Blogger Links: Ian Sacs

Whenever I’m browsing the Planetizen Newswire (to which you should subscribe if you have an interest in planning, transportation, land use, real estate, community development, etc.), I find myself drawn, without noticing the finer-print author line below the headlines, to articles/posts by Ian Sacs.  It probably doesn’t hurt that he’s a self-described “transportation (not traffic) engineer,” and he also writes on topics that I find interesting:

  • Last week he posted a balanced consideration of bike lanes as not just physical transportation infrastructure, but also as a tool for raising awareness to promote safety.
  • I also loved his post advocating the decoupling of sailing from snobbery and promoting marinas as a way to activate waterfront areas.  Yay, sailing!  I’m hoping to get some time in at the Marina Aquatic Center (MAC), which seems to be, unlike Ian’s marina and in stereotypical L.A. fashion, surrounded by freeways and arterials, more or less single-use (fancy condos and marina) and not terribly convenient by transit.  Who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised; at a minimum it promises to be non-snobbish.
  • Unfortunately, good things don’t always come in threes.  I can’t quite bring myself to agree with the extent of his proposed solution to the “Mad Tea Party At Our Airports.”
    • For one thing, the situation doesn’t seem as problematic as Sacs describes;  many airports already have a watered-down version of his “layover area:”  designated cell phone waiting areas where the driver may park his car temporarily while waiting for a call from the passenger at the curb.  Maybe this is just a Virginia/Maryland thing, but RIC, DCA, BWI, and IAD (Dulles) all have them.  The area at Dulles even provides drivers with a map of how to reach each numbered arrivals door to help prevent confusion
    • I think this is a great solution to the problem, and Sacs proposes something similar, but takes it a step too far.  The setup should incentivize drivers to properly time their arrival and move on as quickly as possible, not linger and enjoy the services and amenities Sacs proposes.  Other lots of this type require the driver to stay with the vehicle at all times or else be towed, discouraging people from arriving too early and ensuring that there is space available for all drivers.  This can also be interpreted in terms of a “price” for parking there:  the cost of the time to sit and man the vehicle provides the incentive to spend as little time there as possible.
    • The idea of an arrivals “board” could help to expedite the process, but why not take advantage of the cell phones already in use.  An airline could send text messages (or more robustly, “tweets,” whatever those are) during varying stages of the disembarking process, so the driver would not need to be physically present at the arrivals board.  In the extreme, the driver could stay at home until the plane lands if, for example, the passenger needs to clear customs.  I am all in favor of providing information and curbside real estate to more smoothly match drivers with passengers, but to the extent that Sacs’s proposal creates a new “place” where people don’t want to be anyway, it is a solution in search of a problem.

All in all, though, I look forward to more of Sacs’s commentary on these and other important issues.

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