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Austin environmentalists continue proud tradition of harming the environment

My most recent Austin Sierran arrived (guess what? M1EK is a life member!) and as I usually do, I read the minutes from the monthly meeting. In it, I learned that the board apparently opposes plans to build a bike/pedestrian bridge across Barton Creek (to fill a huge gap in the bicycle commuting infrastructure in that part of town – where the frontage roads end on either side of the creek). They oppose this bridge because the construction of the pilings would likely impact the creekfloor and a few other features – in a part of the watershed that’s very close-in already (arguably not contributing to the springs at all) – a likely one-time disturbing-the-sediment impact akin to the kinds of floods we see ten times a year in a rainy year.

The geniuses behind this decision suggested more improvements to South Lamar, which is only a couple of miles, a couple of extra hills, and another freakin’ expressway out of the way for cyclists trying to commute to the center-city from points far southwest and west. Yes, there are people who commute from this far out – not as many as we would like, of course, hence the issue.


Newsflash: If experienced cyclists are willing to squeeze into the couple of feet on the mainlane bridge that’s all they get (northbound) right now to avoid going this far out of the way (and yes, they do this now), a few improvements to South Lamar aren’t going to cut it for either the experienced cyclists or the novices. And supposed improvements to South Lamar, whatever those would be, aren’t going to fix 290/71 either.

As I get ready to go into the hospital, this really grinds my gears.

The Austin Sierra Club, from what I can tell based on their positions taken ever since I’ve lived here, is most aptly represented by the following stereotype: Aging hippie driving an old Volvo 20,000 miles per year into the city from their little homestead out in the suburban regions – the whole time fighting condos, fighting bike facilities, fighting urban Wal-Marts; fighting everything the suburbanites also don’t like – while somehow failing to recognize that the least green resident of one of those downtown high-rises is causing less environmental damage than they are; and the ones riding their bikes places (even from the burbs) are freaking saints in comparison.

As you can guess, this is not the first disagreement of this nature I’ve had with this sort of ‘environmentalist’. Years back, when I was on the UTC, the Parks Board, infested with a few of this type, actually opposed putting bike lanes on Barton Springs Road through Zilker park on the theory that the additional five feet on each side of pavement would cause too much environmental damage. This, of course, while (most) of those people thought nothing of driving out to John Dromgoole’s Natural Gardener, putting another fifty miles round-trip on the old Volvo.

It would be super-neat at this point if some adults got the Sierra Club to actually live up to their ideals – which would mean, for instance, strongly supporting dense infill construction everywhere (even when it’s close to a Sierra Club member’s single-family house); strongly supporting alternative transportation (rather than just paying it lip service while driving that beat-up Volvo everywhere); strongly supporting the restoration of retail to the core (even when you find Wal-Mart aesthetically displeasing when it dares pop up in your ‘neighborhood’); etc. I won’t hold my breath, though.

No, I’m not going to the f**cking meetings to say this. Yes, this is part of the problem with the meetingocracy. The hippies in the Volvos are the ones with the most time, and they’ve successfully fooled everybody into thinking that if you don’t show up in person, you don’t care; just like how everybody else has done on every political point of consequence in Austin. Rule By Those With The Most Time On Their Hands: How Could This Possibly Go Wrong?

By m1ek