In my on-going quest to say less and learn more (not easy for me, to be sure) I attended my Neighborhood Planning Assembly Meeting last night.
In particular because I wanted to hear the two Candidates for Burlington Ward 5's city council seat state their cases.
As often is the case, the conversation turned to the transportation infrastructure of Burlington.
It struck me, that, until pushed in that direction, neither candidate was REALLY thinking about the LONG term...30 years out...and trying to move us beyond automobile-based solutions.
One candidate pointed out that many of our problems stem from the Historical Accident of Burlington geography: Our Enterprise Zone happens to be located on the Waterfront, while our major road (Route 7) runs through the heart of town. There are neighborhoods between the two.
This happened because, when the Enterprise zone was originally set up, it was meant to be serviced by the rail corridor and the waterfront, not Route 7.
Then, with the coming of the car culture, this dynamic changed; and now, trucks and cars race through and ravage our neighborhoods.
Over at Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria wrote a piece that puts forth the argument that we've already missed the chance to stop global warming, and that our current challenge is to slow it, and to learn how to cope with it's now inevitable effects.
I'm no greenie, but it seems clear that it's time to radically change our focus as we tackle problems at the local level. If Zakaria is correct, then it is more important than ever that we start changing our thinking. The debate about building Southern Connector vs. Enhancing the Existing Road Beds seems to miss the larger point.
Given the unforeseen outcome of Burlington's geography, it also seems that we truly need to begin re-shaping our city in such a way that the place of the car and the truck in it becomes radically smaller.
PS-- Oddly enough, She's Right also has a post on Global Warming today...in which she rakes Al Gore over the coals. I'm prepared to give Gore much more of a break than she is (if great deeds ALWAYS had to match great words, then we'd have had to toss Thomas Jefferson out on his ass a long time ago), but it's still a funny little piece.
Freyne has a good entry about this meeting in his blog today...a little bit of a look back at famous Ward 5 Democrats, and a nice account of the Mayor candidates grading Mayor Bupkiss...oops...BOB Kiss.