blog and leave a comment. Or leave a comment here, and I'll pass it along. We'll schedule a time and get it all set up for you. And the super cute kid with the rose? He's mine.

Go get your picture taken! He's really good, and you'll be glad you did!

Friday, September 4

A reason for a License

I don't currently own a driver's license.

It isn't that I never have; those who knew me in high school know that I drove constantly: dates, work, and so forth. I simply... well... I got in an accident. Didn't pay my ticket for a couple years. I got that cleared up, but pulling the suspension from the driver's license and getting a new card costs well over $100. So I never bothered.

But now there might be a reason to reconsider:

U Car Share

Basically... hourly car rental. If you are going to use it for more than a few hours, it makes more sense just to get a regular car rental. But for a quick something... it might be worth it.

If you don't concern yourself with the environment. Or the plague of the suburbs. Or...


So, morally, I pretty much still object to it. I can see the utility though. And, at the very least, these are new cars, and most of them are hybrids. They have it in a few other cities, too.

Wednesday, September 2

How to begin? (Part 1)

Another Parenting/No Car Blog out there (Car Free with Kids) recently posted about how to go about 'taking the plunge' into being carless parents. Their emphasis was more on bicycles than mine has ever been (we don't own one of those, either), so their list of necessary gear was quite different than ours. Theirs includes the following:
  • Bikes
  • Trailer
  • Bike Hitches
  • Rain Gear
  • Gear to trouble-shoot specific problems (their advice here is brilliant: fix what is the worst, one issue at a time. Much cheaper, much less wasteful)
  • Xtra Cycle
They plan, in part 2, to discuss back up plans, which are very important, so I'll wait until they post that and then I'll put in my two bits. Unless they take too long, and then I'll get the first word.

Anyway, point being, their list is great, if you plan on going the bicycle route. We don't own any kind of bikes, so shelling out the cash necessary for that would set us back a few thousand dollars, which isn't really a possibility at this point. So if you're more like us, and don't have bikes, here's what you need:
  • Clothes/Protection for all weather. This means shorts in the summer, jackets in spring and fall, and heavy coats (with snow pants for the little ones) in the winter. High boots for the adults are a major plus when it snows, and the better your stroller cover protects from the snow, the better off you are going to be.
  • A good stroller. Jogging strollers are a great place to start, even though they cost more, for one particular reason: Large Tires. This makes all-weather travel much easier, although you will almost certainly need a...
  • Tire Patch Kit and Pump. Because when you're two miles from home and loaded down with kids+cargo... you can't do without it. Make it a permanent part of what is stored in your stroller.
  • Hats. Very good for fall/winter/spring. Try to find something that holds heat in better than a baseball cap, like a wool cap or a winter hat. For the little kids, get hats with straps that hold them on.
  • A bus/train pass. This is a constant life saver, as mass transit can get you much further much faster than walking, and with much less effort than riding a bike. As you venture deeper into the suburbs, the buses even start getting faster than the bicycles!
  • From here, the same advice holds: find what annoys you the most, and get gear/solutions/ideas on how to manage it most easily.
If you want to take the plunge, jump into this crazy pool of daring adventure and startling self discoveries, this is the gear you need to do it without a bicycle. As I said before, we'll definitely get to part 2, and probably beyond.

Tuesday, September 1

Changes at UTA

Last week, starting Monday, August 24th, UTA rearranged things in their semi-annual change day. Nothing new here, except... two major things they changed are worth a closer look: flexible routes and a Murray-University line.

Every half hour, Monday through Friday, a new route will run from Murray to the University. This doesn't alter the frequency of the other two lines, making it so a train flies through 16 different stations a total of 6 times an hour! This 50% increase does come with a slight cost: it doesn't run after 7:30 PM, and the Sandy line doesn't go all the way downtown. Actually, it goes to the Arena station, which is in the heart of downtown, it just doesn't hit the three stations after that. You have to transfer to a University line.

Color Code:
Blue = Sandy
Red = University
Green = Murray

Black = Downtown

I wonder what they will use for West Valley and Draper? Purple? Yellow? Orange? Hmm... all the good colors are taken...

Second, UTA has started a new kind of bus route, using the "Shuttle" type buses (this is the kind CATS used in Cedar City, which is kind of interesting). These routes are set, given, and... flexible? If you call in at least two hours ahead, the bus line will shift up to 3/4 of a mile to come pick you up. At your front door. Or, conversely, they'd do the same thing on the way home (also requiring advance notice). Dropping you off at your front door. Pretty nifty, eh? Three routes: all of them suburban. Maybe this is a form of mass transit people can get used to and ride, even in the less densely populated suburban areas. It'd sure be easier to take the kids...

Dear UTA, when MAX has a dedicated lane and the rail is up to Valley Fair, please put in a flex line instead of the regular 35. It would make a lot more sense. And then I could get picked up at my door, instead of trudging through the snow.
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