A long way to go…

Special thanks to CityKin and Somewhere Over-the-Rhine for drawing my attention to this great video from Streetfilms (see below). The video is great but it really depresses me for a couple of reasons.

1) Articulated buses, light rail, monorail, streetcars, and real-time arrival – boy are we faaaaaaaar behind Seattle and other like cities on the transit front. We have a bus system and nothing else, and our bus system lacks real-time arrival and articulated buses for increased capacity on highly used routes.

2) Whole Foods Market – we have some convenience stores, a farmer’s market with limited hours, and a deli on steroids. At the same time Seattle is rolling out a brand new Whole Foods Market in what was previously considered an iffy area (Over-the-Rhine anyone?).

3) – the new economy is going to be shaped by companies of innovation. The United States doesn’t produce material goods anymore, we produce innovation and creativity. This innovation and creativity is best facilitated in cities, and the cities that are winning out are the ones who can attract the talent and jobs for these industries. Seattle has technology, information, and the internet…Cincinnati has bananas, clothes, and household items. You tell me who wins out in this new economy?

I’m more optimistic about Cincinnati than just about anyone, but I do see the need for us to make bold and dramatic changes in the way we operate. We are waaaaaaay behind these other cities when it comes to positioning our city/region for the new economy. We not only need to catch up, but we have to get ahead.

I wish I were smart enough to know how to address some of these issues, because I would weigh in with my solutions if I had them. I do know they need to be answered. Part of that solution is transit. Seattle gets it, so does Portland, San Francisco, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Atlanta, D.C. New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Denver, San Diego, Philadelphia, and Boston.

So how and when are we going to step it up and take action? It needs to be soon, and it needs to be swift. I fear that if Cincinnati misses out on this economic shift, as we have in the past, then we may be writing our future for the worse.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.