Monday, March 1, 2010

Blogger’s Rail Commentary Just an AIA Rehash

Where have you been, Ian Lind? Perhaps the most successful blogger in Hawaii (his blog’s counter reports nearly 1.8 million visitors), Lind’s commentary on Hawaii Public Radio this morning was surprisingly naïve (it's available at HPR's website).

That’s his word, as in the “Perhaps I’m naïve….” phrase in his commentary. But we have to agree; Lind’s piece seems “fresh off the boat” and suggests no exposure to why the American Institute of Architects Hawaii chapter's at-grade rail proposal won’t serve Honolulu’s needs.

For example, Lind asked in his piece why flexible light rail couldn’t be built elevated where appropriate and at-grade elsewhere. The reasons have been exhaustively discussed in the Draft EIS at the project's website, in community meetings, in the mainstream media and in numerous online sites, including Yes2Rail.

At-grade wouldn’t be as fast, wouldn’t be as reliable, wouldn’t be as safe and wouldn’t be nearly as successful as an elevated system. We won’t go into the details in today's post, but they’re covered here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, among other posts.

More Like Propaganda

Asking the question in the manner he did is almost inexplicable for someone who enjoys a reputation as an investigative journalist from when he reported for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. It’s somewhat shocking for his commentary to come off as AIA propaganda.

The material covers the same old AIA territory – the ridiculous assertion that architects were denied the opportunity to provide input on rail both early and late (a cover story for being asleep at the switch), the City’s alleged bullying and ramrod mentality, politics driving the project, the selection of “old” steel-on-steel technology, etc.

We doubt Lind reads Yes2Rail, but if he does now, let’s hope he takes time to read these three lengthy posts that essentially accuse the AIA of deliberately misleading the public on the environmental impact process, the relative speed of at-grade rail vs elevated and the safety issue.

Lind seems cozily in bed with a minority of local architects who see the rail project only through their visual aesthetics filter. That’s too narrow a perspective to guide the planning for a vital transportation project that will provide an alternative to traffic congestion for decades to come.


Anonymous said...

Can those who support at grade rail please expound in detail what is meant by "flexible"? One keeps hearing this word as a sales pitch but there's little substance behind it. How is it "flexible"? Can one just arbitrarily change the route long after it's been built? Is a light rail station nothing more than a bench and a station sign? Does the route not require any ground prep work to be done to lay in rail tracks? Systems pointed to in Phoenix or Houston seem to be quite the contrary. Any of these supporters actually tried riding these light rail systems during rush hour? Try the VTA in downtown SJ during rush hour and see how long it takes for the train to make it through street traffic.

Doug Carlson said...

The "flexible" thing is just more spin, which the AIA seems all too comfortable doing even when its spins are misleading. Yes2Rail has a point of view, but at least we give the AIA a voice by quoting its representatives exactly. And why wouldn't we? It helps us refute them.

Anonymous said...

Where is the Hawaii Chapter of the American Planning Association? What do they have to say on this topic?

Doug Carlson said...

Darn good question, Anonymous. I think it supports Honolulu elevated rail project...but it would be nice for that to be confirmed by the chapter. Know anybody in it?

Anonymous said...

While not related specifically to this blog entry, here is a very good example of how rail is not "ancient" technology as pundits like to keep spinning. With very little modification, an existing train can be made into a hybrid. This would even be greener than auto hybrids because there would be no use of batteries. It would be very interesting to see what the energy savings would be employing these flywheels.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of being "cozily in bed," how come there's no mention in your blog entry about your conflict of interest, in that you are being paid by the city to blog about its chosen plan?

And along those lines, I noticed that none of the rebuttal links to which you referred Ian et al. were to actual documents but instead each represents your particular take on them.

Anonymous said...

Gee, Doug, I would have thought someone with your experience and, ah, cachet would have a thicker skin. Do you get paid to refuse comments too? Or are any of the comment you post real?

Doug Carlson said...

I'll respond to the two Anonymous comments immediately above with one post: First, read the top of this blog. Does it not say I'm a paid consultant to the City? Of course it does, so your allegation that I have a conflict of interest is bizarre. And WHAT conflict of interest could I be in? I'm writing a pro-rail blog!! It's obvious!

Second, does it look like I'm censoring comments here? Just count them going back months.

This issue isn't about my skin -- thick or thin. It's about having enough understanding of the city's transportation needs to recognize that only grade-separated transit can meet them. It's obvious some who post comments here have not a clue. If they did, they couldn't possibly be prolonging their love affair with at-grade rail, which can't possibly do the job.

Please respond to that central fact rather than waste time about my non-existent conflict of interest, for Pete's sake.

Anonymous said...

I am the poster of the last two anonymous comments, and I left the second because the first wasn't posted for more than a day.

And while your blog notes at the top that you're a communication consultant to the city, many if not most of your readers will not realize that what that means is THIS BLOG is the product of that contract. It is not obvious to everyone what a communication consultant does, especially when the fact is glossed over. People read blogs because they are usually a personal product and aren't accustomed to those with a blatantly commercial bent.

I believe this resulting confusion is deliberate on your part, otherwise it would be made much clearer – hence the de facto conflict of interest.

Doug Carlson said...

You guys are really too much. How do you like the top of this blog now? I have absolutely nothing to hide and have not done what you suggest -- created alleged "confusion" intentionally or otherwise.

But rather than beat around the bush on tangental issues of little import, why don't you try to respond to the challenge posted on March 4th? So far, at-grade proponents have failed to do so.