January 17, 2012
Olympics, Marathons, and Parades
Last year I posted about the Houston Marathon, and my observations about how the route did a good job of taking the runners through a diverse set of neighborhoods, from older to newer, urban to suburban, residential to business. This year I am even more impressed with another land use angle: the incredible amount of planning it must have taken to pull off the events in town this past weekend--
First, on Saturday Houston hosted the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. The race route was designed to simulate the Marathon route planned for London, including a gratuitous hairpin turn. Congrats to Meb and Flanagan!
On Sunday was the regular Marathon--on a different course--for the other 26,000 of us who didn't qualify for the Trials, plus over 250,000 volunteers and spectators.
And between Saturday and Monday, there were five separate Martin Luther King Day parades.
Planning for the street closures alone must have been an enormous task (check out the 11-page spreadsheet), let alone the interagency and public-private cooperation that's necessary for a weekend like this. It requires organization, community involvement, and a great deal of technical planning expertise. These things have huge impacts on traffic, transit, facilities, sanitation, sustainability, policing, budgets, and a great array of other local planning issues.
We often take having "big events" for granted in a big city, but as a former logistician I'm always impressed by all the behind-the-scenes work that it takes to pull these things off. And as land use lawyers we should appreciate the very hard work and the professionalism that our colleagues in city planning, local government, and community organizations bring to improve civic life.
So, good job everyone, and please pass the ibuprofen.
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