Resilient Communities: ‘Brixton in Transition’ (Video)

From Al Jazeera English:

In the last part of earthrise's economics special, Russell Beard travels to the inner-London neighbourhood of Brixton to meet a community trialling an alternative economic model - one that values people and planet, as well as profit. Brixton is part of the growing Transition Town movement - a worldwide network of people who are re-shaping their local economies to cut carbon emissions and build stronger communities.

Residents have started a local currency - the largest in the UK - to stimulate sustainable, local production and help make their economy more resilient to financial shocks. The Brixton Pound can only be spent with independent businesses in the area and is now accepted in around 200 outlets.

They have also begun to generate their own energy through the UK’s first inner-city renewable energy co-operative. So far Brixton Energy has installed 152 solar panels on the roof of a council estate, funded by over 100 local people. Profits from the electricity generation are shared between investors and a community energy efficiency fund for residents of the estate.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

Infographic | Climate Change & Cities: ’Forget Superheroes: Local Government to the Rescue’
From The Carbon Disclosure Project:

In 2011 CDP Cities collected climate change data from 48 cities around the world. Our first ever infographic celebrates the actions taken by local governments to ensure that cities remain safe places to live and do business despite the effects of climate change. 

More here.

Infographic | Climate Change & Cities: ’Forget Superheroes: Local Government to the Rescue’

From The Carbon Disclosure Project:

In 2011 CDP Cities collected climate change data from 48 cities around the world. Our first ever infographic celebrates the actions taken by local governments to ensure that cities remain safe places to live and do business despite the effects of climate change. 

More here.

From The Economist:

For years urban planners have emphasised the needs of the motorist over those of the pedestrian. Thanks partly to greenery, partly to a greater understanding of how pedestrians behave, and partly to concerns about social cohesion, priorities are changing.

London provides two good example of this shift. On February 1st Exhibition Road, a landmark street near many of the city’s museums, is being formally reopened after a three-year construction project to turn it into something that transport engineers like to call a “shared space”. Kerbs have been stripped out, along with the usual road markings, to create a thoroughfare that is designed to be shared by cyclists, pedestrians and cars alike. The idea, adopted from continental Europe, is to create an area which is not just more pleasant for people on foot but also safer because it encourages drivers to pay closer attention to their surroundings. 

Less experimentally, big improvements have already been made to Oxford Circus, one of the city’s busiest intersections. The junction between Oxford Street and Regent Street sees as many as 40,000 people pass through every hour, and only 2,000 vehicles. Until 2009, however, pedestrians came well down the pecking order. In the language of planners, pedestrians were unable to follow their desire lines, the paths they want to take as opposed to the ones they are meant to. At Oxford Circus, giving rein to people’s desire lines has meant ripping out guard railings that hemmed pedestrians in and allowing people to cross the junction diagonally as well as from side to side (a feature known as a pedestrian scramble). 

Check out the rest of the article here. The Independent’s 'Walk on the wild side: Pedestrians could soon be on equal footing with cars' and the Guardian’s 'Exhibition Road, London - review' both profile the pedestrianization project and are worth a look.

(Photo credit: The Guardian)

From TriplePundit:

Resilient cities, those that are working to transition towards a low-carbon economy while also preparing to avert the worst of climate change, are gaining interest and attention from policy makers, city councils and others worldwide. In fact, today, leaders from the public and private sector, supported by ICLEI (see below) and the U.S. Green Building Council, are launching a National Leadership Speaker Series on Resiliency and Security in the 21st Century.

“The battle to prevent catastrophic climate change will be won or lost in our cities…” (C40 Cities Initiative)

Cities account for up to 80% of GHG emissions globally and are home to more than 50% of the world’s population (headed to 60%, 5 billion people by 2030). As I mentioned in my previous post, if we refocus our efforts on the right solutions soon enough, we can mitigate the worst of climate change while actually improving our city economies and growing corporate profits.  Hunter Lovins and I recently published a book entitled Climate Capitalism to share stories of cities and companies around the world who are profiting from that transition to the low carbon economy. Furthermore, the longer we wait the more we will have to pay for adaptation.

The Top 10 Resilient Cities Are….

10.) Tokyo, Japan

9.) London, UK

8.) New York, USA 

7.) San Francisco, USA

6.) Paris, France

5.) Vancouver, Canada

4.) Stockholm, Sweden

3.) Barcelona, Spain

2.) Curitiba, Brazil

1.) Copenhagen, Denmark

You can check out the runners up and why each city ranked where it did here.

From the Guardian:

There are beehives all over our cities, on office rooftops, in parks and allotments, and in school grounds and urban backyards. Some of our most famous landmarks host hives; Buckingham Palace, Tate Modern and Fortnum & Mason.

"By keeping just one hive you are immediately introducing 50,000 pollinators into an urban area and that can have a huge impact on the environment. I like the idea of doing something as an unfettered individual when most of the time we can’t seem to affect any of the sad things that are happening to the earth," she says.

After a ban was overturned in 2010, more than 100 people have hives in parks, above restaurants and at work in New York. “It is a special way to connect with nature,” says 27-year-old lawyer Vivian Wang, who keeps hives 12 storeys above mid-town Manhattan.

In Melbourne, Australia, the city beekeepers’ association is full to capacity with 160 members and has had to turn away potential new recruits.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Forty years ago, London and Copenhagen had similar ratios of car to bicycle use, and both faced an exodus of workers moving out of the centre and into the suburbs. But after the energy crises of the 1970s, the two cities diverged. Danes were restricted in how much they could use their cars and commuters began to campaign for a better infrastructure for cyclists. Today, there are almost 200 miles of bicycle lanes in the city, and 40 per cent of its 1.8 million inhabitants cycle to work. The city has evolved cyclist-friendly policies, such as the Green Wave – a sequence of favourable traffic signals for cyclists at rush hour.

The key, it seems, is getting women cycling because only then has cycling become part of the mainstream. A recent poll by Sustrans, the UK cycling pressure group, asked women cyclists what would get them on to bikes and the answer was simple: better infrastructure, more bike lanes. Copenhagen’s separate, raised bike lanes with their own traffic signals are a must. And the lesson learnt from Gehl’s study is that infrastructure has to come first. Once it is in place, the message, says Colville-Andersen, is simple: “You don’t tell them it’s healthier to cycle, you don’t tell them they’re saving the planet, you just say that it is the fastest way from A to B. And they will come.

~ A couple of key paragraphs from The Independent’s 'On your bike: What the world can learn about cycling from Copenhagen'. Scientific American’s 'How to Get More Bicyclists on the Road' is another worthy read on the topic and also points to the importance of women in increasing urban cycling rates.

(Photo credit: Copenhagenize)

From Reuters:

Public bicycle sharing schemes such as Barcelona’s “Bicing" program or London’s "Boris Bikes" save lives and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a study on Friday.

Bike schemes are becoming increasingly popular in cities around the world, with more than 360 already running, but their main aim is usually to ease congestion rather than boost health. 

Researchers at the Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona found in a study, however, that around 9,000 tons of carbon dioxide pollution are averted and some 12 lives saved each year by Barcelona’s scheme, which was introduced in March 2007.

“Active transport policies such as bike sharing systems promote physical activity among the population and are a good means to improve public health and also reduce expenses in public health services,” said David Rojas-Rueda, whose study was published in the British Medical Journal.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week and says this could be done by walking for 30 minutes five times per week, or by cycling to work every day.

The researchers said this initial assessment suggested it was important “to encourage cities to change car use by cycling and stimulate the implementation of bike sharing systems in cities to improve the health of the population.”

Check out the rest of the article, including details about London and Barcelona’s bike share systems, here. For an overview of the rapid growth of bike sharing programs around the world take a look at National Geographic’s recent article, 'Bike share Schemes Shift Into High Gear'. Ride on!

(Photo credit: Inhabitat)

Biking BIG in the City! 
There be bikes in the city. Lots of ‘em.
In London, England:

Cyclists have for the first time outnumbered motorists on some of the country’s busiest commuter routes during the rush hour.
On Cheapside, a street in the City of London, cycles make up more  than 50 percent of the commuter traffic, according to official data, and  account for up to 42 percent of traffic on Southwark Bridge across the  Thames. In one Bristol suburb more than one in four people cycle to  work. …
The surge in the number of people switching to two wheels is likely to be even greater than the new figures suggest.
Most of the data was compiled before July 2010, when 5,500 rental bikes were introduced and the first two “cycle-superhighways" — distinctive blue cycle lanes — were opened by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.
… (Sunday Times via Cyclists in the City)

In Montreal, Canada, soaring daily bike ridership is creating traffic jams on the city’s bike paths:

It was no surprise to anyone who drives or cycles regularly in   Montreal’s central neighbourhoods to learn that the proportion of adult   cyclists using bicycles for transportation in this city has more than   doubled in the past decade, as a recent Vélo Québec report showed.
But  the sheer number of cyclists using the most popular paths daily —  such  as Rachel, Brébeuf, Milton and de Maisonneuve Blvd. — has experts   calling for measures to curb a problem that many of us took to our  bikes  to avoid: congestion.
…
Some of the most popular Montreal bike paths, like the ones along   Berri and Brébeuf Sts., are getting more than 7,000 users on some days.   Cycling safety experts say it’s time for the city to consider some   measures to avoid congestion of cyclists at intersections and improve   safety:
— Install priority turn signals for cyclists
— Synchronize traffic lights to cycling speeds on heavily cycled routes
— Raise or paint intersections where bike paths cross major arteries to improve visibility
— Install bike boxes, where cyclists can fan out across the roadway, side by side, ahead of the vehicle stop line
— If a bike route is saturated, build a safe alternative on a nearby parallel street
— Do not allow parking beside bike paths near intersections
… (Montreal Gazette)

And, in the USA:

Over the past few years, simple   infrastructure improvements (bike paths, lanes, etc) making it more   convenient and safe for people to bike and walk have been constructed   coast-to-coast. Cities from New York to Minneapolis to San Francisco   have enjoyed 100 percent or more increases in the number of people   biking to work, school and shopping.
Smaller  cities from Greenville, South Carolina, to North Little Rock,  Arkansas  to Long Beach, California are now following suit. Creating  better  conditions for biking and walking is one proven innovation to  cushion  us from the economic upheaval of high gas prices.
… (Alternet)

Ride on!
(Photo credit: I Bike London)

Biking BIG in the City!

There be bikes in the city. Lots of ‘em.

In London, England:

Cyclists have for the first time outnumbered motorists on some of the country’s busiest commuter routes during the rush hour.

On Cheapside, a street in the City of London, cycles make up more than 50 percent of the commuter traffic, according to official data, and account for up to 42 percent of traffic on Southwark Bridge across the Thames. In one Bristol suburb more than one in four people cycle to work. …

The surge in the number of people switching to two wheels is likely to be even greater than the new figures suggest.

Most of the data was compiled before July 2010, when 5,500 rental bikes were introduced and the first two “cycle-superhighways" — distinctive blue cycle lanes — were opened by Boris Johnson, the mayor of London.

… (Sunday Times via Cyclists in the City)

In Montreal, Canada, soaring daily bike ridership is creating traffic jams on the city’s bike paths:

It was no surprise to anyone who drives or cycles regularly in Montreal’s central neighbourhoods to learn that the proportion of adult cyclists using bicycles for transportation in this city has more than doubled in the past decade, as a recent Vélo Québec report showed.

But the sheer number of cyclists using the most popular paths daily — such as Rachel, Brébeuf, Milton and de Maisonneuve Blvd. — has experts calling for measures to curb a problem that many of us took to our bikes to avoid: congestion.

Some of the most popular Montreal bike paths, like the ones along Berri and Brébeuf Sts., are getting more than 7,000 users on some days. Cycling safety experts say it’s time for the city to consider some measures to avoid congestion of cyclists at intersections and improve safety:

— Install priority turn signals for cyclists

— Synchronize traffic lights to cycling speeds on heavily cycled routes

— Raise or paint intersections where bike paths cross major arteries to improve visibility

— Install bike boxes, where cyclists can fan out across the roadway, side by side, ahead of the vehicle stop line

— If a bike route is saturated, build a safe alternative on a nearby parallel street

— Do not allow parking beside bike paths near intersections

… (Montreal Gazette)

And, in the USA:

Over the past few years, simple infrastructure improvements (bike paths, lanes, etc) making it more convenient and safe for people to bike and walk have been constructed coast-to-coast. Cities from New York to Minneapolis to San Francisco have enjoyed 100 percent or more increases in the number of people biking to work, school and shopping.

Smaller cities from Greenville, South Carolina, to North Little Rock, Arkansas to Long Beach, California are now following suit. Creating better conditions for biking and walking is one proven innovation to cushion us from the economic upheaval of high gas prices.

… (Alternet)

Ride on!

(Photo credit: I Bike London)