Berg sets 'em off
As someone who criticized Rick Berg for his earlier opposition to Mayor Cieslewicz'sadvocacyof car-light neighborhoods, I was happily surprised and moved by his article on Freiburg ("Down With Cars," 7/24/09). Berg seems receptive to the ecological, esthetic and psychological benefits of Freiburg's Vauban district.His discussion of whether Vauban's success can be translated to Americansoil seems realistic, though I suspect an experimental neighborhood in Madison would attract people sympathetic to the values of the new urbanism.
I was especially moved by Berg's description of Freiburg's potluck evening. It would be great if something like this could be organized in Madison. And the alders in specific districts might organize similar smaller events in their areas.
In the year and a half we've lived here, my wife and I have found Madison committed to maintaining human scale. Planning sustainable neighborhoods could build on this. By furthering these values, liberals and conservatives could perhaps find some common ground. Thank you, Rick Berg, for making a start.
Rick Berg needs to understand that if we want "car-light living" in Madison, Wisconsin, we need a bus system that works.My wife goes to and from work using Madison Metro, and this turns an 11.5-minute round trip by automobile into a tedious series of rides on six different buses, lasting more than two hours.Fortunately, she works a traditional 8-5 weekday schedule, or the routes simply would not be available.
This is not an isolated story.All over Madison, most people cannot get from here to there with any degree of efficiency on Madison Metro - and often fear for their safety on buses and at transfer points.
Madisonians don't avoid using the Madison Metro Bus System because they love their cars - rather, they avoid it because it simply doesn't work.
Ray L. Rideout
As a native German who has lived for most of his adult life in the U.S., it strikes me as ironic to see Rick Berg ponder that people in "Old Europe" (wasn't this a cuss word among conservatives not too long ago) have a seemingly more intact, healthy and cohesive view of family and community.
It's ironic, since this more relaxed outlook is made possible by social policies (progressive taxation, free college education, government subsidies for families and children in need, and yes, universal health care) that Berg and his conservative cohorts love to ridicule whenever possible.
Rick Berg's story offeredreaders a look at one of Europe's most green cities from the important perspective of the skeptical conservative. If he can come back and admit that compact, pedestrian and transit-oriented cities are a pleasure to visit and may serve as a model for us to work toward, there may be hope for us all.
Should the Freiburg district of Vauban be reproduced in Madison? Yes and no. The principles it embraces - traffic calming, using alternative energy wherever possible, location efficiency (i.e. walkable), easy access to rail and bus transit - have been gaining acceptance in Madison. But I have my doubts that developing a new neighborhood on the northeast edge of the city is the best way to go.
I would encourage Mayor Dave, the planning commission, developers and neighbors to create Little Vaubans along the rail corridor that will one day serve as a light-rail line from Middleton, through the isthmus and out to Sun Prairie or the airport. Imagine new car-free blocks and pedestrian plazas within these new neighborhoods. With careful infill development and planning, we could put Madison on the map as a green destination without creating more sprawl.
"Ruth Jones," awakened by her neighbor's wind chimes, is not alone ("Noise Critic Chimes In," 7/24/09). I, too, found my sleep disrupted by the chimes my neighbors so peacefully enjoyed. Cursed as an extremely lightsleeper, I asked them toconsidermoving the chimes. No 911 call, no duct tape, no drama - just a simple request, which was met with understanding and cooperation.