If you build a city that is great for an eight-year-old and for an 80-year-old, then you build a city that is going to be great for everybody. They’re like an indicator species. We need to stop building cities as if everybody in them is 30 years old and athletic.

Gil Penalosa, the "pied piper for sustainable transportation," quoted in a Globe & Mail profile. 

Photo: The Atlantic Cities

Seen around town: Some straphangers lined up along the rainy block of West 4th ave & Vine earlier this week. 

If you don’t know what a straphanger is check out Taras Grescoe’s awesome book on the topic: www.tarasgrescoe.com/straphanger/about.html.

Seen around town: Some straphangers lined up along the rainy block of West 4th ave & Vine earlier this week.

If you don’t know what a straphanger is check out Taras Grescoe’s awesome book on the topic: www.tarasgrescoe.com/straphanger/about.html.


From Reuters:

The world’s urban areas will more than double in size by 2030, presenting an opportunity to build greener and healthier cities, a U.N. study showed on Monday. Simple planning measures such as more parks, trees or roof gardens could make cities less polluted and help protect plants and animals, especially in emerging nations led by China and India where city growth will be fastest, it said.

“Rich biodiversity can exist in cities and is extremely critical to people’s health and well-being,” wrote Thomas Elmqvist of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, scientific editor of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook.

The world’s urban population is expected to surge from just over 3.5 billion now to 4.9 billion by 2030, according to the assessment by the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity. At the same time, the area to be covered by cities will expand by 150 percent, it said.

“Most of this growth is expected to happen in small and medium-sized cities, not in megacities,” according to the report, issued to coincide with a U.N. meeting on biodiversity in Hyderabad, India. More green spaces in cities can filter dust and pollution and soak up heat-trapping carbon dioxide. Some studies have shown that the presence of trees can help reduce asthma and allergies for children living nearby, it said. And the study said that cities were also home to a wide range of animals and plants.

Check out the rest of the article here.

Related:

(Photo: The High Line)

From Greater Greater Washington:

The central fact about cars, from a planner’s perspective, is that they take up space. Lots of space. And this matters because space in cities (a.k.a real estate) is scarce and therefore expensive.

Cars take up space when they’re moving and they take up space when they’re parked, and even though they can’t be simultaneously moving and parked, you have to plan for both states and plan for peak demand; so you have to set aside some multiple of the real estate actually occupied by the car at any given time.

That’s just a practical observation about the spatial geometry of cities that doesn’t bow to my ideology or yours. And it would still remain true even if cars ran on nothing but recycled newspapers and emitted nothing but rainbows and unicorn tears.

In the past, our policy response has been to just set aside more and more space for cars: More freeways, more roads, more lanes on existing roads, more parking garages and surface lots. This approach hasn’t worked, and there are two very practical reasons why:

First, you can never build enough. There’s a phenomenon called "induced demand" that is very well understood by now. A new lane or a new freeway never reduces congestion in the long run: People respond to new capacity by driving more or by living or working in previously remote places, and you’re very quickly back where you started and have to build still more. The same phenomenon applies to increases in the supply of parking. It’s a game you can’t win.

Second, when you do make more space for cars you quickly start to crowd out any other potential mode of transportation, especially walking. All those parking lots and freeways and roads spread everything else out so that the distances become too great for walking. And the more you optimize any given space for cars the more hostile that space is for pedestrians. Very quickly you get to the point where it becomes impossible—or prohibitively depressing—to get things done on foot.

And this last fact has huge quality-of-life implications for human beings—not just because driving to a distant strip mall for a gallon of milk is less pleasant than walking to a corner store, but also because for many people driving simply isn’t an option.

Check out the rest of the article here

(Infographic source: Muenster Planning Office)

A look south from the rooftop of the innovative, mixed-use Woodwards complex here in Vancouver. The New York Times reported back in 2009:

Woodward’s, a 1.1-million-square-foot project with an inclusive design. The project, which is costing 500 million Canadian dollars (about $475 million), is one of the biggest redevelopments in city history.
It is also controversial — because of a tangled history and a high-stakes social engineering approach. “There is so much riding on this project,” said Ian Gillespie, chief executive of Westbank Projects, one of the developers. “Everyone sees it as a panacea for huge social problems.”
When completed in January, the project will encompass four interconnected buildings with a central atrium on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks from the business district.
It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.
“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.
The other project partners are the Peterson Investment Group, the city government and Simon Fraser. The site, which covers a full block, originally housed the Woodward’s department store, which closed in 1993. That building has a contentious past, including several failed development efforts and a three-month occupation by advocates for the homeless.

A look south from the rooftop of the innovative, mixed-use Woodwards complex here in Vancouver. The New York Times reported back in 2009:

Woodward’s, a 1.1-million-square-foot project with an inclusive design. The project, which is costing 500 million Canadian dollars (about $475 million), is one of the biggest redevelopments in city history.

It is also controversial — because of a tangled history and a high-stakes social engineering approach. “There is so much riding on this project,” said Ian Gillespie, chief executive of Westbank Projects, one of the developers. “Everyone sees it as a panacea for huge social problems.”

When completed in January, the project will encompass four interconnected buildings with a central atrium on the edge of the Downtown Eastside, just a few blocks from the business district.

It will feature 536 market-rate condominiums, 200 “affordable” rental units, a supermarket, a drugstore and Simon Fraser University’s School for Contemporary Arts. It will also have 31,500 square feet of office space for nonprofit organizations, 59,329 square feet of federal and city office space, a bank, a restaurant and a rooftop day care center.

“It is a microcosm of the city,” said the project architect, Gregory Henriquez.

The other project partners are the Peterson Investment Group, the city government and Simon Fraser. The site, which covers a full block, originally housed the Woodward’s department store, which closed in 1993. That building has a contentious past, including several failed development efforts and a three-month occupation by advocates for the homeless.