Letters

Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Segway or the Highway: One...
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Segway or the Highway: One Man‘s Journey from the Stop Light to Urbanity

Mark Nixon - July 24th, 2003
When Rick Ingersoll moved to Traverse City in 1974, he swears “I never sat through a full cycle at any traffic light in town.“ The sleepy resort community he and his family discovered was the great, good place they hoped would never change. But, of course, change it did, and the change that most annoyed Rick on his commute to and from work was the steadily increasing auto congestion. To his recollection, the breaking point corresponded roughly to the national attention brought on by Traverse City‘s hosting of the National Governors Conference.
Like many of us, Ingersoll sat at the light dreaming up remedies to his plight. Unlike most of us who sit passively enduring our dismal daily commute, Ingersoll decided to express his grievance on the most obvious medium of communication of our era: the car bumper (taking a tip from Marshall McCluhan‘s famous statement, “The medium is the message.“).
Ingersoll‘s contribution to our regional bumper sticker dialogue, “I live, work, and wait in Traffic City,“ didn‘t win any accolades from the Grand Traverse County Road Commission or any sympathy from the meter maid. It did, however, give voice to the local frustration that has become a chorus of discontent across the U.S. How did we become a nation that measures progress and economic growth by greater
congestion and longer commutes?

SPREADING THE WORD
Ingersoll, a retired mortgage banker who winters in Hilton Head, S.C., hoped the sticker would help move the public process towards real solutions. “The people have to stay with this traffic issue otherwise it‘s only going to get worse,“ he said.
Ingersoll handed the stickers out to city and county commissioners and anyone else interested. You can still see them out there years later.
But, traffic kept increasing and the townships kept spreading out. As Ingersoll followed the sprawl debate in the news, a story emerged that caught his attention. It was a mysterious new transportation vehicle, initially dubbed “it“ or “Ginger“ by the media, and designed by Dean Kamen, the inventor of the notable I-bot wheelchair and many other medical devices. The Segway seemed destined to change transportation as we know it.
“As soon as it came out, I knew I had to have one,“ Ingersoll said. “I live in town and I don‘t like driving in Traverse City.“
When it was released this spring as the Segway Human Transporter, Ingersoll did not hesitate at the hefty $4,900 price tag. He bought a Segway over the internet and drove to Detriot for orientation and delivery.

SCOOTING ALONG
Ingersoll had no problems learning to operate his new transporter. Within a week, he was scooting along at 15 mph and turning on a dime. The Segway is battery powered, has five gyro-synchronis motors and nine computers to control it‘s operation. To move forward you simply lean forward. To move backward you lean back. To accelerate you lean further. To turn, twist the left handlegrip and it will turn on a radious equal to its width.
Ingersoll says driving a Segway is about as difficult as learning to ride a bike. He rates the device a 10+ on a 1-to-10 scale and has become a Segway ambassador due to his satisfaction with the product, encouraging anyone to hop on his to take it for a spin.
Though Ingersoll and hundreds of Segway enthusiasts across the nation predict bright promise for the machine and its impact on our quality of life, others hold somewhat more calculated viewpoints. Among professionals and advocacy groups who have been dealing with transportation and land use issues for years and even decades, opinion on the Segway ranges from open anticipation to hostile threat.
While news of the city of San Francisco‘s banning of the Segway from the sidewalks caused concern, Traverse City planner Russ Soying suggests that “developers of urban infill projects may see lower parking infrastructure costs and thus greater profits and lower market prices“ from the machine‘s use.
Matt Skeels, director of Traverse Area Land Use Study (TALUS), says, “the Segway may allow some multi-car families to rid themselves of a car for many of their daily needs.“
Ray Minervini, redeveloper of The Village, an historic preservation project at the Grand Traverse Commons, thinks the Segway may prove to be important to his efforts to save the aesthetic beauty of his project. “It creates options that allow us design the site for people rather than the automobile,“ Minervini said.

NO THANKS
Walter Kulash, a nationally-recognized transportation expert, holds a sharply critical opinion of the Segway. He has grave reservations regarding the impact the Segway could have on the design of the “built environment.“
“The Segway is simply one more motorized vehicle with all the inherent issues that pertain to any motorized vehicle,“ Kulash said. “They erode the walking atmosphere, they are a disincentive to creating designs at a walking scale, they may eventually require their own right-of-way because of speed disparity and they are merely a microcosm of the design problems of the automobile.“
Kulash holds the view that all motorized vehicles are dealing with the failure to build things at a walking scale. “Its fundamental premise is hostile to urbanism, period.“
Author Jane Holtz Kay (“Asphalt Nation“) is also worried that the Segway will encroach on pedestrian space. “Any wheeled vehicle is lethal,“ she said. “Though bicycles are a great alternative and you can make a strong case for giving them their own lane, where do you put the Segway? In the street the cars are a menace, and on the sidewalk the Segway becomes the menace. There simply is not any space in the universe for this wheeled vehicle.“
The distance from the street, to the sidewalk, to the store and to the home is a fierce battleground for the space for urban mobility. Will there be room for a segue to urbanity?
Rick Ingersoll‘s venture down this path has been a rewarding and enlightening experience. Though he sees niche markets for the Segway, he does not forsee major behaviorial changes in America‘s regular
commuting habits in the near future. Rick‘s parting thought before he whirled away was, “Give it a chance.“

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Take a Ride
Segway demonstrations will be conducted on Monday, July 28 at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. and on Tuesday, July 29 at noon, 3 p.m.and 6 p.m., at The Village Building 50, Grand Traverse Commons, 1200 West 11th Street, TC. Check out www.segway.com or call 929-4310 for info.
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