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Posts Tagged ‘walkability’

Made for Walking (and other essential ingredients for a successful urban neighbourhood)

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on May 16th, 2013

From Made For Walking_Julia Campoli
Image from Made for Walking

From Not All Density Is Created Equal by Kaid Benfield:

“I just finished a very good – no, make that fantastic – book by Julie Campoli called Made for Walking, published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.  … Made for Walking isn’t so much about urban density as about the other things that we need in city neighborhoods – in addition to a level of density – to make city living attractive and sustainable. …

The heart of the book – comprising nearly a hundred pages – is a systematic review of twelve walkable neighborhoods in Denver, Columbus, Vancouver, Miami Beach, Toronto, Alexandria (Virginia), Albuquerque, Portland, Brooklyn, San Diego, Cambridge (Massachusetts), and Pasadena. …

For each, Campoli provides a context map, site maps illustrating neighborhood form and intersection density – the most statistically significant measure of how walkable a neighborhood is – multiple photos of the streetscape and neighborhood assets, measurements of neighborhood size, density and driving rates, and a discussion of what is going on in the neighborhood that adds to or limits its function for walking and sustainability. She likes them all, as do I.

For example, discussing Portland’s Pearl District, Campoli points out that the city has a goal of evolving a demographically mixed neighborhood, including families with children. This requires, she notes, investment in larger-unit, family-friendly homes; access to public amenities such as schools and nature; proximity to cultural resources such as libraries; and buffering from land uses that might be harmful to children. People in my environmental-group and smart-growth circles talk about this kind of thing, well, never. And yet it’s critical to a sustainable future, which is why I know about 50 people who need to read this book.”

Read the full article – there’s much more including sketches and photos – by Kaid Benfield on the Atlantic Cities site.


Density for healthier, resilient communities: Montreal

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on November 2nd, 2012


Photo BY Lloyd Alter CC 2.0

Check out Lloyd Alter’s commentary on Montreal as a model for more dense cities.

Of particular interest are the points he makes about using external staircases to release internal space for residential areas, and using moderate building heights to keep things walkable or, as Alter puts it, “resilient”, during power failures.

From the article:

…dense enough to support vibrant main streets with retail and services for local needs, but not too high that people can’t take the stairs in a pinch. Dense enough to support bike and transit infrastructure, but not so dense to need subways and huge underground parking garages. Dense enough to build a sense of community, but not so dense as to have everyone slip into anonymity.

>>Read the full article on Treehugger.


Edges and Social Spaces: City Design

Posted in Models, Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on September 28th, 2011

Source: Sustainable Cities Collective


Photo by Chuck Wolfe

From “Confronting the Urban Mirror” by Chuck Wolfe:

To my mind, one of the most compelling features of a provocative urban environment is a place where people watch people—which becomes a small-scale human observatory. Such places are often indicative of safe public environments, including active streets, corners and squares. They are particularly prevalent in cultures where neighbors readily interact, and the seams between public and private are softer than zoning setbacks, while still allowing for a private world.

[…]

The sustainable cities we seek should include small places, where, as here, when the bustle of life begins in the morning and evening, people interact with facets of the city around them. I suspect that workable density, in the city of the future, will abound with the types of spaces readily ascertainable from cities of the past. We need places where we sit on the edges of the public realm and look in the mirror, to be reminded of who we really are.

Read the full article and check out the delightful photos by Chuck Wolfe on Sustainable Cities Collective.

 


Pop-Up Placemaking

Posted in Movements, Visions by Kate Archdeacon on September 21st, 2011

Via Sustainable Cities Collective


Photo by John Niedermeyer via flickr CC

From “Cities rethink urban spaces with ‘pop-up’ projects” by Siri Agrell:

‘Pop-up’ urban planning gives cities the freedom to experiment with projects on a temporary basis, allowing innovative ideas a trial run without expensive commitment of taxpayer money. Cities around the world are embracing the idea, leading in many cases to permanent changes in the urban landscape.

If there is a reigning Queen of Pop-Up, it is Janette Sadik-Khan, the New York city transportation commissioner. In 2009, Ms. Sadik-Khan famously closed Times Square to traffic, transforming it into a pedestrian mall by simply throwing down some pylons and offering a smattering of lawn chairs. Although some drivers howled, Ms. Sadik-Khan was ready for the criticism, and began citing statistics she gathered by closely tracking the experiment.

The city quickly found that revenues from businesses in Times Square had risen 71 per cent, and that injuries to motorists and passengers in the project areas dropped 63 per cent. The city installed GPS units into 13,000 taxis so that the Department of Transportation could track the impact on car traffic, and found that northbound trips in the west midtown area around Times Square were actually 17 per cent faster.

The pop-up projects didn’t stop there. Ms. Sadik-Khan brought temporary public swimming pools onto Manhattan streets last summer, and, over the course of a single weekend, she turned a Brooklyn parking lot into a park by painting a white border and filling it in with green to represent grass. “It was a quick way of showing you can transform a space in a matter of hours instead of a matter of years,” she told Esquire magazine.

She performs most of her transformations without capital funds from the city, scrounging up cash and resources and avoiding actually asking permission.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has embraced the tactic, and now uses the term “pilot project” to introduce programs into other departments, including education, making them exempt from the usual approval processes.

Read the full article by Siri Agrell for The Globe and Mail.

For an interesting follow-up, read this March piece in the NY Times, outlining the difficulties faced by the city officials mentioned above. KA


Connecting Suburbs: A Walkable, Rideable Car-Free Bridge

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on August 31st, 2011

Source: Streetfilms via Going SolarTransport Newsletter


Photo by Mulad via flickr CC

From “Breathtaking Bike Infrastructure: Minnesota’s Martin Olav Sabo Bridge” by Clarence Eckerson, Jr.:

In 2007, in order to route cyclists away from a challenging 7-lane crossing on busy Hiawatha Avenue, Minneapolis built the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge. The first cable-stayed bridge of any kind in the state, it’s breathtaking, even to the people who have been riding it for years. It provides a safe, continuous crossing and offers up a glorious view of the downtown skyline (especially at sunset!). The sleek Hiawatha light rail line runs beneath it, and there are benches to sit on and take everything in.

Used by an average of 2,500 riders a day, peak use can hit 5,000 to 6,000 per day on some gorgeous summer weekends, according to Shaun Murphy of the Minneapolis Department of Public Works. The bridge was named in honor of Minneapolis’ Martin Olav Sabo, a former U.S. Representative from the 5th District who helped secure much of the $5 million needed to build it.

Thanks to the Bikes Belong Foundation for enabling us to feature this majestic piece of bike architecture and to show that investing is cycling and walking is well worth every penny for our communities.

Watch the Streetfilm of the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge.


Contested Streets: Breaking NY City Gridlock

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on July 20th, 2011

Source: Streetfilms via Going Solar

From “Contested Streets: Breaking New York City Gridlock” by Clarence Eckerson, Jr:

Produced in 2006 as part of the New York City Streets Renaissance Campaign, Contested Streets explores the history and culture of New York City streets from pre-automobile times to present. This examination allows for an understanding of how the city — though the most well served by mass transit in the United States — has slowly relinquished what was a rich, multi-dimensional conception of the street as a public space to a mindset that prioritizes the rapid movement of cars and trucks over all other functions.

Central to the story is a comparison of New York to what is experienced in London, Paris and Copenhagen. Interviews and footage shot in these cities showcase how limiting automobile use is in recent years has improved air quality, minimized noise pollution and enriched commercial, recreational and community interaction. London’s congestion pricing scheme, Paris’ BRT and Copenhagen’s bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure are all examined in depth.

New York City, though to many the most vibrant and dynamic city on Earth, still has lessons to learn from Old Europe.

Watch the film on Vimeo


Transport Emissions: Behaviour Change More Important Than Technology or Efficiency

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 28th, 2011


Image: icedsoul photography .:teymur madjderey via flickr CC

From “Behaviour change, not technology, is key to cutting vehicle emissions” by Nadya Anscombe:

When it comes to reducing emission from light-duty vehicles (LDV), researchers in the US have shown that technology alone is not the solution. In a paper published in Environmental Research Letters (ERL), Jalel Sager and colleagues from the University of California show that to meet greenhouse-gas emission and climate-reduction goals for the year 2050, the way in which we use LDVs has to change.

Co-author Daniel Kammen told environmentalresearchweb: “Reducing LDV emissions is often thought of as a technological challenge, with efforts going into the development of more efficient cars or fuels that produce fewer greenhouse gases per unit energy. However, by decomposing transport-sector emissions into technological and behavioural drivers, we show that even significant technological advances will be insufficient to meet climate goals, unless the growth in LDV use slows or reverses.”

To quantify the carbon dioxide mitigation challenge for the transport sector, the researchers surveyed 2007 LDV usage and fuel economy in an economically diverse set of countries. They found that the large differences in per capita LDV greenhouse-gas emissions (range: ˜100–4000 kg of carbon dioxide equivalent per year) are principally explained by differing national per_capita LDV use (range: 300–13,000 vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) per year), rather than to fleet average fuel-efficiency and carbon-intensity factors, which reflect the broadly similar car technology worldwide.

The researchers forecast that meeting greenhouse-gas targets through technology developments alone would require universal deployment of one or more of the following clusters: electric vehicles running on nearly zero-carbon electricity, cellulosic biofuel-powered vehicles achieving 300 miles per gallon (0.78 l per 100 km), or gasoline-fuelled vehicles achieving in excess of 1000 mpg (0.24 l per 100 km).

“These performance levels exceed even the most optimistic technology scenarios for the year 2050,” said Kammen. “This shows that reducing greenhouse gases emitted by LDVs is a behavioural issue, not a technological one.”

Kammen cites several success stories of cities that have relatively low greenhouse-gas emissions from LDVs because of relatively compact urban development. For example, citizens of Hong Kong, Seville, Turin, Valencia, Lisbon, Bologna, and Moscow use between 5,000 and 11,000 MJ per capita per year for travel through these relatively compact areas, with more than half of all trips taken by foot, bicycle or public transport. Meanwhile, in cities with higher personal vehicle use, such as Chicago, Houston, San Diego or Washington, inhabitants use 44,000 to 86,000 MJ per capita per year, with less than 16% of all journeys accomplished through non-motorized or public means.

As well as improved urban planning and public transport, the researchers say that pricing policies and parking and congestion fees have also been shown to influence travel behaviour. Steadily increasing fuel taxes have proven especially useful in many developed countries, for example Germany, in reducing VKT and encouraging automakers to increase fuel efficiency over time. They point out that “the US, with some of the lowest fuel taxes in the developed world, seems ripe for such a measure”.

“There are so many opportunities available to us to reduce our greenhouse gases from LDVs,” said Kammen. “The question is, can we implement them quickly enough?”

Read Nadya Anscombe’s article (and associated links) on Environmental Research Web.


Flexible Paving Harvests Pedestrian Footprints as Energy

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 4th, 2011

Source: EcoVoice


From “Human power generates new business energy” by Richard Maino:

Go for a walk and help power your town or city. That could happen soon on the streets, according to a UK inventor who says a paving stone in a busy area is stepped on by more than 50,000 pedestrians every day. To harness that power, young graduate Laurence Kemball-Cook came up with the idea of the energy-harvesting floor tile he calls Pavegen. It is the first device of its kind to capture this energy and transform it into electricity. When fitted in heavily pedestrianised areas it can power street lights and bus shelters, providing localised energy independence.

Pavegen is celebrating a contract for the massive Westfield shopping centre on the site of the London 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games as well as its first permanent installation in a school walkway. Some seven million people are expected to walk through Westfield in the two weeks of the 2012 Games and all of them will step on Pavegen tiles. The tiles are made of 100 per cent recycled rubber from old tyres. Every time someone steps on one, it flexes a dynamo technology that stores the kinetic energy produced. The tile glows to show pedestrians they are creating power. The footfall energy could power street lighting, information signage and other applications that spring into life when people approach them.

The tiles can be used almost anywhere. Pupils at a boys’ school in Canterbury, southern England, are now lighting up a corridor simply by walking through it. And the Pavegen tiles will also help the Olympic site’s Westfield shopping centre to meet its stringent targets for environmental sustainability, making it one of the greenest shopping arenas.

[…]

Flexing just five millimetres, the Pavegen slabs absorb the kinetic energy produced by every footstep, creating 4-10 watts of electricity. The energy is stored in the slabs in a battery for up to three days or distributed to nearby street lights, information displays and even electrical appliances such as computers and fridges.   The energy generated from five slabs can illuminate a bus-stop throughout the night and, with heavy use, a Pavegen installation could pay for itself within two years, with each slab targeted to have a five-year lifespan.  The technology is suitable for indoor use and Pavegen is finalising the design for the outdoor units. Only five per cent of the footfall energy goes to the low-energy LED lamp to make the tile glow, while the remaining 95 per cent powers the tile’s environs.

Read the full article by Richard Maino.


Wayfinding for Walkability

Posted in Models, Research by Kate Archdeacon on April 18th, 2011

Source: Sustainable Cities Collective


Image: Martin Deutsch via flickr CC

From “Will London’s New Wayfinding System Get More People Walking?” by This Big City:

If you’ve walked through Covent Garden, Southbank or Oxford Street recently, the chances are you will have stumbled across the funky new Legible London pedestrian signs installed by Transport for London (TfL). These sleek, stylish ‘monoliths’ have been sprouting up all over the capital during the last year.  Each monolith is strategically placed and has:

  • An easy-to-read map that is orientated to the users point of view;
  • 5 and 15 minute walking distances;
  • 3D drawings of key shops and buildings in the area.

Changing Londoners’ mental maps
The thinking behind the new system is to encourage more people to walk around London instead of driving or using already overcrowded public transport. By catching people at key decision points – such as tube stations – and providing them with the right information on walking times and local attractions, it is hoped that they will choose to walk.
According to TfL, information really is key in achieving modal shift. Research found that most Londoners mental map of London is based on the tube map which is geographically distorted and can be very misleading. For instance there are over 100 connections on the underground where its quicker to walk than take the tube! Legible London maps will often show users that their destination is closer and more walkable than they think.

A city of villages
To provide Londoners with a coherent wayfinding system, the Legible London designers have broken the city down into three key spatial hierarchies:

  • Areas: ‘broad areas of the city’ such as the West End;
  • Villages: ‘commonly used names’ which Londoners use to quickly connect one part of the city to another;
  • Neighbourhoods: there are several neighbourhoods in each village.

TfL believe that this process of breaking places down, helps pedestrians to explore and find their way around the city:

As you become more familiar with a particular place, the more you can keep sub-dividing it into smaller, linked pieces, creating a more detailed mental map.

Read the full article by This Big City on Sustainable Cities Collective.


Complete Streets: Urban Design for all Users

Posted in Movements by Kate Archdeacon on April 9th, 2010

Source: Grist


Image: digiart2001 via flickr CC

From “Towns invest in smarter streets … in Mississippi” by Jonathan Hiskes

Two Mississippi towns want better options than auto-only streets, and now they’ve made it official. The towns of Tupelo (pop. 36,223) and Hernando (pop. 6,812) each passed Complete Streets legislation that ensures roads will be built and maintained for walkers, cyclists, and other forms of transportation—along with drivers.  This week St. Louis citizens voted to fund better mass transit. Now this in Mississippi—this stuff is getting around. Towns of these sizes don’t build a lot of transit infrastructure, so sidewalks, bike paths, and road safety features are all the better.

The National Complete Streets Coalition works to promote what its name suggests—streets designed for more than one use, and ones that work for children, seniors, wheelchair users, and sidewalk retailers. It’s fiscally responsible, says walkability guru Dan Burden.  “The big win for city government is that anything built to a walkable scale leases out for three to five times more money, with more tax revenue on less infrastructure,” he said in a news release.

Note that this is all about happier, healthier, and safer living. It just so happens to be sustainable, but you don’t even have to use environmental selling points if they’re too distracting.

From “Towns invest in smarter streets … in Mississippi” by Jonathan Hiskes for Grist.