Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Issues concerning Downtown as described by the Downtown Council. River to 31st Street, I-35 to Bruce R. Watkins.
shinatoo
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6118
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:20 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by shinatoo » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:54 pm

I'm willing to bet that downtown Kansas City has a rate (incident per capita, incident per vehicle-miles-traveled) of fatal car car accidents and a rate of insurance claims for auto accidents higher than New York City. I'll bet it is far, far higher. Anyone who has access to such data, please prove me right or wrong.
Chuck, when you put this kind of effort into your blog it's hard for any of us to take you seriously. If you are such an expert you should have access to that data, or at least know where to find it.

That's like me saying "I'm willing to bet that the Royals have a lower OBP that the Yankee's. Far lower. Anyone who has access to such data please prove me right or wrong."

Also, learn what commas are used for.
Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

clmarohn
Parking Garage
Parking Garage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:40 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by clmarohn » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:08 pm

Touche, anonymous people.

Since my last comment was taken down after I posted it, I'll simply let you know that I'm going to feature your enlightened conversation tomorrow on my blog. There I will use excessive amounts of commas and be a condescending prick, I'm sure, but I will also provide the links and data you are not getting here in this conversation.

I encourage those of you truly interested in a substantive discussion to join us at the Strong Towns blog. http://www.strongtowns.org

longviewmo
Colonnade
Colonnade
Posts: 880
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Contact:

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by longviewmo » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:43 pm

clmarohn wrote:Since my last comment was taken down after I posted it,
Uh... it's still there.
Last edited by longviewmo on Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
chaglang
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3343
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:44 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by chaglang » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:55 pm

clmarohn wrote:Touche, anonymous people.

Since my last comment was taken down after I posted it, I'll simply let you know that I'm going to feature your enlightened conversation tomorrow on my blog. There I will use excessive amounts of commas and be a condescending prick, I'm sure, but I will also provide the links and data you are not getting here in this conversation.

I encourage those of you truly interested in a substantive discussion to join us at the Strong Towns blog. http://www.strongtowns.org
This is weird and sad. I would guess that 75% of the people on this forum are passionately interested in the same things you are, have the same general thoughts about downtown KC's problems, and would be interested in the ideas you advocate. It's a great forum for debating urban design ideas because there is, collectively, an encyclopedic knowledge about how KC got to be whatever it is today. If I needed to understand the history of a street or even a block in Kansas City, this is where I would go. The debates are heated but generally civil, and facts/studies/data are almost requirements. Flame wars are rare and brief.

So my (polite) suggestion is to tone it down and ask some of the questions you alluded to in your first blog post. Ask about that abortion of a public space across from the hotel you stayed in. Ask why the streets are so wide, or why we have all the surface parking we do. Ask if there are specific places some of your ideas might work. Ask what's changed, and what's trying to be accomplished. You don't have to wait until February to find out more about KC. You can do a lot of that here. And I guarantee you would get a substantive discussion. This place is a great resource if you're serious about talking about downtown KC.

mean
Administrator
Administrator
Posts: 10747
Joined: Wed Feb 05, 2003 9:00 am
Location: Historic Northeast

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by mean » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:47 pm

chaglang wrote:This place is a great resource if you're serious about talking about downtown KC.
I would go so far as to say damn near authoritative. I don't know who this blogger guy is, but it's clear that he's not spent much time reading the things that are routinely discussed here.

User avatar
chaglang
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3343
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:44 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by chaglang » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:03 pm

mean wrote:
chaglang wrote:This place is a great resource if you're serious about talking about downtown KC.
I would go so far as to say damn near authoritative. I don't know who this blogger guy is, but it's clear that he's not spent much time reading the things that are routinely discussed here.
Well, the search function does kind of suck. :D

pash
Bryant Building
Bryant Building
Posts: 3801
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:47 am

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by pash » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:12 pm

.
Last edited by pash on Mon Feb 06, 2017 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

missingkc
Colonnade
Colonnade
Posts: 847
Joined: Mon Oct 14, 2002 7:16 pm
Location: Charlotte, NC

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by missingkc » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:18 pm

I think some of you regulars on this site are being asses to this new guy. I don't understand why.

pash
Bryant Building
Bryant Building
Posts: 3801
Joined: Sun Feb 20, 2011 2:47 am

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by pash » Sun Sep 16, 2012 9:37 pm

.
Last edited by pash on Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

clmarohn
Parking Garage
Parking Garage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:40 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by clmarohn » Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:01 pm

pash wrote:You can be a condescending prick on your own blog, but not here. Fuck off, Chuck.

Because he's a dick. Everything he wrote assumes we have no idea what we're talking about; we don't know what's going on in our own city, and we lack the perspective to understand what's wrong with it.

He's also dead wrong about that, but because conversing with an asshat is unrewarding, I'm not going to bother to explain why.
Dude, before I even commented on anything, you called me "crazy". All I asked was for you to explain why you believed that, as well as others on this site to explain why they had so much derision for what I thought was a pretty benign, and fair, critique. You yourself even said that you agreed with many of the points I made.

People here seem to be very defensive and I'm not exactly sure why. Kansas City has overly wide streets, cars that travel way too fast and not hardly enough life in the downtown. I don't think those are difficult observations to make, but the fact that you all seem so hypersensitive about it (and rather immature in your conversation -- or perhaps you don't look at gratuitous vulgarity as a sign of an immature mind) really makes me question whether you can see it yourself.

I'd really like you, or anyone on this site, to back up your passion. You specifically called a shared space intersection crazy. I asked: have you ever seen one? You can call me names and berate me, but by doing so and not answering the question you're only reinforcing your own contention (which I have not made and would not make) that you "lack the perspective to understand what's wrong."

I agree with @chadlang, this is all weird and sad.

longviewmo
Colonnade
Colonnade
Posts: 880
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2009 12:58 am
Location: Manhattan, Kansas
Contact:

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by longviewmo » Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:59 am

clmarohn wrote: Dude, before I even commented on anything, you called me "crazy". All I asked was for you to explain why you believed that, as well as others on this site to explain why they had so much derision for what I thought was a pretty benign, and fair, critique. You yourself even said that you agreed with many of the points I made.
I suspect, from these comments, that few of you (a) spend much time walking around downtown and (b) have actually been to cities that have created prosperous downtowns. Prove me wrong. ...

And, to demonstrate my point, can any of you identify an uncontrolled intersection you have actually experienced? Is the idea "crazy" because you've seen it not work or because your mind has a difficult time grasping how it could?
I bolded the part that he'd probably consider the "condescending prick" since it wasn't clear to you. Heck, to address that:

a) A lot of forum members live Downtown, some work there, and some even enjoy the P&L occasionally. Heck, even suburbanites on this forum seem to be pretty knowledgeable about most stuff that goes on down there. You're basically saying no one cares about Downtown, which is definitely false. Proof they care? Check out that streetcar thing that someone on this forum considered so important the announcement appears on every single board. We get around.

b) This is a very arrogant thing to say. You're implying that we're ignorant, isolated Midwesterners. I'm not sure about everyone else here, but I've been to a vast majority of major US cities.

... and the last bolded thing is just another arrogant statement that's insulting intelligence.

Is that clear enough?

aknowledgeableperson
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 12251
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 10:31 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by aknowledgeableperson » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:34 am

clmarohn wrote: Kansas City has overly wide streets, cars that travel way too fast
Not to get into this slugfest but can someone explain "overly wide streets" to me. If one is referring to wide streets downtown the only wide streets I can think of would be Grand and Broadway. I can imagine that most cities have a street or two if not more at least 6 lanes. If one is referring to lane width that is a different matter. Many cities, ie old NE ones, have a street plan that goes back to a time when mass transit was a horse drawn wagon on a dirt road. Downtown Kansas City mainly came into being around 1870, with trollies and streetcars in existence, and the hill being cut down. Those old NE cities were already in existence over 100 years by then with their narrow streets. Old KC would be the market area and the West Bottoms and those do have a narrow street grid. With regards to fast traveling cars that is the result of little to none traffic jams and what traffic jams it might have are limited to a couple of short periods during the day. One could say that is the result of city engineers bending over backwards to accomodate autos but it could also be the result of just low traffic counts.

clmarohn
Parking Garage
Parking Garage
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:40 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by clmarohn » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:52 am

Maybe it will make you all less defensive to know that I'm a small town Midwesterner.

Maybe...

I'm not suggesting people don't care. I'm suggesting that their eyes and minds are closed. I'm here because you linked to my site. I followed the link and found you deriding my work, acting defensively over some modest critiques of downtown KC and calling "crazy" ideas that people here clearly know nothing about. I chime in to challenge those assertions and am subjected to further derision, vulgarity and name calling.

I'm interested in ideas. I'm not finding any here. Don't let yourself off the hook for that by labeling me "condescending" and then pretending that I believe you to all to be Midwestern, ignorant homebodies.

User avatar
chaglang
Hotel President
Hotel President
Posts: 3343
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2012 12:44 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by chaglang » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:41 am

Now I think you're just trolling. If you want a discussion, start a separate topic for this.
Last edited by chaglang on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

phuqueue
Penntower
Penntower
Posts: 2376
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2005 10:33 pm

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by phuqueue » Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:45 am

aknowledgeableperson wrote:
clmarohn wrote: Kansas City has overly wide streets, cars that travel way too fast
Not to get into this slugfest but can someone explain "overly wide streets" to me. If one is referring to wide streets downtown the only wide streets I can think of would be Grand and Broadway. I can imagine that most cities have a street or two if not more at least 6 lanes. If one is referring to lane width that is a different matter. Many cities, ie old NE ones, have a street plan that goes back to a time when mass transit was a horse drawn wagon on a dirt road. Downtown Kansas City mainly came into being around 1870, with trollies and streetcars in existence, and the hill being cut down. Those old NE cities were already in existence over 100 years by then with their narrow streets. Old KC would be the market area and the West Bottoms and those do have a narrow street grid. With regards to fast traveling cars that is the result of little to none traffic jams and what traffic jams it might have are limited to a couple of short periods during the day. One could say that is the result of city engineers bending over backwards to accomodate autos but it could also be the result of just low traffic counts.
I think it's both. Granted that KC is only a mid-sized city, but it's also a highly car-dependent city. Two million people, the vast majority of whom drive to get anywhere, shouldn't be so bad at generating a traffic jam, but our city planners and traffic engineers have steadily diluted our urban fabric over the past half century to make it easier and easier for cars to blow through town unimpeded. You don't actually need a full-on traffic jam to slow down traffic anyway, you just need some amount of congestion. Clearly our traffic counts are far lower in absolute terms compared to old NE cities, which are much larger than KC, we've also made a concerted effort to accommodate the traffic that we do have -- which in turn makes it more desirable to drive and so compels further accommodation of cars. If roads are the arteries of the city, KC's got exceptionally low blood pressure.

clmarohn: for what it's worth I think most of the criticisms of downtown that you've listed in this thread (I didn't read your blog, presumably it covers the same ground) are valid and most people here would agree with you on them. We've spent countless threads lamenting KC's parking and auto-centric policies. The "defensiveness" you're encountering now is not from some perceived "attack" on KC itself, but because you led off by calling everybody here morons (maybe not in so many words, but there's little else to take from those parts of your post bolded by longviewmo). What's more, for someone so taken aback by the defensiveness here, the "derision" directed at your blog post was exceptionally light -- actually, six people responded in some way to your blog post before you appeared in this thread, and three of them explicitly expressed their agreement with some or even most of your arguments while nobody else was particularly critical, just questioning how you developed your perspective of downtown and suggesting that even if your criticisms are correct, they don't capture all of the problems holding downtown back. By calling for substantive discussion you're pretending to take the high road, but you refuse to acknowledge that you really have been condescending in this thread and you insist that the "defensiveness" provoked by that condescension is really just a cover for a genuine inability to respond to your criticisms of the city. Your obstinance on this point is preventing any substantive discussion about parking and traffic issues downtown and throughout the city from getting off the ground. If you want to have that discussion, there are a number of people who would love to play ball with you (and you'd probably find quite a bit of common ground in the process), but nobody wants to engage with someone who appears to have determined a priori that they're stupid. Insisting now that you don't really believe people here are ignorant or lack perspective isn't sufficient when your original post speaks for itself and isn't readily susceptible to alternative readings. In fact you have doubled and tripled down on it, asserting that people here "clearly know nothing" about the ideas you're advocating (members of this forum have lived all across the country and around the world so I promise you we have all encountered uncontrolled intersections before). I don't particularly care whether you own up to the insults or simply pull out altogether but it's pretty plain to see that there won't be any substantive discussion as long as people feel they've been personally attacked.

User avatar
GRID
City Center Square
City Center Square
Posts: 14295
Joined: Mon Sep 15, 2003 12:20 pm
Contact:

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by GRID » Mon Sep 17, 2012 9:02 am

kcmetro wrote:Not that I completely disagree with this guy, but maybe he should've stuck around KC longer or been out during rush hour.

http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2012 ... -cars.html
Umm, KC's streets are void of cars, even during rush hour. It's almost bizarre. And that's during the middle of a work day. On the weekends KC has some of the deadest streets of any large city I can think of unless there are multiple events or something and even then you will never be more than a few cars back at a traffic signal and waiting through more than one signal cycle never crosses your mind there.

It takes a freaking snowstorm and everybody leaving at once at 2pm and not being able to move because of the snow to create actual traffic congestion on places like Grand Ave.

The only traffic congestion I have seen downtown is the Broadway exit from NB 35. JoCo people just don't understand that there is more than one way to get into downtown (like the 13th St exit which never has a delay and flows right into the CBD without a left turn).

User avatar
KCMax
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 24051
Joined: Wed Aug 04, 2004 3:31 pm
Location: The basement of a Ross Dress for Less
Contact:

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by KCMax » Mon Sep 17, 2012 11:07 am

GRID wrote: Umm, KC's streets are void of cars, even during rush hour. It's almost bizarre. And that's during the middle of a work day. On the weekends KC has some of the deadest streets of any large city I can think of unless there are multiple events or something and even then you will never be more than a few cars back at a traffic signal and waiting through more than one signal cycle never crosses your mind there.
Agreed which is why I'd really like to see some lanes shut completely down and turned into bike lines and/or BRT lanes/streetcar lanes.

I agree with most of the authors recommendations, although this one puzzled me:
Remove all one-way couplings. Every street will have two way traffic.
What does this achieve? It seems like one-way streets actually slow down traffic. Could you explain this a bit more?
Change all signalized intersections into a shared space area. As a temporary transition, shut off the traffic lights and paint the intersections to alert everyone that this is shared space.
This is actually quite interesting. IIRC, Tom Vanderbilt wrote a bit about this in "Traffic" when he talked about I believe it was Denmark, where an urban planner suggested getting rid of all street signs because we rely on them too much like non-thinking robots, which causes us to drive faster. If we don't have signs, we slow down, think about what we're doing, and this leads to fewer accidents and slower traffic. I think Matthew Yglesias has made this point as well, and has advocated for one traffic law - don't hit anyone. He reasons that we don't have pedestrian signs for walking on sidewalks, but we still manage to avoid slamming into each other, and cars should be the same way. I'm not sure I'm willing to go that far, but it reducing the signage and even lights might slow down traffic and reduce accidents.

Of course, traffic engineers sole task is to increase traffic flow speed.

AlbertHammond
New York Life
New York Life
Posts: 311
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:52 am

Re: Blogs about KC visits

Post by AlbertHammond » Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:30 pm

We should really break out this StrongTown blog post into its own thread.

I have seen Chuck present in the past and I regularly follow his blog. It is unfortunate that he took such a derogatory tone when he commented here on kcrag, because the dude really "gets it" and we are getting wrapped up in his post here, when we should be dissecting his two blog posts about our downtown. There are a lot of great points he makes and we should be asking him to explain or clarify his comments from the blog.

Chuck, I am glad you came here to comment. I hope you can share more insight about our downtown. Just please re-read your posts to remove the derogatory tone. There are several commenters here that would like to engage with you about this.

To everyone else: try to set aside his previous tone and let's see if we can engage in some good, professional level dialog.

User avatar
beautyfromashes
Bryant Building
Bryant Building
Posts: 4341
Joined: Mon Mar 21, 2005 11:04 am

Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by beautyfromashes » Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:29 pm

Perhaps, someone should explain the history of our downtown and city as a whole because it seems naive to me that after spending a day and a half in a city someone could whitewash a scenario that ended with: "6.Sit back and watch the downtown prosper." If an instant metropolis could be built at the end of one unresearched carrot-on-a-stick blogpost by a carpetbagger consultant, this city would be a top 10 city already.

shinatoo
One Park Place
One Park Place
Posts: 6118
Joined: Wed Jan 19, 2005 3:20 pm

Re: Strongtown: Suggestions for KC's downtown streets

Post by shinatoo » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:35 pm

So I don't want to be a dick to Chuck. My issue was he wrote a pretty flimsy blog that KC was the brunt of. We were all having a talk about it and making our inside jokes and he got pissy.

It's like he walked into a bar where a bunch of friends were gathered, crackin wise to each other. He heard something and got offended. Instead of leaving the bar, or, defending his position with some facts, he started bitchin about it. That will get you shouted down in any bar.

Chuck, you are very welcome here. Please explain your point (which I think we all get). You're not wrong, you just came at our city strong. And as disgusted as were are with what has happened to our fair town over the last 4 decades, it's still our town, and we will protect it.
Quocunque Jeceris Stabit

Post Reply