Saturday, April 3, 2010

Livable streets, heck, they are not even driveable

I was in Ann Arbor this past week and drove there from the Philadelphia area. If you want to see the "Rust Belt" up close and personal, drive through Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Toledo, and Detroit. Some of you young folks might not be familiar with the term 'rust belt'. Think of the cities I just mentioned and you can pretty much figure out the term.

But back to my point of livable versus driveable streets. Ann Arbor was awarded a silver medal from the League of American Cyclists. For the life of me, I cannot figure out why. I would rate the roads in Ann Arbor worse than the worst roads in Pittsburgh. Not only are they littered with hodge podge patchwork, and potholes, the curbs are actually crumbling.

The bike lanes were narrow and covered with the crumbling curbs. The edges of all the roads have many awful patches of tar and what not, you would need a mountain bike to ride on them. I noticed the U of Michigan kids were biking on the sidewalks. You cannot blame them.

My son was moving out of his apartment in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is apparently spending what little tax revenues they have on recycling. To get rid of his junk and old furniture was an adventure in the world of recyling. We finally find the landfill, you must pay to drop your stuff.

We have a gazillion bags of everything. They ask us, do you have recyclable textiles, old clothes, glass, metal and the list went on and on. We lied, we had too, there was no way I was unpacking all the bags to separate the stuff.

Next trip, we did better, we had cardboard and went inside the big garage to recycle it. They had bins for white paper, colored paper, paperback books, hard back books and it went on and on.

We had furniture with us as well. We were instructed where to take it. So another trip to another part of town to dump furniture.

Both my son and I joked, Ann Arbor is spending a ton of money on recycling, yet their infrastructure is falling apart and no one even notices it. The tax base is so depleted in Ann Arbor since Pfizer closed its plant (Viagra went generic), so Ann Arbor has little money and it is obvious to the non Ann Arborian that the roads are literally crumbling. I guess when you live there, you do not notice. Another way Ann Arbor is attempting to raise money, ( taxes are so high, they cannot raise them anymore) is to lower the speed limit on main roads and highways and then fine the living daylights out of the unsuspecting motorist. It got to be a joke seeing all the cars pulled over.

Michigan has a good state wide park system, I am not sure how well maintained they are at this time and Michigan probably spent a bundle making these parks. But Michigan and Ann Arbor and many cities in the 'rust belt' are losing their infrastructure.

Green is good and recycling is good but someone please tell Michigan, your roads are a mess.

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