No sidewalk, no bike, no MARTA but we love Atlanta!
As I wrote last night, Maria Saporta’s questions at Tuesday’s mayoral candidates forum shed much-needed light on who the candidates are.
Not what they say, what they DO.
And to recap, they pretty much live outside of the core of the city in subdivisions or suburban areas.
In fact, City councilwoman Mary Norwood said she lives on a three-quarter acre plot with a creek in Buckhead. She later said there’s not much suburban territory in the city.
I would say wherever you have three-quarter acre plots, you have suburbia.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
Atlanta is a city with incredibly varied topography.
But I would posit that the city is struggling to be a city, and that it’s made some great strides toward filling in the areas that have been staked out as urban strongholds.
And so I just wonder how committed one would be to that movement if one lived in a subdivision or a suburban neighborhood.
Because it means that none of these candidates did what I did — which was specifically stake out a neighborhood, a block and a house that would allow me to walk to coffee shops, retail stores, restaurants, transit and parks.
They also don’t appear to take MARTA regularly. Maria asked them when was the last time they took MARTA.
I sat there in the auditorium at the Atlanta Regional Commission and answered for myself: Yesterday.
But the candidates had much vaguer answers.
For example, Jesse Spikes takes MARTA to Falcons games (i.e., not recently). Mary Norwood didn’t say last week or last month but said when she goes to the airport. Again, not regularly.
Ok, on to other questions. Maria asked the candidates to name their favorite cities. Here’s what they said:
Lisa Borders: New York City, because it has good transit and cultural amenities. She also said she likes the city’s density.
Mary Norwood: London, because you don’t need a car to get around.
Kasim Reed: Washington, D.C., because he likes to surround himself with so much of the nation’s history and because the city has a good transit system.
Jesse Spikes: Cape Town, South Africa, citing some of the physical beauty, with the city’s proximity to Table Mountain.
(Candidate Glenn Thomas was unable to attend the forum).
Interesting: three out of four specifically cited cities with good transit systems, and yet they themselves don’t live in neighborhoods where it’s the norm to hop on a bus or a train.
In fact, Borders said the city needs a point-person for alternative transportation who could keep an eye on initiatives such as bike lanes.
Really? I guess that’s what I would say if I knew that I myself would not be keeping an eye on this.
(To be fair, I think Borders has a secondary residence near Centennial Olympic Park, which has opened her eyes to the wonders of urban living).
I spoke with Rebecca Serna yesterday who runs the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, one of three advocacy groups that sponsored the green transportation forum.
I asked, what can the mayor do about increasing green transportation options when so much decision-making in this sphere fell to the state legislature?
And Rebecca said that mayors can set priorities by being an example.
Specifically she cited the mayor of Houston who is an avid bike-rider, and said the Texas city has added more than 200 miles of bike lanes since 1995, compared with 30 miles built in Atlanta.
Just by riding regularly, Houston Mayor Bill White knows how wonderful bike-riding can be in a city and he has taken every opportunity to introduce biking events and facilitate biking in the city.
I’m guessing, he doesn’t have to think about it. He regularly bikes so it makes sense that he’s thinking about when he can bike, where he can bike, where he can’t bike — and how he can fix that.
To be sure, whether the mayor bikes is not the most important question in this election. And all of the candidates have something to offer, as I wrote two weeks ago when I attended another mayoral candidates forum.
But if I had my druthers, I would love to elect someone who lives in say, Midtown or Inman Park or Capitol View, and walks out of her house each morning and catches the bus or train to work, and who spends most of her leisure time in the city.
Because that’s how I live.
- I heart Maria Saporta! I heart Maria Saporta for asking REAL questions tonight at...
- Mayoral candidate forums past and future I hate to kick a Chattahoochee baptism out of the...
- At mayoral Beltline forum, winner is … the moderator Tonight’s mayoral candidates’ forum on the Beltline and other green...
- Beltline mayoral forum: Which candidate scored? One nice thing about a mayoral debate in a city...
- E Pluribus Unum A month or so ago, I posted my vision of...
Related posts brought to you by Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.