Items of interest in early October

2009/10/03

Benoit Gratton’s Montréalites du jour links to a great article by François Cardinal in La Presse.  An earlier article in La Presse featured some ‘non-evidence-based’ commentary from a couple of physicians, who did their best to characterize urban cycling as increasingly unsafe and generally psychotic.  Cardinal notes that the stats don’t back up the fear, and pens a pretty good piece on urban cycling in the process.

Richard Layman links to a jaw-dropping NYT piece on how Westchester kids get to school.  Layman keeps it reasonable and makes the very good point that large schools need integrated travel planning on a school-board (if not a state) level.  The quote par excellence from the article: “Laura Lampel, for one, is aware that the principal doesn’t want her to drive her daughter to school. But the bus is not an option, she says, because it arrives at 7:25 — only eight minutes before first period. Her daughter needs more time than that to get to her locker, so Ms. Lampel strives to drop her off by 7:10 at the latest.”  Wow.  Really?

Joop de Boer at the Pop-Up City has compiled the ‘planning’ videos for the four 2016 Olympics candidates.  Very interesting, and congratulations to Rio.  After watching their ‘pitch’ videos, compiled at Brand Avenue, I have to say that Rio blew the others out of the water.  I didn’t do any kind of review of their technical bid books or anything, and perhaps Rio has some big challenges with respect to equity and infrastructure, but their pitch video blew the others out of the water.  Watch Rio’s – listen to the music and their emphasis on the sounds of the city – and then tolerate the wooden formula of the others.  Interestingly, a private beach appears to have become de rigueur for Olympic Villages these days.  I suppose ours in Vancouver kind of does that, too…

If I was in Montreal on Sunday (sigh), I would go to this event, posted by Neath at Walking Turcot Yards.

Kaid Benfield at the NRDC does a good job summarizing some analysis done by Bike Pittsburgh of the latest American Community Survey data on mode of transport to work.  Pittsburgh does well on these lists – along with Chicago, it’s pretty much the only other Midwestern city where use of alternatives to the car appear legitimate and popular.  Canadian cities stack up pretty well if compared to these lists, but have trouble touching New York, Boston, and Washington in terms of commuting without cars.

In Vancouver, CityCaucus seizes on the opening of a new wind turbine at Grouse Mountain to take another swipe at the community garden built by the Vision administration at Vancouver city hall.  It’s a bit of a stretch, though I suppose that they’re both largely symbolic gestures.  CityCaucus finds it ironic that the sustainability intervention most likely to garner attention during the Olympics (in addition to the wind turbine, Grouse will also host NBC’s Today show) is a private initiative, while the publicly funded ‘Gregor’s garden’ will be in muddy hibernation.  A true state of affairs, but really – isn’t the real irony building a wind turbine and then leaving the lights on all night, every night?  Even when the night skiing ended in the spring?

And finally, the Urbanophile does a bang-up job (as usual) highlighting the absurd ways in which planning throws up obstacles to making better urban places:  “Virtually every piece of planning regulation I see acts to discourage urbanization and especially to reduce densities below market demand.”  The Urbanophile is great reading and really well balanced between urban and suburban perspectives – Aaron is definitely not an ideologue or wedded to any one solution, so to read such a screed from that source is enlightening.  The City of Toronto’s planning department is even called out for refusing approval to a condo project with no parking.  Speaking of parking, Sightline has a great piece calling on the right-wing/conservative think tanks of the Pacific Northwest to stick to their guns when it comes to parking regulations.

Hopefully I can keep my act together consistently enough to make this sort of round-up a weekly affair, enjoy the links!

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