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Car Free in Carrboro

Living without a car in small town NC

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equity

Reading Round-Up I

Friends and readers and random Carrboro citizens who have stumbled upon this blog: I have read so many great planning and transportation articles lately. Transit mode choice research, real problems with the community input process, parking woes, social justice, and of course the ongoing coverage of the terrible flooding hitting Eastern North Carolina. I want to share them all with you.

Here’s how this is going to work: rather than dribble them out slowly over many weeks with painstaking summaries attached, I’m going to do a little round-up right here.

This is what [I think] you should be reading this week:

Happy reading!

A sign that makes me say “heck yes”

A short & sweet post on this gorgeous Friday, folks. I’ll share with you this sign (see featured image for this post, above) that I saw last weekend while visiting Richmond. I found this gem on the entrance to the pedestrian bridge to Belle Isle.

I just love 1) the expressions on the little stick people’s faces, and 2) the admonishment at the bottom: “In an accident, moving vehicles are at fault.” Heck yes.

If you’re ever in Richmond, make it a point to visit Belle Isle, it’s a joy. Maybe that’s because of this sign! (Hah). Or, maybe that’s because in addition to the captivating views of the James River and shady paths, there are no cars on the island – just pedestrians and the occasional cyclist. Something to think about…

Oh, and for those of you curious about how I got to Richmond from Carrboro without a car:

Trip: Chapel Hill, NC to Richmond, VA (round trip)
Total trip time: 5 hours x2
Total trip distance: 164.2 miles x2
Mode: Bus
Line: 405 and Megabus
Frequency: 405 ~every 60 minutes and Megabus ~4x per day
Cost*: $25 Megabus roundtrip + $2.25 GoTriangle 405 + $17 Uber** = $44.25
Level of crowding: Very
Trip quality: 3 of 5 stars
+ for cost, ability to actually get to Richmond by bus, and convenience of Durham station
– for Megabus delay, random stop halfway through the ride to Richmond, and comfort

*New field
**When I returned back to Durham Station on Labor Day Monday, the buses weren’t running because of the holiday, so I had to Uber back to Carrboro.

 

Reflections on why I’m here

My big takeaway from my first day of classes last week, other than wow I can’t believe I’m here yayayayay was the realization that I don’t have a succinct way to describe my planning interests.

Let me first clarify something. I don’t think that being able to “succinctly” or “articulately” describe my passion differentiates me in any negative way from my classmates. We’re all first year students, and we’ve all had different pathways to planning, to this degree, and to Carolina.  We speak different languages (literally) and use different vocabularies that reflect our life experience. So, some of us are going to come across as a little more “polished” than others. I use these words in quotes because they are reductive, relative terms based on perceptions, and they don’t form great basis for judging ourselves or others.

Okay, now back to my desire to be succinct and articulate.

For years, as I was considering graduate school for planning, I found myself telling people “I just love transit.” (True.) Then it evolved to something like “I don’t have a car, and I just think that’s really important, you know? Cars are killing us.” (Also true, but not very clear as to what should be done about that.) And then it morphed to “I’m going to graduate school to study transportation policy and planning.” (Bingo! But still very high level.)

Now that I’m here, with exciting and diverse areas of focus all around me, I find myself getting pulled in so many directions. Land use! Social equity! Climate change impacts! It’s okay to be interested in everything. That’s what school is for. But I also think it’s important to reflect on why I became interested in planning, why I came to this program, and what impact I’m hoping to make on the world when I leave.

So here goes:

  • Equity. I want to learn more about why inequality exists and what can be done to mitigate it and prevent it entirely, across the entire planning spectrum (housing, transportation, land use, economic development, etc.).
  • Pedestrian safety. I had a bit of a lightning-bolt moment last week that safety is at the root of everything I’ve been geeking about over the past few years. It probably warrants its own post. Every time I cringe about beg buttons or yell at someone for rolling through a crosswalk without stopping or feel unsafe walking alongside large buildings with blank walls, it’s because there’s a safety issue at hand.
  • Transportation as a civil right. I need to refine this one a bit more, but essentially I believe that having access to where you need to go is a fundamental human right, and that unless we stop basing that on personally-owned single-occupancy vehicle trips, our health and our economy and our planet are in trouble.

Those are my first-week thoughts. I’ll keep refining my elevator speech (you can take the girl out of consulting…) and learning as much as I can, and of course sharing it here!

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