* I feel sick. Why? Earlier today, I was hit (no damage, at midday, in the middle of the Loop) by a driver who was clearly in the wrong — double parked, no signals, suddenly backing up without looking (through an illegally black-tinted rear window) — and suddenly found myself with four cagers all simultaneously screaming obscenity-laced insults at me. (None asked if I was all right.) One person on the sidewalk, a woman smoking, seemed to care, and told me to take down details for the cops. Of course, the cops arrived 22 minutes later, moments after the driver finished his business and pulled away, and there being no blood, there was no way to press charges.

Yet when there is blood, as with architect Steven O’Rourke (evidently a friend of a friend) — his body dragged for one mile through the streets of Jefferson Park, knocked out of his shoes just steps from the home where his wife and three small children were sound asleep — it’s too late. Your best witness is dead.

Not one week later, a child riding in the middle of Critical Mass was violently struck by a car fleeing the scene of a crash; his bike was dragged under the car for six blocks. Not just any kid, either, but a regular, an eager boy whom I’d seen graduate from trail-a-bike to his own two wheels, whom I’d fed cookies to. He’s shaken and bruised, but the gall!

Soon, I won’t be able to count the number of people I know — or have known — struck by hit-and-run drivers with mere single digits. This fact, and the utterly nonchalant attitude that countless drivers and the authorities have towards this most soulless, evil-hearted cowardice, fills me with toxic rage.

* A text ad on that O’Rourke story directs readers to the Campaign for Global Road Safety, which points out that worldwide, road deaths kill more people than malaria and diabetes, and as many as either of two lung diseases (tuberculosis and lung cancers) — and that every minute, a child is killed or maimed on the world’s roads. Worldwide, most of these deaths are of pedestrians. This is beginning to get attention from the UN, with a General Assembly session on road safety set for this fall.

* How to end our long national nightmare. [Wonkette]

* At a recent event, new alderman Brendan O’Reilly mentioned one idea worth grabbing from NYC: camera enforcement of Gridlock Sam’s “Don’t Block the Box” directive. Between these, the Natarus sound cameras, and various anti-terrorist cameras, downtown could have a pretty thick network of cameras — pretty useful for also ticketing double-parkers, or for London style cordon pricing.

* Recently viewed and highly recommended: the Criterion Collection release of Tati’s Play Time. No plot whatsoever, but the views of oppressively modernist, traffic-choked “Tativille” alternating with his gentle physical humor made for an enjoyable (if long winded) viewing.

* Speaking of oppressive modernism, I was amused to see that an “urban quarter” (named Quartier sur le Fleuve, but that name currently generates no Google hits) at the northeast corner of Montréal’s Île-des-Soeurs was submitted for the LEED-ND Pilot. The place really looked like a Tati nightmare. [PDF from earlier planning process]

* Québec also passed a “carbon tax” last month, amounting to 0.8c per liter. Curiously, part of Illinois’ gas tax is really an “environmental impact fee” (415 ILCS 125/310). I’d be curious to see what kind of interesting local projects could be funded under a CMAQ-like regional grant program to cut carbon emissions: car sharing, bike sharing, hybrid cabs, beater car trade-ins, electric peak load conservation, whatever.

* “Airplane security seems to forever be looking backwards.” So, billions of dollars in America’s most valuable workers’ time is wasted stuffing “Freedom baggies” and pulling off shoes, all to CYA over yesterday’s threats. [Schneier on Security]

* Pithy comment by Carrington Ward on the Obama-arugula flub:

It’s an interesting point about the price of arugula. One of the problems Iowa farmers face is a dependence on monocrop agriculture — corn, corn, corn.

It is a flipside of the problem that many urban neighborhoods face: bodies sculpted by corn syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup.

We’d be better off as a nation if Iowa farmers were paying attention to the price of Arugula (or apples) in Chicago.

* Portland has a Courtyard Housing Design Competition underway. I’ll be curious to see how they reconcile this type (among my favorites, as you probably already know) with parking. The jury is pretty solid; my sense is that they’ll tend towards the traditional, though.

3 thoughts on “Morsels

  1. Have you read what UK TV host Jeremy Clarkson has to say about cyclists? It’s close to incitement to riot…

    On the Tati front – check out Mon Oncle if you can. Same character (M. Hulot), as the absentmindedly charming and scatterbrained uncle who lives in the charmingly Gallic ‘old town’ full of characters, colour and life; his nephew lives in a horrible modern house built in a colourless subdivision. Tati’s later film Traffic is basically one long traffic jam…I think you can tell that he didn’t think much of the Great Automobile Revolution!

  2. I think I liked “Play Time” more than “Mon Oncle,” although the latter’s funnier. (That dinner party!) Either my urban bias is showing, or I didn’t care much for the overly romantic portrait of Hulot’s vieux quartier.

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