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April 2024 No Foolin’ Edition

City to dither with Holly Street traffic: Road-rage counselors on standby

By Ron Judd Executive Editor

April 12, 2024

Intercom Announcement: We’re calling it.

Time of Death: Early May, 2024.

Cause: Bipedal progress. What else?

Obituary Lead Graf: Holly Street, the one way, three-lane promenade noted for funneling huge numbers of people every day downtown, is getting fitted with “experimental” bike lanes this spring.

Little-Discussed Consequence: The action marks the death of the last living arterial in the city with something resembling timed lights allowing passage without infinite stops between Point A and Point B.

Apparent Rationale: It’s part of what appears to be an enthusiastic, long-range plan to make automobile traffic so infinitely maddening within city limits that people will abandon their cars and choose to commute by bicycle daily through dark, wet, cold, spectacularly unpleasant conditions. And they’ll like it!

Heartfelt Disclaimer: Hammer, as a sometimes-cyclist, is not taking a side on merits of said lanes, per se, and is agnostic about the need. But he will continue to point out that the car remains a reality for many if not most folks.

Actual Rationale: With the new experimental bike lanes, the numbers of people who actually do ride downtown on Holly Street (presently 3.6%, according to the city) might blossom from a group of “interested but concerned” potential riders to as much as … 60 percent!

If You Believe This: Please see Hammer’s sale listing for a Lake Samish bridge that needs 15 months worth of work.

Is This Really Why They’re Doing It? No, but … yes. It really depends on whom one asks.

As Mayor Kim Lund Might Say: The city’s new Rube Goldberg Holly Street Bicycle Plan is part and parcel with Executive Order #2024-01, which establishes a workgroup to prepare a “a comprehensive downtown strategy to support businesses, community solutions and bring people downtown.”

Preferably: This should be by bicycle, the goal being to get as many bikes in city central as soon as possible so they can be stolen and chop-shopped on schedule because there’s no place to lock them up.

But Seriously: This has already been given a green light (sorry) by the sage members of the Bellingham City Council.

What We Do Know Is: The unquestionably necessary conversion of Holly from a quick route into downtown — and, may Hammer add, also to Old Town, the Lettered Streets and other areas beyond — to a stop/go/stop/go/stop/go grate-erial is a known, calculated, premeditated decision.

Quoting, For Benefit of Planet-Killing Motoriststs, the City’s Own Documents: The lanes, along with “re-timing” (AKA: “untiming”) of lights to make street crossings even friendlier to Bellingham’s traditionally sloth-oriented crosswalk dwellers, changes the focus of the arterial from maximizing volume of vehicles to … “lowering vehicular throughput capacity resulting in delay, particularly at signalized intersections.”

So Basically: Yeah, it’s on purpose.

Further Quoting Directly From Lottie Street HQ:  “The additional delay is not expected to be significant but may be seen by some as a negative aspect of the pilot.

Oh Baby: Indeed it may. Road-rage counselors are standing by.

April 4, 2024

Someone Has to Ask: Does the entirety of Northwest Washington just shut down for seven days (or more) to honor the high holy days of “Spring Break?”

Seriously: CDN has heard 150 excuses this week for things on hold in public life because of “Spring Break.” Is there some special, weeklong, parents-of-kids-on-spring-break exemption for the rest of the working world? Or are people just taking a fake “Spring Break” on their own?

On That Note: Hammer has a lot to say about this, but figures its best to get in on this while it’s still going on. Please hold his calls; he will be spending the remainder of Spring Break traveling internationally in search of a Tim Hortons.

April 1, 2024

This Just In: Look, we know no one is going to believe this is not some April Fool’s gag, but it is not. I mean, every day is an April Fool’s gag in Hammertown; why would we bother to honor the Hallmark Holiday?

That Said: U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, as part of her long-term commitment to enhance the proper designation of tubers, has issued a news release proclaiming her support for a “bipartisan letter calling for potatoes to remain classified as vegetables.”

We Are NOT Making This Up: You can look it up here, where, granted, you will expect to find an “April Fool’s!” notation, but nooo. This is actual business of a member of the world’s ahem, choke, sputter, greatest deliberative body.

Urgent national spud business is not an April Fool’s matter, according to staffers of U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.

In This Release: Your distinguished senator points out that “consumers would miss out on vital nutrients” if the white potato (potatoes of color apparently being on their own with the U.S. Department of Agriculture) was reclassified. She joins a group of 14 other senators, from the Entirely Too Much Time on Their Hands Caucus, in arguing that white potatoes should remain classified as vegetables, not grains, because they deserve a prominent position in food guides.”

Joining the Senator in this Critical Instance of Spud Classification: Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Angus King (I-ME), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), et al — a couple of whom, Hammer notes, might also be appropriately classified as vegetables by the USDA.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Tubers, and Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu, photo bomber, listen March 27 during a tour of the Laurel Forest apartments, an affordable housing complex. But their minds clearly were on the more pressing issue of potato classification, The Hammer believes. (Finn Wendt/Cascadia Daily News)

We KID the senators: Actually, we suspect — OK, we know — there’s a serious issue behind the funny headline: It’s trade. The classification of white potatoes apparently is critical in the interest of combatting retaliatory tariffs and taking advantage of incentives to sell “fresh vegetables” overseas. And potatoes are a billion-dollar crop in Washington state, supporting more than 31,000 jobs. Some of those are in our own backyard.

So, We Get It: But you really gotta be more watchful of the April Fool’s calendar when dishing serious spud topics.

Meanwhile, Down in Portland: Hammer couldn’t help but notice this past weekend that some sharp-eyed women’s hoopsters noticed that the three-point arc in the Moda Center, home of a regional NCAA tournament, was 9 inches closer to the hoop than the one on the other end. No one could recall having seen this before, and even though this work was said to have been done by a national contractor, it goes a long way in explaining why Oregonians for decades were prohibited from pumping their own gas.

Waterfront Dumb-Government Monument Update: We feel a movement boiling up — it also could just be acid reflux, but stay with us here — to support the efforts of Hammer’s alter ego to get an overpriced, mothballed U.S. Navy vessel to permanently grace Bellingham’s attention-starved waterfront. He’ll be reaching out to the Navy very soon, and if that doesn’t work, is not above avarice and political pressuring. Warm up the tug, and get ready for a GoFundMe campaign.

The Hammer, a more-flippant alter ego of CDN’s executive editor and various other pointed-barb influencers, publishes online monthly and is updated somewhat regularly; ronjudd@cascadiadaily.com; @roncjudd.

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