Louisville and the Climate Emergency

In 2005, former Mayor Jerry Abramson committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions under the U.S. Mayor’s Climate Protection Agreement.In 2009, the Partnership for a Green City published the Climate Action Report, which included a greenhouse gas inventory,In 2011, on Mayor Fischer’s second day in office, he ceremoniously renewed the city’s commitment to Abramson’s Climate Protection Agreement.In 2016, Louisville completed another greenhouse gas inventory report and Fischer signed the Global Covenant of Mayors.In 2019, Fishcer declared a Climate Emergency.Reminds me of my neighbors’ recent tragic emergency. The smell of smoke cut through the smell of popcorn as they were watching Olympic competitions. They rushed out of the house to see what was burning only to discover flames leaping and smoke billowing out of their second floor windows. Quick thinking resulted in a parent making a phone call to the fire department. That done, they herded the children back into the family room to see which country’s athletes could run the...

Pedestrians, sidewalks, jaywalking and other lies

Language, thought, culture and relations are best served by truth. It is hoped the following is heard, not as a pedantic rant, nor as another ‘politically correct’ weapon, but as an exploration shedding some light on our transportation system. The history of ‘jaywalking’ is a tale of manipulation, and ultimately, one of deception.* The early automotive industry, in a rush to get people out of the way of their contraptions, tagged anyone crossing traffic in an uncontrolled manner as a ‘jay’, a naive, inexperienced country bumpkin who, being new to the city, does not know how to navigate the urban landscape. ‘Jaywalk’ is currently defined as: ‘to cross or walk in the street or road unlawfully or without regard for approaching traffic’. The ‘jaywalking’ concept is used to force crossings at intersections rather than mid block. It is claimed that crossing at intersections enhances safety. In reality, it places non-drivers in the most dangerous of areas, where traffic approaches from four or more directions. Mid block crossings generally require looking in only two directions. A truer, historically correct definition of ‘jaywalk’ is: ‘a pejorative term used by the early automotive industry to curtail the use of the commons by citizens’.  The above paragraph, except in the current definition of ‘jaywalk’, intentionally avoids the use of the words ‘street’ and ‘sidewalk’. Together those two comprise a linear expression of ‘the commons’. Parks, libraries, civic buildings are also part of the commons, but not part of this conversation. The ‘street’ and ‘sidewalk’ have become tools of manipulation to control people. (Note the avoidance of the word ‘pedestrians’. Later.) Back when our streets were shared with horses, oxen and...

The Kitchen Sink

We had just started filling the kitchen sink with hot water when the doorbell rang. After answering the bell, we became distracted, forgetting the running water. The sound of water hitting the floor brought some* of us back to the kitchen. One started mopping the floor. Another began to cast blame and a third refused to shoulder any responsibility for the overflowing sink. A fourth dialed 911, while another called a plumber. Certain that the floor would buckle, another called a flooring company. One changed into a swimsuit. Another reached for a six pack of beer. Another opened the back door. And yet another prepared to move to a new house. One, a water company stockholder, smiled, and another shrugged and returned to the living room to watch the Olympics. Several made posters and began a protest against small sinks and gravity. ** No one shut off the water.Absurd, but this is exactly what we are doing vis a vis Climate Chaos. We create cooling centers for the over heated. We blame oil and coal companies. We deny our cars contribute to a hotter climate. We look for government to solve the problem. We rely on technology to save the day. We raise the height of levies. Some of us welcome warmer winters while others party on into numbness. Some take inane measures, as others look for distant planets to host humanity. We argue the economy will be ruined, we fatalistically return to distractions and we stage public protests.   Some of these responses are appropriate, ONLY after turning off the kitchen tap. Our consumption is the Climate Chaos tap. * The others, the deniers, refused to...

Revitalizing Downtown

On the way to the Frazier History Museum to sit in on the ‘Jump-Start Downtown’ program, I admired the beauty of several blocks of Main Street. I thought of equally pleasant blocks along Fourth Street, and blocks along Market Street in NULU. I then marveled at how other areas are so physically unattractive, lacking the elements that encourage a family stroll. The panel, united in considering it an imperative, discussed how to make downtown more inviting. “How do we get people back on the street?”. The discussion addressed many aspects of urban life with housing playing a central role and leading to the conclusion that downtown also is a neighborhood. That ‘strolling family’ came back to mind – that family enjoying the clean, quiet, peaceful, safe evening under a canopy of leaves, admiring historical architecture. Also to mind came the current reality of narrow sidewalks and speeding cars along wide, wide roads. To mind came the current reality of limited affordable housing and a superfluity of surface parking lots. Our priorities are clearly skewed toward cars rather than people and housing. The roar of engines and the blare of radios attest to little concern for peace and quiet. Even the title of the evening’s discussion, ‘Jump-Start’ Downtown, references our motorized inclination.When we closed local parks to motorized traffic the park roads filled with strollers enjoying the clean, quiet, peaceful, safe, greenery of the parks. “How do we get people back on the...

Mayoral Candidates & LLUTRAIN

LLUTRAIN – Louisville Land Use and Transportation Initiative – A citizens’ group supporting public transit and engaging mayoral candidates and government (Metro/KY) TARC, Metro and mayoral candidates have yet to present a vision and supportive plan for urgent public transit and land use transformation. LLUTRAIN continues to press for such. LLUTRAIN is communicating with mayoral candidates Findley, Greenberg, James, and Parrish-Wright. Invitations have been extended to four candidates to take with us a one hour walking tour downtown. The tour should help candidates define their visions for TARC and land use. Craig Greenberg has taken the walking tour, as has David James’ campaign manager (we look forward to repeating the tour with council member James). Craig Greenberg asked to schedule a bike tour. That tour will take place mid-April. A list of LLUTRAIN’s Steering Committee/Advisory Board/Supporters is available, as is a LLUTRAIN Q/A document. ???,‌ ‌Fischer,‌ ‌Abramson,‌ ‌Armstrong,‌ Sloan,…‌ ‌ Who‌ ‌will‌ ‌drive‌ ‌the‌...

Giving up on the Mayor

22 July 2020  Honorable Greg FischerMayor of LouisvilleCity HallFifth & JeffersonLouisville KY 40202 Dear Mayor Fischer:           This is the twentieth month of “The Mayor’s” Monthly Earth Day Initiative. Twenty months ago, on 22 November 2018, we began delivering to your office a monthly letter asking for concrete and immediate action by Metro to slow climate change. This, our twentieth letter, joins the previous nineteen monthly letters in asking for Metro to act immediately on reducing locally the two primary sources of greenhouse gases per EPA data, power generation and transportation.  (https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions)  As mentioned last month, in the past twenty months we have seen much too little concrete action addressing power generation and transportation.  On the power generation side of the equation, there has been no significant action toward the installation of photovoltaics or turbines (hydro or wind). LG&E has not been challenged by Metro to be a good corporate citizen. LG&E has not even been challenged by Metro to abandon the gas pipeline through Bernheim Forest. Metro is not taking a lead in greener local power generation. On the transportation side of the ledger, and as stated last month, the most significant action taken by Metro has been to close down the economy in response to Covid 19, resulting in less surface and air travel. Recognizing that to be an accidental result, Metro gets no credit for less surface and air travel. With the racial justice protests of recent weeks, Metro has been presented with, and (to date) ignored opportunities to change transportation in Louisville. Armed citizens in moving motor vehicles are threatening protesters. And LMPD is risking escalation,...