Wednesday, July 16, 2008

How they do it in big cities

This month, we have spent time visiting Eugene, Portland and Seattle.

All these cities have one thing in common: freeways and traffic. I am amazed at how the entire west coast is still dependent on the automobile to navigate. Didn't we learn anything in the two-hundred years before the west was won?

I like Portland's public transportation; the various mid city neighbors can move around by hopping on a metro rail, or walk or bike.

Seattle feels burdensome. First, visitors cannot afford to stay downtown. So, to see the sights or to get on a tour bus, we need to drive on freeways,find parking, pay dearly for that, and then hope to get in and out of places by walking or getting on a bus.

In these days of high gas prices and global warming concerns, we need to help the average Joe get to work and back easily and inexpensively. The average Joe needs accessible, clean, and well maintained transportation that encourages him to leave his car at home and reduce all congestion.

As I make my way back to the south coast of Oregon, I will not miss the cities. (Well, just a little.) I will return to my hamlet where I can walk to the post office, the church, the grocery store. And, yes, the beaches. I hope my town stays that way. But when it starts to grow, I hope we plan its growth carefully, creating its arteries carefully and beneficially.

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