I attended an Indy Connect meeting this Tuesday, February 23rd at Pike High School (Northwest Indy). The Indy Connect is a joint venture between the Indy MPO, CIRTA, and IndyGo. The meetings are the first step towards the creation of a new Long-Range Transportation Plan.
These meetings are a great opportunity to meet and discuss issues with a group of people that determine the future of Indianapolis transportation. I strongly encourage anyone interested in the state of transportation in our city, including pedestrian, biking, rail transit, bus transit, and automobility to attend one of these meetings. The planners need feedback to ensure they are delivering the best plan possible.
The planners are real people and not politicians. There is no need to argue with them or blame them for the traffic jam that happened on the way to work. Their job is to interpret the values of the community and form a comprehensive strategy to meet the region’s needs. It is clear that the values of our region are changing. While many continue to argue for more and wider roads, the MPO realizes that there is no strategy that can meet the region’s needs that does not involve multiple modes of transportation.
I have some suggestions to help anyone interested in attending on of these meetings to get the most from their experience. First of all, come prepared to discuss. The room is filled with stations representing important issues, such as biking or pedestrian plans, with planners hosting each one. This is everyone’s chance to discuss these issues in-depth with the planners. I suggest bringing a list of questions about topics that matter.
Next, come prepared to fill out questionnaires and surveys. Each station has a special survey for people to complete. The typical survey asks people to prioritize their concerns about different issues. At the bottom of each survey is a free response area where people can write down anything they want.
Finally, feel free to disregard the static. Some people love to say “NO!” and these events are no exception. It is unlikely that anyone with this attitude will change their mind, so concentrate instead on how to learn from the planners and how to communicate priorities of the public to them in a civil manner.
Many people are now familiar with the MDC hearing examiner’s recent denial of a variance. Current coverage on IBJ’s Property Lines, Huston St Racing (w/photos), and Urban Indy. This variance would have allowed a renovation of an old urban property consistent with its original and proposed use. Basically, the developers wanted to eliminate the requirement for off-street parking.
The neighboring property owners were worried this would force the tenants to park illegally in nearby surface lots. After review of the case and a private meeting with the interested parties, the Hearing Examiner concluded that no compromise was forthcoming and denied the petition for a variance.
I think the Indianapolis planning staff summarized the issue quite well in their analysis, which recommended *approval* of the petition. Here is the planning staff’s opinion:
Urban sites should be developed to the highest intensity possible. To require this site to meet the required off-street parking standards, would require the demolition of a portion of the building or acquisition of adjacent sites. A practical difficulty is met by this request since the site is fully developed. Additionally, there are several IndyGo bus routes that travel along Meridian Street and nearby streets that substantially reduce the need for parking. Finally, it is a common and preferred planning method that little or no off-street parking be added to a reuse of an inner city site. If residents require off-street parking, there are three off-street parking sites directly adjacent to the site to the north, northeast and east that could meet that need.
MDC documents are here (p. 85), results from the hearing are here (p. 3).
I think it is time that Indianapolis accepts that off-street parking requirements are the bane of true urban renewal. The minimum parking requirements are a senseless way to devalue our CBD. They are an existential threat to urban life, and therefore the core identity of Indianapolis.
Someone raised an interesting question on the IBJ website: What are the requirements for becoming a hearing examiner in Indianapolis? I suggest we remake the qualifications process, and that it only have 1 component: survive in Indy for one month without a car, and then we’ll take you. A human’s eye view of the city might do some of these people some good.
One of the commenters on Huston Street Racing offered an apology of the Examiners actions, stating:
He is a thoughtful and even-handed person, and a thorough lawyer. He is not a dolt or hack, as portrayed on the IBJ comments thread. … It appears to be his belief that someone will part with some parking spaces if offered enough money to do so.
All of this may be true, I won’t dispute it. But off-street parking should *never* have become an issue with this property. I am not sure the examiner even read the planner’s report, because it pretty clearly laid down the rationale against parking requirements and why they wouldn’t apply in this case anyways. Just in case anyone didn’t want to read the full report, or even my summary, just read the part in bold above. One sentence is all you need to know.
This situation is yet another lost opportunity for a representative of the City of Indianapolis to address the real infrastructural problems that have ruined the city. Indianapolis I love you, but you’re bringing me down.
For anyone interested in seeing the next vision for transportation in Indianapolis, please visit the website at Indy Connect.
This study recommends proven technologies, and proven infrastructure investments. It starts small, with an affordable and effective system that can quickly integrate into the streetscapes of Indianapolis. I approve of this plan, it is a great start to a city-wide transit system.
There are two problems with this proposal that we should seek solutions to in the public input phase:
- Limited Coverage Area for Rail
- Ability of Special Interests to Influence Outcome
Limited Coverage Area for Rail
The first issue will be present no matter how the system is arranged. No system can provide the convenience of a transit stop 1 block away from each front door.
The main problem here is that there is always a conflict between the need for especially dense clusters, or Transit-Oriented-Development, and the need for tax investments to be spread around equally. In the case of transportation planning, simple is best. The proposed plan lays out a very simple system. This would be most efficient and probably most successful. Any deviations from the simple plan will result in a confusing legacy that will inhibit future use.
Whatever layout is chosen, the proponents of transit must ensure that a comprehensive plan will be developed that will involve the entire city. A certain amount of this has been done in the plan, whereby express bus routes, expanded bus service, and road expansions have been proposed. Unfortunately, this is not yet comprehensive. A truly comprehensive plan must show how every person in the city will benefit from this proposal.
The study authors readily admit that all transportation planning is connected. Let’s do more than acknowledge this fact, lets use it to our advantage. The plan can show that with complete streets policies, integrated and interconnected multi-modal transportation systems, walk-to-school subsidies, and similar programs, the transportation system in Indianapolis and the surrounding counties can be improved for at least 95% of the residents over the next 20 years.
Ability of Special Interests to Influence Outcome
This is part I am most concerned about. Many interest groups will be attempting to influence the study results so that their constituents will be served. The system was most likely optimized during the study process, so any changes to the proposed system can have negative consequences for the city as a whole.
My worst fear is that a repeat of the Miami transit system will occur, where special interests blocked a transit line to the airport to maintain the monopoly of taxi service. Since then, Miami has been struggling to maintain service between the most important source of tourists and their destinations with express bus service. Short-sighted compromises to the business community can have horrible consequences.
Indianapolis needs every advantage it can get when competing for big events like the Superbowl, World-cup hosting, and many other smaller events and conventions. The City can not afford to put in a transit system that satisfies the special interest groups while hurting the city’s prospects in attracting tourism and conventions.
In the end, I see any investment in the city’s alternative (non-highway) transportation system as a great step forward. I imagine that it will facilitate a lot of independent investments, so that when it is fully built the city will see property values directly increased by a large factor compared to its cost. This is equivalent to building equity in the city. We can leave a more valuable city to the future citizens.
And the final reason I approve of this plan is because it is not about spending more, it is about shifting our priorities. We can take a small amount of funding from our single mode of transport (highways) and shift it to 4 or 5 different modes of transport. This would directly reflect the wishes of the population to start investing in multiple modes of transportation, without abandoning our legacy infrastructure in automobiles.
I trust that the study’s authors have taken a neutral position and truly evaluated the costs and benefits of the many options. With faith in their efforts (to be verified by a thorough evaluation of their report later), I hope that we put this plan into action as soon as the next stage begins!
Steel construction maintains a huge market share in the US. Structural engineers design steel buildings every day, and most never think twice about the man whose name was once synonymous with the material: Andrew Carnegie.
Carnegie, the Scottish immigrant as industrial magnate
Carnegie did not invent steel. However, he was the first one that both realized how it would transform the world and with enough capital to do something about it. Steel, even the old-fashioned alloys that most engineers thumb their noses at today, was still such an amazing material that Carnegie became the 2nd wealthiest human ever based on his investment in steel.
Indianapolis’ Union Station structure bears his name throughout the building
Andrew Carnegie had a great business sense and knew a good deal when he saw one. But Carnegie realized that money was not all that important. He already knew that giving money to people not prepared to receive it was a bad idea. Instead of leaving a large inheritance or giving it away in a lottery, he wanted to do “real and permanent good” for people.
In fact, responsible management of charitable giving is hard work. For Carnegie, giving money away was more difficult than making it. It took a long time to give away so much money. In the end he set up many institutions to continue the process after his death. He laid out his philanthropic principles in his “Gospel of Wealth” publication.
His institutions sponsor all sorts of work even today, and his educational initiatives are legendary. The thousands of Carnegie libraries and the Carnegie Mellon University (my alma mater) are testament to the enduring power of educational efforts sponsored by his fortune.
Let’s imagine that Andrew Carnegie was alive today, with the same intense philanthropic desire to help people. What changes would a modern day Carnegie seek to effect in today’s society? What progressive programs could a person with $300 Billion kick-start, how could they usher in a new period of social growth in American Society?
I think Carnegie’s most successful charities were ones that engaged the efforts of others and resulted in secondary effects. His libraries brought great literature and books to cities throughout the US. The people who took advantage of these opportunities created the conditions that helped the US prosper in the 20th century.
But his libraries also helped create communities. The physical presence of the library cemented the status of city on many towns. The simple, institutional architecture was a visible reminder that people could build the US into a great nation.
However, the most important effect of his libraries was unseen. It was the fact that cities had to set up a permanent taxing structure to ensure support for the libraries. Without the ability to regulate taxes and set budgets, no library would be awarded. Thus, the populace willingly taxed themselves to help the common good.
So we revisit the question: What would Andrew Carnegie do today?
If we view his legacy in light of civic reform, I have some good ideas. Sponsor or subsidize the creation of some public amenity, institution, or capital improvement project and put some strict requirements on it. Maybe ask cities to bid for different projects, and instead of bidding money they bid in terms of civic reform.
Want a new university or voc-tech school? Then put in place a new zoning code that allows high-density development and mixed use space.
Want to rebuild a blighted urban streetscape? Enact an iron-clad complete streets policy and an urban growth boundary.
Want a regional High-Speed-Rail or local subway system? Maybe the cities could enact TOD requirements on top of other minor reforms.
Want a new dock or freight rail intermodal facility? I think it’s time for exclusive wildlife corridors or wildlife overpasses throughout the state.
Of course, when the cities are very thirsty for capital projects, the bidding could get even more intense. How about a health insurance exchange program for the state, or a Robin Hood educational system, or even reform of the inane and discriminatory US drug policies? I digress, but my point should be clear by now.
Carnegie’s charitable givings were great for their intended purposes, but the unintended consequence of responsible civic government were probably even greater. A few cities here in the US could use a carrot to lead them to better governance. Maybe the Carnegie Library phase of this nation is over, but it’s still a fun fantasy for any urban planner.
Investments in infrastructure are a big topic right now. Infrastructure investments create local jobs, they can lower the cost of doing business for the private sector, and they can provide quality of life improvements like clean water and sewage treatment plants. Currently, there is loud debate on all sides of the issue. For the sake of this entry, let us assume that all debaters have honest intentions.
The tools of the debate are well-known by now. Proponents argue on the side of benefits, detractors argue the costs of the work. Both sides have merit, so we compromise and ask for a “cost-benefit analysis” (CBA) to break down the project into facts and figures rather than emotions and promises.
The CBA is a great tool. It is widely used in business and government agencies to compare different alternatives. Key assumptions made in the CBA are:
- Anything can be represented in present day cost, even human life and welfare
- Doing nothing means that present trends will continue
- Potential costs and benefits can be given a real value
A cost-benefit analysis is the kind of thing that engineers love, because it can provide an answer to a difficult question. Engineers sometimes go further and claim that the CBA can prove which option is the right course of action. I don’t trust the CBA analysis that much. There are plenty of ways to skew the results intentionally or introduce bias unintentionally.
A recent example of the CBA being used in debate is the national High-Speed Rail (HSR) network proposals. The analysis was taken up by Edward Glaeser of Harvard/NYT in his set of articles “Is High-Speed Rail a Good Public Investment?” but his conclusions were called into question in the Infrastructurist article “Why Edward Glaeser Got it Wrong: Re-Running the Numbers on High-Speed Rail.” Both articles show the process is very sensitive to initial assumptions and uncertainties.
But the reason I write this is not to point out the difficulties in using this type of analysis, it is to say that it should not be used at all. Government should not be run as a for-profit businesses. Basing decisions solely on cost-benefit analyses, opportunity costs, and return on investment projections means that the cities are rewarding companies and wealthy property owners exclusively.
The amount of wealth generated after infrastructure improvements in a nice part of town will be much higher than the same infrastructure improvements in a below average part of town. The strict use of CBA ensures that poor neighborhoods get bulldozed for suburban highway access, workers ride inexpensive buses rather than rail systems, and pedestrians are only allowed in shopping districts. Should this type of thinking dictate our infrastructure investments?
If the only measure of a project’s worth is how much investment will be generated, then civic governments will fail to provide infrastructure to their citizens equitably. Cities need to remember that they have a duty, enshrined in our founding principles, that all are created equal and all deserve equal treatment.
There have been many transit projects, brownsfield and pollution cleanup projects, and neighborhood development plans derailed by short-sighted opposition. Some people refer to projects that don’t pay for themselves as unacceptable welfare programs, but engineers have always had an ethical responsibility to “hold paramount the safety, health and welfare of the public.” Why are we allowed to abdicate this responsibility when the ROI doesn’t look good?
The automobile has been an interesting development in the history of man. Replacing the horse with a machine that can propel itself has certainly given us some great opportunities.
While horses present an inconvenient form of transportation, the modern automobile doesn’t exactly propel itself without needs. Whatever resources a horse may require, a car has a much more extensive list. Gasoline, parts, maintenance, and most importantly lots of roads. Sure its got an engine, but you won’t get far without those trillions of dollars invested in our highway network. In the end, I find both horses and cars a great nuisance.
The freedom of transportation that a car offers is great, but the sad fact is that I am carrying 3,000 lb of useless metal with me everywhere I go. And then I have to find somewhere to park when I arrive. The parking issue becomes very important in large cities. This interesting post by frumination shows what NYC/Manhattan would be like if it was trying to accommodate vehicular traffic every day (via Infrastructurist). Basically mass transit is essential to a city like NYC. Just as elevators are essential to the development of tall buildings.
The US Bureau of Labor releases information how average US consumers spend their income. A recent graphic from Visual Economics summed it up quite nicely, we are spending over 1/6 of our income on car transportation each year.
A lot of people complain about the high cost of public transit system proposals, but it’s obviously not more expensive than cars. If we assume that the entire population of Indianapolis, roughly 800,000 people, were to trade in their vehicles for public transit then we would free up ($8758/2.5)*800,000 = $3B per year to invest in other strategies. I bet we could find a solution with that level of funding. It won’t ever happen, but it’s not impossible to imagine.
Texas Transportation Institute report on Urban Mobility ranks the major US cities in terms of rush hour problems, measuring lost time, lost money, and excess pollution generated.
I thought it would be interesting to contrast Indianapolis vs. Portland, two cities which have vastly different transportation strategies. A typical complaint in Indianapolis is the lack of a public transportation system. A typical complaint (or at least based on comments from internet forums) is that Portland’s strategies focusing on alternative transportation methods only work because the highways are so underdeveloped that people have no choice but to get out of their car.
Admittedly, the cities are not very similar. But looking at urban population, the comparison is not unjustified. Portland’s policies on urban growth boundaries increase the density of the city, but this comparison is just for fun so I’m not going to look too closely at how to adjust the numbers to account for differences in the two cities.So let us consult the ultimate arbiter, statistics. The cities have the following breakdown:
Portland (2007 report here)
urban population: 1,800,000 (24th)
density: 3333 /sq.mi.
metro population: 2,159,000
lost time rank: 20
lost money rank: 24
excess pollution rank: 24
Indianapolis (2007 report here)
urban population: 1,070,000 (38th)
density: 2098 /sq.mi.
metro population: 1,715,000
lost time rank: 34
lost money rank: 29
excess pollution rank: 30
Looking at the lost time ranking, you can see that both Indianapolis and Portland have slightly worse congestion than their city sizes would suggest. But obviously, both Portland and Indianapolis have been equally successful in their attempts to limit the effect of traffic congestion. Portland has invested heavily in alternative transportation infrastructure, while Indianapolis has expanded their highway system.
However, when you look at lost money and excess pollution generated, Portland seems to fare better than Indianapolis. Portland’s ranking is on par with its size, whereas Indianapolis is generating much more pollution than its size should allow.
As we move closer to putting a price on CO2 emissions, I think the costs incurred by gasoline will continue to rise. Indianapolis’ rankings will fall even further, meaning the city is becoming less efficient and less competitive for future jobs and employers.
New civilizations are built on the ashes of old, and so cities ever grow higher by adding layers. Peel back some of the growth rings and experience a slice of life as it once was.
The old rail lines in front of Audubon Court in Irvington, East of downtown Indianapolis
Downtown Indianapolis during the days of the streetcars
Earlier last week, Indianapolis used the asphalt eaters to strip down East Washington Street in preparation for finish work on the new interchange with I-69/I-70. By good luck, I happened to be driving through and took some photos of the old street car lines that were exposed.
The bad part is that I had to take the photos at night, so please excuse my poor photographs. It was covered up by the next day, so there was no opportunity to come back in daylight.
DIG-B also covered this in an earlier post, but I wanted to share the experience once again. See Urbanophile’s post for a full description and aerial image of the interchange.
This shot has several exposed rails and the original brick infill
A close-up view of the rail and brick
Here’s a modern take on the streetcar scene by Circles and Squares, downtown business interests want the old streetcars back in some fashion or another. I know in some sense it is sad that these old bits of history have been covered up, but the bright side is that they are well protected for the time being.
I referenced a study of a Life Cycle Assessment of Infrastructure in one of my previous posts. Now that I have reviewed some of the data and results, I wanted to address how this study can help our public policy planning. In my opinion, the most valuable information of this study can be found in the section on “sensitivity to passenger occupancy”. Shown graphically in Figure 3, the ranges of energy input and pollution per Passenger Kilometers Traveled (PKT) are associated with ranges rather than a single number.
Partial Figure 3 used for review – see original article
for full chart
What this shows is that certain vehicles are more sensitive to occupancy than others. Sensitivity in order as follows:
- On-road vehicles
- Rail Systems
The on-road vehicles are quite variable, whereas the airplanes and rail systems vary only a small amount. This is because the tailpipe emissions of airplanes and rail systems only account for a small amount of overall emissions (infrastucture and fuel source play a large role).
One bright spot for bus enthusiasts is that a fully occupied rail system is about as efficient per passenger as a fully occupied bus. SUV vehicles are rarely efficient, even when fully occupied.
The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) issue is also important, especially since GHG emissions must be cut and reduced within the next few years. This study shows that a rail transit system is the best option to reduce GHG emissions. It also shows us that a coal powered transit system (e.g. Boston Green Line) is not effective at reducing emissions.
Probably the most important issue, and one this study cannot address directly, is the overall energy inputs and GHG emissions for each transportation mode. While this study offers great data on PKT rates, the other side of the equation is actual distance travelled by each passenger. Urban sprawl generates a system whereby people must travel long distances using the most inefficient form of transit available. We are building potential high costs (energy and GHG) into our transit systems. This can be just as serious an issue as the mortgage crisis which crippled the US economy.
With public transit, people travel smaller distances and do so on more efficient systems. Transit-oriented development (TOD) offers an opportunity to connect neighborhoods to the urban core without relying on automobiles. People travel shorter distances and use the most efficient form of transit available today.
Air travel for long-haul flights can still play an important part of the US system, but the airports should be served by public transit systems and not just rental car facilities. Connectivity is a very important feature, and removing automobiles from transit systems requires intermodal options at every point.
On a weekend in the middle of June, I was scheduled to attend a friend’s wedding on Long Island. I decided this would be an excellent opportunity for a short trip to NYC. My sister works at an architectural firm in Manhattan, so I had a place to stay and a good guide to the city.
My initial reaction upon arrival was one of joy, as our plane was delayed until late in the night and my sister greeted me and my wife at the door with New York style pizza and a place to sleep. Thus began a great journey to the cosmopolitan mecca of the US.
The ubiquitous brownstone front entry is a fixture of New York residential areas
Manhattan is made of wide avenues and narrow streets, historic masonry and steel skycrapers
My observations focused on the built environment, whereas my wife was much more interested in social studies. This is where New York excels, I was able to photograph and study buildings, infrastructure, transportation options, etc. while we walked to and from different neighborhoods shopping for trendy clothes and exploring exotic dining options.
The avenues facilitate transportation
I can say this about the transportation system of NYC: it works. On our trip, it worked beautifully. We did not need to rent a car, we were able to find public transportation to all of our destinations (even on our excursion to the middle of nowhere in Long Island). Walking within Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens was easy and accommodated by the street layouts. Just don’t expect to go anywhere slowly, you’ll get pushed into the gutter by the kind but delightfully no-nonsense commuters.
An approaching subway train
Interestingly, the transportation system was also my biggest complaint. There were two many cars and not enough pedestrian right-of-ways. Barring Columbus Circle (which was probably my favorite place of the city) and Central Park, there was not many places where cars did not rule the road. Broadway / Times Square was recently pedestrianized (and see NY Post article also) but it’s too soon to tell if this will be a sign of things to come or just a one-off event. Of course, this is what got me thinking about cars as a public transportation option. According to the sources I have read, NYC is trying to phase out parking spaces, excess width on roadways, and generally reverting to a pedestrian oriented city. I think they are making some good steps, but a place like NYC really needs to create extraordinary spaces of a similar quality to Columbus Circle (see ASLA 2006 Awards) in order to stand out. I did not have a chance to see the High Line (also see Friends of the High Line), but it’s first on my list when I return.
The Columbus Circle as seen from Time Warner building
The splashing water provides white noise to block out sounds of traffic
The circle offers an area of refuge and an urban collector for pedestrian traffic between the park and the city
Central Park has a huge amount of development along each side
And seriously, the loss of Penn Station is acutely felt by the city. I traveled through the station the same day that the Infrastructurist published his post on station demolition (and follow-up). The new structure is entirely unsatisfactory. I’m glad that people are still incensed by the demolition. Some idiotic New Yorker left his legacy of demolition on the city, that’s for sure. The best summary is the quote from Vincent Scully comparing the experience of the old station to the new: “One entered the city like a god; one scuttles in now like a rat.”
The original Penn Station and its position in the city
Interior of Penn Station
The new Penn Station is underground, served only by street access
The new station interior is an overcrowded, depressing affair
On the other hand, Grand Central Station was nice. I was impressed by the structure and its continued use. Of course, the streets surrounded the station more than any other made you feel the oppressive impact that the wide streets and fast cars were having on the city. Another great opportunity for pedestrian-only space, IMHO.
Grand Central Station exterior
The nearby traffic structures and second-class pedestrian access to Grand Central Station make the experience unimpressive
We had horrible weather, set a record for rain received on the day we were there. I would not want to be swimming in the Hudson later that weekend (one of my sister’s friends was preparing for a charity triathlon, yikes!). Obviously the CSO system is something that NYC must work on. And they are. But it’s not as easy as just adding an independent pipe system, the amount of sub-surface utilities in that place is unbelievable. Basically there is no room for more right-of-ways. They have a legacy system of CSO’s and they are going to have to be very creative in their solutions.
The structures of New York City are certainly world famous. I spent a lot of time with a craned neck looking up into the clouds at the tops of skyscrapers.
The Empire State Building with its spire finally peaking through the rain clouds
The best structure in NYC, the Chrysler Building
The GM / RCA building of the Rockefeller Center
The skyscrapers didn’t impress me too much. Like every tall building I know, you have to be far away to appreciate them. Or at least that was my thoughts until I saw the new Hearst Tower. I really loved this building. If you get a chance, walk inside and check out the lobby. The security guards can actually tell you some interesting facts, don’t be afraid to ask.
The unique diagrid structural system catches attention from every angle
The base of the tower, originally built to support a great tower (it took 80 years)
The important thing about the Hearst Tower is that is a great example of how modern architecture can still impress in a way that is so different but equally perfect to the old skyscrapers. The first LEED certified tall building in the city, and it kept the historic facade of the old structure. Perfection – architecturally, structurally, and socially.
random picture #1: when one awning just isn’t enough (east side of Central park)
random picture #2: cast iron columns with built-in beam seats on the capital (Brooklyn Industries clothing store)
Our journey to Brooklyn was prompted by a quest for corn. As I’m currently living in a city surrounded by corn on every side (Indianapolis), I was skeptical that the corn would be worth it. I was wrong, it was fabulous. And the restaurant, Havana Outpost, is worth a stop on anyone’s journey. Catfish burritos, nothing more to say. This little place has a small enclosed seating area with local beers on tap, but their outdoor areas are a showcase of doing things the right way. Solar electric panels, rain water collection (used for watering an urban garden and water for the bathrooms), and human-powered cocktail mixers make this place an absolute success.
The Havana Outpost lamp and nearby solar panel
The exterior dining area – note the solar panels on the left, water collection system in the center, and the stationary truck where all the food is prepared
you can prepare a frozen cocktail on the human powered blender (too much rain on our visit, bike was put away for safe-keeping)
a bona fide rain water collection system proves that environmental solutions don’t have to be expensive or fancy, just effective