Mainely Planning

Why plan for an uncertain future? Our world is changing in ways that we can hardly comprehend. The planning we have been engaged in over the last 100 years, is geared to a world with abundant energy, a stable climate, and a dwindling natural resource endowment that is reliant on cheap energy for extraction. That world is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Oil price spikes due to supply/demand and geopolitical concerns, water shortages (Google Lake Mead, Central Valley, CA or the Ogallala Aquifer for details), and soil depletion are just a few of the problems we face. As we move forward, the notion that we can continue with business as usual (BAU) is not going to sustain us.

Thinking creatively and making difficult decisions will test our abilities, push our cultural boundaries and hopefully shape a world where these uncomfortable realities can be dealt with in an equitable and meaningful manner. I write about things I see, think, and work on as I transition from being a planning student into the world of planning. I am neither a technological optimist, thinking we can invent our way out of all our problems, nor a doomer, believing in returning to a world much like pre-industrial times. I believe that our creativity combined with the lessons from the past will be instrumental tools for laying the foundation for the path forward. Some of my ideas may seem radical, others are just based on common sense and keen observations.

Links of Note

Mainely Rural
The Old Pine Tree
Strong Towns
Project For Public Spaces
Streets Blog
Cap'n Transit Rides Again
Human Transit
Pedestrian Observations
The Broken Sidewalk
Maine Architecture
The Vigorous North
Depot Redux
Reason and Rail
Car Free Maine
Walk Around Portland

Transportation for America State Fact Sheets

A Reason to Plan

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One of the most important things about bike and pedestrian infrastructure is that it needs to go somewhere. As important as recreation may be, taking cycling and walking to the next level by fostering active mobility for real travel to meaningful destinations is key to building a healthy and sustainable community. Waterville is ripe for just such a network because everything in Waterville is remarkably close by. The map below is a topo map that show just how close people are to downtown Waterville. Within 2 miles of downtown are a number of major work centers, Inland Hospital, MaineGeneral’s 2 campus’, Downtown Waterville, plus Colby and Thomas College Campus locations. Just outside of that is the Hutamaki paper plant straddling the Waterville/Fairfield town line.

Below is a thematic map of work centers in Waterville, that shows where the jobs are located in town. What I wanted to show was the different places people in town work and how close those areas are. In Waterville, nearly 20% of people work in town or in neighboring Winslow across the river. The map was created with a census product called: On the Map, and can display commute data in a number of ways. For this map, I just focused on where jobs were located.

While I didn’t want to focus on towns outside of Waterville for the purpose of a bike boulevard network, it is important to consider the connections to neighboring towns when working on a network design. This map has only two connections, one to Winslow across the Two Cent Bridge, and to Fairfield via Dummond Ave. heading north.

As we get closer to working on bike routes through Waterville in the public participation process, it will be important to have an accurate understanding of where people want to go. The above map is merely my perspective on some meaningful routes and might not capture all the desired destinations. What these routes do however, is focus on streets that are bike-able and some destinations that I would want to have available if I chose to bike to them.

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