Tag Archives | Sustainability

City of Providence Seeks Public Comment on Sustainabilty Plan


Over the past year, the City of Providence has been working on its Sustainability Plan. The City has released a draft of that plan and is seeking comment from the public. From the City:

From Mayor Taveras: Draft Sustainable Providence Plan Released for Public Comment

I am pleased to release for public comment a draft of the city’s first-ever sustainability action plan, Sustainable Providence.

In 2013, I released sustainability goals to move Providence forward in six key areas: waste, food, transportation, water, energy, and land use & development. Since then, more than 100 community leaders have worked with my staff to develop and provide feedback on this draft plan to achieve our goals.

Implementing this plan will help build a resilient and sustainable future for Providence as we protect our environment, rebuild our economy and strengthen our community. Thank you for working together with us to create a cleaner, greener city.

Please submit your comments by Friday, August 22, 2014 to Sheila Dormody, Director of Sustainability,

Full disclosure: I participated on the Transportation Subcommittee

News & Notes

Jersey City - Hudson-Bergen Light Rail

Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line in Jersey City, NJ. Photo (cc) Wally Gobetz.

Streetsblog: Why Free Black Friday Parking Is a Bad Idea

Lastly, providing free parking creates an inequity issue for people who do not own a car. As I’ve noted before, more than one-quarter of Cleveland households lack access to a vehicle. Yet, because the cost of parking is already factored into the price of retail goods, these individuals will have to pay for the hidden cost of parking, despite the fact that they will not take advantage of it. Ohio’s transportation policies are already skewed heavily enough towards driving. The round-trip cost of taking public transportation to Tower City ($4.50 per person) is higher than the price for two hours of on-street parking. Requiring the City to pick up this tab only serves to widen the gap between drivers and non-drivers.

The Atlantic Cities: Why Correcting Misperceptions About Mass Transit May Be More Important Than Improving Service

If you want to understand why people use a certain transit system, it makes sense to start with the system itself. Frequency, access, and any other service qualities that make riding as convenient as driving will help. Whether or not the way a city is designed and built nudges people toward the system — via residential density and street design, for instance — matters, too.

But as we’ve pointed out in the past, there’s a psychological component to riding transit that’s easy for city officials and planners to overlook. Fact is, we’re not all completely rational about our travel decisions. The perceptions that people have about public transportation, substantiated or not, are powerful enough to attract or repel them.

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Providence 2013 State of the City Address

Mayor Angel Taveras

2013 State of the City Address

Providence Is Recovering

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 • (as prepared for delivery)

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor's Office.

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor’s Office.

Governor, Mr. President, honorable members of the Providence City Council, distinguished guests, and my fellow residents of our great Capital City –

One year ago I stood before you in this Chamber with an urgent message for our City and the entire State of Rhode Island. Providence was in peril. Despite many difficult decisions and painful sacrifices made to pull Providence back from the brink, we were still $22 million short of closing a $110 million structural deficit.

Crucial steps necessary to navigate our City safely through our Category 5 fiscal hurricane had not yet come to pass. We still needed to reform our unsustainable pensions. And we needed Providence’s large, tax-exempt institutions to contribute more.

As I stood before you on February 13, 2012, Providence was running out of cash, and running out of time. In the months that followed, there were some who said Providence could not avoid filing for bankruptcy.


Today it is my privilege to deliver a much more hopeful report on the State of our City: Providence is recovering.

Through collaborative efforts and shared sacrifice, we have all but eliminated our City’s $110 million structural deficit, and we expect to end this year with a balanced budget. Working together, we have accomplished what few believed possible.

We were determined to address the root causes of Providence’s fiscal emergency and prepared to act unilaterally if necessary. And we knew our City would never achieve a lasting recovery without addressing our unsustainable and spiraling pension costs.

In April, following months of actuarial analysis and public testimony, this City Council unanimously approved a pension reform ordinance that put Providence’s pension system on a sustainable path.

We recognized that passing the ordinance would likely lead to a high-stakes lawsuit with no real winners – because a decision in favor of the status quo would push our City over the brink. However, faced with the challenge of negotiating pension changes with more than 2,000 retirees who were not represented by a single entity, we saw no alternative.

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News & Notes

Start-Ups Are Drawn to Pulse of Downtown [The Wall Street Journal]

“We used to be located in the Redwood Shores area, but I didn’t like it because it was too remote,” says Bill Demas, chief executive of Turn, which moved into a 10,000-square-foot office in the restored late 19th-century Alhambra building in downtown Redwood City in January. “We wanted to be in a more urban location, we wanted more restaurants and bars near us.

We have restaurants and bars in Providence…

San Francisco Passes First Open Data Law [Fast Company]

The law is brief. It simply says city’s departments and agencies “shall make reasonable efforts” to publish any data under their control — provided that doing so does not violate other laws, particularly those related to privacy. The Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance unanimously.

Open data, Newsom believes, makes city government more transparent and increases accountability. But it also makes life better for residents because tools can be made on top of the city’s data that the city itself never would have made. As the ordinance says, it benefits the city via the “mobilization of San Francisco’s high-tech workforce… to create useful civic tools at no cost to the City.”

Vinyl couldn’t be less sustainable [New Urban Network]

That which makes the absurd claim of being “maintenance-free” is not. When so-called “maintenance-free” materials fail, they fail catastrophically, and you have to cart it all off to the landfill. Haven’t we had enough of that?

Can we eliminate death and serious injury from roadways? [Greater Greater Washington]

A generation ago, we recognized the role of vehicle safety and created a vehicle-based safety culture focused on seat belts, air bags, and anti-lock brakes. The safety culture then broadened to include operator behavior, with a focus on drunk driving, road rage, and distracted driving. It’s time to systematically include roadway design in our safety culture.


Electric Mini-Buses

The above video highlights a new electric bus developed by Waseda University being tested in Japan. The bus runs 25km (15.5 miles) on one charge, takes 15 minutes to recharge, and the batteries cost approximately $50,000. The bus is estimated to reduce emissions by one third over a conventional bus.

In Providence, the Green Line LINK Trolley runs on a route of approximately 4.5 miles. Meaning a similar vehicle could do 3 one-way runs on a single charge. With charging stations at either end of the line, buses could take turns charging at the line termini.

Photo (cc) AaverageJoe

Meanwhile, in Québec City, the local transit agency runs the Écolobus (Site translated from French by Google). The Écolobus is a free downtown circulator service operated with electric buses. The vehicle’s maximum speed is 33km/h (20.5mph) and they have a service range of 100km (62 miles) or 12 hours. The buses take 8 hours to charge and seat 10 passengers, with room for 10 more to stand. The buses consume C$3.25 (~US$3.16) of electricity per day.

The Écolobus service is a bit different than the current LINK Trolley system RIPTA operates. The design of the bus with a large side door does not allow for fare collection, the bus driver is separated from the passengers in their own compartment. The buses are also smaller, but do the LINK Trolleys ever carry more than 20 people? If they were on a proper headway (say 7-12 minutes) crowds would remain small. The LINK service is a longer linear route, while the Québec City service is a shorter downtown circulator route.


January Evolution Forum: Transit in a Sustainable Rhode Island (01/28)

Kennedy Plaza Repaving Project
Photo by Jef Nickerson

When: Thursday, January 28, 2010 – 5:30pm to 8:00pm
Where: 17 Gordon Avenue, Providence, RI 02905
Cost: Admission for Apeiron members and students with valid ID is free. Admission for others is $10.

Please join us for Apeiron’s next Evolution Forum! This month we will highlight Transit in a Sustainable Rhode Island.

Panelists include Catherine Lutz, anthropologist and the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University; John Flaherty, Grow Smart RI and Chair of the Coalition for Transit Choices; and Mark Therrien, General Manager of the RI Public Transit Authority.

Come engage with experts from academia, government, and the non-profit sector to learn how Rhode Island is and should be helping to create the future of Transit in the 21st Century.

Speaker Biographies:
Catherine Lutz- Catherine is an anthropologist and the Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Brown University. With her sister, Anne Lutz Fernandez, she has been studying the car system in the United States, focusing on its financial, social, and health impacts on families and individuals. Their book, Carjacked: The Culture of the Automobile and its Effects on Our Lives, is out with Palgrave Macmillan in January (

John Flaherty- Grow Smart RI, Chair Coalition for Transit Choices

Mark Therrien- General Manager, RI Public Transit Authority

Schedule of Events
5:30 to 6:30 – Snacks and non-alcoholic drinks served
6:30 to 7:30 – Presentation
7:30 to 8:00 – Question and Answer session and mingling

Co-sponsored by the RI Coalition for Transit Choices

Bus Directions from Kennedy Plaza:
Take Bus #11: Providence to Broad City Line Outbound. Depart Kennedy Plaza at Berth F. Ride for approximately 18 minutes. Get off the bus at Stanwood Street. Walk north on Broad St toward Saratoga Street. Turn right at Saratoga Street and walk to the first intersection. Turn right at Baxter Street. 17 Gordon Ave will be on your left. Look for a sign that says Gordon Avenue Business Incubator.

For more information and to register visit