Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


National Harbor to cyclists, pedestrians: Drop dead

Saturday was the official opening of the Wilson Bridge active transportation crossing. It's hard to find a better facility in the region. Beginning at the Mount Vernon Trail on South Washington Street in Alexandria, the path is wide and spacious to accommodate all users, the kiosks along the route are informative and the view north is spectacular. On the Maryland side, the bridge over the Beltway is beautiful and the curving ramps down to ground level, while steep, are not too sharp. Everyone who worked on this project, including engineers, advocates, politicians and planners, should be congratulated for a job well done.


Welcome to National Harbor! Please don't ride your bike.

However, the honeymoon comes to a screeching halt upon reaching the pathway that leads to National Harbor. The trail connection is crushed asphalt; after a short distance the trail enters National Harbor property and changes to a crushed clamshell surface trail known as the Harborwalk. Upon reaching the "downtown" of National Harbor, cyclists on Saturday encountered a security guard ordering them to dismount. While the guard was friendly, the presence of a uniformed officer whose sole duty is to tell a cyclist not to ride her bike hardly makes a place bike-friendly.


Wilson Bridge crossing: On the smooth path toward disappointment. Photo by Eric Gilliland
The security guard and another employee both told me that there were no bike racks in the entire National Harbor facility. In fact, hoop racks have been installed along Waterfront Street, although there are no racks where the trail enters the complex. As a result, cyclists locked wherever space could be found - on lamp and sign posts, along railings and next to trash cans. During the afternoon, crowd control barriers were set up to provide temporary parking near the trailhead. "We were totally unprepared for this," the guard told me, as if the Wilson Bridge opening was a secret and no one bothered to tell National Harbor. Rocell Viniard, director of marketing for National Harbor, told me later that developer the Peterson Companies was well aware of the Wilson Bridge path opening even if that awareness didn't travel down the command chain. She also said that National Harbor is looking to install bike racks where the Harborwalk enters the downtown area and that there is a possibility that the Harborwalk would be paved in the future, though she stressed that the pathway was intended for leisure walks and jogs by hotel guests and residents, who appreciate the look and feel of a crushed clamshell surface.

Bicycle advocates are dissatisfied. Jim Hudnall of the Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club said that "more will be done to improve the [National Harbor] connection, but it is not clear who will do what" to improve the section between the Wilson Bridge trail and National Harbor property. Noting that this section was until last Wednesday "mostly mud" and that the crushed asphalt "was a quick fix done at the end of last week," Hudnall is not sure why the trail was not paved to the National Harbor property line in the first place. Eric Gilliland of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association calls the new Wilson Bridge crossing an "incredible facility" but is also not satisfied with the Maryland side. "The connection into National Harbor needs to be paved and signed and more bike parking is needed at National Harbor itself," he says. In addition, "the connection from the end of the National Harbor access trail at Oxon Hill Road to Oxon Hill Farm and the Oxon Run Trail needs to be made a priority." WABA is also calling for the elimination of the 10 mph speed limit on the Wilson Bridge trail and the repeal of rules limiting bridge access to between 5:30 am and midnight.


Ride somewhere else, kid.
National Harbor's approach to cyclists and pedestrians is short-sighted. If the property's management was caught off-guard by the increased demand for cycling access, shame on them. The Wilson Bridge crossing was years in the works and provides a direct connection to the Mount Vernon Trail, one of the nation's most popular trails for tourists, commuters and local residents. Perhaps without even intending to, National Harbor is writing off a significant potential customer base. National Harbor's windshield perspective is evident on its website's directions page, which has detailed freeway directions and a small link to a Metrobus schedule for the route that serves its facility. There is not a single mention of walking or biking.

Let's put this in perspective. For car drivers, this would be like driving on a new freeway, only for the off-ramp to the nearby mall to suddenly become a dirt road. Then, after driving down the dirt road to the mall, a posted guard tells drivers to get out of their cars. He then says that the mall's management had no idea a new freeway was opening, didn't expect people to drive there, that there isn't any parking and that they don't ever plan to pave the dirt road since it looks pretty the way it is. If that's unacceptable for our automobile infrastructure, this is unacceptable for our active transportation infrastructure.

We already knew that National Harbor was designed and built with minimal consideration for transit access. Now we also know that the same amount of thought was given to those who arrive by bike and on foot. Despite claims by Rocell Viniard of National Harbor that "we are thrilled to welcome the cyclists to National Harbor and are making every effort to make it as convenient as possible," it seems the only types of customers National Harbor has bothered to accommodate with any level of seriousness are those who arrive by car or boat.

Stephen Miller lived in the District from 2008 to 2011 and is now a student at Pratt Institute's city and regional planning masters program. 

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National Harbor Welcomes MD/DC/VA Bicyclists!

Now, get the hell off the bike or you're under arrest.

Gaylord doesn't care about bicyclists as they're not the types to blow $24.95 on a plate of General Tso's at Grace Mandarin. Show up in a stretch limo next time with a Black Amex Card and watch their attitude change.

by monkeyrotica on Jun 9, 2009 9:16 am • linkreport

Then don't reward them with your business. Let's see, generic, anti-urban, anti-pedestrian/cyclist, tourist trap, built by a scumbag (who bought "The Awakening" and moved it away from a superior spot on Hains Point) in a greenfield along the Potomac. Everything about that place is wrong. I've never been, and can't see myself going.

Can't imagine why any cyclist would, either. If you REALLY want to eat at a mediocre restaurant, I'm sure you can do so without being hassled in Bethesda or Rosslyn.

by CP on Jun 9, 2009 9:22 am • linkreport

shockingly, I have been to national harbor once. I remember my surprise at seeing a few bike racks because it is completely inaccessible and the entire project is, what, 8 square blocks?

While a slap in the face, I'm less concerned because national harbor is a wasteland and there's no way I'll ever go back. In fact, keeping the types of people that go there trapped in national harbor is kind of a good idea...

by jm on Jun 9, 2009 9:37 am • linkreport

Yikes- talk about bad PR! They should be thrilled people are coming by any means possible.

by SG on Jun 9, 2009 10:00 am • linkreport

This weekend I too experienced the crushed shell bike path, lack of bike racks, and the security guard. So is the path supposed to continue through to the other side of the complex as a bike path, or not? They were having a big Food & Wine Festival there, so perhaps the biking restitcions are temporary?

And have to agree with CP on the placement of "The Awakening" - terrible spot!

As I posted on my blog, National Harbor is Pentagon Row - with boats.

by Glenn on Jun 9, 2009 10:06 am • linkreport

One of the worst hotels I ever stayed at was a Gaylord hotel--the Gaylord Opryland, in Nashville. I'm sure this one is just as awful.

Re. the proposal to nix the 10-mph speed limit: Maybe 10 is a bit slow, but if the path is truly to be for everyone, there needs to be some speed limit so that we don't have more bike-ped crashes. I say this as someone who has been a pretty serious cyclist and still rides on occasion.

by JB on Jun 9, 2009 10:32 am • linkreport

Let me return National Harbor's unfriendly salute with a sincere "Drop dead yourself, I prefer to stay healthy and will go get my snack in old Town Alexandria, please install a roundabout at the end of the bridge so I can turn around easier".

By the way, I don't think we should focus our anger and frustration at the National Harbor management. They are acting completely predictably. We should be angry and frustrated at the naive Maryland and PG politicians that allowed Gaylord to build this monstrosity. They did not think of bikers and pedestrians. They did not implement transit there. Their negligence now leaves the DC area for decades with frustrated conference visitors, who do not understand why the hell they can't get out of National Harbor to Alexandria and Washington, where they thought their conference was.

by Jasper on Jun 9, 2009 10:57 am • linkreport

National Harbor is a destination spot for convention groups from out of town. These guys aren't coming in on bikes ... Hence probably why they didn't make provisions for a trail to bring in touring bicyclists on to the property. If you want to convince them to make it bicycle friendly, I'd start with convincing them that their guests might like the opportunity of renting a bike from them for evening outings over the bridge to Old Town. (Remember, their typical guests are in meetings all day. They just get 'some free time' once meetings are finished.) Of course, as we've discussed before, National Harbor's business model is to have a "stranded hotel guest" who is forced to eat and drink in their restaurants and bars. They might not be up for anything that enables/encourages their guests to do otherwise ... including having easy access to Old Town and its restaurants.

by Lance on Jun 9, 2009 11:06 am • linkreport

I think NH's complete dismissal that opening a bike lane on Wilson Br. would impact them is illustrative of the generally under-appreciated and unrecognized, by upper level planners and managers everywhere, desire among the populace for automobile atlernatives. Well that sentence isn't constructed very well but maybe you all can discern my meaning.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 11:17 am • linkreport

The problem goes beyond National Harbor . . . Maryland and DC also don't seem to have offered connecting bike trails, which would be a lot more useful. While confronting a guard isn't that nice, do you really want to bike through National Harbor? Where does it take you? Not much of anywhere. It's short-sighted on their part, but, hey, it's a private business and they'll lose out.

by ah on Jun 9, 2009 11:33 am • linkreport

NH was promoted to MD and PGC as a recreation destination for locals too, not only as a meeting place for out of town guests. They have 2-to-4 hr max parking meters on the newly constructed streets. For me this is a big point of criticism -that they built this place envisioniing it as a regional destination and didn't plan for transit as a mode of arrival/departure (or biking, it appears). The blame for this failure of understanding goes to NH as well as MD and PGC. Why did MD and PGC allow for such stupid planning? Perhaps someones palms were greased. Or, the desire for non-auto transport is woefully underappreciated/underestimated by upper level desicion makers/planners. Or both.

Are we now going to hear from that guy who thinks criticsm of NH is part of a conspiracy against economic development in PGC?

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 11:35 am • linkreport

@ Bianchi

They are looking for people that are going to go there on nights and weekends and spend lots of money. I don't think the demographic that rides the metro for that purpose during that time frame would support such a venture. While the metro in general boasts riders with a high median income level, I would suspect that most of those riders commute to their jobs downtown, but on nights/weekends would want to drive their cars to the restaurants etc. Therefore, transit connectivity isn't all that important.

Going to NH for the first time this weekend (for the Food and Wine Festival), I have to see it really reminded me of an Orlando Theme Park. I guess that's why Disney is thinking of developing there. Anyway, the parks seem to be doing ok, so why change the model?

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 12:04 pm • linkreport

"NH was promoted to MD and PGC as a recreation destination for locals too, not only as a meeting place for out of town guests."

Bianchi, They would have been foolish to not say they are going to be a recreation destination for locals when they went for zoning approvals and tax breaks and all that good stuff. It's just good business sense for them to say all that, it makes it easier for the politicians to get voter approval for the zoning changes and the tax breaks. But all one need do is look at other National Harbor sites and it is very very obvious that their business model is to have a 'stranded convention goer' who'll have little choice but to spend their money in NH's restaurants and bars during their free time. Remember this is a convention complex. Companies book conventions there for their employees, association members, etc. and the activities and events are held right in NH's own buildings. NH probably charges "under market" for providing these facilities. And probably can easily do so considering the costs for building in PG are far far below what they would have been for building in downtown DC ... or in Old Town. THEN they overcharge the convention participants for their meals and drinks. (I'd bet if you looked, their prices are far higher than comparable restaurants and bars in DC and Old Town.) This is a very very profitable business model. Buy your inputs low, sell your outputs high, and keep your clientel isolated so that they must buy from you and now one else. Think of movie theaters. It's the same business model in regards to their concession stand. And that's why a small drink costs $4.

by Lance on Jun 9, 2009 12:08 pm • linkreport

Lance, yes I think you're right about the disingenguous manipulation carried out by NH planners. It certainly looks that way - I think you're right about the discounted convention costs that's the lure to conv. planners too. But I still hold MD, PGC responsible for allowing this business plan to be executed.

Local, oh, I don't know where to start.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 12:40 pm • linkreport

Yes Bianchi "Hold MD, PGC responsible" for allowing a profitable business that brings in tax revenue. Just because it doesn't fit your word view doesn't mean it's bad. When will the "activists" realize that the developers and businesses probably know how to run their own operations? If they can't? Guess what, the market will take them out. No help needed...

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 12:53 pm • linkreport

Local, I was going to comment on your sense of clairvoyance in asserting that, "I don't think the demographic that rides the metro for that purpose during that time frame would support such a venture. While the metro in general boasts riders with a high median income level, I would suspect that most of those riders commute to their jobs downtown, but on nights/weekends...". Thanks for your arm-chair opinion.

As for NH planning ability-if they're so great why didn't they plan for the need for transit for their own employees, and why were they blind-sided by the influx of bikes on the day the bike lane opened on Wilson Bridge? As for MD and PG -There is just too much information available to relate to you here regarding the long-term costs that affect everyone including you that are economically detrimental to the state and county and are not considered in the NH plan, examplified(sp?) by a powerful politician pushing through exemption of the EIS, not to see the desicion makers as ignorant. It's my world and i have a stake in it. you don't get to tell me what i care about and what I consider "bad". Nice try though!

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 1:22 pm • linkreport

Bianchi, of course I can't tell you what to care about or consider "bad." Nevertheless, I can tell you when you are wrong, which you are. If the cost benefits for the company dictate catering to cyclists, they will. If it dictates catering to transit, they will. If it dictates catering to cars, they will. If they misjudge these costs and or benefits they will fail. It's an objective standard. Reality is there is more money in cars, because more people with buying power want to drive. Simple. Business plan follows reality, not speculation.

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 1:32 pm • linkreport

Local, great. However your rant against me was directed to my comment about public officials in MD and PGC making a descision for their own constituents that will have long-term detrimental effects on the state and county economy. I did not conjure this thought from my sense of values. There is a large body of scientific evidence from which i am informed. It is public record and you are welcome to study it. Begin by asking yourself why a powerful polician pushed through exemption of a mandated EIS.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 1:44 pm • linkreport

Just want to refute the notion that bicycles and conferences do not mix.

The last conference I went to was in Boston. I specifically chose my non-conference hotel because it lent out free bicycles and kayaks for people to use. (BTW, it was Millenium Hotel in Boston if anyone is interested.)

A recent conference that I have attended in the past (but not this one) was held at Gaylord. Had I known about National Harbor's treatment of bicyclists, I would have refused to go on principle. As it was, part of the reason I decided not to go was because I get around by bicycle and not being about to bicycle there easily from Virginia means that I could not use my bicycle to get to evening events.

by Ren on Jun 9, 2009 1:53 pm • linkreport

@ Local: Your reasoning is incorrect. You are right to say that businesses only serve profitable customers.

However, the opposite is not true. It is not true that customers who are not being served by a company could not be profitable either. They might be outside the business-model, they might be harder to reach, whatever. But the fact that a customer is not targeted by a company does not mean that that customer is a lost cause. I am 6'8". When I ask stores why they don't carry my size, they answer: There is no demand. They are wrong. I just expressed demand. It is just that there are few tall people, so they need to carry fewer products. Casual Male makes plenty of money of tall folks.

Furthermore, you silently assume that business decisions are always right. Just look at the state of the financial industry to see that they are not.

Business plan follows reality, not speculation.

A plan is by definition an expectation. The future can not be predicted. Reality is what happens, not what is expected, assumed or speculated to happen. Reality does not care what people planned, expected, assumed or speculated.

We are represented by politicians to point out such mistakes by companies. MD and PG politicians should have figured out what kind of company Gaylords is. They are responsible.

@ Lance: You are trolling. I will ignore you.

by Jasper on Jun 9, 2009 1:55 pm • linkreport

Lance I'm defending you. Jasper he's not trolling. Or maybe I think that becasue i agree with his assessment completely on this subject. ;-). But also, Jasper, thanks for pointing out the other observations in your comment.

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang oft astray" (sp?)

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 2:13 pm • linkreport

Jasper, yes business only support profitable customers. If there was no profit there would be no business. However, you are correct to point out that you can make a profit in niche markets such as larger clothing sizes (profitable, but simply on a smaller scale), but you wouldn't expect every clothing company to carry your size because there isn't enough demand to make such clothing profitable (for the particular business). That's where other, more specialized retailers step in (such as your Casual Male example). There is in fact a market for people to take transit/cycle to. It is Downtown. I just don't see how National Harbor is a "mistake" considering they forked over 28 million dollars of tax revenue to the county/state last year alone. It's a hugely successful project, and that has a lot to do with their particular business model.

Further, I said that if business are wrong there will be an objective result, and the bank example shows clearly that this is the case. Failure is a part of business, and when the government tries to intervene to prevent failure it only makes the issues worse (again, see the bank situation) What makes you think activists and politicians can make better predictions than the market? In comparison to activists and government, I'll take the Gaylord management 6 days a week and twice on Sunday. Proof is in the pudding, and even in this economy they are doing well. It should show you something...

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 2:16 pm • linkreport

@ Local: I just don't see how National Harbor is a "mistake" considering they forked over 28 million dollars of tax revenue to the county/state last year alone.

Success is not counted in dollars. If that were the case we would call the government a business.

when the government tries to intervene to prevent failure it only makes the issues worse

Bogus. Due to your own logic. Business will only support profitable customers. A change in rules only changes who are the profitable customers. Business will adapt and find them. I'd add that there are very many government rules that help businesses, but they like to conveniently forget how much they depend on silly little things like contract-law, a widely accepted currency, infrastructure, peace, safety, etc. But that's not the point of discussion.

What makes you think activists and politicians can make better predictions than the market?.

Because politicians, activists, economists, scientists and even religious leaders have more on their mind that share-holder profit and this intangible and pretty unpredictable thing you call "the market". What makes you think that makes business leaders so special that they are better in predicting "the market"? Can you even explain what that means "the market"?

by Jasper on Jun 9, 2009 2:33 pm • linkreport

Jasper, thank you.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 2:48 pm • linkreport

@Local, I think what we have here is a value problem. You say 'Yes Bianchi "Hold MD, PGC responsible" for allowing a profitable business that brings in tax revenue.' But that can't be the only issue right? Profit and tax revenue are only one item. I mean I could probably build a pretty profitable hotel on the south lawn of the White House, but that wouldn't make it a success. I could build an even more profitable casino. And probably a nice coal fueled power plant. Or a brothel. You see where I'm going?

Not every profitable business is a success, because there are other values to consider. Bianchi is saying, if I may be so bold as to presume, that (1) PGC and MD placed too much value on profit and tax revenue and not enough on the environment, livability, health, etc... and (2) if tax revenue is all that matters, NH's poor management is not maximizing that revenue. Their bad planning vis-a-vis transit and cycling is leaving money on the table.

by David C on Jun 9, 2009 3:05 pm • linkreport

David, pretty good presumption on both counts!

Also, those things (environment, livability, health) when detrimentally affected cost the state and county a LOT of money. Therefore if we are judging success on the single criterium of "profitabile to the state/county" this plan falls short when viewed from the longterm economic interests of the state and county.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 3:39 pm • linkreport

A change in rules only changes who are the profitable customers.

Because politicians, activists, economists, scientists and even religious leaders have more on their mind that share-holder profit and this intangible and pretty unpredictable thing you call "the market".

Jasper, so I assume that the government should always decide what is the profitable market? Hasn't this been a failure over and over and over again. Doesn't this type of thinking leave us with things like massive corn subsidies, sugar tariffs, and farmers paid to let crops rot? Quite simply when you leave it up to government to decide the winners and losers in the market, you get governance by whatever special interest is best at greasing the skids that particular week.

What makes you think that makes business leaders so special that they are better in predicting "the market"?

Simple. Accountability. If the business fails, leaders are sacked, and/or business loose money. On the other hand politicians are re-elected what like 95% of the time, scientists have their tenure, and "activists" are never responsible for their failures. Without incentives and accountability nothing works, see for example the soviet union.

I'll also take a crack at defining the "market." -- A mechanism for the most efficient delivery of desired goods and services to a population utilizing scarce resources.

Because no politician, scientist, activist, or church leader can or should mandate what the people want or need, the people drive the market through demand and with their dollars. So yes Jasper, to a great degree it is in fact all about the Benjamins. When the cast of characters previously mentioned begins to tell the people what they want, be it through taxation or regulation, the system begins to break down causing dead weight losses and other inefficiencies. Thus the sinking tide brings down all boats. But hey, at least we "tried to make the world a better place" Give me a break...

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 3:45 pm • linkreport

I don't get it. There's clearly a failure of their business plan here. Will allowing bikes make their profit margins go down? If the boardroom is stuck in a mindset from a decade ago and the information about the apparent popularity of cycling isn't filtering back up, then that suggests some poor management.

by цarьchitect on Jun 9, 2009 4:23 pm • linkreport

If they don't want to allow bike riding on their property, I'd say that in the end it's really their business and no one elses'. There are plenty of places to go riding around the metro area. I'm sure we won't be lacking for one less 'by the river' area to bike on. And I do have to say, recognizing their business model which is to have a captive clientel, why would they want to facilitate bike riding. It would be their revenue dollars riding out on those bikes as their clientel visited Old Town restaurants and bars.

by Lance on Jun 9, 2009 4:29 pm • linkreport

Allowing bikes may add expenses that aren't consistent with their business model. As noted above, having drop-in bikers may not be a group NH can serve within their business. And welcoming bikers requires racks and/or paths, and they may prefer to dedicate the paths to runners from the hotel, and thereby avoid bike/ped conflicts. And why would NH provide a through pathway for bikers coming over the WW bridge (now, PGC could have required it, but that's a different issue).

by ah on Jun 9, 2009 4:31 pm • linkreport

businesses probably know how to run their own operations...If they can't..Guess what, the market will take them out.

Unless that business is AIG or a multi-national bank, then they get a taxpayer-funded bailout.

by National on Jun 9, 2009 4:35 pm • linkreport

If the business fails, leaders are sacked, and/or business loose money.

Or the leaders get a multi-million dollar golden parachute and/or the employees get screwed.

by National on Jun 9, 2009 4:41 pm • linkreport

Unless that business is AIG or a multi-national bank, then they get a taxpayer-funded bailout

Again, showing my point that when the government butts in we all get the shaft...

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 4:41 pm • linkreport

ah, I see what you're saying, but those costs are pretty close to marginal, compared to building a huge development.

by цarьchitect on Jun 9, 2009 4:45 pm • linkreport

Again, showing my point that when the government butts in we all get the shaft...

Like the citizens of PG county got the shaft when their government approved this monstrosity.

by Wayne Curry on Jun 9, 2009 4:50 pm • linkreport

цarьchitect -- I understand that, and maybe it's bad management or bad foresight. But say it costs $500k to put in paths/racks and whatever facilities up front. Maybe they doubted bikers would spend $500k (or however much needed to result in $500k in profits) in the next few years (or whatever their internal hurdle is). I doubt bikers would be coming to eat fancy meals--more like getting a granola bar, soda/drink, perhaps a light meal.

Anyway, the big unanswered question is whether there was another developer who was willing to pay as much but who would have installed more bike-friendly amenities. Perhaps such existed. Perhaps not. And if not, PGC wasn't exactly in a position to demand much.

by ah on Jun 9, 2009 4:53 pm • linkreport

I thought this tiresome "government is the problem" rhetoric went out with Katrina.

by Trig Palin on Jun 9, 2009 4:55 pm • linkreport

@Local: so I assume that the government should always decide what is the profitable market?

Euhm. Where did I say that? No. Personally, I don't care much for this market thing. Let me rephrase. I don't care much fro profit-maximization for all companies. Read the economy section of your prefered news source for the bad results of that. How's your retirement fund doing?

Accountability. If the business fails, leaders are sacked, and/or business loose money.

Seriously? Do you really want to hold that up these days?

Because what I see is that my retirement fund is down. And that car factory employees are being sacked. And that dealerships are being closed. I am not aware of any of the big-money CEOs having any comparable financial hardship. For them, they only lost half of an unspendable amount of money, ending up with an equally unspendable amount of money. Yet, they caused this mess. How is that accountability?

A mechanism for the most efficient delivery of desired goods and services to a population utilizing scarce resources.

Hmmm. Nice try. Now explain me how this "market" thing of yours gets me a bike path from the Wilson Bridge to National Harbor. Did "the market" build that new, wider Woodrow Wilson Bridge, that was very desired?. How does "the market" get me a cure against cancer?

Because no politician, scientist, activist, or church leader can or should mandate what the people want or need, the people drive the market through demand and with their dollars.

Are you aware of this thingie we do with elections? The concept of democracy, where people elect their leaders who then legislate and execute what the people want? Are you aware of the change of power here in DC? People didn't like what was going on, threw the sitting bunch out, and got another dude in to give it a try?

When the cast of characters previously mentioned begins to tell the people what they want, be it through taxation or regulation, the system begins to break down causing dead weight losses and other inefficiencies.

Politicians don't tell people what to do. We, the people tell politicians what to do. During elections. Scientists don't tell people what to do either. They explain what is going on with pretty convincing theories. Economists try to explain the economy, and some even try to figure out this "market" thing.

You are correct that people can influence companies with their dollars. However, this can not be very common knowledge, because Chrysler, GM, Lehman, Wachovia, AIG and Enron leaders all looked pretty shell-shocked when they found out. My guess is they were thinking it worked differently.

So, to end this debate that got completely of topic, in business, money matters. Elsewhere, not so much.

by Jasper on Jun 9, 2009 4:58 pm • linkreport

local, Land use is correlated with long-term health outcomes. PGC and MD officials appear to have not considered this with NH.

Land use plans that have long-term detrimental effects on the environment and human health create a demand for dollars spent on healthcare. This contributes to a poor economic environment for the affected state and county. In fact it's the cost of health care and attendant losses (inability to work due to illness, etc) that many economists point to as that which will bankrupt the US. Healthcare costs are the number one reason for individual bankruptcies and the majority of those people had coverage.

There are so many examples of people making decisions that saved lives, hardship, and, in the long run, money; decisions that hindered short term economic gain; examples of people working within the auspices of the institutions you denigrate. Look up Frances Oldham Kelsey for one example.

There are indeed more important things then monetary profit and no, the "market" can not regulate itself to an acceptable degree because the "market" is not an omniscient benevolent god.

Again, see the gift Kelsey gave thousands of US babies and their families as she worked in two of the institutions you consider unworthy of consulting when big decisions affecting thousands of people are made. Kelsey’s influence and decision was excoriated by "business". Then ask yourself why slavery in the US was abolished-after all it was a profitable business plan. Are you really prepared to argue that dead babies, slavery and induced chronic disease are acceptable if profitable? The “market” will respond when enough babies are harmed and people stop using the product? That’s your argument? What about prevention? Prevention is widely accepted as a cost saving measure: “a stitch in time saves nine”, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “waste not want not”, etc.

Land use planning can have a positive affect on health outcomes that will save money for everyone from individuals to counties to states. MD and PGC officials did not consider this. Or they ignored it.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 5:28 pm • linkreport

Bianchi,

Granted she did some good work on thalidomide, and there is a place for some limited regulation, especially when it comes to drugs. The key word is LIMITED regulation, as the free market is the best tool to positively influence long term health outcomes. How has our life expectancy done in the last century? Oh yeah that's right, it's almost doubled. That is thanks mostly to private health care and drug companies that you so denigrate and the innovations that a profit motive brings.

by Local on Jun 9, 2009 6:11 pm • linkreport

sorry forgot to close tag.

by local on Jun 9, 2009 6:12 pm • linkreport

Local, you're mistaken. i did not denigrate private healthcare or scientific discovery. i extolled them. That's not the issue. You keep trying to change the subject. Please look up life expectancies for the generation who are 12-18 years old now. The "best tool to positively influence long term health outcomes" is prevention.

Again, Land use planning can have a positive, preventive affect on health outcomes that will save money for everyone from individuals to counties to states. MD and PGC officials did not consider this. Or they ignored it. Those life expentancies you looked up are correlated with land use.

by Bianchi on Jun 9, 2009 6:32 pm • linkreport

Maybe I was just lucky. Or too early (i.e. beating most of the bicycle crowd), but I didn't have that problem with the security guard when I got to National Harbor. Heck, I don't even recall seeing any security guards...but then again I was out of there and headed back to the bridge by 1pm.

by Froggie on Jun 9, 2009 8:16 pm • linkreport

@ Local: I am noticing you are not answering my questions.

How has our life expectancy done in the last century?

Euhm. Wrong example. According to the CIA, the US is 30th in world wide life expectancy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

The US has the most capitalistic and expensive health care system in the world. So, according to you life expectancy should be the longest. Dollars point the right way right?

How come the US trails countries like France, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and the UK, that have very strongly government controlled health care systems.

How come the US is behind places like war-ridden places like Bosnia and Herzegovina and Israel and a dictatorship like Jordan?

Oh, and how come it is the Federal Government that is sponsoring the NIH, and not private industry? It is actually the NCI that has the goal of eliminating suffering and death by 2015, not Big Pharma.

by Jasper on Jun 9, 2009 9:02 pm • linkreport

Is this the part where I pretend I'm David and I say "thread closed"?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 9, 2009 9:09 pm • linkreport

@Michael Perkins: Yes, please. Let's get back on topic here.

by Stephen Miller on Jun 9, 2009 11:11 pm • linkreport

Ok, I can't really close the thread, but let's get back to arguing about land use and local governments rather than libertarian capitalism vs. government controlled socialism here.

Question to the libertarian capitalists out there: In a purely free market, land developers like Gaylord do not have to take into account the negative effects like traffic congestion, pollution (local and general), land use, impervious surface, etc. Should a county/city be able to make some restrictions on how land is used in order to reduce these external costs?

by Michael Perkins on Jun 10, 2009 9:01 am • linkreport

@ MP: Sorry. I got carried away.

by Jasper on Jun 10, 2009 10:10 am • linkreport

Whichever of you cowardly dolts is impersonating me by using my name should stop, grow up, and get out of the closet.

by Wayne Curry on Jun 10, 2009 12:10 pm • linkreport

Sorry to say but this just clearly shows how unhealthy people from PG county is. A healthy County always patronizes any sport especially cycling. You can also see people littering by the walkways ..... what a shame... this county needs some enlightenment about not to litter as well as how to stay healthy. my 2 dollars to the issue (we need more than 2 cents)

by Mike A. on Aug 26, 2009 10:10 am • linkreport

National Harbor is very bicycle unfriendly. Went to the Gaylord hotel for an assignment via bicycle. No bike racks anywhere, not even in the parking garage. Locked bike to railing. Lousy crushed shell path turns back my buddies with narrow road tires. Gaylord wants to have an appearance of high class so they fear bikes will spoil the illusion. Come in your big boat or fancy car or go away. I guess our money is not green enough.

by Peter Roof on Jul 27, 2010 10:46 pm • linkreport

Just stumbled across this old thread. 2012 update... no pavement but there are plenty of (empty) bike racks now.

by mn on Aug 27, 2012 11:01 am • linkreport

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