Shorts: movements


1. Susan Silberberg et al (via Angie at Streetsblog write that placemaking’s true value stems less from physical transformation than social transformation: “The act of advocating for change, questioning regulations, finding funding, and mobilizing others to contribute their voices engages communities.”

In short, it’s not about the bike, or the parklet: it’s about creating social space for a social movement to free now-privatized but publicly-controlled spaces, returning them to public use.

Years ago, this was a key (and under-appreciated) accomplishment of early Critical Mass rides. The event is just a means to an end, a safe space through which a social movement organized; to this day*, many confuse those ends and means.

* it’s arguably lost its urgency now that there are many other organizing venues.

not a maglev

2. There have been a few proposals to build maglev trains in the USA before, including this cross-Maryland proposal ten years ago. So what’s different about the latest version?

In a meeting with President Obama last winter, Mr. Abe offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system free for the first portion of the line, linking Washington and Baltimore via Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a distance of about 40 miles. – Eric Pfanner, NYT

Those previous plans, however, did not feature Abenomics and its tidal wave of printed yen. As much as I’m skeptical of proprietary technologies, a fast and efficient connection between the two cities would certainly be momentous.

3. Thad Hall from the University of Utah (via Washington Monthly & Mischiefs of Faction) graphically shows how the House GOP has marched rightward, using DW-NOMINATE data:

The 50th-percentile average Republican in 1995 (104th Congress) — the red bar — was as conservative as today’s “RINO” moderate. Meanwhile, 1995’s firebrand 90th-percentile revolutionaries (the blue bar) then are *below* average now. The entire bell curve has shifted.

July shorts: aimless bicyclists, green roofs

Pearl St.
Do the French have a term for aimlessly bicycling around towns?

Cleaning out the fridge, so to speak, with several links & quotes:

1. Flaneur, randonneur: just wandering about, whether on foot in the city or on bike in the countryside, is a long-established practice in French but just doesn’t translate to English.

There’s no direct translation for randonnée (pronounced ran-don-NAY) — it can mean a long outing or trip, or a ramble in the countryside. For its practitioners, called randonneurs, it’s easier to define the event by what it isn’t: a race. There are time limits, which means riders can’t go too slowly — but they also can’t go too quickly.

2. Mayor Bloomberg speaking about the myth of the scofflaw cyclist at Citibike’s launch:

I’m sure there will be people who will, just like they are today, take their bicycles and do things that break the law. This will shock you but there are even people in automobiles who do the same thing. When you take a look at the number of people killed in automobiles, it sort of dwarfs everything put together on the road.

3. The world is filled with ironic NIMBYs, but this story still takes the cake: a retired Concorde pilot complaining about the noise from a playground.

4. Nate Berg sounded an appropriate note of skepticism over green roof cheerleading. It always really irked me that Mayor Daley would take credit for putting green roofs on big box stores in Chicago, even though the ratio of blacktop parking lot to green roof built by said stores is easily 3:1. A garden built on the ground, within a depaved parking lot, can offer more environmental benefits than a monocultural, thin green roof, and at a much lower cost. Oh, sure, someone might lose their parking space, but discouraging driving is yet another environmental benefit!

5. During the years I bike commuted through the South Side, it always fascinated me that Chicago’s ghettos were often bereft of any commerce whatsoever: for the most part, there weren’t even fast-food joints along the way, even though plenty of people lived nearby. Other U.S. cities (much less thriving Canadian inner cities) didn’t seem quite as derelict: witness the busy, if run-down, retail streets of Spike Lee’s Brooklyn. Whet Moser uncovers research by Marco Luis Small that quantifies this: “In some cases, the difference is stark. Chicago has 82% fewer small restaurants, 95% fewer small banks, and 72% fewer small convenience stores than a black poor ghetto in the average city.”

Baltimore to Philadelphia via transit/bike

Border crossing closed

For last week’s holiday multimodal adventure, I decided to try and replicate Josh Kucera’s account of getting from D.C. to NYC solely via local public transit. The Pennsy’s Northeast Corridor is the only corridor in the USA which features local (commuter), rapid (Northeast Regional), and express (Acela) services. It’s not Japan, where some lines feature five service levels, but it’s better than zero.

In particular, I hadn’t yet traversed local routes on Baltimore-to-Philadelphia leg; it’s the most thinly settled part of the corridor, one of the two rail service holes in the corridor (the other is from New London, Conn. to Providence, R.I.), a leg currently served only by Amtrak, Megabus, and Greyhound, since Philly’s Chinatown buses were recently shuttered. Long ago, mostly in the pre-Chiantown bus era, I’d done the local route via SEPTA and NJT from Philadelphia to NYC, which is common enough that the transfer at Trenton is timed and noted on the respective schedules.

My planned route took WMATA’s Red Line to WAS Union, MARC to Perryville, Cecil Transit to Elkton, DART First State bus 65 to Newark, and then SEPTA Regional Rail to 30th Street. The first few legs went off without a hitch; I feared for the tight connection at Perryville, but MARC was a bit early and Cecil Transit probably would have held the bus anyways, as we were the only customers on board.

Where things went awry was near Elkton: DART’s bus map indicates that a transfer is available in downtown Elkton, but the Cecil bus doesn’t actually go into Elkton, sticking instead to the US 40 highway strip. Its last stop is at the Maryland DMV office, just shy of the Delaware border. You’ll have to walk 1.4 miles — there’s a sidewalk most of the way — across the border (pictured above) to the first DART bus stop, in front of a Kohl’s. Once I got there (crusty with sweat), I turned around to see the last DART 55 bus roaring past, several minutes ahead of schedule. With an hour to meet SEPTA, I called in a cab from Newark for the 5-mile, $30 trip to the Newark train station. Had I brought my folding bike aboard MARC, I probably would have been fine skipping Cecil, DART, or both: US 40 seems pretty okay for bicycling, with ample shoulders and even side path signage on the sidewalk in Delaware.

I also pondered routes for biking between Baltimore and Philadelphia, where the most substantial natural obstacle involves crossing the broad Susquehanna River. The Northeast Corridor (no bikes, unless folded or Amtrak-checked), I-95, and the East Coast Greenway all do this just inland from its mouth at Havre de Grace & Perryville. That route has four downsides: MARC would be simplest but doesn’t (yet) run on weekends and doesn’t accept bikes, the Greenway relies on a shuttle service operated by a bike shop in HdG (closed on holidays), MTA’s local buses to Baltimore’s northeast operate only as far as White Marsh Mall, and heavy traffic follows US-40 and I-95. The only other crossing in Maryland, US 1 across the Conowingo Dam, allows bikes but is very narrow, with high-speed traffic. On last year’s Climate Ride, I found the Susquehanna crossing at Holtwood, Penna. to be only slightly frightening.

Since I feel lost when I’m outside the reach of transit, I thus plotted a bikes-and-transit route that heads 40 miles north through Baltimore County (thanks to the UGB set up in the Plan for the Valleys, the light rail terminus at Hunt Valley is at the edge of suburbia) via the Torrey Brown Rail-Trail and York County Heritage Trail to York, Penna., then east through Lancaster to SEPTA’s Main Line terminus at Thorndale. The rail-trail has an accessible grade, and once in Pennsylvania the route runs parallel to the east-west ridges. The transit backup plan exists on Saturdays, when city buses ply much of the east-west mileage from York: across the Susquehanna at Columbia, through Lancaster, east to Cains or Kinzer in Amish country, leaving just 20 miles to Thorndale. On Sundays, Lancaster’s buses still run, but York’s don’t, and SEPTA cuts the Main Line back to Malvern.

Combine that route with a ride back via Holtwood, a trip back via Amtrak or Greyhound (alas, bike-friendlier Chinatown buses and Bolt don’t serve the route), or a tag-on ride to NYC (where you can catch a Bolt back to DC) for a nice weekend adventure.

Dewpoints in DC over the year

Is it really that much more miserable outside in July? Why yes, it is. Here’s a graph of the monthly average, high, and low dew points at DCA.*

Dewpoint range & average at DCA in 2012

Ask people who don’t like hot, humid weather, and they’ll tell you that the weather measurement they rely on most is dew point.

Not temperature. Not relative humidity. Dew point.

“I think it’s catching on,” said meteorologist Paul Douglas. “It a superior way to, at a glance, determine what it really feels like out there.” Bill McAuliffe, Star-Tribune

I’m among those dew point fans. It, not the temperature or the heat index, best describes how it feels to be bicycling here. A hot and somewhat humid day may have a dew point of 70, identical to a cooler and off/on rainy day (of the sort we’ve had a lot of lately), but the net result is still getting drenched in sweat. My guideline for how I’ll feel when stopped (at lights, after riding):
<50 = no sweat, wear regular clothing
60 = nice, maybe change clothes at work
65 = acceptable but pushing it, go slow or get damp
70 = gross with sweat, definitely change shirt frequently
75 = I’d rather it rain, because either way I’m drenched
80 = instant dripping upon setting foot outside, can’t breathe
85 = kill me now, for surely Hades must be cooler than this

The article gives a good analogy: the dew point is the lowest temperature that it’s possible for sweat to cool your skin down to. I get uncomfortable at 70 and cranky at 80, and that corresponds nicely with the dewpoint guidance above.

The world’s highest dew points are around the Persian Gulf; high temps evaporate a lot of seawater into the air. The Plains and the South get high humidity mostly from plant transpiration.

I haven’t found the perfect weather app yet, so in the meantime I’ll dream of a 1×1 Android widget that displays what I really care about: dew point, wind speed/direction, and % chance of precipitation. Oh, and maybe temperature: at least one article (Jillian Strauss & Luis Miranda-Moreno, “Spatial modeling of bicycle activity at signalized intersections“) finds that humidity, then precipitation, then temperature determine cycling levels, even in cool Montreal.

Oh, and incidentally, this is one reason why I find European criticisms of how Americans dress while cycling to be so annoying. The average August dew point in Amsterdam? 58F (average monthly temperature is 64F). Their most humid August ever had a dew point of 72F, just above the *normal* dew point here. Of course they dress normally: they can. I spent several days biking around Paris during the catastrophic August 2003 heat wave; it was hot, with temperatures around 100F, but dew points were around 60F. That’s actually kinda nice weather by D.C. standards.

Which brings me to another pet peeve: the outdoors/activewear industry is overwhelmingly clustered in the West, which has much more courteous weather than the East or the South. Thus, “soft shell” outerwear appropriate for Cascadian drizzle leaves me drenched within minutes of venturing out into a thundershower, messenger bags pool up back sweat whereas back-saving panniers are hard to find, and everything’s much too casual for a city filled with dark suits. Most of humanity lives in the tropics, not in balmy Mediterranean or chilly North Sea climates, and it’s about time that fashion recognized that fact.

* Bear in mind that these are for entire months, days and nights, and that the high/low numbers are still averaged out over the course of an entire month, so individual days will certainly differ substantially. Also, to the extent that the region has microclimates, DCA probably has the highest dewpoints of the local airports with its low elevation, river frontage, and relatively high urban heat island exposure. Upland areas might be slightly more bearable.

War on cars continues: bike lane takes 0.2% of parking!

L Street Protected Bike Lane Ribbon Cutting

Per Downtown DC BID, “In 2006 the Washington Parking Association (WPA) estimated that there were 199 parking garage locations in the Downtown and Golden Triangle BID areas providing 45,721 spaces.” That does not include the 17,000 street parking spaces that even AAA acknowledges still exist. Therefore, the 150 parking spaces removed to build the “controversial” L Street bike lane pictured above = 0.2% of downtown parking supply. In other words, 417 out of every 418 downtown parking spaces remain even after AAA whines that “The bike lanes have taken up all the parking spaces.” [posted to TheWashCycle]

Also, calendar note: the JITI Urban Transportation Seminar on February 6 will feature speakers from Tokyo Metro and Tokyu Corporation. Tokyu is notable for being one of the more profitable commuter rail + real estate + retail conglomerates in metro Tokyo.

Take a tour, any tour

A few months ago, I started working on a few bike tour routes reaching into D.C.’s suburbs, towards points of interest in urban planning history or just boozy destinations (and, even better, places with both). I’ll try to continue updating this map, but here are the completed and under-construction routes (the latter marked with POIs, but not connected yet):

  • Wine, spirits, and beer in Alexandria & Mount Vernon
  • Route 1 in Maryland: streetcar suburbs (Brookland, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, College Park) and Greenbelt
  • Montgomery County Agricultural Preserve to Purcellville distillery (back on W&OD)
  • National Capital Streetcar Museum via Rock Creek trails
  • Falls Church, Merrifield, old & new Reston via W&OD
  • South Arlington redevelopment sites
  • Columbia & Ellicott City
  • Rockville & Gaithersburg

I’m aiming to present a few of these as guided tours, depending on whether I can find good tour guides at the POIs. Let me know if you can help.

Help bring CaBi to DCA!

CaBi missing Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

Want to bring Capital Bikeshare to National Airport? “Like” one of the suggested Capital Bikeshare station locations at DCA on the Capital Bikeshare Crowdsourcing Map. (Hint: you’ll have to zoom into the airport to see the pins.) The map is maintained by Arlington County, which is in charge of adding new locations within Arlington. I hear that they’ve already met with MWAA about siting CaBi on airport grounds, and a whole bunch of votes could be what it takes to make sure that DCA is included in the next station expansion round.

Bike sharing at DCA would be:
– quick: just 10 minutes to Crystal City & Pentagon City, or 30 minutes to DC, and unlike shuttles is available on demand
– convenient: bike sharing is available 24 hours a day, unlike other transit services; the bikes can hold small carry-ons, which suffices for many business travelers, airline employees, and airport employees
– safe: DCA already has a completely grade-separated connection to a popular Class 1 trail, eliminating traffic conflicts; providing bike sharing could eliminate dangerous jaywalking behavior; over 3 million riders have enjoyed CaBi with an excellent safety record
– healthful: promotes a happy, healthful choice for stressed travelers and employees
– cost-effective: adds mobility at a low cost, unlike expensive remote parking options
– enjoyable: a great way for the region to show travelers the beautiful Mount Vernon Trail and the convenience of East Arlington’s neighborhoods
– economical (for MWAA): airport concessions are the only F&B outlet directly along 7.5 miles of the Mount Vernon Trail (between Rosslyn and Old Town Alexandria)

(BTW, I suggested the locations north of the terminal and west of the parking garage. These are near bike parking locations 1 and 6 on MWAA’s bike access map, and even though they’re not next to the terminal, they’re next to the trail and would keep bikes off the high-speed access roads.)

Worst trail junction in town

worst junction in town Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

Okay, so this intersection isn’t exactly the royal mess that is the Lady Bird Johnson Traffic Bowl at the other end of Memorial Bridge.* I consider the most infuriating point along the Potomac & Rock Creek paths, for several reasons:

1. NO SIGNAGE. This crosswalk leads under the Lincoln Memorial Circle ramps to the trail along the Potomac, and thus to Potomac Park, the Tidal Basin, etc. Continuing along the river, though, leads pedestrians up an ramp to a dead-end overlook — surrounded by six lanes of free-flowing traffic.
2. Cars speeding off of Rock Creek Parkway onto Memorial Bridge here rarely yield to pedestrians, for fear of being rear-ended at highway speeds. (The posted speed limit, as with many local NPS parkways, is lower but universally flouted.)
3. Sharp curves on the path and steep ramps. There is no way to take the curb cut shown at any speed, since it requires steering into a turn and making sure not to trip over the ramp’s sharp sides. Not to mention that the trail makes a sharp arc around this belvedere because… why?
4. Insufficient trail widths, particularly at the sharp turns.

My solution:
1. One little sign, added to the sign on that lamp post and facing north: [up] Memorial Bridge, [L] Potomac Park. Those approaching from the east (i.e., this view) have enough visual cues to know that Georgetown is to the right and the Lincoln Memorial to the left.
2. Close the little road loop. Traffic moves too quickly for anyone to pull out here and enjoy the view, anyhow. Add a bike path that cuts across its mouth.
3. Point the crosswalks such that they are not perpendicular to the road, for the convenience for drivers, but instead follow the line of the path. Widen the curb cut, and grade it gently.
4. Slow traffic approaching the crosswalk, and add something (flashing lights?) to alert drivers to stop.

* Every time I glance at a map of the Arlington riverfront, I keep thinking that there must be a way to handle those traffic flows with half as many ramps, many fewer conflicts, and in 1/4 as much space, but wow, that’s a complicated web they’ve weaved over there. The Pentagon has a long-range plan to sort out some of its parking lots and ramps (and return a whopping 50 acres of pavement to green space!), but that’s only one-third of the basket-weave.

Trail network keystone

The key stone Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

The missing link of the Anacostia trail recently received final environmental approvals (and, last month, a TIGER grant). As this map illustrates, “the arboretum section”* will complete a link through the city between the two great suburban Maryland trail networks (the 30-mile Rock Creek/CCT and the 60 miles of Anacostia trails) to Virginia’s trails and the C&O via the Potomac River trails. Since I live in Southwest, both trail networks will begin at my doorstep.

The segment will also nearly complete a full loop around most of the city, via Capital Crescent + Sligo Creek, and better link northern Prince George’s County to the heart of the region. Future links via the Fort Circle trails east of the river will connect a southern loop via the Wilson Bridge and Alexandria.

Now, if only there were a way to bring the WB&A, seen shooting off to the east through Bowie, into the equation as an eastern counterpart to the W&OD to the west.

Other cool 2012 TIGER grantees include a bikeway project in midtown Detroit, a new bike bridge in Memphis, and new train stations for Raleigh and Rochester.

* really on the east side of the river, past the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens instead. There is no acceptable on-road route in this area, only several highways.

Quick shorts: cats, CaBi health, climate

Sorry for the light schedule, but I’m in the midst of finals. Oh, and still fundraising for the Climate Ride, of course, which you totally should sponsor me for.

I’ve been working on several other posts for a while, and even will have some posts inspired by things I wrote about as final papers (does that make them Quality Research instead of the usual bloggy ramblings?), but for now here are some nuggets that I’ve found whilst toiling away at various libraries and other randomly found study spaces:

1. A recent cover story by Kathleen McAuliffe in the Atlantic covered the novel hypothesis that implicates toxoplasmosis, and the “Fatal Feline Attraction” that it causes in mice, to human mental disorders. Suddenly, I think we have an answer for Why The Web Loves [lol]Cats.

(Incidentally, I first read about the theory in 2000 in Lingua Franca, courtesy Stephen Mihm. At that time, it was new even to friends who were doing Ph.Ds in psychiatry.)

2. A friend was recently photographed for the NPR Shots blog, unfortunately for an article reporting on a journal article critical of the low rate of helmet use on bike share. Neither article mentioned that requiring helmet use, and/or focusing relentlessly on helmets as the be-all-end-all of bicycle safety, can actually harm public health by discouraging bicycling — a very healthful activity which plays an important role in fighting heart disease (which kills 5X more Americans than accidents). Research into helmet laws and bicycle sharing programs have indicated that the heart-health benefit outweighs the increased exposure to accident risk.

To put it more succinctly:
0.001% of bike share trips result in a crash; over ~2M CaBi rides, 0 resulted in major head injuries
100.0% of bike share trips result in exercise and transportation

I think that’s a pretty good health and safety record.

3. A recent Tom Friedman column about “global weirding” mentioned that the entire country of Yemen is running out of water. (True, according to a Monitor report.) What’s weird about the desert drying out? Well, elsewhere along the Indian Ocean, other entire countries are now about to disappear under the rising tides.

Encouragingly, Science Friday last week covered the release of a new poll from GMU and Yale which found that only 10% of Americans are truly dismissive about global warming. So why does the media echo chamber even pay attention to this loud minority? That seems akin to requiring an irate vegan to “cover the controversy” every time a report even mentioned meat, since 2-8% of Americans are vegetarian. (I’d use a religion/atheism analogy, but the science on why vegetarianism is better for the environment is pretty well settled — and I write as an omnivore.)

Even more surprisingly, by a 3:1 ratio voters were “more likely to vote” for a candidate who favored a revenue-neutral tax shift — including 2:1 support among Republicans. Such a tax shift plan didn’t work out so well for Canada’s Liberals, but which has occurred in jurisdictions like British Columbia and Germany.

On ways to confront global warming: years ago I remember reading about what I thought to be a fair solution for both controlling pollution and encouraging fair development, and finally looked up what its proper wonky name should be: C&C, for Contraction & Convergence. Each human owns an identical share of the sky, and those of us who use more than our share should pay the others for that ability.

Transit shorts: Sustainable DC, CaBi, Beltway as urban edge, more!

Weekday walk trip % Originally uploaded by Payton Chung

Hi there! Seven (!) transportation-ish shorts; they might be a few days late, but I kind of have breaking news for #1, since these figures haven’t yet made the paper:

1. The new Sustainable DC Vision includes (unlike some other plans I’ve seen) some really great performance goals for the next 20 years, including:
– 75% of trips starting within city will be on foot, bike, or transit
– Zero waste
– 50% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (3/4 of which come from buildings)
– 100% swimmable, fishable waterways
– Tripling the number of small businesses
– 25% of food supply from within 100 miles (which implies farmland conservation in the suburbs)
– 50% less obesity (already lowest rate in USA)
– 50% less unemployment
– 10X greater exports of goods & services

Several notable strategies are called out, including “citywide performance parking districts” (their term for market-rate parking meters). There’s also an interesting emphasis in the text on how local food, zero waste, etc. will keep more funds within DC.

I was walking behind Mayor Gray across the new Anacostia Riverwalk wetlands bridge that connects Hill East to the Capitol Riverfront; check back to see if those photos make it into the paper.

2. More on performance parking: ‘Even though he works for a personal rapid transport company [ULTRa], [Steve] Raney said, “If you’re doing to do one thing, do the paid parking. Don’t go and build a personal rapid transit system.” [Bill Fulton, CP-DR]

3. BicycleBug recently undertook a CaBiChallenge, similar to the Tour de [Denver] B-Cycle. Apparently, he couldn’t check into some stations due to being dock-blocked. Two ways around that:
– use two credit cards. Arrive at a full station with bike, use CC#2 to check out a bike, return bike paid for with CC#1 into newly empty dock.
– or, to just verify a station visit, you could just ride your own bike around and print off an unlock code from each station. (I guess that wouldn’t work if the printer’s down, though.)

4. The graph here comes from the MWCOG’s 2011 TPB Geographically-Focused Household Travel Survey initial report. (Logan Circle’s outlier-in-a-good-way results merited some press, e.g., in the Examiner.) If we define sprawl as “where nobody walks” and “where everybody drives alone,” it’s pretty clear that sprawl begins right outside the 257 square miles circumscribed by the 10-mile-ring Beltway. (Incidentally, the city of Chicago would fill 92% of the Beltway.)

There are exceptions that stem from good planning, though: Largo, with access to the Blue Line, had 63% more transit commuting trips than more-distant Reston, but better-planned Reston has 67% more walk trips — and 31% more total weekday walk/transit trips.

Another surprising fact hidden in the presentation: mobile-only households ranged from 12% around Largo to an astonishing 57% around Logan Circle (the very picture of a neighborhood of techy transients). I see that they’ll be doing my neighborhood later this year — hope I get selected!

5. More on escaping the Beltway: it turns out that just outside the Beltway is Cherry Hill Park, a bona fide campground (the sort of land use you don’t see in an urban area) — which you can take a city bus to! (Via Em Hall’s Metro Ventures, via a segment on WAMU Metro Connection)

6. I love public stairs. Chalk it up to too many years stalking broad, flat Chicago streets.

7. Last week, Streetsblog mentioned a curious list compiled by Patrick Kennedy from Walkable DFW that contrasted U.S. cities with many and few highway lane miles. It was just a simple illustration — the many-lane-miles cities aren’t what come to mind as thriving, lively cities, unlike the few-lane-miles cities — and there are a lot of factors that enter into the equation. (I noticed that the lists are dominated by certain states, like Texas, Florida, and California, which might be over- or under-investing in highways.)

Still, though, it reminded me of this cute paper (again, not really an analytical work) by Patrick Condon, contrasting how the urban health of Vancouver to St. Louis really has nothing to do with the presence — or absence — of highways.

Shorts: Austin + Madison, McLean, the South

1. No, it’s not another post about trendy baby names of the Aughts… Bike Snob NYC visits two cities that have also recently hosted the Congress for the New Urbanism, and once again I feel validated:


If you enjoy shirtless motorcycling, being drunk in revealing clothing, or just plain shouting “Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!” like a Fred who’s just hit 46mph, then Austin is your kind of town. If, on the other hand, you prefer more refined pleasures such as quiet cocktails, polite conversation, and maintaining your dignity, you might be more at home elsewhere.


As it turns out, Madison is more than just “bike friendly,” and it’s actually so affectionate towards cyclists that it sometimes gropes you in a way that makes you feel slightly uncomfortable… I daresay that Minneapolis and Madison may be even more rideable than “The Artisanal ‘P’.” In particular, riding in Madison was like riding a cotton candy bicycle while being tickled with buttercups…

2. Speaking of fabled places, I would never have guessed that this line by Bobbi Bowman would have been filed from the Beltway’s Republican redoubt:

That battle was basically a clash of visions of downtown McLean. The vision of JBG and its partner, a townhouse developer, was townhouses, a garage on Elm Street with the first floor of restaurants and retail space, a tot lot, and improved storm-water management. The Planning Committee, McLean’s citizen-planners, envisioned apartments, higher density and no garage. [emphasis mine]

3. One of the strange-at-first-glance statistics in a recent Pew report on intermarriage is that the South, which led the opposition to mixed marriages, has a higher incidence of intermarriage than the Midwest or Northeast, although lower than the West. That ranking appears to be an artifact of two factors:
– exposure appears to lower rates of out-marriage in the Midwest; more homogenous states just don’t give their residents much opportunity to out-marry
– Florida and Texas are part of the Census Bureau’s definition of the South, and both share with the West a Hispanic heritage — which, by long-standing Census definition, is already a mix.