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News & Notes

manchester-flickr

Manchester, England – Photo (cc) Nathan Makan

The Economist: Heading north – Londoners in their 30s are moving out

Central Birmingham is buzzing. The fine square in Brindleyplace is lined with snazzy restaurants, and after 6pm, smartly dressed office workers. In 2003 the city got a globby new branch of Selfridges, a posh London department store, and in 2011 its first craft beer bar took over a former post office. Behind the redbrick factory facades of nearby Bradford Street, the yuppies are also taking over, quietly occupying new flats within.

Many of these go-getters are former Londoners. According to the Office of National Statistics, a record number of 30- to 39-year-olds left the capital in the year to June 2013: a net outflow of nearly 22,000 (and a 25% increase on 2010). They have settled in Birmingham, which attracted the largest number, as well as Manchester, Bristol and Oxford. London has long shed people in their 30s. Mainly they want bigger, cheaper living-space for their children. London’s soaring house prices have exacerbated the trend: the city’s average property price rose by 19% in the past year. It now stands at £402,800 – in Birmingham it is £133,700.

Those fleeing London are often moving jobs, too.

Speed up the commuter rail, build more housing… boom, we’re Manchester or Birmingham.


The Boston Globe: Marty Walsh goes up against boring architecture

Boston needs bolder buildings, and it needs civic leaders who aren’t afraid to permit them. In what could mark a major turn for Boston’s architectural history, Mayor Marty Walsh signaled Wednesday that not everything needs to built in red brick. Unlike predecessor Tom Menino, he personally won’t be deciding what the tops of new buildings should look like. And, most striking of all, non-boring ideas are now welcome in the city.

“Boston is home to the world’s most innovative thinkers — in science and technology, and in business, art, and architecture,” Walsh said in a speech before the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. “Our city’s built environment should reflect this culture of imagination. Too often, in recent decades, new buildings have been merely functional. I believe Boston can do better. We should aim for world-class design. Our historic buildings reflect our unique past. New buildings should project the values and aspirations of our growing city. We can balance the old and new.”

not everything needs to built in red brick.


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Traffic changes coming to Exchange Terrace

exchange-terrace

From the City:


Changes to Traffic Pattern around Kennedy Plaza Beginning December 22

The City of Providence today announced upcoming changes to the traffic pattern on Exchange Terrace. Beginning Monday morning, December 22, Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange Street) will be changed to accommodate 2-way traffic. The remainder of Exchange Terrace will allow two-way traffic later in 2015 when improvements to Emmitt Square are completed.

In preparation for this change, the southern portion of Exchange Terrace (East Approach to Exchange St.) will be barreled off Thursday morning, December 18, to allow westbound traffic to become used to driving on the northern part of Exchange Terrace prior to the switch.

There is a variable message board facing the westbound approach at the Exchange Street/Steeple St. intersection alerting motorists of the change in traffic pattern.

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ProJo: Opening of Washington Bridge bike path in Providence delayed

washington-bridge

Photo of construction in October 2013

The opening of a new linear park for bikers and walkers on a transformed section of the old Washington Bridge has been delayed until the end of the year, according to the state Department of Transportation.

“It’s looking like in December that we’ll have it open for use, that’s what we are shooting for right now,” said DOT spokeswoman Rose Amoros.

When I took the above photo, over a year ago, they were saying, “next summer.”

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UPDATED: Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – November 19, 2014

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featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
November 19, 2014, 5:00pm at Aurora
276 Westminster Street. Hosted by the Providence Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) group, Cornish Associates, and Aurora
Note different start time and location

Agenda

  • 5:00: Introductions and Introduction to BPAC and CNU
  • 5:05: “Bike/Ped Safety Assessment Planning/USDOT Secretary Foxx’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Initiative,” Nick Garcia, USDOT
  • 5:45: Complete Streets: Intentions Behind the Resolution/Making it Useful
  • 6:10: Tactical Urbanism to Address Bike/Ped Roadway Challenges, Molly Henry, East Coast Greenway
  • 6:25: New Business
  • 6:30: Adjourn

Update: This meeting will not have a formal agenda. Instead it will be an informational meeting with the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission (BPAC). Please come, enjoy a cocktail, and meet and discuss the BPAC with the BPAC Commissioners. This is a good time to give feedback on the direction you would like to see the BPAC go under the new administration coming into City Hall in January.

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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News & Notes

Rendering of the Boston Public Market

Project for Public Spaces: Boston’s Public Market To Be a Hub for Local Food

PPS’ public markets team has just returned from Boston and is excited to announce that it has begun creating an implementation plan for the first floor of Parcel 7, a MassDOT-owned building that is slated to house a public market. Both local residents and vendors are energized by the decision to re-purpose Parcel 7 into a marketplace that will promote regional food, support the New England economy and foster social integration.

More on Boston’s new public market, set to open in 2015 at their website.

The American Conservative: What to Do With Waterfronts?

Many city waterfronts used to be seedy industrial spaces: Dickensian areas once characterized by water trade and commerce, marked occasionally by squalor or disrepute. But as cities have changed, grown, and gentrified, our waterfronts are changing too.

Nonetheless: changes, even good changes, have consequences. Waterfront projects—be they in wealthy, well-kept communities or in run-down spaces—need a sense of scale and structure in order to foster beneficial growth.

When I wrote about Alexandria’s waterfront project, New Urbanists Peter Katz and Philip Bess both offered a wealth of ideas and tips for excellent, human-scale waterfront development. There were a lot of things we discussed that I simply didn’t have room for in my story—so here are a few “bonus” comments from the two men. They explained five specific ways to help make a waterfront a good New Urbanist space:

I think the best piece of advise in this list is the building it for locals, not tourists. Tourists like local things, but locals do not always like tourist things.


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News & Notes

eddy-street

Eddy Street in Providence. Image from Google Street View.

CityLab: Why 12-Foot Traffic Lanes Are Disastrous for Safety and Must Be Replaced Now

Unfortunately, trained to expect this sort of behavior, highway engineers apply the same logic to the design of city streets, where people behave in an entirely different way. On city streets, most drivers ignore posted speed limits, and instead drive the speed at which they feel safe. That speed is set by the cues provided by the environment. Are there other cars near me? Is an intersection approaching? Can I see around that corner? Are there trees and buildings near the road? Are there people walking or biking nearby? And: How wide is my lane?

When lanes are built too wide, pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.
All of these factors matter, and others, too. The simplest one to discuss, and probably the most impactful, is lane width. When lanes are built too wide, many bad things happen. In a sentence: pedestrians are forced to walk further across streets on which cars are moving too fast and bikes don’t fit.

As with most other State and County road departments across the country, RIDOT mostly insists that all roads should strive for 12′ lanes and the Providence DPW does not much disagree.


BuzzFeed News: The Hidden Reason Why Rent Is So Expensive In Cities: Parking Spaces

While many factors contribute to drive up the price of rents, parking is among the most significant, according to University of California Los Angeles professor and renowned parking guru Donald Shoup. BuzzFeed News sat down with Shoup during the CityLab 2014 conference in Los Angeles Monday to talk about how parking makes housing more expensive. His point: “It’s unfair to have cities where parking is free for cars and housing is expensive for people.”


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ProJo: Wider Washington Bridge bike path across Seekonk River to open in November

washington-bridge-linear-park

An 11-foot-wide bike lane, yet to be paved, runs the length of the bridge from East Providence to Providence. Alongside it, but separate, is a partially poured, stamped-concrete 7-foot-wide path for walkers. At the center and widest part of the span, a small park is taking shape with expansive water views.

In the summer of 2012, the Department of Transportation closed the span — along with its narrow and harrowing path for bikers and walkers — to begin the $21.8-million “linear park” project. More than two years later, it’s expected to reopen, largely on schedule, in November.

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PBN: Long-planned pedestrian bridge closer to reality

providence-river-pedestrian-bridge-original-design

The original winning design scheme for the Providence River Bridge.

The first permanent structure to rise from Providence’s Interstate 195 lands almost certainly won’t be a new office or apartment building, but the long-planned pedestrian bridge crossing the Providence River.

After four years of planning, the 330-foot-long arc connecting new parks planned for both sides of the river is now nearly ready for bids from construction contractors.

[…]

“We are at 30 percent design and on schedule for the project to be bid out by the end of this year,” Bonnie Nickerson, Providence director of long-range planning, said last week. “The details being worked out now are very technical, such as levels of lighting. The structural elements and design decisions have been made and those are solid.”

The Providence Planning Department is having a public informational meeting about the bridge today (Sept. 29th) at 5pm.
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Providence PARK(ing) DAY – September 19, 2014

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Union Studio‘s parklet last year. Photo by Rachel Playe

From Rhode Island Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects:


September 19, 2014 8:00am – 4:00pm

Come out and join us for the second annual PARK(ing) Day Providence!

This year, PARK(ing) Day Providence will have 32 parklets in Downtown, the West Side, and the East Side and a protected bike lane on Broadway. We can’t express our thanks enough to the Downtown Improvement District, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association, the Department of Public Works, the City of Providence, and all of our amazing sponsors.

Check out the maps to plan your tour of the parklets on the 19th!

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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting – September 17, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
September 17, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  • 4:35 Denise Kaplin: International Walk to School Day
  • 4:50 Jef Nickerson: Pedestrian “Beg Button” ban proposal/action
  • 5:20 Eric Weis: Bike Path Updates – George Redman Linear Park, Blackstone Bikeway segment 1, and Woonasquatucket paths
  • 5:30 Nate Urso, Providence DPW: Road Construction Updates
  • 5:45 Dave Everett: Updates – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program; Greater Kennedy Plaza Bike Hitches and Racks
  • 6:00 Adjourn

Public comment is welcome at BPAC meetings.

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting – August 20, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
August 20, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor
  • 4:35 – Katie Goodrum, Congress for the New Urbanism – CNU and impacts on bike/ped in Providence
  • 4:55 – Sidewalk access during construction – Continued discussion
  • 5:10 – Road and sidewalk conditions in the Wickenden/South Main area – RIDOT communication
  • 5:20 – Butler Ave. at Waterman and S. Angell signal timing
  • 5:25 – Roadwork Report, Nate Urso, Providence DPW
  • 5:40 – James Kennedy, Providence (Park)ing Day
  • 5:55 – Safe States Pedestrian Injury Prevention Program – Providence proposal update (staff)
  • 6:00 – Adjourn

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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Sign-up for Providence Park(ing) Day

parking-day-thumbProvidence businesses and residents can now sign up to be part of Providence’s Second Annual Park(ing) Day, which this year falls Friday, September 19th.

Park(ing) Day will feature the state’s first ever temporary protected bike lane from Dean Street to Tobey on Broadway. We hope the temporary installation will start a conversation on permanent changes that can be made to our city streets to better support biking.

For more information, you can email parkingdaypvd@gmail.com or go to the Rhode Island ASLA website.

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2014 Providence Cyclovía series starts this weekend on Broad Street

angel-cyclovia

Photo from Mayor Taveras’ Facebook page

Providence will have 3 cyclovía events this year, the first takes place this Sunday on Broad Street in South Providence. Details from the City:


Cyclovía is a car-free event that opens the street for people of all ages to walk, skate, run, bicycle, exercise, and socialize. The event is sponsored by Mayor Taveras in collaboration with the City’s Healthy Communities Office and the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.

“Cyclovía provides Providence residents with a safe and fun environment that promotes cycling, walking and community interaction – all elements of a healthy, balanced lifestyle,” said Mayor Angel Taveras. “Residents from across the city will have the opportunity to enjoy their neighborhoods and to experience the great things that Providence has to offer.”

Providence held its first-ever Cyclovía in September 2012 on Broad Street. In 2013, the City of Providence expanded Cyclovías to Valley Street in Olneyville and Hope Street on the East Side.

2014 Cyclovía Providence Series

  • Sunday, June 29 • 12-4pm
    Elmwood: Broad Street (Thurbers Ave. – Prairie Ave.)
  • Sunday, July 27 • 12-4pm
    Federal Hill: Broadway (Dean St. – Courtland St.)
  • Sunday, September 7 • 12-4pm
    East Side: Hope Street (Lippitt Park/9th Ave – Rochambeau Ave.)
Full disclosure: I am a member of the Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission.
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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting – June 18, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
June 18, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  1. Roadwork Report, Nate Urso, Providence DPW
  2. Providence Cylocross Festival, Richard Fries
  3. Motion: Bike Lane request for Pitman Street
  4. Discussion/Motion: request ordinance requiring sidewalk accommodation during construction projects
  5. Broadway Update
Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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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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Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission meeting – May 21, 2014

featured-bikeped Providence Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission Meeting
May 21, 2014, 4:30 PM
444 Westminster Street, First Floor

Agenda

  1. James Daley, Director of Training, RIPTA: Bus Operator Training and pedestrian/cyclist safety
  2. Pedestrian Safety project (Safe States)
  3. Broadway Bike Lane – recommendation of extension to frontage road
  4. Discussion: BPAC’s role, goals, priorities, accomplishments

Full disclosure: I am a member of this Commission.
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News & Notes

Kennedy Plaza

Two ProJo articles last weekend about Kennedy Plaza:

The Providence Journal: A View from Providence: Hangout or hub, Kennedy Plaza certainly is quirky

People get off buses. Others get on. Some stand in line, others stand around. They wear headphones and backpacks, some carry bags.
The plaza draws folks from all walks. Students. Workers. Homeless. Peddlers. Visitors.

The Providence Journal: Some argue that good parks and public spaces can revitalize RI economy

In Kennedy Plaza, bus and vehicle traffic compete with people wanting to use the park. There is too much hard surface; too few trees. There’s too much noise; too little to do.

“If you leave public spaces barren you get this blight,” Wood said. “You create a draw for all sorts of undesirable activity.”

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