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News & Notes

toronto-flickr

Toronto, Canada – Image (cc) Geee Kay

The Globe and Mail: Toronto to narrow traffic lanes in hopes of increasing safety

Toronto will narrow many of the city’s traffic lanes in a bid to increase safety by reining in speeds while freeing up space for bicycle lanes or wider sidewalks.

The city has just finished a new policy for lane widths, guidelines that will be rolled out gradually across Toronto.

It will mean that, over a period of years, the lanes on streets across the city will be redrawn. A city official said current widths can encourage drivers to go faster than necessary. The new lanes will generally range from 3 to 4.3 metres, depending on location.

3 to 4.3 meters equals 9′ 11″ to 14′ 1″ in American. 14′ is crazy wide, but 9′ 11″… RIDOT would faint dead away.

For example, buses operated by the TTC are up to 2.97 metres wide, including mirrors, and lanes on bus routes are to be a minimum of 3.3 metres wherever possible.

3.3 meters equals 10′ 6″.


The Atlantic: How Political Leadership Makes City Streets Bikeable

Becoming more bikeable: That seems to be a must for any self-respecting major American city these days. But what does it take to achieve that goal? Resources, of course—the funds to create the infrastructure for safe and comfortable bikeways. But the most important thing is political will. It takes real political leadership to overcome opposition to change.

Just ask people in Pittsburgh, which is making great progress on its goals to become more bikeable. It’s happening partly because of long-term, purposeful advocacy from organizations like BikePGH. But the most important factor in Pittsburgh’s success is the political leadership of Bill Peduto, the city’s mayor of only eleven months.

Indeed, big overhauls in the structure of a city require direct input from a Mayor.



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News & Notes

Snowy evening in Helsinki

Snowy evening in Helsinki, image (cc) Niklas Sjöblom

The Guardian: Helsinki’s ambitious plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 years

The Finnish capital has announced plans to transform its existing public transport network into a comprehensive, point-to-point “mobility on demand” system by 2025 – one that, in theory, would be so good nobody would have any reason to own a car.

Helsinki aims to transcend conventional public transport by allowing people to purchase mobility in real time, straight from their smartphones. The hope is to furnish riders with an array of options so cheap, flexible and well-coordinated that it becomes competitive with private car ownership not merely on cost, but on convenience and ease of use.


Old Urbanist: Going Driverless, or Not

A heated debate over the significance of Google’s so-called driverless car has been raging over the past several weeks. On one side of the aisle are those hailing it as a “revolutionary” technology that will dramatically alter personal mobility to the point of eliminating private car ownership. On the other side are those who reject the premise that the technology represents a groundbreaking shift, instead characterizing it as merely a “slightly different variation” on current transportation modes that is “so incremental that it epitomizes our national short-sightedness, and failure of imagination, when it comes to improving mobility in America.”

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CNU New England Urbanism Summit; Providence Happy Hour – March 26, 2014

cnu-new-englandThe Congress for the New Urbanism New England host their 2014 Urbanism Summit on April 10th and 11th in Cambridge and Somerville, MA.

Tomorrow (March 26th) they are having a Providence Happy Hour at Local 121 starting at 6pm.

It is a free opportunity to meet other professionals and students with shared interest in urbanism and urban issues in New England, and to learn more about the 2014 Urbanism Summit.

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Submit your favorite place to 195Hopes

Roger Williams

My good friend Christine Malecki West has launched a new site for us to submit and collect our visions for what should develop on the 195 Land, 195Hopes.com. Christine describes the project below:

Roger Williams knew “This is the Place” when he founded Providence in 1636. The website 195Hopes.com collects photos and descriptions of places that people feel are special – where we ourselves declare, “This is the Place”.

The goal of this project is to collectively understand what gives locations their special sense of place. From this we can develop a tacit knowledge base that will help inform our discussions, and ultimately help amplify Providence’s own unique character as new developments are planned in the parcels vacated by the moving of I-195… and perhaps we can learn more about how to create other special places in the process.

To add to this collection, have your picture taken in a place you feel embodies the phrase ‘This is the Place’ doing “the Rog” (pronounced ‘raj’) – the unique gesture of Roger Williams portrayed in the monumental statue overlooking Providence. Send in pictures of yourself anywhere – not just Providence!

Email your photo along with a description of why you feel “This is the Place” to 195hopes@gmail.com

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News & Notes

Regional bike path would include Fall River, Cape Cod [South Coast Today]

Thus was born the SouthCoast Regional Bikeway Summit, a Feb. 15 event that will gather representatives from this region and others to discuss creating a regional bikeway. Sponsored by Mass in Motion, Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District, UMass Dartmouth and the Council on Sustainability, the summit will begin at 12:30 p.m. at the Advanced Technology & Manufacturing Center in Fall River.

On the table that day will be a vision to create a bike trail network that extends from Swansea to Wareham and north to Taunton and Mansfield, ultimately connecting with paths in Rhode Island and on Cape Cod.

“From Providence to Provincetown, that’s the way we sort of coin it,” said [Mass in Motion coordinator Pauline C.] Hamel. “And we’re not just talking about biking. These are intermodal pathways for walking, pushing strollers, wheelchairs — there’s a lot more to it.”

European Urbanism: Lessons from a City without Suburbs [Planetizen]

While searching for policies and levers to stem new or to retrofit existing suburbs, it might also be instructive to look for precedents, real examples of a city as it would be on arrival at the “end of the suburban project”. Precedents not only would lure planners and people by the power of their images but could also become practical guides. A contemporary precedent, were it to be found, would have great convincing power since it would have dealt with the modern issues of mobility, accessibility and commerce.

Reassuringly, at least one such city does exist: one that has reformed its suburbs to the point where they are indistinguishable from the mother “city” – Athens, Greece. This article looks at this example, attempts to draw lessons and raises disquieting questions.

New evidence cities rule and suburbs drool [Grist]

Suck it, Thoreau: Looks like big cities are the way to go if you’re looking to lower your environmental impact. According to a new study published in the journal Environment and Urbanization, carbon emissions in cities are lower than in the car-dependent burbs.

R.I. DOT leaves highway logo fee discussion to legislature [Providence Business News]

After facing fierce opposition from business owners, the R.I. Department of Transportation has backed down from a plan to charge businesses whose logos appear on informational signs along the state’s highways.

Community celebrates arts center [Brown Daily Herald]

About 350 attendees explored the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at its dedication ceremony last night, taking in the wide variety of student artwork — incorporating visual art, sound, video, dance and sculpture — that adorns the latest addition to the campus.
The building — which has been open for classes since Jan. 26 — will not be host to any one department, but will “manifest new modes of dialogue between different disciplines,” said Richard Fishman P’89, director of the Creative Arts Council and a professor of visual art, who has championed the building since long before it existed.

Shameless Plug: Please feel free to nominate us as Best Blog in the Phoenix’s Best of 2011. You could also ask your friends, your mom, and your cat to nominate us if you like.

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News & Notes

I want to bike and walk but… [Coalition for Transportation Choices]

For Earth Day 2010, CTC member Audubon Society of RI challenged students grades 3 – 12 to respond to the lead-in “I want to bike and walk but…”

The students addressed their essays, poems or raps to their town’s mayor and submitted their work individually or had it selected by teachers from 27 classrooms in 19 municipalities. The students wrote about barriers encountered in walking or bicycling to school or visiting family and friends and suggested solutions.

City exploring slimmer, trimmer roads [Chicago Tribune]

Like a bulging waistline, Chicago streets have gotten fat over the years, growing wider from curb to curb to handle more vehicles.

With that additional girth, traffic-related dangers have expanded, too, especially for pedestrians and transit riders trying to cross busy streets and bicyclists sharing the road with cars and trucks. Sidewalks, meanwhile, often have been narrowed to accommodate more traffic lanes.

The unfortunate upshot is that the high priority placed on accommodating vehicles over other forms of transportation has in many cases backfired.

Do urbanists hate the automobile? Not this one [MinnPost.com]

But for me driving is a little like chocolate. It’s a wonderful indulgence that is easily overdone. When everyone drives a lot, things get out of hand: traffic congestion, air pollution, storm-water runoff, oil spills, greenhouse-gas emissions, oil dependence, foreign-policy complications that sometimes lead to wars, sprawled development, redundant infrastructure, drive-through lifestyles that lead to bad nutrition and obesity — all of these things can be laid, at least partially, on our need and desire to drive excessively.

Better Transit, Even on the Cheap, Doesn’t Always Come Easy [The TransportPolitic]

With the rise of bus rapid transit and the increasing movement for better bicycling facilities have come a new form of community protest — a sense of indignation among some members of the affected areas about abandoning parts of the road they they had once assumed were to be entirely reserved for cars. From New York to Berkeley to Eugene, places more typically known for their liberal politics are becoming battle grounds over the right and wrong ways to use the street.

Case Studies of Latino New Urbanism: San Ysidro [The City Fix]

They are places that are layered and altered from the ground up, as opposed to being single-use and organized. James Rojas, an urban transportation planner, describes “Latino New Urbanism” as the sort of place that “derives its character” not from “structures, codes and designs” but from the way Latinos have transformed and adapted American suburban or urban environments to fit the needs of their communities.

Streetcars vs. Monorails [Slate]

So the future we thought we were going to get somehow seems antiquated, while the past looks increasingly, well, futuristic. Why is the trolley ascendant as the monorail declines?

Flood [City of Sound]

An extensive account of the Brisbane flood from someone on the ground.

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News & Notes

avoiding car-centered language: a directive [Human Transit]

Yes, crash sounds emotive while accident sounds cool, so it’s easy to assume that accident is more objective or factual. But sometimes the facts are emotive, and only an emotive word will accurately describe them. The directive even notices that avoiding the emotive word can constitute an emotional bias in the other direction: “Sheila was in a car accident!” “Oh no, I hope she’s OK!” “Well, she killed three cyclists, so she’s pretty upset!” “How terrible! I’ll send her some flowers.”

Human landscapes in SW Florida [The Big Picture]

Save-A-Lot (grocery store) Grows by Targeting Low-Income Neighborhoods [Retail Traffic]

Reclaim Your Streets: How to Create Safe and Social Pedestrian Plazas [Yes!]

Ten tips for planners to convert a shopping center into a village center [New Urban Network]

Driven Apart: How Sprawl Is Lengthening Our Commutes and Why Misleading Mobility Measures Are Making Things Worse [CEO for Cities]

Driven Apart ranks how long residents in the nation’s largest 51 metropolitan areas spend in peak hour traffic, and in some cases the rankings are almost the opposite of those listed in the 2009 Urban Mobility Report.

For instance, the UMR depicts Chicago as having some of the worst travel delays, when it actually has the shortest time spent in peak hour traffic of any major US metro area. In contrast, Nashville jumped from 31st to first on the list of those with the longest peak travel times.

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