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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Urban Planning

Short post. There isn't any as far as I can tell.

In Baka, the residents are once again taking to the streets to protest the planned diversion of traffic from Derech Hebron to Derech Bet Lechem.

Now, on a map downtown at Kikar Safra this probably looked like a good idea. "Hey, Schmuely, look! There's this big arterial with all this traffic, Derech Hebron, and we can just move it to the adjacent big arterial and use Hebron for the buses! No problem!"

This would make sense if looking only at the map, because Bet Lechem and Hebron are two equally fat lines on the city maps for some reason.

In fact, they are nothing alike. Hebron was designed as a large arterial, with two southbound lanes separated from the two northbround lanes by a two lane mass transit/commuter lane. In short, a six-lane highway.

Bet Lechem is the same donkey-cart track used in King David's time, only paved. Two cars can pass on Bet Lechem, an otherwise quiet, tree-lined, shady residential lane, if they are both careful (picture, above, looking southbound on Bet Lechem). In the "commercial center" between Esther Hamalca and Miriam Hashmonit, cars tread carefully, since there is barely enough room for one car to pass because people actually park on the side of the road to shop here.

But the City Fathers, in their infinite ignorance, have decided to route the 2000 cars per hour that travel on Hebron to Bet Lechem.

Bet you lunch not one of these geniuses ever got out of his air-conditioned office and came down here and actually LOOKED at the road. Besides, what do they care? THEY don't live here, I'd opine. No one who lives here thinks this is feasible. The traffic alone makes it impossible. I don't even want to discuss the elderly, the disabled and the children in the neighborhood who now have to cross commuter-enraged drivers on Bet Lechem.

Abu Tor, the mixed Jewish-Arab neighborhood a couple of blocks northeast of us, which overlooks the Old City and the Kidron Valley, has apparently lost its fight to stop a huge mall from being imposed on the neighborhood. From our corner up the street, we see the foundations of something huge being dug into what was once the lower portion of the quiet, woodsy Peace Park that tumbled down from the Hill of Evil Counsel (otherwise known as U.N. HQ--really, no joke, that's the name of the hill...giggle). But now this project is under construction despite community opposition.

The Jerusalem Post described this project: "The proposed cultural center, which is slated to be built just off Hebron Road adjacent to the mixed neighborhood's entrance to the lush Haas Promenade and the popular Taverna restaurant, will span 17,330 sq.m., and will include seven cinema halls and four coffee shops and restaurants as well as an auditorium, a library, an Internet cafe and various seminar rooms and galleries."

Cultural Center??!! Hardly. This is a mall complex, and the quiet narrow lanes of Abu Tor will be hard pressed to accomodate the traffic. Even with underground parking, the traffic will back up on Naomi Street and out on to Derech Hebron.

Go HERE: http://www.yerushalmim.org/english/ and HERE: http://www.barkat.org.il/English.aspx and READ THIS.

Get involved. The world is run by those who show up.


Election Day is November 11th, 2008.


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