Category Archives: Opinion

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Flying cars

When I was young, probably in my pre-teens, I had an old Zenith “tombstone” radio next to my bed (probably a Zenith 5S-228).   I’d listen to comics late at night and news early in the morning.   At some point, probably in the late 50’s Dad bought Becky and me new Motorola portable radios (probably the 5P32R; mine was bright yellow).   This deco-style portable radio used vacuum tubes, and would run off of AC or off of 90-volt and 7.5 volt batteries.  (Remember, although the transistor was developed in 1948, the very first transistor radio was not produced until 1954.  It sold then for $49.95, equivalent to $440 in 2015 dollars.)

By the time I was in high school I was listening a lot to KIMN, the top-40 station in Denver, but in those earlier years I listened almost all the time to KBOL at 1490 kc on your dial.   KBOL was owned and operated by Russ and Ann Shaffer.  (Their son, Rusty, who was a year behind me at Boulder High School, took over the station upon his father’s death.  The KBOL license finally found it’s way to Colorado Public Radio under the current call sign KCFC.)

Anyway, the important thing is that Russ Shaffer would offer an editorial every Friday morning, and one of those has stuck in my mind.  Russ envisioned a day when we would commute around town in our personal helicopters.   Even at that age I’d begun to develop a certain realism (that has since evolved into cynicism) and I remember vividly that I snorted out loud at the thought:  People can’t even handle driving, where they are constrained to two dimensions, how could they handle flying in three?  In bad weather personal helicopters would be falling out of the clouds at the points where popular routes intersected.   Looking before “backing out of your driveway” would take on a life-or-death importance.

I didn’t fault Russ for being a dreamer, however.

Which brings me to today and Sean Mayer.  Mayer is the CEO of the local business development organization, and he offers a column in the local pull-out business section each Friday.  It’s fair to say that I don’t usually think much of Mayer’s columns, since they usually focus on, well, parochial positions favoring business development.   But, today, I found myself in almost-full agreement with him (A Big Idea for Boulder in 2016.)   He sees the future of electrified and automated vehicles, and appreciates the impact that will have on transportation.  And, he advocates that Boulder offer itself to Uber, Google and others as a site for testing developing these emerging technologies.  (You know, sort of a “living lab”.)

I love this idea.  Let’s do it.

But, where Mayer comes off the rails, so to speak, is at the end:

2015 was a divisive year in Boulder as we argued about traffic, transit, bikes and the general difficulty in getting around town. These are 20th Century challenges which could be largely solved by the 21st Century technology of autonomous cars. Let’s think big in 2016 and bring the future to Boulder by embracing this next great technology disruption.

It’s the “largely solved” part that I disagree with.

Electrified transportation will reduce emissions and computer-operated cars will be safer (probably much safer) than those operated by humans (this is realism), but traffic is traffic, whether it consists of electric vehicles or not.  So, let’s dial back that enthusiasm a bit.

Just overlaying the new technology on our existing behavior won’t do the entire job.   For example, applying the Uber model to driver-less cars could make traffic worse–each round trip from my house, for example, would require four vehicle trips.

But, if we are able to change our behavior (a big if), we could end up far better off.   Putting on my dream cap (and dialing back the realism), I could envision a time when a family (at least middle-class families) would have one recreational vehicle, and routine, around-town transportation would happen through an integrated system of mass-transit and Uber-like autonomous vehicles.   The autonomous vehicles would serve as the “last-mile” link to mass transit (itself probably autonomous), and for trips that don’t conform well to the mass-transit system.   Autonomous vehicles would be staged around the community in optimal positions that vary with time of day and predicted demand.  A reservation system could make transportation highly predictable and even more efficient.

Providing the capability for ride sharing for the hoi polloi  would be big efficiency multiplier. (You could program your profile to pass up that sullen and scary woman or that chatty man, or have them pass you up, no matter where they were encountered.  Did I mention privacy concerns?)  And, because these vehicles could be designed to take up less space, both when stored and on the roadway (due to smaller size and the ability to tailgate safely) space currently devoted to the automobile could be re-purposed to other uses.

It is important to recognize if we were to adopt the Uber model using autonomous vehicles we would really be talking about  “supervised autonomous vehicles”.  This model leads to one more operational advantage.  Have you ever been sitting at the departure gate on a flight when the captain comes on the PA and says “Folks, things are bit congested out there in Denver, so ATC has given us a fifteen minute traffic hold.  Sorry about that; we’ll try to make up the lost time.”   The purpose of these traffic holds is to have you sit safely on the ground at your departure airport instead of flying in circles near your arrival airport, in bad weather and in proximity to a lot of other airplanes.   In other words, it reduces congestion thus improving safety.   The Ubermind could do the same thing for local transport, thus reducing traffic delays.  Perhaps you could get a discount for accepting the “traffic hold” or pay a premium to ignore it.

This model, or something like it, could change other aspects of our lives.  Because automated vehicles would “go home” at night to otherwise unused parking facilities, the problem of “too many parked cars” would become less of an obstacle to allowing high-occupancy residences.  Perhaps this would allow us to open up the potential for auxiliary dwelling units that would 1) improve the jobs/housing balance in Boulder and 2) give middle-income couples, singles and small families some income to offset high home prices.

But perhaps more culturally significant, the relegation of the fancy car to the status of a recreational vehicle would make routine transportation a commodity instead of a statement of style, self-worth and independence, and separating speed and noise from the accelerator pedal, in fact eliminating the accelerator pedal entirely, would decouple transportation from illusions of power and control.  That is, this big idea could change our entire relationship with the automobile.

With that relationship healed then perhaps, sometime in the 21st century, Boulder will pry the car out of the cold dead hands (heh, heh) of drivers and follow hundreds of examples in many dozens of  truly innovative cities that will have put their streets on a four-lane-to-three-lane “road diet”, aka “right-sizing”.   Perhaps sometime in his career, Mayer will be able to advocate this as an example of how Boulder can embrace the trailing edge of innovation.

The 2 percent

Over the last thirty years I’ve kept in my mind the fact that there are about 3,500 counties in the U.S.  I learned this when we developed a CD-ROM streamflow database and needed to code in the county in which each stream gauge was located.

But, my recollection was off a bit–there are 3,144 counties and “county equivalents” in the U.S.  I learned this a few days ago from the Los Angeles Times, along with a more disturbing fact–two percent of those counties account for more than half the executions in the U.S.

From The 2% Death Penalty

I’ve long opposed the death penalty, but that opposition was hard to maintain in the face of some of the cruel crimes people commit.  Some people just need killing, is how a not-liberal friend put it, crudely.  Even after I’d come to my opposition, I would find myself throwing horrible crimes up in front of my more dogmatic friends to try to shake their certainty, and perhaps mine.   The death penalty, war and abortion are not easy things to be thoughtful about–it’s much easier to be dogmatic.

What initially brought me to opposition to the death penalty was the certainty that it would be, that it had been, applied in error.  By error I mean the clear case where the accused was not even involved in the crime.  Many people have been exonerated from death row, proving that convictions have been made in error.  I’ve heard people argue that there is no proof that the wrong person has ever been executed, but that notion is laughable.  I  am certain that by now someone has established error in execution “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Later I came to understand the bigger problem with the death penalty: when you did do the crime, your likelihood of receiving the death penalty depended on your race, the race of your victim, your wealth and where you lived.  Some argue that the relatively small chance of erroneously executing someone is the price we pay for safety or deterrence or accountability or whatever.  But, the effect of jurisdiction, at least, is huge and systematic–those two percent of counties contain only about 16% of the U.S. population, but commit 52% of the executions.  At a finer scale, the differences can be even greater:

[T]he probability that a notification to seek death will
be filed in Baltimore County is over 13 times higher than in
Baltimore City, even after taking into account important
case characteristics. The probability of being death
notified if a case is in Baltimore County is over five
times greater than if it occurred in Montgomery
County and three times greater than if it occurred in
Anne Arundel County.

R. Paternoster et al., “An Empirical
Analysis Of Maryland’s Death Sentencing System With Respect To The Influence Of Race And Legal Jurisdiction” (2003) (most easily available in The 2% Death Penalty (pdf))

As long as we allow any discretion in the application of the death penalty these differences will remain.   It’s human nature.   I now believe that having to forgo revenge is a relatively small price to pay to maintain our morality.

With respect to the veracity of eyewitness identification, read Picking Cotton, by Jennifer Thompson, Ronald Cotton and Erin Torneo.  This is a story that demonstrates the cruelty, the failings and the beauty of human beings.


Fourmile Canyon Drive

Residents living along Fourmile Canyon Drive are opposing Boulder County’s plans for reconstruction of the roadway following the floods of September, 2013.   Some residents do not want a wide shoulder along the uphill lane because perceptions of increased safety will encourage “…bike races and amateur and tourist cyclists.”  The horror.

The public side of this debate has been framed largely by Valerie Conway, a resident along the road.   Frankly, it seems like she will throw out any thought in hopes that it might get some traction.   She raises lots of concern about wildlife in what is really a low-density subdivision.  She thinks wider shoulders may encourage her neighbors to speed (she is probably right, there).  Most recently she has raised the Right-Sizing brand in an attempt to mobilize the opposition of the broadly malcontent and the reflexive anti-cyclists.   And, in a guest opinion piece she said that “hundreds of skilled cyclists” prefer the inherent danger of the road.  Improving safety on Fourmile Canyon Drive would be like “grooming the Mary Jane ski area”, in her words.   A few days ago she pleaded to a reporter that the County should get on with the reconstruction because “…we just want to get on with our lives.”   Do drive (better yet, ride) this road before it is reconstructed to see for yourself if you would class that statement as hyperbole.   For extra credit, compare and contrast Fourmile Canyon Drive with James Canyon Drive.

Conway makes her preference clear: she wants the “cyclable shoulders” eliminated from all options.

For what it’s worth, here is the input I offered to the County in support of the rock-cut option.  You have until December 18 to offer input here or by e-mail to Andrew Barth with Boulder County Transportation at  You can also send copies to the County Commissioners at

I support the “rock-cut” option for reconstruction of Fourmile Canyon Drive.  The rock cut option will provide additional resilience against flood-caused transportation disruption, while also providing more safety for uphill motorists and bicycles.

Lessons re-learned from the 2013 flood include the realization that no amount of armoring will prevent Fourmile Creek from taking what it needs from the roadway during the next big flood. The more roadway that is farther from the high-velocity regions of the channel the more roadway that will survive during and immediately after a flood. The wide shoulders on the uphill side of the roadway will be available to contribute to emergency transportation. Further, since the bedrock will remain under a larger part of the road as a foundation that the creek cannot take, reconstruction of lost roadway infrastructure after the next flood will be less expensive and faster than if the roadway were to be built on fill in the channel. The rock cut option is a long-term investment in a more resilient road.

With respect to considerations other than flood resilience, I support the installation of an uphill shoulder that can serve as a bicycle climbing land.  This is a good thing.  The existing roadway is dangerous, particularly on right turns on the uphill side.  Autos drive fast, often exceed the speed limit, and cut the corners, exposing bicycles to danger.   This is one reason why the canyon is not more widely used for cycling.  I realize that some residents are motivated to maintain the status quo to avoid increased bicycle use, but it is good for County residents as a whole to make Fourmile Canyon Drive a safer and more attractive cycling route.  The more recreation we can offer to residents where they do not have to get in a car the more we will reduce local and global impacts.

With respect to natural and social values, it is important to recognize that Fourmile Canyon is not a pristine environment.  It is highly developed, and is really a low-density suburb.  By far the largest impacts to wildlife have been imposed by the presence of the road and the presence and development of residential uses, and these impacts are essentially permanent and cannot be reduced.  The incremental negative impact from the rock cut alternative will be small, and it will be offset by a positive impact on the creek and the wildlife that use it.

Vegan Warriors

The IDF is also issuing leather-free combat boots and wool-free berets to soldiers who register as vegan, so they can march into battle knowing that no living creature has been harmed in their provisioning. (What happens during battle is, of course, harder to control.)

That is the only hint of irony to be found in Vegan Warriors in the December, 2015 issue of the Atlantic.

You simply have to read this and draw your own conclusions.

A bastion of conservatism

Thanks to Silvia Pettem for reminding folks that Boulder was not always liberal.  This follows on an interview two weeks ago with Rob Bowman, who managed the Rocky Flats Plant for Dow Chemical.  Bowman characterized Boulder in the ’50s as a “bastion of conservatism”.

“‘In the ’50s, Boulder was a bastion of conservatism, so there was no bad rap in working at Rocky Flats,’ Bowman recalled. ‘There was one professor (at CU) that was known to be quite extremely liberal,’ Bowman said, searching his memory in vain for the name. ‘He was quite well known, because he was the one liberal in town.'”

I’m really curious who that one liberal was, since it was probably the father of a friend.

Pettem fleshes out Bowman’s characterization with some election history and relates the event that contributed most to the progressive liberalization of Boulder: when eighteen-year-olds got the vote.

There is some truth to the commonly held association of 60’s Boulder with hippies and anti-war protesters, but that is an exaggeration.  Outside of the CU campus, Boulder at that time was still broadly conservative–I remember a billboard that stood for quite some time at the intersection of north Broadway and highway 36 in the early 60’s, prominently sponsored by the John Birch Society and urging the impeachment of Earl Warren.

Signs of change were there, even then.  The Sink put a sign in the window advertising “Free beer for any card-carrying Communist”.  This somewhat belated swipe at the McCarthy Red Scare, coming while memories of the Cuban Missile Crisis (a truly existential threat) were still fresh, prompted some offended local to throw a brick through the sign and the window.  (Well, maybe it was not a local–I think political conservatives were still the majority of the CU student population at that time.)  A couple of nights later the John Birch billboard was blown up.  I clearly recall a photo of a Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy holding up the biggest piece of the sign he could find, about the size of a baseball bat.   This was an early demonstration of the doctrine of shock and awe.  No more bricks were thrown.

As Pettem notes, the flood of new young voters that came when the voting age was lowered to eighteen started to change Boulder.  The Twenty Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified by North Carolina on July 1, 1971, becoming the law of the land.  The amendment passed the Senate 94 to zero and the House 401 to 19, sending it to the states on March 23, 1971.  Its ratification was the fastest ever.  I guess some of the overwhelming support for this amendment was due to an old-fashioned sense of fairness–young men of eighteen were being sent to Vietnam to kill and die when they could not even vote.  I was very clearly aware of that–I voted in the 1971 City Council election and have not missed any election since.   (It’s worth noting that young people would vote at a much higher rate today if the draft were active.  They would probably be serious judges of what constitutes a threat.)

Boulder City Council, 1972. Back row: Richard Geesaman, Kenneth Wright, Karen Paget, Dwayne Nuzum, Janet Roberts Front row: Timothy Fuller, Richard McLean, Ruth Correll, Penfield Tate. Credit City of Boulder.

That flood of young voters did tip Boulder toward the left–two young people, Tim Fuller, a 28-year-old bookstore owner, and Karen Paget, a 26-year-old graduate student were elected to the Council.  And, Boulder gave the most votes to Penfield Tate, who was not young but was Black.

Boulder was dubbed the People’s Republic after the election of Fuller, who was gay, and Paget.  (Worse things were probably said about Tate’s election.)  Given how conservative the real Peoples’ Republic is, that might have been a pretty good moniker.

Remarkably, in December of 1973 Tate introduced an equal-rights measure that would have prohibited employers from discriminating against gays.  Just as remarkable as his act of introducing it, Tate’s equal-rights ordinance passed the Council on a 5-4 vote (for: Tate, Ruth Correll, Janet Roberts, Karen Paget and Tim Fuller).  The “vitriol” about right-sizing is but sweet nothings  compared to the firestorm that then ensued, and the Council bowed to the pressure and put the ordinance up on the ballot.  It lost, 13,000 votes to 7,400.  In 1974 voters forced a recall election and Fuller was recalled.  Tate survived by 567 votes.   (I attribute this to the Putney Swope effect.  Because not many people saw the film, you will probably have to look it up.)  However, Tate was not re-elected in 1975.

Pettem sees the reaction of Boulder to the resignation of Richard Nixon as a sign that Boulder had passed the tipping point to liberalism.  But, my recollection of that time is that simply reflected the Nixon Fatigue that cut across the political spectrum.  Boulder finally passed an equal-rights ordinance in 1987.   At that point we can probably think of it as a liberal town.  Those were the days.

Self deportation

One prominent bit of news today is the report by the Pew Research Center that more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than are entering the country.

Press coverage makes the obligatory reference to Donald Trump and the Wall that the Mexican government (in his fabulation) will pay for.   It will be an interesting construction management challenge, with Mexicans working on the Mexican side and Amirkins working on the U.S. side.

It occurs to me that Trump’s Wall might have some effect.   The Pew study shows that family reunification is the primary force that is driving the “self-deportation” of Mexicans, but economic forces are also important, so by creating good jobs on the Mexican side of the border, Trump’s wall might increase out-migration.

Seriously, I think Mexico will create a lot of good jobs in the coming decades.  Anyone who has traveled in Mexico and Central America (or paid attention to the lives of immigrants here) knows that the stereotype of the lazy latin is the self-serving propaganda of lucky Americans.  Mexicans (and Guatemalans), in my personal experience traveling there, work much, much harder than Americans.  Most Americans would collapse in tears and self-pity after an hour trying to work as hard as a Mexican, here or there.  I expect that work ethic to pay off and bring Mexico closer to parity with the Yanquis.   When that day comes, I’m pretty confident that the set-upon estate class in America will figure out some way to be able to avoid paying a decent wage for their landscaping.

He sat up and wrapped his feet and pulled the boots on and stood and started up the last stretch of canyon to the rim. Where he crested out the country lay dead flat, stretching away to the south and to the east. Red dirt and creosote. Mountains in the far and middle distance. Nothing out there.  Heatshimmer. He stuck the pistol in his belt and looked down at the river one more time and then set out east. Langtry Texas was thirty miles as the crow flies. Maybe less. Ten hours. Twelve. His feet were already hurting. His leg hurt. His chest. His arm. The river dropped away behind him. He hadnt even taken a drink.No Country for Old Men, Cormack McCarthy.

Back to Trump’s wall.  He has obviously not traveled much of the border–the topography from Lajitas to Langtry will demand that some significant parts of Texas be walled off.   Here’s what the Rio Grande Canyon looks like below La Linda.

Ray Bridge on the Rio Grande in Reagan Canyon below La Linda. 1974.

OK, I forget that the Donald will get Mexico to pay for his Wall, so, he also probably plans to force them to build it on their side of the river.

It’s true that the border has not been closed.  Here’s an undocumented alien crossing the Rio Grande in Boquillas Canyon above La Linda.


Here’s the Rio Grande crossing at La Linda in 1999 (Mexico is on the right).   The bridge served the potash mine on the Mexican side, which shows up framed by the bridge.   It was operating when I took the photo of Ray, above, in 1974, but had been abandoned by the time this photo was taken.

Approaching the La Linda bridge on the Rio Grande, November, 1999.

The structure on top of the bridge is a big fence with a super-fortified gate.  It is all stainless steel, including the razor wire–probably built to some DOD spec.   No one would try to cross there.  The river takes a left turn just past the bridge, with a gravel beach on the left and a sharp, steep bluff on the right.  There is a cut with a track through the bluff.   Here’s what it looks like below the bridge, looking upstream.


The guy who picked us up told me that he’s seen eighteen-wheelers come through there.

Enough is enough

We know that our life of freedom is stronger than terror.  Let us answer the terrorists by living our values with courage.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, after the Paris attack of November 13, 2015.

The best revenge is to outlive the bastards.
Edward Abbey, paraphrased.

I haven’t been a fan of Merkel’s handling of the European economic difficulties, but  she seems to be reacting thoughtfully to the agonizing situation arising from the Syrian refugees.   And when I read her words above, following the Paris attacks, I wished she had been President of the United States on September 11, 2001.

Enough is enough.
Roger Cohen writing in the New York Times about the ISIS attacks on Paris.

Cohen cites the North Atlantic Treaty as requiring a response from all signatories–an attack on one is an attack on all.  OK, some response is needed.  Merkel says Europe must fight, and Hollande has begun air attacks.  It’s hard to believe that the U.S. and even the newly liberalized Canadians won’t respond.  The question is what that response should be.

What Cohen contemplates is the complete destruction of ISIS:

“…the only objective commensurate with the ongoing threat is the crushing of ISIS and the elimination of its stronghold in Syria and Iraq.” 

I think this is not possible–ISIS is not the Empire of Japan or Germany, countries that could be reduced to rubble and starved–and to try to do so would be foolish.   And, even if you succeeded, then what would you do with what remains (A Marshall Plan for Syria, anyone?), and what else might pop up to take its place?  Who should know this better than a Bush, but Jeb Bush is ready to declare war.  Other Republicans are calling for “boots on the ground” and the destruction of ISIS.  Tough talk, but those boots would be worn by someone else.

Our last two big wars, the longest and third-longest in our history, have been fought by what are essentially mercenaries paid on credit.  Besides those soldiers, no one in the U.S., except the families of the dead and wounded, has been forced to bear any cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, except for the cost of little magnetic-ribbon tokens of support put on the very cars for which we gladly pay ransom to one of the primary ideological and financial sponsors of terrorism .

So, to prove we are really, really serious this time, let’s get a declaration of war from Congress that includes these two provisions:

  1. Re-instate the draft.   Everyone must have some skin in the game.  This time it must be for both sexes, and there must be no deferments, with alternative service only for conscientious objectors (whether or not religious).  Look, I’m sixty-seven years old, and would be a hazard in combat, but I can serve somehow, and so can you.  And,
  2. A War Surtax, calculated and applied each quarter to cover the cost of the war.   I would make this tax strongly progressive based on wealth.  Those with the most to protect should pay more.  Heck, let’s gross that up thirty percent or so to pay off the cost of the last two.


Your money, your choice

(Apologies to the Republican National Committee for the title.)

Writing in the New York Times today, Linda Greenhouse reports that religious non-profits have filed seven cases with the U.S. Supreme Court challenging language in Obamacare (aka the Affordable Care Act) that allowed religious non-profit employers to opt out of a requirement that they provide contraception as part of a health care plan.

When an organization opts out of this requirement, coverage is provided by the organization’s insurance company, without the organization’s involvement, so the employee may still obtain contraception.  In the Hobby Lobby decision in 2014, the Supreme Court required accommodation for for-profit companies whose owners held religious objections to birth control.

The cases filed before the Supreme Court argue that even requesting to opt out of the requirement made the organizations complicit in the employee’s use of birth control.   An eighth case goes further, arguing that whether or not the organizations are right about the law, just holding a strong belief that the accommodation is wrong is sufficient cause to be entirely relieved of any action that might facilitate their employees obtaining birth control.

Greenhouse goes on to look at these cases in light of statutory and case law, paying particular attention to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993.  Her article is worth reading.

But, what has been lost in all of the discussions about this issue is  that the religious organizations are essentially telling their  employees how to spend their own money.   Employer-paid health insurance is part of an employee’s compensation.  It’s been that way since the practice began as a way to get around wage controls during World War II, and it is that way now.   Twenty five years of helping start and run a small engineering consulting firm demonstrated to me that health insurance (like vacation and other benefits) is compensation.

As a small firm we were at a disadvantage when courting potential employees for just this reason.  We could offer comparable or better pay, vacation and retirement benefits, but we could not compete directly with the much broader and less expensive health insurance coverage that large firms could offer.  Our business manager would   sit down with candidates, tote up the dollar value of salary and each benefit, including health insurance, and show them that our package was equal to or better than the other firm’s offer.

Obamacare is a baby step toward getting employers entirely out of the health insurance business.   When we reach that point, religious organizations of all types will no longer be able even to argue complicity in their employees’ own decisions.    Another benefit will be that small businesses will be able to compete for talent on a more equal footing with large businesses (and will be able to do something productive with the time they used to spend negotiating with insurance companies.)


When Senator John McCain said he would hold committee hearings if Bowe Bergdahl was not punished as a deserter, Bergdahl’s lawyer objected.   McCain chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee that, it turns out, will review any future command assignments or promotions for General Robert B. Abrams, who will decide the sergeant’s fate.   The lawyer, Eugene R. Fidell, said that Senator McCain’s statement could influence General Abrams.

I don’t think McCain’s statement changes anything; Abrams surely understood both McCain’s views on Bergdahl and the Senator’s power over the general’s future in the military.  What McCain’s statement, and the resulting publicity, has done is make apparent to the broad public another of the shortcomings of the military justice system.  It may also have raised the stakes for Abrams because a decision to punish Bergdahl will always have an asterisk.

But, you who live in states that elect judges should not feel self-righteous.   At the very best, judges in those states have one eye on public opinion, and that’s just at the very best.  Elected judges may also be influenced by the views of supporters or contributors, whose fate or whose friends’ fates they may be deciding.  Colorado voters saw the light in 1966, I’m happy to say.

Right-sizing a parking lot

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.  H. G. Wells.

It is no small irony that McGuckin Hardware announced yesterday that it will start giving employees $240/year toward the purchase of a commuter bike.  This, and provision of EcoPasses (RTD transit passes) to employees is hoped to reduce the number of parking spaces used by employees and thereby increase the convenience of parking for customers.  (On any given day, McGuckin employees use about 50-80 of the 890 spaces available at the shopping center.)

I won’t presume that McGuckin opposed the Right-Sizing of Folsom, but the store was frequently cited by opponents as one whose business was being reduced by the three-lane configuration.   That’s why this announcement made me chuckle–McGuckin employees will still face the most important impediment to transportation cycling: concerns about safety while riding in traffic, something, the primary thing, that the Right-Sizing was intended to address.

(Bus service to McGuckin, from most parts of town, is anything but direct.)

It is also worth noting that anyone who approaches McGuckin from the north on Folsom will have to make a left turn to get to the store, either at Canyon, or in the block south of there.  The three-lane configuration makes a left turn much easier.  Take it from me–I’ve made thousands of left turns, in a car and on a bike, off of the three-lane segment of northbound Broadway.   Right-sizing is good for business.