Um, Ick

Aylestone
Leicester, England, c.Notsure

I’ve been doing some genealogical research lately, mostly on Ancestry.com.

This is Leicester, an old city in the East Midlands of England, and this image represents local conditions at some point during the Industrial Revolution though I don’t know the year.

Great Grandfather Charles Laws was born there in 1870.  Great Great Grandfather James Laws (b.1846, but elsewhere) was a hatter, haberdasher, tailor, or outfitter, depending on which source you read.  

Anyway, early versions of us, urban planners, looked at this and said “this won’t do” and though it took a while, we prevailed and made things better for a lot of people

Road Diet before they were called that

Continuing on the theme of early influences …

The main “east-west” arterial (actually more SW-NE) in the area I was raised was built, mostly, as a 6-lane, undivided boulevard, thankfully with sidewalks (eventually), and with a high school, retail, and multi-family housing (way more now than back in the day).  A good mile or more of it actually went through what we called “the swamp” but would now be recognized as a wetland!

Not very attractive, not especially safe, and, interestingly, mostly under-capacity.  So about a decade or so after it was completed, it was put on a road diet at first with the use of paint.  A two-way (unprotected) bike lane was put along the north edge, taking up the space of about one lane.  Then the city painted a median in the middle of the remaining five lanes.  This allowed left turn bays at intersections as well as some separation between traffic flowing in opposite directions.

http://goo.gl/maps/Y0wNP

That’s a representative view of the road long after (long after) it was put on a diet.  The brick building is a fire station.  The large parking lot to the right of the firehouse was once the parking lot for a hockey arena that has been gone for over 20 years (but that hosted a concert featuring Procol Harum and The Eagles <mumble> years before that!).  I don’t know what the AADT is for this road, but I’m certain it’s much more than it was when it was put on a diet.

Oh, and there are 5 transit routes along here, too.  A local route (30-minute headway 0500-0100 plus extra runs at peak hours) and 3 express routes providing about the same number of buses but that end after the evening peak and that all end at either a commuter train or subway station.  There is a night route that fills in the other hours, so basically 24-hour service.  And this is far out in the ‘burbs.  We had good transit when I still lived there <mumble> years ago –around the time of the diet, actually — but not nearly this good.

Fracture Critical

This article is five years old at this point, but the author makes interesting parallels between the 2007 I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, the financial industry collapse of 2008, and the closely-related collapse in the housing market in … well, I guess that’s kind of still going on.  Read the article to see what the author means.

Fracture Critical