July 23, 2014
"Much like the flower, for many of us, to love nature is to destroy it. We move from the city to the suburb or the rural town to be closer to nature, and to make it habitable (for us) we clear-cut it for new development, pave it over and turn woods and grasslands into manicured lawns, pollute it with our vehicles, etc. In our efforts to possess a small slice of “nature,” we change the meaning of the word, leaving us with something beautiful, perhaps, but far from natural. This strain of thinking is very popular in places like the Bay Area, where there’s a belief that we have to sharply limit development in cities in order to preserve some semblance of nature — ”how can a place so gray possibly be green?” But environmentalism is about much more than surrounding ourselves with greenery; in fact, its true meaning is exactly the opposite. Real environmentalism means surrounding ourselves with steel, concrete, and other human beings, leaving nature to itself instead of attempting to own it and shape it to our own selfish needs. What makes cities so important is that they allow us to express our love and appreciation for nature in a healthy way: from a distance, as a societal and environmental resource that can be preserved far into the future."

Why People Who Love Nature Should Live Apart From It | Streetsblog.net

May 28, 2014
"Global warming should be a top priority in the wake of recent reports. The United States is already facing wide and severe effects of climate change, such as sea-level rise, heat waves, flooding, droughts and wildfires. Without changes in how we live, things will only worsen. If American commuters biked as much as those in Amsterdam, our future would be brighter.
What we desperately need is more people living in dense areas and traveling in ways that don’t burn fossil fuels, as Edward Glaeser explains in the Triumph of the City:
Manhattan and downtown London and Shanghai, not suburbia, are the real friends of the environment. Nature lovers who live surrounded by trees and grass consume much more energy than their urban counterparts. …. If the environmental footprint of the average suburban home is a size 15 hiking boot, the environmental footprint of a New York apartment is a stiletto-heel size 6 Jimmy Choo. Traditional cities have fewer carbon emissions because they don’t require vast amounts of driving.
Bike commuting can also tackle another American woe — obesity. Between office jobs and commuting via cars, American lives are sedentary. Embracing bike commuting would make the country more active and healthier."

America forgot about bikes. Now it needs them more than ever.

April 28, 2014
"Unfortunately, our state and federal policies continue to encourage the opposite. Sprawl didn’t just happen — it is a direct consequence of “big government.” Cities don’t keep the wealth they generate: Our major cities send billions more in tax dollars to the suburbs, via state and federal coffers, than they get back. The largest subsidy in the federal system is the mortgage interest deduction, about $100 billion annually. Gas taxes don’t begin to reflect the costs incurred by automobile use, from pollution to depressed land values around highways. Continue reading the main story
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By contrast, urban mass transit, school systems, parks, affordable housing and even urban welfare recipients receive crumbs relative to the vastness of government largess showered on suburbia. Is it any wonder that in bustling, successful American cities, our subways remain old, our public housing dilapidated and our schools subpar? I am not arguing that people should not live in suburbs. But we shouldn’t pay them to do so, particularly now that our world and the desires of our population are evolving. This need not be a divisive debate. With millions of Americans already gravitating toward cities, the real question is what it means for our collective future, and how we respond."

America’s Urban Future - NYTimes.com

April 25, 2014
"But we need to recognize what’s really going on: that what we call “gentrification” these days is only one facet of the much larger issue of economic segregation. That people get priced out of the places they already live in is only half of the problem. The other half, which affects an order of magnitude more people, is that people can’t move to the neighborhoods to which they’d like to move, and are stuck in places with worse schools, more crime, and inferior access to jobs and amenities like grocery stores. That problem is easier to ignore for a variety of reasons, but it’s no less of a disaster. And all this, in turn, is the result of a curiously dysfunctional housing system – one that’s set up to allow market forces to push up prices without regard for people who might be excluded, and to prevent market forces from building more homes and mitigating that exclusion. It’s that combination, with an assist from generations of rotten and racist urban policies, that makes economic segregation so widespread and pernicious. It also explains why it’s growing so quickly – faster, even, than economic inequality. And it’s why none of your personal decisions about where or how to live will have any effect on gentrification. Being considerate to your neighbors might make you a good person, but I’d like to suggest that you have another kind of responsibility: to be aware of these underlying systemic processes and use what social and political power you have to change them. The exact solutions can be debated, but I would start by lobbying your local government for housing subsidies for the low-income, protections against eviction due to rising rents, and an end to exclusionary caps on housing construction that keep prices artificially high"

There’s Basically No Way Not to Be a Gentrifier - Daniel Hertz - The Atlantic Cities

February 23, 2014
Book Review: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson

Book Review: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston by Michael Rawson

Author: Michael Rawson
Title: Eden on the Charles: The Making of Boston
Publication Info: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, c2010.
ISBN: 9780674048416
Summary/Review:

This wonderfully researched and well-written history, explores the making of Boston by focusing on the social and environmental factors that shaped the city, its human ecology.  There are five sections of the book:

1.…

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February 12, 2014
Four reasons US business leaders want to import Danish-style cycling | Guardian Sustainable Business | theguardian.com

January 20, 2014
"It seems to me that if we are repeating the struggle of the 1920s between motoring interests and city interests, then we should take heed of the lessons of the twentieth century. Grade separation does not work for city streets. The promotion of vehicle speed, over the safety and access of pedestrians, only leads to desolation and abandonment of the city. The police cannot be trusted to judiciously apply “pedestrian law” and it doesn’t make sense anyway: nobody was ever killed by a speeding pedestrian. The more appropriate path is the one that was unwisely abandoned in the 1920s: the recognition that on city streets, speed is anathema to safety. Socially, many people are coming to realize that the old way is the best way forward: the proliferation of safe street, complete street, livable street movements is testament to that. However, the law still enshrines the dangerous twentieth century dalliance with speed at the expense of safety, and the slur “jaywalker” is still considered valid jargon for use by public figures. It may be the only such slur. Changes in concrete take time, but changes in terminology need not. Police resources should not be used as a weapon against walking. For one thing, it strikes at the heart of the city, which is the vitality of its walking population. For another, pedestrians have enough danger to contend with already: protecting themselves from heedless motor vehicle drivers who cannot be bothered to respect even the little scraps of street space the law grants to people on foot. Deploying police action against pedestrians is radically unjust, and an all too tempting case for abuse, as the NYPD demonstrated yesterday. After all, catching pedestrians is a lot easier than catching speeding motorists, because pedestrians pose no threat to anyone’s safety. The penalty for misjudging the speed of a vehicle is already quite steep—-injury or death—-and a citation is simply heaping insult on top of that. On the other hand, everyone knows that the vast majority of reckless driving goes unpunished, and the penalty relatively toothless in comparison with the potential devastation wreaked. Boston, in particular, has a major difference from many other counterpart cities: the extensive usage of “beg buttons” and the very poor programming of pedestrian signals and infrastructure. The status of Boston as a “walking city” is despite the infrastructure: because people have learned to routinely dismiss the signals as untrustworthy. Even BTD Commissioner Jim Gillooly has admitted that he does not really expect pedestrians to wait for the signal, and he personally does not either. So, Boston’s status as a good walking city is largely dependent upon the choice of the powers-that-be not to enforce the anti-pedestrian regulations on the books. New Mayor Marty Walsh has had a mixed record in his former job, the state legislature. While he has promoted bills which would reduce speed limits in urban areas, he has also pushed for doubling of penalties upon pedestrians, quite a regressive measure. Going forward, I hope that he chooses to distinguish himself from Mayor Bill de Blasio, by choosing methods of bringing safety to our streets that do not include pedestrian discrimination: walking should not be a crime, and making it so will only lead to conflict and disaster."

The Walking Bostonian: The term “jaywalker” is a slur

December 29, 2013
Book Review: Walkable City by Jeff Speck

Book Review:

Author: Jeff Speck
TitleWalkable City
Publication Info: New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, c2012.
ISBN: 9780374285814
Summary/Review:

A city planner by trade, Speck is aware of what works and doesn’t work in creating and maintaining thriving…

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December 16, 2013
"A comprehensive new analysis of government data demonstrates that Americans are driving less per person, and taking transit more, both overall and in a strong majority of our large metro areas. Especially because the new report is consistent with a multitude of information showing changes in living patterns and lifestyle preferences, we should shift more public resources into transit, to keep up with and strengthen the trends toward more sustainable modes of transportation. This is not to say that a majority of Americans don’t drive (including yours truly, to an extent), of course; we’ve built so much sprawl that many people have little choice. But we are becoming more multi-modal every day. We need to evolve our communities so that they become more suited to alternative modes, including walking and bicycling as well as transit, so that more Americans have more choices. And, where options do exist, we need to support and maintain them better in order to reduce carbon emissions, other forms of pollution, and automobile-dependent land uses."

Transit Investment and Changing Urbanism | Sustainable Cities Collective

October 15, 2013
"There are lots of reasons to charge city drivers for street parking. Street space belongs to everyone, competition for spots causes congestion, underpriced parking encourages driving — the list goes on. As private car owners benefit from these curbside subsidies, it’s the public welfare that suffers. Things aren’t so bad on commercial streets, where drivers have been perfectly willing to pay for a spot. Several U.S. cities have started to charge market-rate street prices in business districts with great success. But commercial parking makes up only a sliver of all city street space; in New York, for instance, commercial meters account for just 2 percent of the street-parking stock, whereas residential spots account for most of the rest. That’s a problem, because city drivers are traditionally unwilling to pay for a spot on a residential street. Some cities do require residential parking permits, but the fees tend to be nominal (the U.S. high is about $100 a year) and don’t reflect proper value of the space. Public officials tend to view residential street parking charges as a political poison. This conventional wisdom stops most cities from raising residential permit rates. But while it may describe the mindsets of many city drivers, it doesn’t apply to all of them. In an upcoming issue of Transport Policy, transport researchers Zhan Guo of New York University and Simon McDonnell of the City University of New York report that roughly 53 percent of New Yorkers are willing to pay something for residential street spaces — and this something averaged about $400 a year:"

Why Drivers Should Pay to Park on Residential Streets - Eric Jaffe - The Atlantic Cities

September 18, 2013
"1) Protected bike lanes increase retail visibility and volume. It turns out that when people use bikes for errands, they’re the perfect kind of retail customer: the kind that comes back again and again. They spend as much per month as people who arrive in cars, require far less parking while they shop and are easier to lure off the street for an impulse visit. 2) Protected bike lanes make workers healthier and more productive. From Philadelphia to Chicago to Portland, the story is the same: people go out of their way to use protected bike lanes. By drawing clear, safe barriers between auto and bike traffic, protected bike lanes get more people in the saddle — burning calories, clearing the mental cobwebs, and strengthening hearts, hips and lungs. 3) Protected bike lanes make real estate more desirable. By calming traffic and creating an alternative to auto travel lanes, protected bike lanes help build the sort of neighborhoods that everyone enjoys walking around in. By extending the geographic range of non-car travel, bike lanes help urban neighborhoods develop without waiting years for new transit service to show up. 4) Protected bike lanes help companies score talented workers. Workers of all ages, but especially young ones, increasingly prefer downtown jobs and nearby homes, the sort of lifestyles that make city life feel like city life. Because protected bike lanes make biking more comfortable and popular, they help companies locate downtown without breaking the bank on auto parking space, and allow workers to reach their desk the way they increasingly prefer: under their own power."

Four Ways Protected Bike Lanes Benefit Businesses | Streetsblog.net

August 7, 2013
"Grounding Storrow Drive and the Bowker Overpass could achieve many things: Rid us of a festering sore under the overpass.
Restore a ton of parkland currently cordoned by ramps.
Connect the Esplanade more closely to the city, increasing accessibility and safety.
Connect more of the street grid to Storrow Drive, easing access for all modes.
Save a boatload of money not rebuilding the $300 million separation structures.
Reduce construction nightmare that rebuilding the Storrow tunnel would entail.
What’s the catch? Well, it might take a little bit longer to drive to your destination via the same route you used in the past. On the other hand, you might also save a lot of time by not having to go around and around in loops on one-way streets. I know that some traffic engineers will be screaming that this represents a “downgrade” but they can take that attitude back to the 1950s where it came from. For the rest of us, this would represent an upgrade: a better city. Plus, $300 million saved! Heck maybe more. I suspect that any attempt to replace the Storrow tunnel will quickly turn into it’s own “little Big Dig” with rapidly inflating costs. That’s a lot of money that could be put into so many other, better, actual improvements. Like making the MBTA an attractive option for people who currently feel like they have no alternative but to drive along this way. How MassDOT approaches the impending dilemma of the Bowker Overpass and the related Storrow Drive tunnels will tell if they are really serious about their “GreenDOT” proposal or not."

The Walking Bostonian: The Bowker Overpass and Storrow Drive

August 4, 2013
thisbigcity:

Over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, this is widely expected to reach 70%. Cities are undergoing unprecedented change and urbanism is one of the most crucial issues of our time. 
Here at This Big City we think the important and exciting issue of urbanism should be brought to the attention of Tumblr users by promoting the urbanism tag to featured status.
Featured tags are selected based on volume of content and engagement with content, which is why we need Tumblr’s fantastic urbanism community to support this campaign. Please reblog this post and add the urbanism tag whenever you share content related to the topic!
This is no short-term goal. It will take a consistent increase in the level of content for Tumblr to promote the urbanism tag.
Together we can build an engaging catalogue of content on the crucial issue of urbanism, hopefully resulting in the promotion of the urbanism tag to featured status. If we achieve this, the crucial issue of urbanism will land in the dashboard of millions of Tumblr users across the globe. 
If you want to back our Urbanism Campaign and be added to the list below, reblog this post then drop us a message including your email address. We’ll be in touch! Most importantly, add the urbanism tag to all relevant content you share. 
Supporters of This Big City’s Urbanism Campaign:
GOOD | The Atlantic Cities | This City Life | Sound Bite City | City Breaths | Failed Architecture | 3Space | Secret Republic | Fuck Yeah Brutalism | In Public Space We Trust | Studio630 | Aeon Magazine | Future Cape Town | The New Urbanist | Urban Funscape | Human Scale Cities | Urban Bricolage | Small Spaces | Urban Launchpad | Reinforced Natures | Urbn Futr | Cairobserver | Fuck Yeah Urban Design | ATL Urbanist | Urbnist | Megalopolis | Urbalize | Citymaus | Office for Urban Scenarios | Yurbanism | Transatlantic Urbanism | Berlin Farm Lab | Urban Excursion CPH | Urban Resolve | Transicoesurbanas | The Urban Blueprint | Imagining Cities | | DeeAnn Marie | The Green Urbanist | Mass Urban | Arch Atlas | Modernizing | Voyagings | Ryan Panos

thisbigcity:

Over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities. By 2050, this is widely expected to reach 70%. Cities are undergoing unprecedented change and urbanism is one of the most crucial issues of our time. 

Here at This Big City we think the important and exciting issue of urbanism should be brought to the attention of Tumblr users by promoting the urbanism tag to featured status.

Featured tags are selected based on volume of content and engagement with content, which is why we need Tumblr’s fantastic urbanism community to support this campaign. Please reblog this post and add the urbanism tag whenever you share content related to the topic!

This is no short-term goal. It will take a consistent increase in the level of content for Tumblr to promote the urbanism tag.

Together we can build an engaging catalogue of content on the crucial issue of urbanism, hopefully resulting in the promotion of the urbanism tag to featured status. If we achieve this, the crucial issue of urbanism will land in the dashboard of millions of Tumblr users across the globe. 

If you want to back our Urbanism Campaign and be added to the list below, reblog this post then drop us a message including your email address. We’ll be in touch! Most importantly, add the urbanism tag to all relevant content you share. 

Supporters of This Big City’s Urbanism Campaign:

GOOD | The Atlantic CitiesThis City Life | Sound Bite City | City Breaths | Failed Architecture | 3Space | Secret RepublicFuck Yeah Brutalism | In Public Space We Trust | Studio630 | Aeon Magazine | Future Cape Town | The New Urbanist | Urban Funscape | Human Scale CitiesUrban Bricolage | Small Spaces | Urban Launchpad | Reinforced Natures | Urbn Futr | Cairobserver | Fuck Yeah Urban Design | ATL Urbanist | Urbnist | Megalopolis | Urbalize | Citymaus | Office for Urban Scenarios | Yurbanism | Transatlantic Urbanism | Berlin Farm Lab | Urban Excursion CPH | Urban Resolve | Transicoesurbanas | The Urban Blueprint | Imagining Cities | | DeeAnn Marie | The Green Urbanist | Mass Urban | Arch Atlas | Modernizing | Voyagings | Ryan Panos

July 17, 2013
"There is no better place to start than with our streets, our most plentiful and visible parts of the urban commons. And I would offer as a first principle that a street is not just a “street”; a road is not just a “road.” We have come to think of streets and roads as conduits, particularly for motorized vehicles: viaducts for getting us from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Anything that slows us along the way is viewed as a detriment. There are probably some roadways (inter-city freeways, perhaps; but not city streets, I would argue) for which vehicle travel efficiency is still a supreme goal. But that objective should not be allowed to define all streets, particularly in urban and suburban areas. My friend and street-design mentor Victor Dover, in an excellent essay on the subject for the just-published second edition of the Charter of the New Urbanism, reminds us that streets have historically been regarded differently: Our society once created many different types of streets. A street was not just a conduit for moving cars and trolleys through, but also a place in its own right for socializing, entertainment, commerce, and for civic expression. Pedestrians (and their natural allies, the cyclists) ruled.
The recent and important “complete streets” movement has made a terrific contribution to getting our streets right, by insisting that they be designed so as to accommodate all users, from motor vehicles to pedestrians to transit users and bicyclists. Thanks to the movement’s efforts, this is now the law of the land in an increasing number of jurisdictions. It’s an important start."

Streets Can Be Public Spaces Too - Kaid Benfield - The Atlantic Cities

Streets are by definition public spaces.

July 3, 2013
THE NEXT MAYOR’S BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Creating Prosperity by Lifting the Basement Instead of Raising the Roof | Steve Miller's Blog

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