Rapid Transit Bus Lines

Posted in DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on February 26, 2012

I am not opposed to rapid transit bus lines.

I support them in Detroit.  Just not along Woodward Ave. A light rail line is more than mass transportation and an economic engine.

It is a symbol; it is a statement. It announces to both the residents of Detroit and surrounding areas, to the State of Michigan, and the country as a whole that Detroit takes itself seriously. A light rail system is an investment, a large and serious investment; making the investment says to everyone: Detroit will do whatever it takes to revitalize itself and change its past.

Their is an inherent stigma to buses in the United States, and their use within Detroit will do little to making visitors and residents feel comfortable using them.

I was ardently in favor and voted for the rapid transit bus line in Grand Rapids along Division Ave in 2008.  It;s surprising failure in spite of Downtown, East Grand Rapids, Forest Hills in support of the measure.  East Grand Rapids, Ada, would not directly benefit from any bus line. Failing because south Grand Rapids  voted against it. A significant advertising campaign targeting

Rapid transit buses can be done with great success.  Curitiba, Brazil illustrates one of the most successful and famous examples of their use.


Dave Bing is Dead to Me

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on December 17, 2011

It’s official Dave Bing has now completely lost any semblance of any support from me.

With the death of light rail in Detroit in favor of more buses my positive feelings towards Dave Bing and his efforts for the city have transformed into a powerful cynicism towards him and his administration. His efforts are hollow and his rhetoric is meaningless.

There are certain things that must be performed in order to move Detroit into the ranks of a modern and genuine city.  At the front of those items is light rail in Downtown Detroit.  Functional mass transportation is an asset in every city that provides it. Businesses and residences establish themselves along transit lines and property values rise. People relocate to these hubs for their convenience and amenities sparking revitalization and vibrancy.

Buses provide none of these causes and positive secondary effects. People do not want to use buses, they feel unsafe, they are typically dirty, and they are slow and inconvenient. Light rail offers an alternative that is not beholden to the pace of traffic and through its use a convenience and an asset is added.

Put simply Light rail is an investment with measured positive results and buses are a financial black hole.

In a city where bus service is already being cut and hours are being limited why would throwing more money at buses be considered a choice at all.

Postcards From Detroit

Posted in ARCHITECTURE, DETROIT by urbanmi on June 12, 2011

A nostalgiac Flickr Photostream curated by steve_frenkel. I assume all these postcards were made by the Detroit Publishing Co. which famously produced chromolithography images and postcards.

Shorpy’s has a large assortment of other Detroit Publishing Co. photographs. Good for seeing idyllic images of the city.

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Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on May 31, 2011

In January, Grand Rapids was listed by Newseek as a dying city based on a vacuous interpretation of data. The data used was limited in scope and painted an inaccurate view of the city. They compared the total population of Grand Rapids to the percent of the population below 18 years of age against the 10 year change in those population numbers.

Rob Bliss (organizer of city-wide events such as:the zombie walk, pillow fight, Artprize 2009 Paper Airplanes), organized a Lip-Dub of over 5000 people in response.

The success, coverage, and reception of the Lip Dup event has caused Newsweek to retract their statement.  Roger Ebert has called it the greatest music video ever.  His point is hyperbolic, but the video represents an impressive choreography of people, industry, and passion. Rob Bliss continuously highlights the beauty of Grand Rapids and brings out the love the residents of Grand Rapids have for their city.

The video is kitsch. But as a son of Grand Rapids it makes me smile. It makes me miss home. To Rob Bliss I say thank you.

Below the much better produced 2009 Art Prize Event. 10000 Paper Planes.

Go Wings

Posted in DETROIT, SPORTS by urbanmi on April 13, 2011

Redwings over Coyotes in 6.

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Posted in DETROIT, URBANISM by urbanmi on March 13, 2011

Send an email to woodwardlightrail@detroitmi.gov by March 14th advocating for the light rail to travel down the center of Woodward Ave. Investing in light rail and public transportation will be wasteful if the system isn’t effective. In order for public transportation to be an alternative to the automobile it needs to be rapid, cheap, and reliable.

The desire to increase business and development will be undone with additional stops and inconvenient riding. The People Mover demonstrates the effects of a poorly designed system. Its existence alone will not create business and investment if it is not well-designed and productive.


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Links: and a return from vacation

Posted in GRAND RAPIDS by urbanmi on January 31, 2011

It’s probably bad practice for me to throw up a draft of a post for the purpose of having a post this month. I should not do this again.

via Urbanophile and US Census Data. Michigan the only state to lose population from 2000-2010. Also interesting, Detroit’s white population grew this past year.

Grand Rapids was named one of America’s Bleakest Cities by Newsweek. As one of the stronger cities in Michigan, with a downtown that is exciting and revitalizing, this is absurd. The report focuses on population changes and demographics without doing any analysis of the situation within the city. Grand Rapids historically suffers from issues with its younger population leaving for college and not returning but with Grand Valley State University’s continual presence downtown and the recent move of Michigan State University’s medical program to Grand Rapids this trend will shift in the future. Grand Rapids has diverse and flexible industries and is better positioned to survive Michigan’s greater struggles than most other Michigan cities. The population changes reflect economic and employment issues in Michigan in general and not specifically to issues in Grand Rapids.

RapidGrowth has their own, more in depth analysis.

A belated congratulations to Brady Hoke.  I am an alum in full support. Go Blue.

In Grand Rapids, Pomegranate Studios is hosting an event in February with a lot of potenetial:  5×5 Night

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Links: or I Need a New Name for These Shares

Posted in DETROIT, GRAND RAPIDS, quick links by urbanmi on November 28, 2010
  • From David Byrne’s Blog (of Talking Heads fame and bicycle enthusiast), a post on biking in the Motor City.
  • A Google Chrome Experiment in partnership with the Arcade Fire, input your address, wait for it to load and watch.  I’ve explored it with a few Michigan cities, interesting for procrastinating.
  • Superfront is conducting a Detroit-centric competition and exhibition.
  • A few maps that can be used for revealing twitter and tech community usage in Michigan. Checkin.to, made by a friend, uses twitter and foursquare. What these maps show about Michigan’s usage is revealing; making it visually clear, Michigan’s lower use of web2.0 technology; conclusions can be drawn about the education levels and creative class population in Michigan cities, bad implications.
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Wild Bill Bunge

Posted in DETROIT by urbanmi on November 24, 2010

While doing research for my thesis and for my general Detroit and Michigan interests I stumbled upon Zachary Johnson’s indiemaps blog and his post on William Wheeler Bunge, Jr.  Soon after this discovery I also stumbled upon Bunge in the Winter 2009 publication of Volume, and a piece the Atlas of Love and Hate. Johnson’s post on Bunge is informative and great, he provides far more details than the Wikipedia entry and is clearly informed on the subject.  If interested you should just read Johnson’s post, I will be merely be summarizing the Detroit points.  All images via indiemaps

Bunge was an American geographer and spatial theorist who did radical work on Detroit brings him to this blog.  Work that caused him to be fired from Wayne State University where he was an Assistant Professor from 1962-1969.  There he began the Detroit Geographical Expedition in partnership with Gwendolyn Warren in 1968.

His “geographical expeditions” explored the uncharted areas of the inner city, rather than distant shores, was path breaking (Merrifield 1995).

It involved policy lobbying, direct support to poor households, and analysis of urban problem He said of his Detroit Expedition “Exploring humans in a meaningful way is fraught with physical danger.”

Fitzgerald: The Geography of a Revolution is an experimental work of urban geography.  Bunge describes Fitzgerald as a humanist geography, describing Fitzgerald, a community in Detroit.”   The book is science: its data are maps, graphics, photographs, and the words of people.

“Variously affiliated with the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University, the Expedition attempted and at times succeeded in providing free college courses to young inner-city Detroit residents. Bunge wanted to do research in the black community while also teaching the skills necessary for them to conduct research for themselves. All volunteer faculty were used, and the Expedition was generally successful in attracting experts from across the U.S. to teach courses at facilities freely provided on Wayne State University’s Detroit campus.”


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One Day This Will Be What I Dream It To Be

Posted in Uncategorized by urbanmi on November 16, 2010

Very busy with school, no posts, but no one visits this blog to notice.

Have a huge back catalog of useful and interesting links, but i feel having back to back link posts is unacceptable.  A real post is forthcoming.

In the meantime a taste.