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On Other Blogs Today: Whiny Drivers, Whiny Editors, Hypnotic Maps, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett March 7, 2014


1. KIRO has a story about a planned "woonerf"—technically, a street where cyclists and pedestrians have right-of-way priority over cars—at the corner of 12th Ave. and E. James Ct. on Capitol Hill. It sounds like a cool idea: A two-way road will be transformed into a one-way road running through a new park, leading to calmer traffic and a more pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

So good on KIRO for writing about it (and using the word "woonerf"!) Not so good: KIRO's lead, which, in typical fashion, focuses on what drivers think about this small-scale project, which will force them to drive around the park or drive a little slower for a block or so.

"The city of Seattle is spending more than a million dollars on a project that some drivers think is flat-out confusing," KIRO declares. 

Here's a thought: If drivers are baffled by the concept of a slower speed limit, maybe they shouldn't be getting behind the wheel in the first place.

Image via Baltimore City Paper.

2. Baynard Woods, the editor of Baltimore City Paper, argues in the New York Times that alternative weeklies serve a function web sites never will. Namely: Their writers are truly in touch with the city, whereas writers online are—all of them—"untethered to geography, universal in topic and voice."

Moreover, when writing about their cities, they adopt a monolithic tone of "universal praise" and "smarm" rather than engaging in critical thinking.

And they're inherently elitist because, unlike free newspapers, they're only available to people with Internet access. I look forward to the day when truly universal web access, as opposed to the nearly-universal access that exists today, makes this tiresome argument obsolete.

As someone who left a long career at alt-weeklies for the (then-) largely uncharted waters of online-only political writing back in 2009, I obviously have a bias here, but I don't think I'm speaking only for myself when I say it is absolutely absurd, and profoundly insulting to the many talented writers for online-only outlets, to suggest that they're myopic ("there are some great hyperlocal websites") or unable to engage with their cities simply because they transmit stories through screens, rather than old-fashioned ink and paper.

Alt-weeklies should (and, frankly, will have to) figure out a way to coexist with new media (perhaps by creating a great online presence?) rather than belittling online competitors as interlopers who don't, in Woods' words, "care about the city and what goes on in it."

3. The Olympian reports that Gov. Jay Inslee says an agreement on fulfilling the state supreme court's McCleary mandate to fully fund K-12 education probably won't happen until after the end of the legislative session, which wraps up next Thursday. Democrats in both the Democratic-dominated house and the Republican-dominated senate have agreed on plans to meet the state's funding commitment, but the senate Majority Coalition Caucus, a group of Republicans and two conservative Democrats that leads the senate, has remained a stumbling block.

"It doesn’t seem to be that progress is being made that would make it likely that would happen in the next several days,” the paper quotes Inslee as saying.

4. Via Sightline, here is (to quote staffer Clark Williams-Derry) "the all-time best visualization of bus service in King County." Check it out on Vimeo. You'll be hypnotized.   
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