Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Air Quality Summit

The local movers-and-shakers conducted an "Air Quality Summit" at City Hall, a week or so ago.

There's a good reason - our days with poor air quality are WAY up this year. Close to half the days have been "yellow" air quality or worse. (Using the Homeland Security Color Code, apparently. But coincidentally, on many of those days, the air has been yellow, or brown.)

Dave over at the Boise Guardian boldly predicted how the meeting would go:

"Experts from all the local planning, air quality, and highway agencies will each give presentations. If they follow the usual protocol, the politicos and bureaucrats will spew their wisdom and then offer citizens a mere three minutes to respond or offer their own ideas and assessments."

Wow! Uncanny clairvoyance! (Or is it that he's attended so many of these bureaucratic gab-fests that he's detected a pattern...?)

Our mayor is on the choo-choo bandwagon. He seems convinced that a commuter train will solve all our problems. Others call for expanded transit service. (The local public transportation is on life-support; the routes are very limited and they only run every half hour, even at peak times. And even at peak times, most buses are running mostly-empty.) Meanwhile, like 'most every place else in this great land, well over 90% of citizens drive - ALONE - to all of their destinations.

All those drivers like to blame agricultural burning, wood stoves, and forest fires for the bad air. And that is the problem, my friends. So many people blame somebody else. They think, "I care about the problem. But I'm doing everything I can, and it's somebody else's fault."

I'm guessing all the bureaucratic experts are just the same. Here's a photo from the Summit; look how many experts were gathered, sitting in their lofty perches! But... how many of these yokels carpooled to the meeting? Or took the bus? Most likely every one of 'em arrived in a single-occupant vehicle.

Until there is a big change-of-attitude among the majority of the public, nothing will change, except the air and traffic will keep getting worse.

The "Guardian" says, "... making it painful helps no one."

I'll have to differ. As long as driving a car is the most comfortable option, plenty of folks won't even consider something else. Maybe as gas prices continue to spiral upward, and traffic gets worse, and the air is more befouled than ever before... it will get painful and more people will be willing to get out of their comfort zones.


db said...

Agree with you and the Guardian. Not much hope in getting something done, especially with folks like Da Mayor pushing new pet projects (train) instead of beefing up a system that already exists (mass transit).

If the lines ran every 15 minutes, I would use the buses a TON. As it is, to get to HP, I would have to wait to transfer from one line to the next for 45 minutes. Add the 30 minutes of ride time, and it becomes unacceptable to use 1:15 just to get to work, which is 7 miles away from my house. And don't get me started on the no-Sunday service.

db said...

ADD: I wonder if anyone pointed out that bikes run cleaner than either a commuter train or a bus.

Julie Fanselow said...

Great report, bikeboy. And I can guarantee you NO ONE took the bus to the meeting since it was held after the buses stop running.

I'm with db: Boosting the Valley Ride routes to 15-minute frequencies would boost ridership, plain and simple. Hell, boosting the routes to every 30 minutes on the routes that only run ONCE during midday would help! The more service you give, the more people are inclined to ride.