Check out the bicycle ambassador in the video below. He said there was no planning for this. He was talking about the traffic from the 2012 US Youth Soccer Region I Championships hosted by Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer and the city of Lancaster at Clipper Stadium.
This six-day event is huge. People from Virginia to Maine attended today's opening ceremony. They arrived throughout the afternoon, filling every parking space within shouting distance of the stadium, including the lot at Liberty Place. And then they left all at once.
Look at the gridlock. Eventually people arrived and began to direct traffic -- Clipper Stadium staff improvised a traffic flow plan, making all drivers turn south on either Water Street or Prince Street.
Okay, I'm ready for the challenge! Got my 31-day, zone 1 bus pass that will take me everywhere.
For 31 days my car will sit without moving (except for street cleaning, and a one-day-a-week evening job not on RRTA's nighttime "retailer runs" -- the mall and the outlets). I will take the bus, walk or bicycle, no matter the weather.
This is my way of giving thanks for this country's outstanding public transportation system. I may not be able to get to Ephrata on a Sunday, or to Quarryville at all on a bus, but I can go everywhere I need to go.
It also increases my awareness of how I spend my time and energy. A trip to the grocery store involves more time and planning. I must stick to the shopping list and not buy more than I can carry. If I forget something, I have to do without until the next time. But learning to do without is a good thing.
Another plus is, being a passenger is better sometimes.
Driving a vehicle gives one an illusion of safety, packaged in an extra layer of protection between me and the world.
But the bus is much safer. If people buy huge vehicles in order to feel safer in case of an accident, then the bus has them trumped because it's the T. Rex as far as size goes.
Back to gratitude. One morning on a bus I saw a young woman take a banana from her bag and hand it to a young man sitting nearby. He ate it hungrily but in a way that showed appreciation for her gift. As if that was the only breakfast he'd gotten that morning. He thanked the young woman when he was finished.
The 31-day bus challenge is just one way of making myself slow down and think about gratitude. I am grateful to have a car. I am also grateful to be able to let it sit, for my health and for the health of the planet. Because the more I take and use, the less for someone else. Every gallon I burn today is less for someone in the future.
I'm grateful when someone who has more decides to pass it along, so the least I can do is do the same.
This is the pedestrian bridge linking the West End over the railroad tracks to the north side of Lancaster. The rail yard will soon be moving farther northwest. And then this bridge will be demolished and a road built connecting Harrisburg Pike to points east: Prince Street, Manheim and Fruitville Pikes, Lititz and Oregon Pikes. And a quiet residential street will become a major thoroughfare.
Take a stroll across the bridge. Walk there with your kids -- they'll enjoy it, too. It's one of the last free thrills outside an amusement park.
The rail yard and surrounding fields are owned by Franklin & Marshall College and Lancaster General Hospital. Keith Orris, one of the few people F&M hasn't banned from campus, presented the development plans, and an impressive account of the new rail yard's engineering and construction, at a neighborhood meeting April 3 at Wharton Elementary School.
About 30 people attended, most from the West End side of the tracks. I counted myself and three other residents from the north side. Considering how the Liberty Street and Charlotte Street connections to Harrisburg Pike are going to impact our neighborhood, the lack of attendance was astonishing. Perhaps people feel this is a done deal that nothing can alter. But everyone's input is still very important.
Long-time residents have said this was always a quiet neighborhood. Only during shift changes at Armstrong was there any traffic, but only for short times. That's going to change in a big way when the new streets are built. A man from the West End side said the new roads will help ease traffic congestion on other streets. Well, the funny thing about new roads is, they quickly become overloaded too. We need to preserve this walkable, healthy neighborhood and put pedestrians first.
When you watch the video above, listen as well to how quiet it is. No vehicle noise or stench. The loss of the pedestrian bridge speaks loudly about where our priorities are. More and more vehicles are on the road, polluting the air with fumes and pulverized rubber and noise, depriving people of healthy, safe opportunities to walk or bicycle, and robbing communities of the clean, fresh air of green space.
I liked the General's scenario of a pedestrian-oriented campus, and said so. I added that it could link with the existing rail trail (also known as the linear park) into the downtown. A man sitting in front of me leaned over to his neighbor and jeered that the city had sold a big part of that rail line. Even so, the trail exists and should be used and enjoyed and, if possible (yes, it's possible!) expanded across Harrisburg Pike into the new development.
F&M and LGH have a wonderful opportunity to develop this land in a healthy, innovative way. I believe they understand that more and more people want "green" lifestyle alternatives, including walking or biking to work and around their homes and neighborhoods. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
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Ahead of its street performance as part of Celebrate Lancaster, the Music for Everyone Lancaster Community Chorus gathers behind Isaac's to rehearse, keeping umbrellas handy.
City streets are closed to vehicle traffic -- peds rule! -- and two stages are set up on North Queen Street, with all kinds of food vendors on the street.
We are scheduled to sing at 6 p.m. in front of Isaac's, while the bands on the main stage at King and Queen streets take a break. But will the weather cooperate?
Below, as thunder rumbles, chorus members head for nearby shelter to await the return of our intrepid director, A.J. Walker.
Last winter, that is. The winter that was almost summer.
Something wonderful is always happening in Lancaster. This performance of the Music for Everyone Community Chorus was last January at St. John's Episcopal Church on West Chestnut Street (click link below):
Recently my teacher, Joe "Papo" Daddiego passed away. Papo taught Latin percussion, especially the congas. He introduced capoeira music and showed us how to play the berimbaus, the pandeiros and the agogo. He got a kick out of telling his friends how he taught white people to play bata drums. He also organized a samba band. We played surdus, and tambourims, and the cuica.
His energy, bombast and expertise on the congas I have never seen equalled. But he was also patient and, yes, kind. He encouraged me to develop music reading skills that I use nearly every day. He had many gifts.
Monday, June 18, 2012, the Lancaster County Community Foundation occupied Steinman Park. Good food and succinct speakers - what more could you ask for?Did you say a flash mob performance by Music for Everyone's Lancaster Community Chorus? Is that what you said?
Members of the Music for Everyone Lancaster Community Chorus sang out strong, to the surprise and delight of the crowd. And as you can see, it was quite a crowd! Our mob was embedded within a mob!
We are a festive and foxy bunch.