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Breakfast links: governmental lameness edition

Bye, bye pedestrian pie: DDOT bows to ANC pressure and reconfigures the Morrison Street pedestrian signal into a classic traffic light.

Proposed design for the Watha T. Daniel/
Shaw library. Photo from DCPL.

FTA sucks part 937: The Federal Transit Administration continues its attempts to make itself obsolete by ensuring transit can't ever achieve economies of scale. This time, they're forbidding city transit systems (including DC's) from transporting kids to school, despite the fact that it's cheaper (due to the buses already being there and all).

Not the very model of a modern DC library: Ward 2 Council candidate Cary Silverman is disappointed with plans for the Shaw library. It's basically a classic library inside a modern-looking building, not a modern library that caters to the needs of a modern community.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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That's too bad about the pedestrian signal. I hadn't heard of it before. What I think is that it is too confusing when these innovations are piecemeal. One place it's like this, another place it's like that. I suspect that for something like this to work, it would have to be done wholesale throughout the city. Then there'd be tons of publicity and everyone would know about it, and there'd be less danger. Of course it'd probably also be more difficult to push it through. It would be cool if you could post links to pictures or something to the way it was in the 70s (and before?).

by June on Jun 28, 2008 9:04 am • linkreport

This FTA rule is insane. Can congress write legislation to get rid of this rule? Is this rule an example of what happens when idealogues are appointed and career professionals are fired? Can we hope that leaders in the FTA who made this rule may be replaced if we have a party change in the Executive Branch? Can the legality of this rule be challenged, for instance on civil rights grounds in districts disproportianely represented by students "at risk", such as DC's? This is just so stupid it leaves one incredulous. I hope you post a correction later saying it's a mistake.

by Bianchi on Jun 28, 2008 9:26 am • linkreport

Seriously, the FTA needs to change its name to something like the Transit Destruction Administration. That's all it seems to do these days.

On the other hand, it's exactly what happens when conservatives run the government: They run by saying government is the problem, and when elected, they prove it.

by Adam on Jun 28, 2008 10:23 am • linkreport

"The rule is designed to ensure that publicly funded transit systems don’t infringe on the private charter bus industry, but officials said" - Well, there's your problem.

The district is forbidden from subsidizing several classes of riders in order to protect private business from having to compete for the money of one of those classes. This isn't incompetency or a lack of skill caused by cleaning house of non-Republicans, this is *explicitly* plain, old, expected neocon corporatist-fascism. Screw the public, the corporations are the important ones.


The primary resource for a library in this day and age is *space*, not just public-private partnership or street frontage or architectural thrills. Those things are nice, but not necessary. Call it whatever you want if it gets you funding - the Shaw micro-Community College, the Community Center, the Neighborhood Center, the Neighborhood Hall, the Library, Regional Education Center, anything... and build it underground, or twenty stories up, with cement-block walls and no windows. Few will care.

As long as it's within *easy* reach of transit for the neighborhood, it's got at least than 100,000 square feet (about twice what Wheaton Library has) and it the resources to fill that with internet access, a decent circulation, comfortable chairs, computer labs, and a good number of empty rooms, it will be used and considered impressive.

The farther below that space you go, the less it's able to function as a popular 21st century library, and the more it serves as a kind of desperate attempt at literacy advocacy for people who won't visit a library on their own - the eventual conclusion being 60 square foot 'Book vans' on every corner.

I see no reason not to integrate new libraries into community structures, schools (if you compensate for the much larger traffic from students by upsizing it), and walkable neighborhoods. A cafe would be nice, but not traditional, and slightly difficult to pull off.

The MoCo libraries sell more books than they throw away, and throw away more than they add to circulation - given my hoarding instinct I'm a huge fan of Friends Of The Library Stores ($1-$2 books), but even those end up getting resold a lot of the time by commercial bookstores. Meanwhile, the paperback section of the actual libraries is often pitiful.

Give the librarians enough space and they'll fill it with usefulness on spec from donations in a few years. Take over an old warehouse if you have to, just get it built.

by Squalish on Jun 29, 2008 12:11 pm • linkreport

I generally agree with your posting, however this part --

"and build it underground, or twenty stories up, with cement-block walls and no windows. Few will care."

I am not sure about. Personally, if a library is 20 stories up, I'll probably be twice as unlikely to go to it. Street entrance is the absolute ideal. But I get the overall drift of what you are saying, and in the main, I agree.

by josefine on Jun 29, 2008 3:39 pm • linkreport

DDOT shows its incompetence once again with that pedestrian signal. Installing a light at an unwarranted intersection, failing to educate the public, acquiescing to political (ANC) pressure when there are two self-interested Commissioners driving the train, and then eliminating a solution which has *gasp* actually proven to be successful.

And for what? To install a red-yellow-green signal which will likely screw up Connecticut Avenue traffic.

Why not install the "pedestrian signal" from the Master Pedestrian Plan and call it a day?


by William on Jun 29, 2008 8:53 pm • linkreport

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