Sunday, December 30, 2012

Memphis, Veblen and the Green Belt

From the NY Times:   Sprawling Memphis Aims to Be a Friendlier Place for Cyclists

       "Bike-friendly behavior has never come naturally to Memphis, which has
        long been among the country's most perilous places for cyclists. In recent 
        years, though, riders have taken to the streets like never before, spurred by 
        a mayor who has worked to change the way residents think about commuting. 

        "Mayor A. C. Wharton Jr., elected in 2009, assumed office a year after Bicycling
        magazine named Memphis one of the worst cities in America for cyclists, not 
        the first time the city had received such a biking dishonor. But Mr. Wharton spied 
        an opportunity. 

        "In 2008, Memphis had a mile and a half of bike lanes. There are now about 
        50 miles of dedicated lanes, and about 160 miles when trails and shared 
        roads are included."

Read the entire article here.

On Sunday February 10, the very last day of the Environmental Film Festival,
naturalist/writer Stephen Hiltner will present "Saving Veblen House" at 11AM.

The contributions of Oswald Veblen, "to Princeton University and to the IAS, like 
those to the academic scene in general, were enormous." A brief obit is here. He
connected Princeton to both Einstein/geometry/relativity and ballistics/computing.

Getting back to nature, the upcoming PEFF talk about Veblen's farmstead and 
its future is bound to be informativeThis map shows the location of his house.
In its vicinity is seen, as a diagonal line in the bottom left corner, the right-of-way of
a future trail which will allow pedestrian/bike travel between VanDyke and Bunn Drive
(in that satellite image, the yellow circle is the water tower; the yellow arrow points
in the direction of the nearby Veblen house).

Some background is in this news article. The trail runs along a sewer right-of-way
for roughly half a mile, with a start/end elevation difference of around 80 feet. At
the moment it isn't really that passable, due to downed trees, patches of mud, etc.
While the entrance from the upper (Bunn Drive) end has yellow pylons and is
obvious, the connection to VanDyke at the lower end either isn't built yet, or else
might be a connection to the pavement next to Trinity All Saints cemetery.

Finally, having mentioned in a previous post the connection between Oswald Veblen 
and bike safety, now may be a good time to bring his uncle Thorstein (1857-1929),
the noted economist/sociologist, into the discussion. It seems highly probable that
I'll be encountering champagne in the near future, and champagne is often cited
as the perfect example of a Veblen good -  "a high-status, exclusive item ... which
remains appealing to certain consumers as long as prices remain high or increase"
Another good example of a Veblen good could be a limited-edition racing bicycle.

But in this era of general belt-tightening ? A cheap & cheerful bike, green belt included.


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