Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Zeitgeist and other German words

Zeitgeist. Angst. Alptraum ('nightmare', which I just learned from my friend Jay, who by the way is part of a touring exhibit of that name opening here Friday night).

All seem a propos at the moment, though wait, that's French.

Amazing how the zeitgeist pendulum swings. In keeping with resurgent provincial tendencies (ask Obama about Republicans, or Toronto about their new mayor),  Gabe Klein is out at DDOT. The man who helped bring more positive movement (literally) to DC than almost anyone since Boss Shepherd.

This really sucks, DC was actually gnawing at the edges of world-class in terms of modern thinking and livable-city progress. A few more years of the same could've done wonders. Now we likely won't get a lot of smart urbanistic goodies that we would have under Klein/Fenty. 

Poof, gone, sorry.

Maybe not all gone, but certainly less methinks, and I want all of it. Gray may not be horrible, but we had progressive vision and action in Klein. I'll be shocked if we get half of those qualities in his successor. Hope I'm wrong. More deliberative blah-blah will be the kiss of death, since it will always try to please the naysayers, the knee-jerk, and the car-centric. Or Gray will just say we can't afford any of it. Maybe true of course, but what we can afford is always a question of priorities. Keep your eye on Capital Bikeshare, our jewel of alt-transit. Or, better, sign up for it today if you haven't. If that gets cut, or withers from passive neglect, I'll be seriously depressed for our city.

So we're going to get more deliberation and consultation as standard procedure. Ok. But will bike lanes need to be approved block by block after consulting with residents? Will one block of residents who hate bike lanes kill a whole route? How about people who would use it, will they get a say? Until they figure that out, will any bike lanes be painted? More on this in a previous post.

Gray has given too many mixed signals on bike lanes etc to know where he's headed. Though in the meantime, judging actions, firing the guy who was most associated with bike lanes, bikeshare, and making our urban landscape more livable is obviously a worrisome sign.


  1. This whole thing is worrisome. I am amazed how many people who love biking had negative feelings about Fenty. Why, oh why. :(

  2. Yeah... I'm hoping Gray (who has at least paid lip service to supporting biking) will end up getting 80-90 percent of the same things done, but without pissing off those in his base that couldn't care less about bike lanes etc. As great as the progress was under Fenty/Klein, it was probably politically unsustainable in the long-term. Maybe Gray will be slower about these things but may actually do a better job of soothing foes along the way. Wish it didn't have to be that way obviously, and yes I'm grasping for a positive spin ;). But that wouldn't be a horrible outcome.