Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Improving the highways

Here are some more thoughts on how to improve the transportation system in San Diego, or anywhere. Since we obviously aren't going to have massive public transportation infrastructure appear overnight, and since it will probably take many years for something like that to come to fruition, I have been thinking about how me might improve the system that we DO have in the mean time. My thoughts have been on function, aesthetics, publich health, and environment.

I haven't come up with much for function (see my previous post on public transportation for those thoughts), but for the other three I have a good idea inspired by Lady Bird Johnson. As you may or may not know, freeways produce corridors of pollution that hover over the interstate system for a width of about two miles on either side, causing increased risk of respiratiry problem for people (especially children and elderly) who live within two mile of any major freeway. For most cities, that reaches a great number of residents. Also children who attend school within those miles are also at risk, as school is where they spend so much of their time. And of course work within 2 miles exposes adults, though adults are at less of a risk of implications. Still, who wants to be haning out in the corridor of pollution?

The main idea is to line all the freeways with large, fast growing plants. This can mean trees if they are put in large enough to reach very high, or creating walls on the sides of the freeways that can be coered with thick vines. Bamboo would also do the trick as it grows incredibly fast and gets very tall. There should, of course, be an emphasis on native plants when possible, and always on low-water plants, especially in arid and semi-arid environments.

This would offer a sound barrier between the freeway and the rest of the world, and would also beautify the freeway sights as we drive down it. I'd much rather look at plants than fast food and gas station signs anyday. And from the city I'd much rather look at plants than a lines of speeding cars.

It would also offer the benefit of absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollution as it emerges form the highway. I don't know how effective this would be. I've never seen or heard of a study being done to this end. But I hypothesize that it would have significant effects in decreasing the pollution that would otehrwise spread out to the city.

Along these same lines, when the freeway is lower than the surrounding city, parks should be built over the freeway. Again, this would reduce noise, beautify the city and freeways, and this also create more public space. I know this is being done in San Diego; there is an existing park over the I15 in City Heights, and one planned over the 94 freeway in South Park.

And when the freeway is level with or even higher than the city, simply canopies could be built over the freeway to house lightweight native plants. These don't have to be built to support raods or people, simply a layer of plants. This owuld not only offer the benefits as the other greening options, but along with the parks this would reduce the heat generated on the freeways by the sun. How much more stressful does sitting in traffic on a hot, sunny day feel compared to a cold, cloudy one? Akin to the new movement in rooftop gardens to help regulate city temperatures, the canopies would provide shade to the freeway and the greenery would absorb heat, decreasing the temperature in the summer and overall regulating the temperature.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Pop Radio People

Sometimes there are certain people in your life that get stuck in your head, like a bad song you hear on the radio, a song you really don't like, but you can't get it out of your head, and yet you can only remmeber a line or two.

Yes, there are people like that in the world. Sometimes there are people that you run into at the grocery store. Maybe they go through the line in front of you. Maybe they are standing in the doorway as you approach.

You have to guard yourself from these people. Put your head down. Pretend you are talking on your mobile phone. Go to a different line or a different door. But sometimes you just don't realize what kind of person they are until it's too late.

Just like the songs... Sometimes you actually enjoy that tune, that funny lyric, the sound of the singer's voice and give it a listen. Sometime you meet the person, talk, or laugh. And only later in the day, or maybe later in the week, or even months or years later, and you wake up with that song stuck in your head. Correction: That line, or that tune stuck in your head. Or you think about that person as you unwrap the stick of butter you bought that day, or when you drive by the grocery store.

And you wonder to yourself why this ghost keeps haunting you, why you give up precious real estate in your head for soemthing that makes you shiver. But you know deep down that the only way to get over it is to get some OTHER annoying song stuck in your head.

Running for Clean Energy

Do you support renewable energy? Alternative fuels? Clean air?

Well, I do! And I know the key to changing patterns of energy consumption depends on two things: education and our children.

To support alternative fuel education for youth, I am donating the clean energy required to run 26 miles to complete the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in San Diego on June 3rd. Can you donate a dollar or more to support the 26 miles I will run? All donations support the San Diego EcoCenter for Alternative Fuel Education.


As it turns out, for every $26 you donate you will be sponsoring one child to experience this amazing, hands-on education program.

As the former Program manager of the San Diego EcoCenter for Alterantive Fuel, I know how influential this program is in the lives of students. The EcoCenter doesn't just educate students, it empowers them! From the moment they leave, to their 16th birthday, and well into their choices for education and career, the EcoCetner leaves young people with a lasting impression that everything they do makes a difference and an understanding that a future of clean and abundant energy isn't just a possibily, it's a necessity.


The EcoCenter currenly runs its program in only one location, San Diego. But long term goals for the EcoCenter include TEN alternative fuel education programs across California by 2010, and ONE HUNDRED alternative fuel education programs across the country by 2020!

Please join me in supporting this program in San Diego, so it can spread it's clean energy influence far and wide in years to come.