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News & Notes

miami-station

Proposed Florida Station in Miami.

Gizmodo: 5 Rail Stations From America’s New Golden Age of Train Travel

With a high-speed rail network slowly making its way towards reality, cities are commissioning grand stations for the 21st century to accommodate this new mode of transit. Here are five stations on the horizon that are bringing the drama and glamour back to train travel, while positioning it for a high-tech, high-speed future.


City Journal: Aaron Renn: The Bluest State

“Rhode Island is in the midst of an especially grim economic meltdown,” a 2009 New York Times story began, “and no one can pinpoint exactly why.” Five years later, the state continues to suffer from most of the same problems the Times story described: high unemployment, a crippling tax structure, dangerously underfunded state pension systems. But contrary to the Times’s claims, Rhode Island’s predicament is easy to explain. With no special economic advantages, the state has maintained an entitlement mentality inherited from an age of colonial and industrial grandeur. Rhode Island was once one of America’s most prosperous states, and its rate of higher-education attainment remains better than the national average. But the state’s key industries collapsed long ago, and its political leadership has refused to make adjustments to its high-cost, high-regulation governance system.

The result: a state with “the costs of Minnesota and the quality of Mississippi,” as Rob Atkinson, former executive director of the Rhode Island Economic Policy Council, told WPRI-TV. Indeed, Rhode Island is arguably America’s basket case, overlooked only because it is small enough to escape most national scrutiny. Its ruination is a striking corrective to the argument that states can tax, spend, and regulate their way to prosperity.


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News & Notes

armadillos2

Image from Cyclehoop

Fast Company: These Recycled Plastic Dividers Can Create A Bike Lane In A Second

Painted bike lanes are safer for cyclists than riding in the middle of the road, but bike lanes that are separated with a curb are even better. For example, one study found that cyclists in separated lanes had 80% fewer accidents than those in regular bike lanes. But it’s often tricky to convince city governments to take the extra, more concrete step of separation. One product from a U.K. design firm aims to help.

The “Armadillo” is a low-slung recycled plastic bump that can be installed along the edge of a bike lane. Set at an angle, the bumps allow enough space for bikes to ride back out into the street if they need to, something that isn’t as easy with a full concrete curb. But it still keeps cars out.


Mashable: London to Test ‘Smart’ Crosswalks

The system, called Pedestrian Split Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique (SCOOT) uses cameras to figure out how many people are waiting to cross the street and adjusts traffic signals accordingly. So if there is a large crowd waiting, for example, the signal to walk will last longer, giving the crowd more time to cross the street.

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News & Notes

Boxpark

Photo from Boxpark’s Facebook Page.

News & Notes Shipping Containers & Shopping – London’s ‘Retail Revolution’ Finally Opens [This Big City]

London’s first pop-up shopping mall has finally opened, after originally being slated for a Summer launch. Located in east London, at the intersection of Bethnal Green Road and Shoreditch High Street, ‘Boxpark‘ is made entirely from reused shipping containers and has been called a ‘retail revolution’ by its owners. I paid a visit last week to see if it lives up to this ambitious statement.

Route 195 land?


The wisdom of crowds – The strange but extremely valuable science of how pedestrians behave [The Economist]

Messrs Helbing and Moussaid are at the cutting edge of a youngish field: understanding and modelling how pedestrians behave. Its purpose is not mere curiosity. Understanding pedestrian flows makes crowd events safer: knowing about the propensity of different nationalities to step in different directions could, for instance, matter to organisers of an event such as a football World Cup, where fans from various countries mingle. The odds of collisions go up if they do not share a reflex to move to one side. In a packed crowd, that could slow down lots of people.


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News & Notes

Fare Box

Photo (cc) Nick Bastian

News & Notes Make bus service free [New Urbanism Blog]

It’s true. Nothing is ever free. But my proposition is that the basic city bus service that so many places fund would be better off as a basic municipal service, like fire or police. Fund it through a dedicated tax of some kind – sales, property, etc, and don’t bother to charge for the ride itself. Allow me to elaborate.


The bike whisperer [RedEye Chicago]

The wheels of change are in motion for city cyclists thanks to new initiatives from [Chicago] Mayor Emanuel. In the works are 100 miles of protected bike lanes, increased bike parking and a widespread bike-share program that could put Chicago on the map as one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities.

Enter Gabe Klein, the city’s Department of Transportation commissioner, who took office this year.


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News & Notes

Commute

Photo (cc) Dave Fayram

News & Notes Safety Keeps Pittsburgh Cyclists from Becoming Bike Commuters [Transportation Nation]

There is a bit of a catch 22 to increasing cyclist numbers though. Until cycling is widely considered safe, new cyclists won’t start riding to work. The solution, Pucher argues, is infrastructure. Pucher says the absence of bike lanes means only a small segment of the population is willing to ride to work.


Why small cities are poised for success in an oil-starved future [Grist]

So how do these small cities, long derided as provincial and irrelevant, prepare for the future that Tumber sees coming? She focuses on several broad topics: controlling sprawl and redeveloping the suburban fringe, developing agriculture in and around the city, reviving small-scale manufacturing, and redesigning economic networks and school systems. All of these topics involve interlocking policy conundrums that may be more easily navigated in small cities, where relationships are closer and bureaucracy less entangling.


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News & Notes

Hubway bike share system launched this morning in Boston. Photo from Government Center from Hubway’s Twitter feed:

Hubway bike share bikes at Government Center in Boston


A beginning agenda for making smart growth legal [Switchboard]

When then-governor Parris Glendening announced a key portion of what was to become Maryland’s path-breaking land use legislation in the 1990s, he stood in the historic district of Annapolis, where Maryland’s State House is located. He told the crowd that the best parts of downtown Annapolis – a picturesque, highly walkable and much-loved collection of 17th- and 18th-century homes, apartments, shops, civic and church buildings, restaurants and small offices just above the city’s harbor – could not have been built in the late 20th century.


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News & Notes

Saint-Pierre River Site to Become Montréal’s first Woonerf [Spacing Montréal]

The borough describes a woonerf as a convivial street where one can safely walk, bicycle, play, and relax, while still being accessible to cars, adding that the woonerf aims animate residential streets by giving them a soul. But the project also has more tangible goals: the subsidy requires the woonerf to have permeable surfaces over at least 85% of the site, to introduce vegetation in order to reduce the heat-island effect, and to incorporate a space for urban agriculture.


World Map on Bike-sharing [Fietsberaad]


View The Bike-sharing World Map in a larger map
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News & Notes

How to Create a Culture of Public Transit: The ‘Marci Option’ [The Atlantic]

Last week I went to an exurban office park in San Ramon, California where 33 percent of the park’s 30,000 workers leave their cars at home. Despite the fact that Bishop Ranch is 37 miles from San Francisco, a dozen miles from the nearest BART rail station, and home to Chevron’s corporate offices, its parking lots are surprisingly empty, and it has won many awards for transit. Marci McGuire, the program manager for the Ranch’s Transportation center, describes the attitude at the park as “a culture” where it’s cool to have a bus pass. “When you do it right, it’s like a cult,” she says.


Will London’s New Wayfinding System Get More People Walking? [This Big City]

The thinking behind the new system is to encourage more people to walk around London instead of driving or using already overcrowded public transport. By catching people at key decision points – such as tube stations – and providing them with the right information on walking times and local attractions, it is hoped that they will choose to walk.

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Video: Unfinished London

Jay Foreman takes a humorous look at the unbuilt ringroads of London.

In the 70s, an ambitious road-building project called ‘Ringways’ was cancelled and London narrowly escaped a fate much worse than traffic jams.

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The Shortcut, interactive lighting display in London

Shortcut is an interactive lighting installation in a pedestrian way in London by artist Jason Bruges:

Shortcut is a responsive lighting installation for the Dover Yard in London; a well-used pedestrian route linking Berkeley Street and Dover Street near to Piccadilly and Green Park Tube Station. The artwork responds to the different speeds, rhythms and concentration of people in the alley, and a flowing pattern of light is built up in the passageway which reflects the recent movement.

White LED uplights, recessed into the paving, increase in intensity as people pass by causing a rippling wave of light to move through the passageway tracing their movement. When there are no pedestrians the lights dim to a low brightness to save energy while also providing a safe level of illumination.

Shortcut was commissioned by Royal London Asset Management and the architects for the project were Squire and Partners.

Something like this could be put to great use in Providence. I’m picturing it at places such as the tunnel between the skating center and Union Station Plaza, the passageway under the mall, sidewalks on the Eddy Street underpass between the hospitals and Davol Square…

Via: SEGD

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StreetFilms: Traffic Calming Postcards from London

As we look towards rebuilding a bunch of former streets in the 195 corridor, and as we simply turn our attention back to our aging infrastructure, this video from London is timely.

Sure, Providence is no London, but we are an old historic city, with small circuitous streets, and we have a need to balance the needs of automobiles, pedestrians, and cyclists. We’re much like London, simply at a smaller scale.

One of the things that I really like about what London is doing is reducing the clutter on the sidewalks (the pavements as the narrator calls them). Combining lamposts and street signs with trash barrels and bike racks makes the sidewalk much easier to navigate and makes for less infrastructure needing maintenance.

Also, simply calming traffic. We posted the 20’s plenty video where they looked at reducing speeds. You can legislate any speed limit you want (in Providence it is 25mph), but if the street is built for speed, drivers will move at the speed the street is built for. How many people drive 25mph on North Main Street or Memorial Blvd. for instance?

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News & Notes

FooFest – August 14th: Over 20 art installations and creative activities. [FooFest]

Maker Faire Rhode Island – August 28th: Celebrate New England D.I.Y! Featuring hands-on making, building & hacking, culinary crafting, garage technology, arts and creativity for sale, and robots, culminating with a Waterfire in the Creative Capital, Providence, RI. [Maker Faire Rhode Island]

(Ohio) Mileage tax suggested to replace gasoline tax [The Columbus Dispatch]
The Coalition for Transportation Choices has urged the Rhode Island Assembly to consider a similar measure. The proposed bill did not pass the House this year.

Senate Committee approves forward-looking Livable Communities Act [Transportation For America]

The Mark of a Great City Is in How It Treats Its Ordinary Spaces, Not Its Special Ones [The Urbanophile]

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News & Notes

Preserving modernism in Boston: making the case [Boston.com]

Andrew Knee: Milwaukee – A Walker’s Paradise [UrbanOut]
“And the latest venture is a broad swath of land called the Park East, where a freeway was recently torn down and the street-grid was reassembled.”

Sound wall made of vegetation to be studied by ODOT as alternative to concrete wall [Cleveland.com]
I’m thinking of Route 195 in the Gano Street area.

London Opens Bike “Superhighways” [GOOD]

Worst. Intersection. Ever. [Car-Free in PVD]

Sen. Kerry docks yacht in R.I., saves on taxes [MSNBC]
Yes, the story has gone national. The Senator’s people claim the boat is in Newport for “for long-term maintenance, upkeep and charter purposes.” Whatever, I just like the headline telling rich people to come to Rhode Island for our low taxes. Bring your yachts and spend some money while your here.

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