Author Topic: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity  (Read 6937 times)

CargoBiker

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The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« on: February 28, 2017, 03:50:00 PM »
After reading MMM's post, I read The Happy City book, and find myself inspired to make changes that impact my community in a positive way.

Most recently, I attended a city council committee meeting about a couple of bike lanes they were looking at adding.  I was the only person there from the public, and I inputted my 2cents on their idea, to try and shift the debate.

Since then, I drew up my own plan for the road in question, that I believe was better than either of the proposed plans.  2 of the council members responded back saying that they liked the idea and that they would propose it to the committee.


There's a couple of park locations that I'm going to lobby for as well, as there are no parks remotely within walking distance of my community.


Also, I'm throwing a block party in the street next week, as I realized that none of our neighbors know each other, and that our street would be a happier place if we knew some faces and names.


Has anyone successfully influenced a city or state government to improve bicycle infrastructure, or improve city design in general?


I'm curious as to what methods were most effective, and hearing how best to bring about public policy change.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2017, 03:51:32 PM by CargoBiker »
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fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2017, 11:01:36 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

They also had excellent pedestrian infrastructure; tunnels, bridges, sidewalks, cross walks, etc. I'm of the opinion that a walker friendly city by extension tends to be biker friendly as well. On top of that they have rivers, tributaries, parks, mountains with hiking trails, and lots of other stuff nearby that was worth walking/biking/taking public transit to. (Ok I admit it, I miss that place.)

Contrast that with here, where apparently the mere idea of sidewalks or cross walks is downright radical. I've been poking around on Google off & on trying to find the answer to why the roads here suck so bad, considering that there's 50,000 military [20,000 - 30,000 DoD civilian workers and contractors tend to go along with that #] here. They've got this huge, gushing pipeline of Federal money pouring in, according to Google they've got higher than normal property tax, their sales tax is 7% ... I don't get it. There's obvious demand for sidewalks, all these roads that don't have them have a strip of dead grass where the sidewalk would be and you see people doing their best to cross the roads, often with children in tow. I'm beginning to wonder if the local government has a Rita Crundwell type situation going on: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-04-18/news/ct-met-dixon-comptroller-embezzle-charges-20120418_1_horse-farms-champion-horse-fbi-agents

I got the book Happy City used on Amazon, really good read so far.

Edit to add: I'm only mentioning Seoul because I was just there and LOVED biking it, don't take it as me comparing it to Fayettnam. Little towns in the Pacific NW and midwest had sidewalks and crosswalk across the entire town.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2017, 11:20:32 AM by fdhs_runner »

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 02:32:59 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety that is so important for getting people on their bikes in the first place. I can't find it again, but I read a report on increasing cycling in London and they had a bit where they surveyed people about what would most encourage them to either start cycling or move from infrequent to frequent. The options were stuff like cycle training, more cycle parking, better city maps of official cycle routes... By a whopping margin, 46% of people said that the number one thing that would encourage them to cycle was more cycle lanes*. Also, it says to the cars "these bikes have a right to be here", which nudges the drivers in the direction of the considerate driving you describe.

*It also made the point about pinch points and joined up routes. Cycle lanes in London at the moment are hilariously awful. You get 200m of cycle lane which then ends slap in the back of the row of parked cars. Or the cycle lane sputters in and out for ten metres at a time over the course of half a mile. Or they veer on and off the pavements. Or you get to a wide bridge with a "Cyclists dismount" sign. A cycle route is only as viable as its worst bit. People would think you were insane if you installed "Drivers get out and push their cars" signs.

(If you want to know more about cycling infrastructure, read this: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf)

CargoBiker: Yes, I would love to discuss this. I just finished reading the book this morning. Blew my mind. We KNOW how to make people happy! Why aren't we doing it?! It's like we're saying "Yes, we would rather (some) people were rich than (everyone) happy, so we will make all our decisions with that goal in mind". I've also got 'The Power of Just Doing Stuff' by Rob Hopkins out of the library too. I'm planning to start it this afternoon. Have you heard of Transition Towns?

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 11:34:41 AM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough.

The wider the car lane, the faster the drivers perceive they can drive, the less safe it feels the bike, the less people will bike.

« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 09:54:42 PM by CargoBiker »
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CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2017, 11:37:36 AM »
I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety
Exactly. When the average person feels like it's safe to bike, people will bike.



Quote
Have you heard of Transition Towns?

No I haven't, please enlighten me.
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shelivesthedream

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2017, 02:30:36 PM »
Quote
Have you heard of Transition Towns?

No I haven't, please enlighten me.
[/quote]

I'm just finding out about it myself, to be honest, but it's basically a movement to get people to set up local groups to take bottom-up action to move towards a greener and more sustainable culture and economy. It brings all the usual areas (food, energy, transport, etc) under one roof to integrate them and cross-pollinate. They have a great website - plenty to read there!

However, I would like to retract any implied recommendation of the book I mentioned above. It's shit. It's like the author is a 10 on the Wheaton scale* but the intended audience of the book are Wheaton scale 1. The first chapter is an argument for why climate change is real. It's like, mate, the people who pick up your book are not going to be the climate change deniers. His data is massively hyperbolic (both on the disastrous future if we do nothing and the glowing future if we "transition"). I'm going to skim the rest of it for good examples (already enjoying one: www.transitionstreets.org - maybe a good place for you to start?) but a lot of it is eco-wank pitched at completely the wrong level. He clearly lacked a commercially-experienced editor who was comfortable being cruel to be kind.

Some interesting other books listed in the back that you might like:
'Local Food: how to make it happen in your community' by Pinkerton and Hopkins (this guy again...)
'Power from the people: how to organise, finance and launch local energy projects' by Pahl
'Local Dollars, Local Sense' by Shuman
'Communities, Councils and a low-carbon future: what we can do if governments won't' by Rowell (this is the one I most want to read next)
'How to change the world' by Flintoff

I haven't read any yet, but they're the ones I thought sounded good.

Google it, it's amazing and will affect the way you talk to people about stuff you care about.

fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2017, 05:10:37 PM »
After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough. Everywhere I went there the far right lane was wide enough for cars to easily pass a bike or moped without leaving the lane. Biking didn't seem nearly as common there as in Europe, but drivers also seemed to be very accustomed to watching out for any two wheeled contraptions due to the large amount of mopeds and utilitarian motorcycles.

I very passionately believe that bike lanes (BIG ones that are prominently signposted) are necessary. Not so much for safety reasons, but because they increase the perceived safety that is so important for getting people on their bikes in the first place. I can't find it again, but I read a report on increasing cycling in London and they had a bit where they surveyed people about what would most encourage them to either start cycling or move from infrequent to frequent. The options were stuff like cycle training, more cycle parking, better city maps of official cycle routes... By a whopping margin, 46% of people said that the number one thing that would encourage them to cycle was more cycle lanes*. Also, it says to the cars "these bikes have a right to be here", which nudges the drivers in the direction of the considerate driving you describe.

(If you want to know more about cycling infrastructure, read this: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf)

You make a good point about the perception and the effect. I downloaded the PDF and will give it a read, thanks!

After spending a year in Korea I'm of the opinion that bike lanes aren't so much necessary as road lanes that are simply wide enough.

The wider the car lane, the faster the drives perceive they can drive, the less safe it feels the bike, the less people will bike.

While I didn't notice that issue, lots of people thought I was crazy to be biking through Seoul. It always seemed to me that everyone trying to go fast was in the left lanes, that far right lane was mostly buses and people about to turn right. I don't doubt that's an issue in the states though.

I should mention that these roads in Seoul technically were dual use roads [even if the road isn't marked as such, the far right edge is a bike lane]. Right after I got there someone clued me in about map.naver.com and the phone app, which is incredibly detailed. It shows every street, bike trail, most hiking paths, and color codes the streets if they're dual use. It shows the pedestrian tunnels, the subway lines, the subway stations (very handy to know as those always had bike racks), bus stops, and even shows the subway & bus schedules if you click on the stop. Ok, I really miss that place.

I'm hesitate to lobby for dedicated, marked bike lanes as IMHO that's a tough sell. Sidewalks & crosswalks are a no brainer, but IMO most people will HATE the idea of dedicated bike lanes since "drivers pay for the roads via gas tax!". They're wrong of course, on average in the states fuel taxes only pay for 1/2 of road funding

https://taxfoundation.org/gasoline-taxes-and-tolls-pay-only-third-state-local-road-spending/
http://www.uspirg.org/sites/pirg/files/reports/Who%20Pays%20for%20Roads%20vUS.pdf

and that's before you factor in how much of the gas tax is being paid by truckers (https://www.mackinac.org/8433). The other 1/2 of course is being covered by general taxes. It just seems to me that right lanes that are actually wide enough is an easier sell.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2017, 06:21:13 PM by fdhs_runner »

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2017, 10:02:01 PM »
I'm hesitate to lobby for dedicated, marked bike lanes as IMHO that's a tough sell.

It being a tough sell is why you have to lobby for it.  You wouldn't need to lobby for an easy sell.

What's the alternative?  No bike infrastructure and we pretend the bike is a car?  Well, that's where we're at, so I might as well lobby for what I want.


Copenhagen turned from a car-centric city, to the bike capital of Europe in 35 years.  It was dedicated lanes that got people out biking.  You're never going to convince the general public to bike with cars.  People have been trying to that in the states for decades.
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fdhs_runner

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2017, 03:15:53 PM »
Well the alternative is Seoul or the places I've lived in the Pacific NW and midwest, all of which were worlds better than this place.

You make a good point though and I've love to have bike lanes. Around here I'd love to have sidewalks & crosswalks.

Rockies

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2017, 11:03:18 AM »
Cycle lanes are important, but some cities have learned that just having painted lanes dont encourage the most timid of riders. Fully physically protected bike lanes really work well to get larger numbers of people out on bikes. Physical protection could entail bollards, curbs, landscaping, etc inbetween the rider and traffic.

For example, I am a seasoned rider who feels great riding in a painted bike lane next to traffic, and sometimes doesn't even mind riding on a road with traffic. I am not the type of person that these initiatives should be focusing on. My girlfriend on the other hand has every desire to ride her bike, but feels quite nervous in a bike lane with traffic beside her. Having a fully protected route to work or the grocery store would encourage her to bike a lot more.

Just a few cents on the overall debate. When you look at really successful places like the Netherlands they have a lot of fully separated protected bike lanes that bring out that extra group of cyclists that arn't as confident or into risk taking.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2017, 08:04:28 AM »
I'm about halfway through my library copy of Happy City. While I love the book, it's incredibly frustrating and depressing. Cleveland in general has very little non-car infrastructure, and City of Cleveland proper is not currently a place I'm comfortable raising a child. I WANT to live in one of these magical places, but we would have to move (probably out of state, but at least to Columbus), which brings up all sorts of interconnected things (family, jobs, owning a house). For now, I'm just thankful our favorite grocery store is within walking/biking distance--even though we bike on the sidewalk, because fuck that shit, a 7-lane, 35mph road is no place for a family on bikes.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

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CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2017, 12:25:42 PM »
Just a few cents on the overall debate. When you look at really successful places like the Netherlands they have a lot of fully separated protected bike lanes that bring out that extra group of cyclists that arn't as confident or into risk taking.

Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Anything less than fully-separated lanes won't get the average Jane out riding around town.
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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2017, 12:30:21 PM »
I'm about halfway through my library copy of Happy City. While I love the book, it's incredibly frustrating and depressing. Cleveland in general has very little non-car infrastructure, and City of Cleveland proper is not currently a place I'm comfortable raising a child. I WANT to live in one of these magical places, but we would have to move (probably out of state, but at least to Columbus), which brings up all sorts of interconnected things (family, jobs, owning a house). For now, I'm just thankful our favorite grocery store is within walking/biking distance--even though we bike on the sidewalk, because fuck that shit, a 7-lane, 35mph road is no place for a family on bikes.


I live near the city core of Denton, TX, a growing city of 125,000.   In my area, I have very close access to nearly everything I need, within .5 to 1.5 miles. There is a good mix of residential/commercial. While not walkable really, it is bikeable. As a result, I am really happy living here, and feel more connected and rooted here than I ever did in suburbia Houston where I grew up.  Outside of the city-core, it's just typical silly suburban planning.

If you're looking to move, I think it'd be good to look at cities of about this size, and living close to the downtown.  I bet there's a lot of cities like mine.


Or, if you're open to leaving the country, your options greatly increase in Europe.  Good ped/bike infrastructure, and really well integrated cities.
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NoStacheOhio

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2017, 01:38:33 PM »
If you're looking to move, I think it'd be good to look at cities of about this size, and living close to the downtown.  I bet there's a lot of cities like mine.


Or, if you're open to leaving the country, your options greatly increase in Europe.  Good ped/bike infrastructure, and really well integrated cities.

In theory, we'd love to move.

Moving would be a big deal for us. We're within two hours of both sides of our immediate families (and then some). My wife started a new job a little over six months ago. For me, getting an employee position in video production is also pretty uncommon, so giving that up would be tough, since I've been carrying the benefits AND my job qualifies for PSLF. I try to keep my eyes open for postings though.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

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CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2017, 03:21:32 PM »
Moving would be a big deal for us. We're within two hours of both sides of our immediate families (and then some). My wife started a new job a little over six months ago. For me, getting an employee position in video production is also pretty uncommon, so giving that up would be tough, since I've been carrying the benefits AND my job qualifies for PSLF. I try to keep my eyes open for postings though.

Family can be a big part of someone's happiness equation, I know it is for me.

Whatever benefits gained by moving somewhere else, might be negated if it places you further away from extended family.
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A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2017, 08:04:18 AM »
At least in the Chicago-land area, many suburbs try to create a dense, walkable/bikeable center. Naperville comes to mind. The homes are more expensive, but not San Francisco expensive.

Employment is still a pain, but you can certainly take the train into the city: most suburb centers are built around the train station.

I imagine Columbus has similar suburbs. Surprised Cleveland doesn't?

NoStacheOhio

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2017, 09:16:29 AM »
At least in the Chicago-land area, many suburbs try to create a dense, walkable/bikeable center. Naperville comes to mind. The homes are more expensive, but not San Francisco expensive.

Employment is still a pain, but you can certainly take the train into the city: most suburb centers are built around the train station.

I imagine Columbus has similar suburbs. Surprised Cleveland doesn't?

Nah, Cleveland suburbs are basically exactly what the book is talking about when they talk about dispersed cities.

Some of the older, inner ring suburbs might have been walkable at one time, but they've lost a lot of the business that would make it useful.

Parts of Columbus are better (especially near any of the many colleges), but they had so much empty space to do whatever they wanted, other parts went dispersal crazy. My brother-in-law lives in Canal Winchester, and while he's "not far" from a good variety of retail/grocery, it's a little too far to walk, and definitely feels unsafe to do so.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

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Leisured

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2017, 05:53:52 AM »

Thank you shelivesthedream for your link to the cycling infrastructure study.


(If you want to know more about cycling infrastructure, read this: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/international-cycling-infrastructure-best-practice-study.pdf)


Science fiction writers have long considered the matter of transport in cities,and have considered robot cabs and moving walkways. Moving walkways already exist in large airports, and robot cabs may be here soon.

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2017, 08:39:14 AM »
This is a topic I've been interested in for a long time and it's nice to see it dealt with. I strongly recommend the writings of Forbes contributor Nathan Lewis on the subject. A few key observations not mentioned in the MMM article:

- The real key is NARROW STREETS. 70% of streets should be just 10-20' from building to building, basically just wide enough for a single car to crawl through. about 20% can be 2-4 lane arterial streets, and 10% 6+ lane grand boulevards. This is how many cities worldwide were designed before cars became big, and he calls it the Traditional City design.

- With that layout and building heights of no more than 6 stories, you can achieve population densities much higher than anything in common use today, which means there can be TONS OF STUFF: restaurants, shops, train stations, etc. all within a walkable distance from most people's homes.

- Bikes are nice for exercise and touring, but they're really no more necessary for transportation than cars. Worth remembering that it's not pleasant for pedestrians to share space with bikers unless density is very low. The real goal is to make places for pedestrians (i.e. people), not vehicle operators.

- This pattern works equally well for cities of millions, and tiny villages (many old European villages are laid out on this exact plan). There should be no suburbs or sprawl whatsoever, and a clearly identifiable boundary between "the town" and "the surrounding wilderness/farmland".

- Living this way, in apartments/townhouses/SFDR's, mostly without cars, is dramatically, dramatically less resource consumptive than modern American living. The effects of massively fewer cars, massively less pavement, modestly smaller living spaces (let's face it, current suburban McMansions are insane), and way more transportation done by walking and trains, is almost incalculably more efficient in every way than modern Suburban Hell. Most people also find it quite pleasant, especially old people and young people who can't drive.

One other thing MMM rather naively fails to mention is that the suburbs weren't JUST a big conspiracy by car and oil companies. A big part of it in America was the desire to flee from the noise, filth, and crime of the urban cores, and today especially the reason many big-city suburbs are so crushingly expensive is so that the same people who make the cities so dangerous (for the record I live in a major city with a sky-high murder rate, and I know full well there are many neighborhoods where if I tried to go walk around on a warm Friday night I would never be seen again) can't afford to come out to prey on them.

Also, about that final asterisk at the end of the article: for such a supposedly serene and happy person MMM sure can't seem to help himself from throwing snarky little shots at people he disagrees with politically, even when it's not contextually appropriate. Here's some science he may not be familiar with: Harvard professor Robert Putnam, in his seminal paper E Pluribus Unum, found that diversity is massively destructive of social trust and social capital. Daily up-close experience of diversity not only consistently makes people distrust other races, it even makes them distrust their own race, and adopt a "bunker mentality" of staying in by themselves all the time. Anyone who's lived in a major American metropolis and doesn't have their head up their ass knows that Putnam is 100% right about this. By far the strongest communities in America are in small towns and semi-rural areas, where families often have super-deep, multi-generational roots (for the record this is the true key to strong communities: stability over time, leading to an extremely strong sense of belonging and local identity. By contrast, transplants and brain drain dissolve communities)

Fun side note: Putnam tried to suppress his own research because he found it political incorrect (and apparently that trumps scientific truth), but some people threatened to leak the results if he didn't publish so he was forced to admit the truth. Then he tried to soft-pedal his results by saying "yes, diversity destroys communities and makes people miserable BUT WE MUST EMBRACE IT ANYWAY FOR SOME REASON", but obviously that's just his own bias clashing with the plain facts. His study has since been replicated several times, always with the same results.

I realize MMM is financially well-off enough to live pretty much wherever he wants, so I was interested to see whether he actually chooses to embrace diversity in his own life, or whether he choose to avoid it while hypocritically sneering at people who actually have to deal with it day by day. Turns out Boulder County, CO is 80% non-Hispanic white and only 0.8% black, and the average new home sale price in 2014 was a whopping $350k. Yeah, that's about what I thought.

Anyway, obligatory narrow street photo. Imagine living in a place that looked like this:

NoStacheOhio

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2017, 11:53:55 AM »
I read about the Atlanta bridge collapse this morning (thankfully, they closed the road before it happened), and immediately thought of this book. While it's obviously bad, I wonder if it doesn't also present an opportunity? I don't know Atlanta geography, but how does it fit in with the rest of the infrastructure? Could it spur a larger discussion about how they want to move people around the city in the future?

I know there's the entrenched car-dominant mindset, but one or two people at key moments can start a chain reaction that changes a lot.
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A Definite Beta Guy

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2017, 03:26:55 PM »
"Traditional Cities" sound more anti-transit than anything we can arrive at here at the US. TBH, I doubt we're even going to get compact, dense cities: the built environment is largely suburban, and we have way more built environment than we really need. Commercial Real Estate in particular, but also a lot more residential real estate than we realistically need. It's leading to a lot of suburbs falling into disrepair as they age poorly, and the wealthier residents move out to newer, nicer exurbs on urban peripheries.

Granola Shotgun (google it) has a lot of good ideas about repurposing suburban areas. Growing food on lawn space, allowing smaller non-traditional and recreational tenants in underutilized strip malls. Renting out spare bedrooms. Stuff like that. I think that's better from a resource and finance perspective.


bacchi

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #21 on: April 02, 2017, 03:45:52 PM »
Fun side note: Putnam tried to suppress his own research because he found it political incorrect (and apparently that trumps scientific truth), but some people threatened to leak the results if he didn't publish so he was forced to admit the truth. Then he tried to soft-pedal his results by saying "yes, diversity destroys communities and makes people miserable BUT WE MUST EMBRACE IT ANYWAY FOR SOME REASON", but obviously that's just his own bias clashing with the plain facts. His study has since been replicated several times, always with the same results.

It's better to trust the author's own words and the study itself (keep reading until the end -- or, ya know, just read the abstract), rather than what others desperately want the study to prove.

http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/percolator/robert-putnam-says-his-research-was-twisted/30357

Quote
In the short term, he writes, there are clearly challenges, but over the long haul, he argues that diversity has a range of benefits for a society, and that the fragmentation and distrust can be overcome. It’s not an easy process, but in the end it’s “well worth the effort.” Putnam cites the integration of institutions like the U.S. Army as proof that diversity can work.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12802663

Quote from: Putnam
Prof. PUTNAM: Look, I want to make sure that your listeners understand that I think over the long run, as we get to know one another, and as we begin to see things that we have in common with people who don't look like us, this allergy to diversity tends to diminish and to go away.


https://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/benediktsson2013/files/2013/04/Putnam.pdf

Quote from: Putnam
So our societies will inevitably be more ethnically diverse tomorrow than they are today. And that diversity will be a valuable national asset. It is not
merely that national cuisine is enhanced by immigration, or even that culture of  all  sorts  is  enhanced  by  diversity,  though  culture  and  cuisine  in  my  own country provide powerful evidence of those benefits.

• Creativity in general seems to be enhanced by immigration and diversity (Simonton  1999).
[etc.]

That's ^^ on page 3 of Putnam's study. He clearly delineates why embracing diversity is a good thing.

marion10

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #22 on: April 02, 2017, 07:30:18 PM »
I admit I am baffled by people whose dream it is to have acreage and house out in the country. It seems like such a car dependent lifestyle. We've been lucky- we raised out family in a walkable (and expensive) inner ring suburb with good schools. My kids could walk to pool, school, library, sports practice etc. We are now empty nesters in the city and seldom use our car. We walk or take public transit or sometimes Uber. (I'm not confident enough to ride my bike in the downtown traffic.)

hoping2retire35

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2017, 07:23:51 AM »
My one issue with all the bike lane hysteria is that stuff costs money yo! Does anyone know what roads were like before cars and their associated tax base?

http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/image_122.html

/\ try riding a bike on that.

maybe the price of bicycle tires could be taxed at 200%? Toll roads?

Don't get me wrong I agree everyone has the right to use the Rights-of-Way, but to have this neat paved flat surface where you can zoom along is a bit entitled when you realize the associated costs.

I would like to hear more suggestions of how we fund this bike world utopia; not being snarky I wish we could get there too.

marion10

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #24 on: April 19, 2017, 07:47:13 AM »
I went to a public meeting abut bike paths/lanes and people were complaining and objecting about cutting a curb cut through a cul-de-sac to make a bikeway in downtown Chicago. There would still be a auto traffic because of the cul-de-sac but it would make it easier for bikes to go through. Do not understand the objection to this at all.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #25 on: April 19, 2017, 08:29:21 AM »
My one issue with all the bike lane hysteria is that stuff costs money yo! Does anyone know what roads were like before cars and their associated tax base?

http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/image_122.html

/\ try riding a bike on that.

maybe the price of bicycle tires could be taxed at 200%? Toll roads?

Don't get me wrong I agree everyone has the right to use the Rights-of-Way, but to have this neat paved flat surface where you can zoom along is a bit entitled when you realize the associated costs.

I would like to hear more suggestions of how we fund this bike world utopia; not being snarky I wish we could get there too.

Car infrastructure isn't fully funded through use taxes though, it's subsidized from general tax dollars too.

The reality is that dense neighborhoods actually improve the tax base overall, and (done correctly) they pay for themselves by increased revenue in property, sales AND payroll taxes.

Read the book, there's a lot in there.
The first step is acknowledging you have a problem, right?

https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/digging-out-of-a-hole/

MrsWolfeRN

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #26 on: April 29, 2017, 11:46:18 AM »
My one issue with all the bike lane hysteria is that stuff costs money yo! Does anyone know what roads were like before cars and their associated tax base?

http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/image_122.html

/\ try riding a bike on that.

maybe the price of bicycle tires could be taxed at 200%? Toll roads?

Don't get me wrong I agree everyone has the right to use the Rights-of-Way, but to have this neat paved flat surface where you can zoom along is a bit entitled when you realize the associated costs.

I would like to hear more suggestions of how we fund this bike world utopia; not being snarky I wish we could get there too.

1. Bikes cause a lot less wear and tear on roads than cars
2. Less sedentary people= less medical costs
3. Less air pollution= less medical costs
4. Less gas used= fewer oil spills and other environmental damage that government has to clean up

hoping2retire35

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #27 on: May 02, 2017, 11:56:46 AM »
My one issue with all the bike lane hysteria is that stuff costs money yo! Does anyone know what roads were like before cars and their associated tax base?

http://amhistory.si.edu/onthemove/collection/image_122.html

/\ try riding a bike on that.

maybe the price of bicycle tires could be taxed at 200%? Toll roads?

Don't get me wrong I agree everyone has the right to use the Rights-of-Way, but to have this neat paved flat surface where you can zoom along is a bit entitled when you realize the associated costs.

I would like to hear more suggestions of how we fund this bike world utopia; not being snarky I wish we could get there too.

1. Bikes cause a lot less wear and tear on roads than cars
Heavy trucks do the vast majority of damage to asphalt
2. Less sedentary people= less medical costs
3. Less air pollution= less medical costs
4. Less gas used= fewer oil spills and other environmental damage that government has to clean up

How do you translate those other cost savings to paved surfaces. Most people have the perception* that gas tax at least pay the majority of road construction.

To bring this home; if myself and other choose to live within walking distance of everything we need I don't want pay for extensive road (bike lane construction) so that people, essentially, have a a glorified outdoor bicycle gym.

*I realize our current system is not entirely paid for by gas tax, and am not pleased with that either.

scantee

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #28 on: May 02, 2017, 12:21:10 PM »
Mannerheim, you have a pretty warped view of how research works. One study can't prove anything, it can only incrementally add to our understanding of the underlying phenomenon. For Putnam's one research study, there are countless others from both the U.S. and internationally that have found the opposite: that living in diverse areas increase tolerance and acceptance of difference. That's not to say that Putnam's work isn't important, it is, but it is just one small study in a sea of research on this topic and its findings don't hold more weight than any other well-conducted study.

The reality is: people aren't going back to some sort of modern tribalism where they live in small communities with only people very similar to themselves. In fact, the trend is the opposite: most young people want to live in urban centers where diversity is at its highest. A more interesting question, rather than just resorting to a knee-jerk "DIVERSITY IS BAD!!!!1!" reaction, is to wonder why that is. Why are young people seeking out communities that the research shows might increase their unhappiness in this one way? People aren't irrational, so my guess is that they get so many benefits from living in places with higher diversity that it is worth it to them even if diversity itself in isolation from other factors causes a small amount of negative well-being. Which leads to the next question: how important is this finding, really, if the majority of people happily live their lives in opposition to it?

shelivesthedream

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #29 on: May 02, 2017, 01:56:19 PM »
I don't quibble with most of what you have said, but people ARE irrational. They do things they know are bad for them all the time, and hugely overweight the present over the future. People do a bad job at judging what will make them happy. The book 'Happy Money' (about how the way you spend money can make you happier) really hammers it home for me - in study after study, people do not guess correctly what will make them happy.

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #30 on: May 03, 2017, 03:50:31 AM »
People aren't irrational, so my guess is that they get so many benefits from living in places with higher diversity that it is worth it to them even if diversity itself in isolation from other factors causes a small amount of negative well-being. Which leads to the next question: how important is this finding, really, if the majority of people happily live their lives in opposition to it?

One of the over-arching themes of the book in the OP, is that people ARE irrational and DO make choices that they think they want, but ultimately leave them less happy and less satisfied.

I'm not speaking to the diversity side-conversation here, just speaking in general.

The book spoke more to the dissatisfaction people have with living in surburban sprawl, even when that's exactly where most of them thought they wanted to live.
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hoping2retire35

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #31 on: May 03, 2017, 06:04:00 AM »
Perhaps young people like the excitement of diversity and new complicated life, but when they start having kids realize they want simple and quiet.

Case in point; ourselves. lived in a townhome within walking distance of a grocery store and several restaurants, didn't have to drive anywhere other than work. but it had a chaotic parking lot, dog mess in the back yard, loud parties and shenanigans. So now I rent it out to college kids. We have a huge yard, chickens, etc. safe fenced in yards for kids.

scantee

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #32 on: May 03, 2017, 07:03:59 AM »
Perhaps young people like the excitement of diversity and new complicated life, but when they start having kids realize they want simple and quiet.

Case in point; ourselves. lived in a townhome within walking distance of a grocery store and several restaurants, didn't have to drive anywhere other than work. but it had a chaotic parking lot, dog mess in the back yard, loud parties and shenanigans. So now I rent it out to college kids. We have a huge yard, chickens, etc. safe fenced in yards for kids.

This has not been my experience or the experience of my friends. Most of us have chosen to stay living in the city after having kids. Living in a rural area has its appeal, but it's not super feasible for people in their working years because of the paucity of jobs located in those areas. I would much rather have a small house close to my work with a very short commute time, than have a lot of space in the country (or even an exurb) that required a commute of more than 20 or 30 minutes. Based on home prices in my city (going up faster than in the suburbs) and enrollment in the city's public schools (which has skyrocketed over the past 7 to 8 years) there are a lot of other families with children also deciding to stay.

Most cities in the U.S. aren't New York: they're only moderately dense with a mixture of multi-family and single family homes. With smart public planning, like the original post refers too, these mid-sized cities could provide livable housing for people at every life stage and walkable or bikeable access to good and services. The demand is definitely there, as evidenced by the number of families with young children who want to stay in the city but are pushed out by high house prices, but yeah, making infrastructure improvements is expensive on the scale of improvement that is really needed.

scantee

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #33 on: May 03, 2017, 07:27:27 AM »
To split hairs here on the subject of rationality: my opinion is that people are mostly rational, but that a "rational" response to a sick or dysfunctional system is often a maladaptive one. A good example of this might be poor people who eat a lot of fast food, which on the surface seems like a very irrational choice to make when cooking at home is so much cheaper and unhealthier. Scratch the surface and you see that they spend 2.5 hours on the bus each day and they don't have the necessary pots and pans to cook at home and maybe their crappy apartment doesn't have a stove that regularly works or there is no grocery store in their neighborhood. Given those conditions, it might actually be rational, if sub-optimal, to choose the high-caloric and quick fast food.

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #34 on: May 04, 2017, 02:30:16 AM »
To split hairs here on the subject of rationality: my opinion is that people are mostly rational, but that a "rational" response to a sick or dysfunctional system is often a maladaptive one. A good example of this might be poor people who eat a lot of fast food, which on the surface seems like a very irrational choice to make when cooking at home is so much cheaper and unhealthier. Scratch the surface and you see that they spend 2.5 hours on the bus each day and they don't have the necessary pots and pans to cook at home and maybe their crappy apartment doesn't have a stove that regularly works or there is no grocery store in their neighborhood. Given those conditions, it might actually be rational, if sub-optimal, to choose the high-caloric and quick fast food.

Point taken, I can agree with you here.
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Just Joe

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #35 on: May 04, 2017, 02:50:34 AM »
Perhaps young people like the excitement of diversity and new complicated life, but when they start having kids realize they want simple and quiet.

Case in point; ourselves. lived in a townhome within walking distance of a grocery store and several restaurants, didn't have to drive anywhere other than work. but it had a chaotic parking lot, dog mess in the back yard, loud parties and shenanigans. So now I rent it out to college kids. We have a huge yard, chickens, etc. safe fenced in yards for kids.

I know for us, schools figured heavily into our equations. We could have lived downtown in a certain city where DW and I grew up but the downtown schools were and are very troubled. Our solution was to move to small town where the schools are better but the jobs were fewer in number but eventually we settled into two good jobs. Short commute, low crime, etc.

bblinley

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #36 on: May 08, 2017, 10:12:12 PM »
Cargo Biker - we started a bi annual block party in our neighborhood and it has been a great way to get to know neighbors. At the first party people who had lived next door to each other for years were introduced for the first time. It's a nice way for the introverts to have a chance to meet people.

So, make the block party a regular thing!

And if you get anywhere with the city council let me know. I'm trying to work with mine to make a recently renovated street into bike/bus only

CargoBiker

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #37 on: May 09, 2017, 04:24:22 AM »
Cargo Biker - we started a bi annual block party in our neighborhood and it has been a great way to get to know neighbors. At the first party people who had lived next door to each other for years were introduced for the first time. It's a nice way for the introverts to have a chance to meet people.

So, make the block party a regular thing!

And if you get anywhere with the city council let me know. I'm trying to work with mine to make a recently renovated street into bike/bus only

City council is bought and paid for, unfortunately.  Can't upset the status quo.

Thanks for your feedback about the block party!  I didn't end up doing ours, because we kept having rainy Fridays, and then my son was born, so I've been a little pre-occupied.

When things settle down though, I'm gonna get it going!
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bblinley

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #38 on: May 09, 2017, 07:14:26 AM »
Well a new baby shakes up everything :) Congratulations!

bblinley

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #39 on: May 09, 2017, 07:42:26 AM »
It's important to put Robert Putnam's research in context, his findings were for the short-term. Most people withdraw when they don't know someone well. As he states in an interview "...over the long run, as we get to know one another, and as we begin to see things that we have in common with people who don't look like us, this allergy to diversity tends to diminish and to go away."

In my own community we have block parties twice a year. I know many of our neighbors and they know each other. Putnam's study should not be used to argue against diverse neighborhoods but rather for people to come out and take the time to get to know each other.

“The thing that seems to be most lacking in our country is empathy. We don’t talk to each other anymore. I also know that it is almost impossible to hate someone once you know their story.” - Glynn Washington, Snap Judgment

Optimiser

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Re: The Happy City and our $20 Trillion Opportunity
« Reply #40 on: July 17, 2017, 05:41:24 PM »
I checked out the book from the library, and am really enjoying it so far. I realized MMM touched on it in the blog post, but I had no idea that so much of our current situation was not created by the free market, but instead by government policy.