Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Step 1

My flight to Alaska is swiftly approaching, but that isn't my focus this week. In the search for a capstone research question, and eventually a site to design, I first need to know where the academic and design thought has got to for the topic in question.

What is that, exactly? Hell if I know. Those who know me could predict this next part, and for those that don't, this is a good introduction. At present I want to know as much as possible about all the newest, most innovative bike and pedestrian design/policy implements being employed around the country, then create something better.

How do I go about that? Reading. Yes, much respect to all my public school teachers for giving me the ability to read and think critically (take that, Scott Walker). My mission is to talk to as many like-minded professionals (those in design and planning, who care about smart street infrastructure) and see what they recommend.

So far, I've got a draft of the U of M 2011 bike plan; a 2005 research report by Krizek and Barnes about predicting benefits of bike networks; a 2011 paper by Pucher out of Rutgers on cycling trends and policies; and a 2005 NCHRP tome on the investment analysis for bike facilities involving 5 research centers and universities. At present, this list is just a shotgun smattering of bike-related research and academic propaganda, but it's a start. As this endeavor rolls forward, I'm hoping to hone-in on the fringe of bike and pedestrian facility policy and design. I want to find the debated, maybe controversial, and probably unsupported-by-research edge of what contemporary professionals think is remotely feasible. Let's see where it goes...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Greetings all-
This is my first foray into the blogoshpere, so let's see how it goes.

Premise: For starters, let me lend some context.

I'm about to head into my last year in both a Master's of Landscape Architecture and Master of Urban and Regional Planning courses at the University of Minnesota and the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, respectively. As such, I need some capstone project ideas. This project has to encompass both realms, be pertinent, be innovative, be well done and be interesting. No pressure.

Also, as part of my illustrious education, I've landed an internship working at the National Parks Service Alaska Regional office in Anchorage (map | website | NPS AK parks). I'll be working under their one-and-only landscape architect, and their transportation planner. From what I understand, the former does all the site design for the parks up there, and the latter is working on a NPS long-range transportation plan. What specifically, I will be doing, only time will tell.

This blog will {hopefully} be a way for me to track research, report on Alaska, and maybe to distill what the hell I'm doing with my life by reflecting on the work up there.

So you can expect ranting, venting about work, nerdy digressions on biking/planning/design, pretty pictures and much, much more.

For now though, my ticket is purchased: June 2-Sept 1 via Suncountry Airlines. Arrangements have been made: I'll be crashing a friends gear-room for the duration of my stay. Logistics have been sorted: the federal government has started a file on me, and multitudes of background checks have been run. All systems are go, and I'm prepared for lift-off. Enjoy.