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Monday News Roundup

Oct 04, 2010

UBC researcher expresses streetcar desires (Vancouver Courier)
Silas Archambault, who studied the Olympic streetcar line for his master’s thesis in community and regional planning at UBC, said streetcars not only shape how neighbourhoods develop, but they also appeal to riders who might not catch a bus.

Building on Strengths (Planetizen)
In Lowell, Massachusetts, planner Jeff Speck painted a picture for locals of a transformed city that capitalizes on the strengths of the city to move forward with a greater vision.

Metro Rail: The Solution for India? (The City Fix)
According to Parisar, an environmental organization that works on sustainable development with a focus on urban transport, India is expected to spend 40 billion dollars in metro rail over the next 10 years.

A competition to transform 9,600 aging buildings (GOOD)
Metropolis magazine’s Next Generation competition is an annual showcase of bright ideas from emerging designers focused on a major sustainability challenge.

Fascinating slideshow of various landscapes (particularly sprawl) shot from a helicopter (Infrastructurist)
The New York Times Opinionator blog has a fascinating slideshow of the work of Christoph Gielen, a German-born photographer who has been shooting various landscapes — particularly, sprawl — from a helicopter for the past five years.

A free sparkling water fountain in Paris (GOOD)
The average person in France consumes about 40 gallons of bottled water each year. That means they’re buying and throwing away a lot of plastic. But what’s the alternative when they demand sparking water?

Cambridge parking tickets get yogic redesign (GOOD)
This fall, the city printed 40,000 tickets that feature “citation salutations“—illustrations of calming yoga poses for the driver and the parking enforcement officer to do together.

Two block diet turns Vancouver neighbours into urban villagers (Vancouver Sun)
Neighbours Kate Sutherland and Julia Hilton have hatched a mini-revolution that has transformed two blocks of east Vancouver into a true urban village.

Struggles for Olympic Village low-income housing (Vancouver Sun)
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said the city will proceed, if necessary, to find operators for social housing units at the Olympic village without the logistical assistance of the province.

Why is Portland so much cooler than Seattle? (PubliCola)
That is, of course, not an original observation, and if you’re among the throngs who are similarly puzzled, there’s an event this Friday evening that you ought not to miss. Alex Steffen’s sustainability non-profit Worldchanging is hosting a fundraiser, starring the mayors of Portland and Seattle, details here.

Saving shrinking cities (Huffington Post)
Now comes the ‘theory’ that the salvation of distressed cities is to once again ‘shrink,’ as if shrinking had been tried before and succeeded somewhere but who knows where.

Can anyone point to one city, just one, where any of these ‘renewal’ schemes have worked to regenerate, rather than further erode, a city? Just one. No theory please; just real on the ground success.

Map of commuting made worse by sprawl (GOOD)
Americans spend many hours in traffic each year, slowly crawling between work and home. And while most commutes are unpleasant, some are far more congested. Why? A new study by CEOs for Cities has found that what creates traffic jams isn’t more cars and fewer highways. It’s sprawl. This is a look at the 10 metropolitan areas whose citizens spend the most and least extra time in traffic due to sprawl.