Monday, September 29, 2014
She was being provocative. That's why she referred to target shooting as practicing freedom. And I took the bait, interested in her use of the word freedom. But admittedly also to call her on being provocative about the whole gun issue. Concepts of freedom and the gun issue are related.
The NRA today is radically different from the NRA I belonged to in the '50s, '60s and '70s. Back then it was all about safety, training and sensible regulation. Sometime in the '80s it was taken over by a group that took it in a very different direction with the result you find today. I want no association whatsoever with today's organization. The NRA's policies today enable gun proliferation and glorify gun ownership and the use of guns. Their support for and aggressive lobbying efforts for relaxed gun regulations at the state and federal level has only led to more guns and a more virulent gun culture.
I believe we need reasonable restrictions on gun access, and on the types of guns sold. I think if private individuals want to own military weapons they should get a special license the same as they do today for fully automatic firearms. There should be licensing of guns and strict regulations on who gets to own them. Any reasonable law biding gun owner should have no objection to this.
We need to change the dynamic and get some of the millions of weapons out there with no other purpose than to kill people out of circulation.
Sensible access restrictions, limits on the types of weapons available, and reductions in the number of combat/police style weapons can go a long way toward reducing the obscene incidence of homicide in our country.
But the moment one mentions anything like what I just outlined, the gun proliferation advocates jump up and start yelling about how we liberals want to take their freedoms away.
I want freedom as much as anyone. I want the freedom to be in a crowd and not worry about all the other people carrying firearms, or someone with an assault rifle opening fire. I want to be able to drive in traffic without worrying about a road rage shooting. I want to be able to knock on someone's door seeking help and not fear for my life from someone protecting their castle with a gun. And I want to be able to confront someone without the fear of being shot because they stood their ground. And finally, I want to stop fearing policemen due to their fear of being shot increasing my chances of being shot inadvertently.
The greatest freedom is community with our fellow humans without fear and with the knowledge we will help each other when needed. It's not arming ourselves and retreating to our fortified castles. That's a self induced prison.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 05, 2011
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Orlando Sentinel – Oct. 10, 2010.
- A sea change needs to happen to motorists’ perception of the pedestrian’s right to the roadway.
- Adequate pedestrian safety infrastructure needs to be approved, funded, designed and constructed.
- Pedestrians must be educated on the proper use of pedestrian infrastructure and exercise of their rights to use the roadways.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Having high speed rail go to Disney, the convention center and the airport is not vision. It's a sub-optimal solution and smacks of catering to airport interests and the tourist industry at the expense of Greater Orlando and its citizen-taxpayers.
There are only two segments that can be called high speed rail, Tampa to Lakeland, and Lakeland to Orlando. The remaining segments are too short to achieve any speed. The Lakeland-Orlando segment should terminate in downtown Orlando. The other segments will best be served by light rail.
A downtown station is the optimal solution for Orlando and Florida High Speed Rail because:
- Downtown is the most likely destination, or at least the center of all possible destinations in Greater Orlando
- Downtown is a logical place to connect to SunRail which will service the areas north and south of downtown
- A downtown station will promote high quality renewal and growth in the downtown core
- Very few passengers will have the airport as their final destination
- Having a downtown station will reduce car traffic in the downtown core
- A downtown station will minimize transfers and changes of transportation modes
- Vehicle miles traveled, vehicle emissions, and congestion will be minimized by a downtown station
- Finally, after all is said and done the regret of not having a downtown station will be far greater than regret over any extra cost
It may cost more for a downtown station, but innovative funding can be sought involving all stakeholders that will benefit.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Wake up Orlando! Demand what's right. Let’s make it happen!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
After publishing a very salutatory article about Bike To Work Day and bicycling in general, the Orlando Sentinel chose to publish Make Our Roads Safer, an editorial condemning Florida bicyclist's objections to HB 971 which would require bicyclists to use bicycle lanes. In the Sentinel's editorial, local bike advocates Brad Kuhn and Might Wilson's views were dismissed as being trivial. The Sentinel cited Portland, Oregon's Bicycle Transportation Alliance as recommending the use of Portland's bicycle lanes.
Come on Sentinel. Rejecting local bicycling advocates' views as self-serving is ignoring the real message they are trying to get across, that motorists and police officers have to recognize that bicyclists have the right to use our roads too, and shouldn't be viewed only as obstructions. Every bicycle that is on the road is one less vehicle using a cup of gas for every mile traveled and perpetuating our dependence on Big O - Oil. The bicyclist is riding to work using his/her breakfast for fuel.
Come on Sentinel deux. Comparing Florida's bicycle infrastructure to Oregon's is like comparing buffalo trails to Los Angeles' freeway system. Oregon is light years ahead of Florida with their bicycle infrastructure. With few exceptions, Florida communities are just getting started with theirs. In too many cases, the initial attempts have been, to be kind, misdirected. These attempts at "bike lanes" are substandard and unsafe. It's too soon to force bicyclists onto bike lanes that are unproven at best and downright dangerous at worst. Serious bicyclists will use the lanes when they consider them safe, but in the meantime they need the freedom to act in their own best interest.
Finally, how does HB 971 make our roads safer as the Sentinel editorial suggests? Is there evidence that failure to use bike lanes has caused accidents? Or is this law for the convenience of motorists who want the slow bicyclists out of their way. Certainly none of the other provisions of HB 971 are concerned with safety: New vanity license plates including plates for the governor, senators and representatives; a provision for 3 wheeled vehicles (safe not); new fee structure for vehicle registrations; and a provision to get DUI drivers who've had their licenses revoked back on the road. And I think there's something about kitchen sinks in there too.
What about making it safer and more convenient to use a bicycle to commute to work? Isn't the long-term goal to increase bicycle ridership and use less hydrocarbon fuels? Anyone who uses a bicycle to commute to work deserves a little edge, and a lot of credit.
Come on Sentinel.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Full Sail University has grown to a major, four year university with 8,800 students. Located at the southeast quadrant of Semoran Boulevard and University Boulevard in Winter Park, Full Sail, like other universities its size, has many students that live close by and walk or bike to class. Unfortunately, the area around the university is typical Florida sprawl with little or no consideration given to walkablility and pedestrian safety. In fact both Semoran Boulevard and University Boulevard are major arterial roads, 6 to 8 lanes wide. This presents a clear and present danger to students who walk or bike to class and have to cross these roads. Semoran Boulevard carries 60,000 vehicles per day at 45 mph and higher. As a major arterial road it carries traffic from the suburbs to downtown Orlando and Orlando International Airport and back.
There are two signalized intersections on Semoran flanking the Full Sail campus, University Boulevard to the north and Banchory Road to the south. Students coming from or going to the campus from the west side of Semoran can cross at Banchory, University, or mid-block.
On April 1, 2010, the author counted the students crossing at each of the three possible locations. I also took many photographs of pedestrians as they crossed. You can see a slide show at the end of this post. I observed from a location on the east side of Semoran midway between University and Banchory. From this point it was easy to count the mid-block crossings, but somewhat more difficult to count the crossings at University and Banchory. As a result, those crossing counts may not be as accurate as those of the mid-block crossings.
I spent a total of 3 hours and 40 minutes counting in three shifts: 8:05 AM to 9:30 AM; 11:55 AM to 1:15 PM; and 4:55 PM to 5:55 PM. The following table shows the counts that were made:
I was surprised to find the number of midblock crossings was more than double the number of crossings at the two signalized intersections at University and Banchory. Even if some of those intersection crossings were missed, the disparity is still very great. This indicates pedestrians have a preference for crossing mid-block as opposed to the signalized crossings. This preference can be explained as follows:
- The distance between University and Banchory is ½ mile. A pedestrian starting at a point midway between the two intersections would have to walk an additional ½ mile to cross at one of the intersections, a walk which would take approximately 15 minutes.
- Crossing mid-block is usually faster than crossing at a signalized intersection. Arterial roads like Semoran have long signal times especially at rush hours to enable large traffic volumes to move through the intersections. Crossing mid-block merely involves waiting until the traffic clears in one direction, crossing to the median, waiting until traffic clears in the opposite direction, then crossing the remaining lanes. The timing of adjacent signals virtually assures a significant traffic-clear interval to cross.
A mid-block crosswalk at the location indicated would provide the pedestrians currently crossing Semoran in this general area a safe way to cross. The benefits of a crosswalk are several:
- Allow pedestrians to cross at a highly visible, signed location where motorists will expect to have them cross.
- By using a marked crosswalk, pedestrians are given the protection of Florida law which requires motorists to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk.
- Without a crosswalk the pedestrian is at fault if he/she fails to yield to a vehicle. In other works crashes that occur outside a crosswalk are always the pedestrian's fault.
- The crosswalk can be signalized if desired.
- As an effective alternate to signalization, flashing beacon lights can be utilized to signal to motorists when pedestrians are in the crosswalk. This type of crosswalk has proven highly effective in obtaining motorist yield compliance in other jurisdictions.
- The cost of an un-signalized crosswalk with beacon lights is significantly lower than a signalized crosswalk and cost effective in providing pedestrian protection.
This is an appeal to the major stakeholders: Full Sail University, Orange County, Florida Department of Transportation, and Metroplan Orlando to work together to approve and construct a crosswalk at the designated location. Let's all work to make this area and all of Metro Orlando a safer and more pleasant place to walk. It makes good sense both for safety and the economy.
Safe and comfortable places to walk make healthier and more prosperous communities.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Environmental groups still support the purchase plan saying this a unique opportunity to purchase a significant amount of agricultural land to aid in Everglades restoration. They want the deal to go through pointing out that Florida will have an option to purchase 107,000 additional acres in the future when the economy gets back on its feet. Critics point out the problem with this is that the South Florida Water Management District will not have enough money to properly develop these parcels for Everglades restoration, and in fact has already stopped work on other restoration projects to divert funds to the purchase. Have environmentalists focused too much on the end result and not on how we get there?
Everglades restoration should go ahead as fast as it can be done. However we should be getting our money's worth and should be funding those projects that produce the highest return soonest. I would love to have assurance that Governor Crist's land purchase from United States Sugar meets that criteria, but I don't get the feeling that it does.
PS: Here's another NY Times article.