Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Do We Really All Have To Live Like New Yorkers? Does Density Matter?

by Lloyd Alter 
Reading David Owen's The Green Metropolis, one would conclude that density is everything, that New York is, as he wrote in the New Yorker, "The Greenest City in America":

"Barring an almost inconceivable reduction in the earth's population, dense urban centers offer one of the few plausible remedies for some of the world's most discouraging environmental ills. To borrow a term from the jargon of computer systems, dense cities are scalable, while sprawling suburbs are not. The environmental challenge we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world's non-renewable resources, is not how to make our teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The true challenge is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan."

Walking and Biking Key to Reversing U.S. Childhood Obesity Epidemic

by Allison Bishins 
July 20, 2010

Last Thursday, PolicyLink, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Transportation for America hosted a roundtable, “Keeping Kids Moving,” on how equitable transportation policy can prevent childhood obesity.  These organizations, and the Convergence Partnership, are “compelled by the knowledge that where you live truly matters for your health.”  It was an excellent event, with an unusually diverse audience that included doctors, nutritionists, transportation researchers, obesity experts, advocates and more. (Watch a video of the event here.)
As one of the first speakers, Dr. Howard Koh, assistant secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, talked about the need for a “health in all policies” approach to public health.  While this may sound simple (and an excellent approach), it is not something that most U.S. departments of transportation (DOTs) or metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) view as part of their mandate.  Despite the fact that the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires an Environmental Impact Assessment that includes human health, the practice of conducting Health Impact Assessments for transportation projects is not common.
read more

Monday, July 26, 2010

Delhi’s Walkways Hazardous to Your Health, Study Finds

by Ethan Arpi
July 6, 2009

Thirty-three percent of commuters in Delhi, India walk to work in conditions that could be described as hazardous to your health. A report published by the Centre for Science and the Environment notes that nearly every pedestrian space in the city, with the exception of the Delhi bus corridor, which has dedicated and cyclingpedestrian infrastructure, is vulnerable to motorized vehicle traffic.
It shouldn’t be surprising to learn that pedestrians account for 47% of traffic fatalities in the city. CSE notes that a focus on building roads where cars can sail smoothly without stopping at lights has come at the expense of pedestrians who find it difficult and dangerous to cross streets in heavy traffic.

Leapfrogging into a Carbon-Light Future: The End of High-Carbon Prosperity and How Low-Income Nations Are Becoming Climate Resilient

by Martin Wright,
Green Futures,
22 July 2010
The tropical sun is beating down. The wind is picking up. Yet the co-op farmers and their VIP visitor from the National Treasury are wreathed in smiles. Of course, their spirit of well-being owes something to the creature comforts of this airy, ultra-modern building, and to the friendly shade and shelter of the tree belt that surrounds it. But the real story is there for all to see on the LED wall in the atrium.
The huge i-screen switches from a live collage of the smallholder co-op members scattered all across what was once southern Mali, to display a series of animated graphs. Not everyone grasps all the details, but it’s still impressive to see the combined total for all the juice those hybrid minigrids are pumping out. And the relentless upward trend of the carbon price tracker is a special source of satisfaction to the Treasurer. She can’t resist a glance through the porch to those thousand shimmering mirrors, just glimpsed beyond the trees. So much for those who doubted her enthusiasm for putting all her yuan in one basket: concentrated solar power (CSP) has repaid her faith tenfold.

McKinsey: India’s “Urban Awakening” Depends on Sustainable Transport and Land Use

by Erica Schlaikje
June 8, 2010

“If India continues with its current unplanned urbanization path, it will result in a sharp deterioration in the quality of life in its cities, putting even today’s rates of economic growth at risk,” says an April 2010 report published by McKinsey & Company.
Despite this daunting tone, McKinsey highlights many of the urbanization “opportunities” for India to seize by 2030, including the following projections:
  • 590 million people will live in cities
  • 70% of net new employment will be in cities
  • 68 cities will have a population of 1 million or more (up from 42 today)
  • 700-900 million square meters of residential and commercial space needs to be built – the size of the city of Chicago
  • 2.5 billion square meters of roads will have to be paved, and 7,400 of metros and subways will need to be constructed – both equaling 20 times the capacity added in the past decade

Cycle Superhighways Open in London

July 19, 2010

Today, London Mayor Boris Johnson launched the first two of twelve planned “cycle superhighways,” part of what he’s calling London’s “cycling revolution.”  Transport for London’s (TfL) website says the lanes are part of an effort to increase cycling in London by 400 percent from 2000 to 2025.
The first routes launched cover about 8.5 miles each, linking south and east London to the city center.

Minimum Knowledge about Minimum Parking Requirements

by Victoria Broadus

22 July, 2010

Minimum parking requirements require developers to construct a minimum number of parking spots, depending on the zone and type of development — business or residential, for instance. As Michael Lewyn points out, for new residential developments in Jacksonville, Florida, developers must provide 1.75 parking spaces per one-bedroom apartment, even though 16 percent of Jacksonville renters don’t even own one car. In New York City’s case, in some lower-density zones like Staten Island — and even parts of the Bronx — parking space requirements reach up to two spaces per residential unit.
Here’s why minimum parking requirements need to be “turned on their heads” and evolve into maximum parking limits for new developments:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pedestrianization Definition and Types - Variations on a Theme

by Raffy Chan

Let us begin with some pedestrianization definitions, reconciling that one "universal" meaning could be hard to come by-- particularly in the context of differing persuasion or interest. The merits of one group's definition could easily turn into a discussion with another party (which has a totally different frame of mind) when their varying definitions are placed side-by-side. Here, let us just remain open to a number of variations on a theme.
Converting a street or an area to car-free use is called pedestrianization. Alternately, it is the removal of vehicular access to a street-- for the exclusive use of pedestrians by means of local policies such as street closures or similar restrictions. Thence, a pedestrianized location has become synonymous with the absence of motorized vehicles within an area.
The matter can also be thought of in the context of a thoroughfare which is dominated by people on foot; hence, the derivative essence of-- pedestrians and the consequent pedestrianization of an area. Such meaning is always in tandem with the absence of cars or motor vehicles-- as we now reconcile with the elements of pedestrians versus vehicles-- and the dominance or absence of the other.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

From Suburb to City: An Opportunity Born of Necessity

By Rhys Phillips

An article entitled "transforming suburbia" runs the risk of suggesting a known and relatively constant urban configuration is either in the process of, or more proscriptively should be, changing. In 2006, The Globe and Mail reported that "the suburbs have undergone sweeping change and bear little resemblance to the enduring Leave It to Beaver stereotype." In addition to a radical diversification of the suburban population such that it increasingly mirrors that of surviving urban centres, "many have downtown cores, thousands of jobs and even high-rise condominiums." In fact, what we broadly call suburbia has been in a constant state of transformation since the post-war double diaspora out of both city centres and rural villages radically transformed urban life. The archetype configuration of post-war residential suburbia is still being reproduced every day, albeit with densities now rivalling city neighbourhoods. But this continual suburban growth, now referred to simply as "sprawl" by planning professionals, politicians and critics (if not the development industry) has been significantly transformed by the intrusion of changing models for retail services and employment.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Focus mainly on sustainable transport to reduce emissions

The Star Online 
Monday July 5, 2010

THE Malaysian Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations (Mengo), a network of 20 civil society organisations working on sustainable development and environmental protection and conservation formed in 2001, organised a treasure hunt with a green theme which took place last week.
The event, officiated at by executive councillor for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment, Selangor Elizabeth Wong, was flagged off at Sekolah Kebangsaan (P) Methodist 1 in Brickfields.
One hundred and eighty people in groups of four participated in the Mengo Green Hunt which focused on sustainable lifestyles and green living concepts.

Tomorrow is Another Day for Atlanta’s Sustainable Transport

by Victoria Broadus
June 30, 2010
There’s still hope for sustainable transit around Peachtree Street.
On June 2, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue signed a comprehensive transport bill (HB 277) for the state, which we’re hoping will help Georgian cities – Atlanta, in particular – invest more in urban sustainable transport.
As The Economist highlighted last week, traffic in Atlanta is “purgatorial” on its best days and hellish all the rest.
Between 1987 and 2007, metro Atlanta’s population nearly doubled, from 2.6 million to 5 million, and in turn, the number of drivers during peak hours doubled, as well. By 2007, the 2.4 million drivers on Atlanta’s roads each day wasted a total of 135 million hours – and 96 million extra gallons of gasoline – stuck in traffic jams.
Georgia’s transit infrastructure hasn’t kept up. Between 2000 and 2006, Georgia was the third fastest-growing state, but it still ranks 49th in terms of infrastructure spending per capita.