Tonight myself and one other cyclist almost ran into a group of pedestrians who were saying goodbyes in the pedestrian section of a Midtown crosswalk. The traffic signal was seconds away from changing- from yellow to red- for cars and yes, bikes. Both cyclists made the stop- no one was hurt. But-with my bike-centric certitude adrenalin flowing, I yelled what must have sounded pretty bratty- GUYS!!! This rather debonair looking fellow turned to me and said, "the light's red, you should be ashamed." In truth- I think I was! As he walked up 8th ave with his other friend, he turned back and smiled. I smiled back.
There are times when citizens of our busy and super-driven city are consumed with getting from point A to B in the fastest way possible. Any added hurdle that delays that mission, human or otherwise is cause for dirty looks or even an outburst. But sometimes, an unplanned pause that may have triggered that all to common reaction leads to an even greater appreciation of this palace of smart urban planning where humans constantly encounter other humans- called New York. There's more to this city than energy, dreams and tall buildings- there are also amazing people. Not only did I smile back at the gentleman who had scolded me, I smiled because I knew this would only happen here in this place I love, in New York.
The afternoon sun had begun to fade, but the Bryant park trees twinkled, offering a sense of shelter, comfort, peace, away from the bustle of sidewalks, the glaring of glass high in the sky towering over the beating nucleus ,Midtown Manhattan.
A conversation carries on by phone, the New Yorker, questions, listens and learns about a friend’s trip up north to a city many miles away.
“It went well,” said the friend, on assignment in New England, where he’d given a speech, seeking to explain a campaign of tolerance to a younger generation.
The soul searching that day in New York had begun- the answer was never found.
California's got it going on- in a high speed rail kinda way. Albeit costly-perhaps painful- to a state that's got a broken budget to spend billions on transforming its transit infrastructure- it's a clear-smart investment in a high speed rail future- an economically stimulating move that will hopefully produce thousands of construction jobs. More important- perhaps too it will lead the way for the rest of a nation that shouldn't have to rely on planes to make trips less than 400 miles.
Imagine a day, when the nation's most densely populated cities, even on the east coast, are connected by high speed rail such as trains in Europe or Japan. That, instead of the rusty old-often unreliable infrastructure that the antiquated Amtrak system operates with today. Add to that-the money and sanity saved by not having to drive to a crowded airport-deal with the nightmare of air travel today-but instead-leave and arrive in a city core-downtown.
Sure-it's an expensive investment- but its probably just the sort of self improvement- stimulus-this nation could probably use right about now.
Riding a bike is-to some including myself- the best way to get around a city. I live on my bike.
But- recent events have reminded me that I've been pedaling sans helmet again- and that's really foolish. My most recent excuse-fitting-you see, I have a large head. In Austin, it was the heat, oh it gets to hot under there. Then of course,pure vanity, my hair-or, oh at forty something- I'll look dorky? What's really stupid is the fact that the minimal protective armor a helmet provides has been shown to reduce the incidence of catastrophic injury that can occur when skull-bone- meets hard concrete or the steel frames of a moving tons heavy austomobile or truck.
Today's America is markedly different than it was when I was growing up in 1970's Alabama. While much among us has changed for the better, especially in the realms of official equality and social justice, mean-ness, as my Grandmother would have called it, still runs rampant throughout our society. One need only go online and read headlines from across the country that detail economic inequity, corruption and acts of brutal violence that have in many ways numbed our souls. Clearly, the biblical Golden rule that would have us do unto others, as we would do unto them, is still an afterthought, perhaps forgotten by many.
Reporting from Real Estate News Group GlobeSt.com in New York City said that Economist outlooks for the next two years were grim. Last week, at the Urban Land Institute breakfast discussion the 2009 Economic Outlook sent further warnings that the nation is in for perilous economic times. Moody's ecnomist Mark Zandi spoke of chilling job loss figures, saying that in New York City alone, 300,000 jobs could disappear over the next year and a half. The panel also raised veiled charges that fairly recent financial sector regulatory policy changes contributed greatly to the current meltdown. He stressed the sense of urgency that the new administration must maintain by acting quickly and massively perhaps restructuring the markets. They agreed this is essential to correct the financial sector's perilous state. Still, one of the most threatening clouds flying over the nation and particularly New York City are the predictions that the Big Apple stands to see job losses approaching 300,000 over the next year and a half with no consensus if, and when those jobs will ever come back. Below is an excerpt and link to the full coverage of the presentation from GlobeSt.com.