Monday, July 28, 2014

From CBC Radio — Ideas with Paul Kennedy
Witold Rybczynski: Art We Live In

We love and hate them, but we can't escape them either - we're all obliged to live and work in buildings, and we all have strong feelings about how they look, how they function, and how they affect us.
Witold Rybczynski plays architecture tour guide to explore some big questions: What makes buildings work (or not)? What were the architects thinking? And what do buildings tell us about ourselves, our times and what we do? More at: Art We Live In | Ideas with Paul Kennedy | CBC Radio

Friday, July 25, 2014

From Sustainable Cities Collective: #VisionZero — Traffic Deaths:
Sweden: 3/100,000 USA: 11.4/100,000

Photo by the NYC Dept of Transportation / Flickr.
Countries like Sweden have taken ambitious, holistic steps to improve traffic safety and save lives through an initiative called Vision Zero, a road safety framework that asserts that “no loss of life is morally acceptable.” The concept has spread to places such as New York City, where newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned and has adopted the approach. Both Sweden and New York City’s strategies are advanced for two reasons, the first being that they set clear targets. Research has revealed that setting ambitious road safety targets can help motivate stakeholders to improve road safety. Secondly, these policies shift the responsibility for road safety from only personal actions like wearing seat belts and helmets to a shared responsibility between road users and designers, which means also creating safer pedestrian infrastructure, automated enforcement, and reducing driving speeds. Together, these ideas can drastically change how countries and cities around the globe approach traffic safety. Read more: Urban Road Safety and Overall Goals | Sustainable Cities Collective

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Patrick Condon in The Tyee – Vancouver's
'Spot Zoning' Is Corrupting Its Soul

Photo by hradcanska 
Why is Vancouver a place where developments increasingly spark conflicts, where frustrated developers must gamble millions of dollars on projects before knowing if they will meet city approval, and where developer money floods the political system? Is that just the way modern cities operate, or is there something unusual about Vancouver? 

Read more: The Tyee – Vancouver's 'Spot Zoning' Is Corrupting Its Soul

Sunday, July 20, 2014

From @LeanUrbanism —
Lean Sprawl Repair – Mall Retrofit

The past decade has seen the demise of hundreds of shopping centers and malls. Out of roughly 1,000 enclosed malls in the US, approximately 30% are dead or dying. In places of weak recovery and population loss, malls may languish for years, negatively impacting the surrounding suburban communities.
Malls are sprawl types that are normative and repetitive, and the tools for their repair can be the same. In places of economic and population growth, malls will be retrofitted into urban cores with multiple uses: offices, residential, live-work units, and hotels that will rebalance the existing retail space.
Municipalities, developers and planners need new ways to utilize and adapt such underperforming commercial properties. Having already outlived their lifecycles, these properties can provide inexpensive space for business incubation and/or affordable housing that has become scarce in recent years, as downtowns and inner-city neighborhoods have experienced a redevelopment renaissance. Read more: Lean Sprawl Repair – Mall Retrofit | Lean Urbanism

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Helsinki's plan to make car ownership pointless in 10 yrs @guardian

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Big Ideas:
How do you fix a city in the 21st century?
@TorontoStar Via @PPS_Placemaking

ICYMI: Don Cayo in The Sun
Congestion may signify better productivity, not worse @LitmanVTPI

More roads or cheaper-to-use roads — ones without tolls, for example — lead to less productivity, not more, a recent study concludes. If you think this sounds paradoxical, so does the study’s author, Todd Litman of the Victoria Transport Institute. But he also offers several reasons why it’s so.
For one thing, decisions to build roads or subsidize them by not charging users tends to come at the expense of other access options, things such as densification so people need not travel so far, or transit that provides more bang for the buck. These kinds of decisions are often based on politics, thus defying efficient market principles and undermining productivity. Read more: Don Cayo: Congestion may signify better productivity, not worse

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fun #dataviz: A Day in the Life of a New York City Taxi. @chris_whong

Free Download: 'A General Theory of #Urbanism' @DPZandCo

Friday, July 11, 2014

Tweets from Canadian Institute of Planners 2014 Fredericton NB #cip2014

Monday, July 7, 2014

Moving Beyond the Automobile: @Streetfilms documents some fantastic Road Diets

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Stroll down to the Rambla del Poblenou... @barcelona_cat

@emilymbadger in The Washington Post
An Economic Defense of Old Buildings

Jane Jacobs, a woman akin to the patron saint of urban planners, first argued 50 years ago that healthy neighborhoods need old buildings. Aging, creaky, faded, "charming" buildings. Retired couples and young families need the cheap rent they promise. Small businesses need the cramped offices they contain. Streets need the diversity created not just when different people coexist, but when buildings of varying vintage do, too. "Cities need old buildings so badly," Jacobs wrote in her classic "The Death and Life of Great American Cities," "it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them.” More here: An economic defense of old buildings

From Old Urbanist — We Are the 25%:
Looking at Street Area Percentages
And Surface Parking

Original work: photoLith
Several months ago I posted a chart in which I calculated the proportion of land given over to buildable space, right-of-ways and park space for each of 22 cities, or city neighborhoods.  In response, one commenter suggested that I perform the same exercise with off-street parking included as a separate category.  Although the work of Chris McCahill, which I featured last week, does just this for a number of cities, another commenter directed me to this thread at Skyscraper Page, where a number of people have mapped surface parking lots for several American cities.  I'd like to feature three of those here (which I've further edited to show parking structures and park space), while adding one of my own.  No guarantee of perfect accuracy is given. Red shows surface parking, yellow shows above-ground parking garages, and green shows park space: More at: Old Urbanist: We Are the 25%: Looking at Street Area Percentages and Surface Parking